Members: Marcin Cichy, Igor Pudlo
Occupation: Producers, DJs
Current Release: Highlight on No Paper Records.
Recommendations: In 2012, David Byrne publish his work called “how music works” - a must read!
If you enjoyed this interview with Skalpel, check out their website, which acts as a portal into their unique world of music.
When did you start playing your instrument, and what or who were your early passions or influences? What is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started to play in primary school. My father bought me my first synthesizer on his way back from Germany, where he worked for some time in the late eighties. As a huge fan of the Beatles he also bought me a book with the Beatles songbook. It was the only book with music scores that I had so I learned to play most of the tunes. I was inspired by music I could listen to on Polish radio or recorded from my friends’ tapes: J.M. Jarre or Depeche Mode, Front 242, Marillion to name a few …
For most artists, originality is first 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? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
It is always a mixture of all elements. There is no future without the past. For me it started with learning how to play the piano. Later I bought ATARI STE 1040 STE, then Yamaha SU10, Solina String Ensemble - I started to collect more and more devices … and ended up as an electronic freak. There was no rush and no expectations on this long journey - that’s why without any pressure I could develop my own techniques of producing music.
What were some of your main artistic challenges when starting out as an artist and in which way have, they changed over the years?
Skalpel’s way for me, is staying in our comfort zone rather than breaking any barriers. We don’t release music very often, but we enjoy the fun of creating sounds. Our music is not based on challenges or setting goals, It’s just a flood of sound.
Tell me about your instrument, please. How would you describe the relationship with it? What are its most important qualities and how do they influence the musical results – and possibly even your own performance?
It’s the XXI century. We believe in digital technology and the computer is the main music tool of our age. Same here - we use a lot of digital software to create. The outcome: Mixing vintage with new.
Derek Bailey defined improvising as the search for material which is endlessly transformable. Regardless of whether or not you agree with his perspective, what kind of materials have turned to be particularly transformable and stimulating for you?
I believe that each note is endlessly transformable. Even more, every single sound, phrase or verse can be interpreted in uncountable ways. I feel it’s only limited by our own imagination; we are the creators.
How is playing live in front of an audience and in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
It’s all music, only the medium is different. Performing live means instant feedback from our audience. The studio, however, is more of an internal experience. Improvisation is an instant composition and although composition is sometimes like improvisation, it’s all connected.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? 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?
Not really. We are kind of lazy, let it flow, do not plan, do not expect anything - just live your life slowly.
Could you take me through the process of improvisation on the basis of one of your performances that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
Skalpel is not about improvisation. We are a regular band that plays tunes. I believe that the most important thing in playing live is not creating something new every-time but playing your best. Playing live is not an experiment with the audience but rather showing them the best you can do.
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?
Again – stay cool, do not expect anything and just do what you do best.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
Technology is the new creativity; thanks to technology we are limited only by our creativity.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
We are the hands of robots.
How do you see the relationship between sound, space and performance and what are some of your strategies and approaches of working with them?
David Byrne’s book “how music works” covers this topic!
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? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
Music is like paintings, music is like touching, music is like smelling … all senses arranged in space and time. Sit back, relax and feel.
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?
Don’t think about it, just do.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
Music is revolution, let’s do it!