Name: Rebelski aka Martin Roman Rebelski
Occupation: Producer, keyboardist
Current Release: Rebelski's Horizon is out via Hazy Days.
Recommendations: Steve Reich - Music For 18 Musicians; Walter Moers - Rumo
If you enjoyed this interview with Rebelski and would like to stay up to date on his activities, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
From the age of around 14. As soon as I learnt a few 90s Italian house piano riffs, I was away. My grandfather was a pianist and I’ve always been drawn towards keyboard instruments; piano and synths. My early influences were Kraftwerk and Herbie Hancock.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I started out forming a band and although we wrote original material we played the odd cover version too, as many musicians do. It’s a valuable process for development.
I’ve also been blessed to work and collaborate with great producers, composers and writers from quite early on in my career and been fortunate to have taken nuggets of experience throughout that process.
In music, as in life, we strive to progress and are always developing and learning.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
Massively. I’m half Polish, half English and was born and raised in the U.K. but lucky enough to travel a lot with work via gigs and tours. Travel broadens the mind and every experience you have in life, for better or worse shapes your identity creatively and culturally.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
As I’m sure most people would say: to afford to buy the relevant equipment. I wanted a hardware sampler, sequencer and synth, which cost me lots of hours working on my school paper round.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
When I was starting out as a young teenager, DAWs were still rudimentary. I wanted a hardware sampler / synth / sequencer and saved up for well over a year to afford one, which really made me have patience and appreciate every nuance of that first synth. I learnt it inside out.
That process has stuck with me to this day and I won’t download 100s of plug-ins or buy tons of gear. Instead I try to utilise every tool and piece of equipment I have.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Modular synths. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve been able to step into the rabbit hole of eurorack but their uniqueness, sense of wonderment and randomness are a delight, pleasure and a revelation in terms of creativity.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
All of the above. It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to embrace technologies and collaborate with artists on different continents having never even met. Jamming in a room together can also produce immediate exciting results.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
My lifestyle is intrinsically linked to music. I’m usually either on tour or in the studio. Which encompass very different routines.
When at home and in the studio, I try to keep regular hours; wake early, work and sleep early. It’s the opposite when I’m on tour, as there tends to be not much time for sleep (mainly on planes and on tour buses) and the gigs are usually late.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
There’s been a few. Appearing on the U.K. TV show ‘top of the pops’ with Doves. As my mum was really proud of me.
Also, working on ‘Rise Of Angel’ with Luciano, was a special moment as we briefly met and composed it in a London studio. He then went on to play it out to an audience of thousands that very evening, which was a cathartic moment.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
To be rested and sober! Not in an altered state, as so many other artists claim to be in. I get my best ideas whilst in the shower or hiking or out for a run.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I find solace in music. Music of course has the ability to heal and hurt, as certain pieces, sounds, chords or even notes and pitches can be associated with events in life. Whether they’re delightful or traumatic.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
Inspiration usually comes from a source, albeit subliminal or direct. A healthy approach is to take certain influences and draw from them to add to your own unique tapestry.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
When I heard about the neurological condition synaesthesia I found that fascinating. To perceive a taste or a see a visual through hearing a sound is incredible. Although I don’t have that condition/ability.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I avoid any political agendas. Open mindedness and pure enjoyment of the process is my personal ideology. Once a piece of music has too many outside influences, that tends to taint and dilute the art form.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Gutteral emotions. There are certain compositions that can be directly associated with life and death. Such as the passing of a friend, relative or pet. Those melodies are forever forged in your memories.