Name: Karol Mozgawa aka DEAS
Occupation: DJ, producer
Nationality: Polish
Recent event: The new DEAS EP Shape & Form is out via Bau Muzik on September 23rd 2022. His recent Symmetry EP is still available from Chris Liebing's CLR imprint.
Recommendations: Book: Yuval Noah Harari – Sapiens; Painting: I recommend the works of London’s Iconographer: Henrik Delehag as well as works of polish master Zdzisław Beksiński.

[Read our Chris Liebing interview]

If you enjoyed this interview with DEAS and would like to find out more about his work as a DJ and producer, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud, and twitter.

OECUS · OECUS Premiere | DEAS - Circle [BAUMUZIK004]

Can you talk a bit about your interest in or fascination for DJing? Which DJs, clubs or experiences captured your imagination in the beginning?

In the beginning I didn’t know too much about electronic music. I had experience with trance music and a little bit of techno, but when I was a teenager I was more into music like Massive Attack, Portishead, Shade etc.

For as long as I can remember music was interesting for me, but there was no-one who could show me DJing or clubbing. When I was 13 or 14 I saw my first DJ show on a CD and that was something super interesting for me. I wanted to also be a DJ, but what interested me the most was how this music was made.

Then when I was in high school I went to the first club of my life in Krakow, and after this first night I was sure what I wanted to do with my life !
What made it appealing to you to DJ yourself? What was it that you wanted to express and what, did you feel, did you have to add artistically?

It’s not what made it appealing to me but what has been appealing to me still :) For me, playing music is still a very intimate act. I'm a very extraverted person so while I’m playing I try to make this connection with an audience.

I try to find something magical in the air and extract as many inspiring moments as I can. This was a big inspiration for work in my studio then.  

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to DJing? Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or lineage?

For me DJing is my way of my stage expression.  

Clubs are still the natural home for DJing. What makes the club experience unique? Which clubs you've played or danced at are perfect for realising your vision – and why?

I think that (especially after the Covid lockdowns) it’s something special to meet and dance with other unfamiliar people separately but still together in the same place. Sharing emotions and happiness, forgetting about the whole world.

There is a long tradition of cross-pollination between DJing and producing. Can you talk a bit about how this manifests itself in your own work?

As I said above, this bond between audience and artists, this mutual understanding, is something very magical that's always feeding my mind and triggering my inspiration very much.

What role does digging for music still play for your work as a DJ? Tell me a bit about what kind of music you will look for and the balance between picking material which a) excites you, b) which will please the audience and c) fulfill certain functions within your DJ set.   

I’m always playing music which is exciting for me. I believe that what is exciting for me also excites the audience.

Digging for music is for me something natural, I have been doing it many many years and I love it. Firstly I’m digging music, then trying to use it in a way to express myself.

I've always wondered: How is it possible for DJs to memorise so many tracks? How do you store tracks in your mind – traditionally as grooves + melodies + harmonies or as colours, energy levels, shapes?

Today you can do as you want. We have tools to colorize tracks, store them as grooves or harmonies.

But still I’m able to remember tracks in the traditional way. I see a track in my playlist and hear it in my mind. I think this is just a matter of practice.

Using your very latest DJ set as an example, what does your approach look like, from selecting the material and preparing for and opening a set? What were some of the transitions that really worked looking back?

My approach to material and preparing is always the same. I try to play as smoothly as possible to hypnotize an audience.

Techno for me is music of many details. They are changing very smoothly but with a “plot twist” from time to time.

Anyway, harmony and defined direction are very important for me.

How does the decision making process work during a gig with regards to wanting to play certain records, the next transition and where you want the set to go? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?

Firstly we have to say something very clear. If you want to improvise you have to know your stuff very very well. This is the same as for an actor on a stage. Improvisation is possible only if you know your role very well and you are a very experienced artist.

I spend many hours listening to music, selecting, categorizing, playing listing and listening again. During every set I try to feel where we are and where we can go together. It's only possible if you know your music very well.

Sometimes everything is going as I assumed, sometimes not and you have to change it up literally at the last moment. :)

As a DJ, you can compose a set of many short tracks or play them out in full, get involved with mixing or keep the tunes as the producer intended them, create fluent seagues or tension. Tell me about your personal preferences in this regard, please.

It depends on the track. Sometimes I play 2 loops and 1 main track, sometimes 1 main track and one loop or sometimes I play just 1 track.

There is no real pattern, just trying to be in the flow ! :)

Pieces can sound entirely different as part of a DJ set compared to playing them on their own. How do you explain this? Which tracks from your collection don't seem like much outside of a DJ set but are incredible effective and versatile on a gig?

Hmm ... sometimes toolish tracks are maybe not very interesting to listen to at home. But I love to mix tools with other tracks and changing rhythm in the final result.

In terms of the overall architecture of a DJ set, how do you work with energy levels, peaks and troughs and the experience of time?

I just listen to myself. Peak time can be never ending, but the moment of breathing can’t be too long. When I’m playing we are all in it together so I just feel it. :)

Online DJ mixes, created in the studio as a solitary event, have become ubiquitous. From your experience with the format, what changes when it comes to the way you DJ – and to the experience as a whole - when you subtract the audience?

It’s just a different feeling. I always prefer to do it for people on from of me but when I’m recording mix using DAW I have more time for thinking what I want to do and what I want to express.

Advances in AI-supported DJing look set to transform the trade. For the future, where do you see the role of humans in DJing versus that of technology?

We have the same needs as 10, 20, 30 years ago. I see the role of humans in DJing in the same place as where we are today.

Let's imagine you lost all your music for one night and all there is left at the venue is a crate of records containing a random selection of music. How would you approach this set?

If I had the time I would listen to all records and try to get them right.

If not … hmm ... that would be like the “wild west.” :D