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Interview with Pawel Grabowski

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi Tobias, I’m fine, thanks. I’m in my kitchen, sitting in front of a laptop, it’s a beautiful and quiet night. I finally moved out of Dublin couple weeks ago and I live in a small town by the Irish Sea now. It’s quiet, it’s lovely and plenty of nature around.

What’s on your schedule at the moment?
I’m working on new release “Eva Hitlers Favourite Drama” for American Cohort recs. I am working on demos for few songs, mostly on a piano this time, and I am also tweaking some loops out. It’s all in a very initial stage at the moment, but it’s all very exciting to me. I am planning to start recording the songs in January.

You’ve just released “Kissing Evil Ghosts Goodbye” on Dark Winter Records. If I’m not mistaken, there is a concept behind this release – could you maybe elaborate on it a bit?

Well, there is no concept as it was with my previous releases. With them I used to have one theme or concept for the whole release, this time I just recorded 3 tracks, each telling completely different story. Although in a way there is always a concept in my music, I pretty much write about the same things, about my life and things that do not go as well as I’d wished them to.

For a three-piece EP, it has been pretty long in the making. What was it that kept you so occupied?
I took some time off after the release of “Notes from the House of Dead”. I wanted to rethink my approach to composition. I wanted to move my music into new territories, and “Notes…” e.p. was the first step. I composed way shorter pieces for this one, trying to work with the same tension in music, but in a shorter composition. Also, I wanted to penetrate new territories, use lyrics, vocals, use more real instruments as opposed to my usual set up – a computer. And I needed time to work on this, try new ideas, develop new musical language before I started working on “Kissing…”. And well, the other thing is that I do work very slowly.

As far as I know, it’s also the first time you’re using your voice in your compositions. It works great and very naturally in my opinion. Just out of curiosity: How come you didn’t do this earlier?
Well, the truth is, I am a bit shy in those terms, so it took a while to convince myself to actually do it. I was thinking of using lyrics to accompany my music for a long time. My music is very personal and I know that an instrumental composition can not deliver that message so clearly, so I started working on lyrics. That involved changing my approach to a structure of compositions, building them in a slightly different way, keeping the same and then trying to find out my voice, my best way of interpretation for my lyrics (which are usually written in a manner of prose, as if paragraphs taken out from a larger piece). And finally with “Kissing…” I decided to go for it.

The pieces of “Evil Ghosts” (as well as a lot of your other works) are dark, but they also have a certain “openness” to them. Would it be correct to say that you’re looking for a natural breath for your music?
Never thought of that to be honest. I just write the way I feel.

I also noticed that the individual elements of your pieces are used in a very concentrated way, giving them a lot of space and making them stand on their own. Do you prefer a certain purity over a big mix-up of sounds and noises?
Thinking of it now, yes, I think so. I don’t like too many sounds, think I’m minimalist in that approach. I also like very static and monotonous music, so that’s probably it.

 Let’s move to a different topic. What was the idea behind founding the SINE label?
Originally the first Silence was created in 2002/2003 to simply release materials of few friends in Dublin, but that didn’t work out, I didn’t have too much time to concentrate on this. It was a cd-r label back then and it lacked distribution and promotion (the time factor!), so I decided to call it a halt. Two years later I received a demo from a friend of mine, Roy-Arne Knutsen and thought that it’s a great music to start Silence again with, this time as a netlabel.

Can you tell us a bit about its history and development?
As mentioned above, it was created in 2002 or 2003, released two materials only and then vanished. Two years later in was reborn as a netlabel with a beautiful “old boat house” by Roy-Arne and since then released few other great titles.

What is the best part about running your own label? What’s the worst?
Best part: Just doing it.
Worst: the promotional work. It’s the worst, because I don’t have much time for it, and I always feel that it could have been done better.

How would you describe the relationship with the artists on your roster?
They are my friends, people whom I know, and more importantly whom I respect as people, as well as musicians.

How do you decide on what to release? Are you being sent a lot of demos? (and how would you rate their quality?)
I don’t get many demos, but then again, I clearly state that I release music from people I know, people who are my friends. I usually invite artists to record a material for Silence myself. A demo in Silences case may help to become a friend, but I wouldn’t think it would lead to a release straight away. I like to get to know the artist, usually I get in touch incidentally, someone introduces me to someone or vice versa, we start talking, exchange ideas and views on different topics, exchange music and sometimes I get this feeling, that I’d like this person to be part of Silence.

 How important is the visual aspect to you, such as packaging and booklets?

Well, as a designer by profession I probably should say that it is important, but to be honest over the last year I didn’t have much time to concentrate on that aspect. I wish I could have more time, but honest to God I don’t. Still though I think that the way Silence releases music is quite OK, with covers on a template that you can print out, cut and glue to make a proper release.

What important things have you learnt through founding your label, which you would like to pass on to others?
Always be true to the artists you collaborate with and treat them with an absolute respect. Be honest to them, especially if something is going wrong with the release.
Don’t be afraid to tell them the truth, even if it may hurt them.

In our previous interview you mentioned that you seldomly listen to music nowadays and “rarely discover something new”. Have you, by any chance, discovered something new in the past few months?
Actually yes, Roy-Arne Knutsen, a very great friend of mine sent me a couple of CD’s by a Norwegian band Seigmen and I absolutely fell in love with them.

By Tobias Fischer

Diarakth (Laub records) 2002
Glitch Letters (Sine Records) 2004
Cirr's Songs (Drone Records) 2005
Arh (Mystery Sea) 2005
Notes from the House of Dead (Silence is not empty) 2006
Kissing Evil Ghosts Goodbye (Dark Winter) 2006

Pawel Grabowski
Silence is Not Empty Records

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