Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with Strawberry Fields

It only took one moment for our esteemed colleague to become enamored with the psychedelic vibe of Strawberry Fields and only a few more for him to turn on the rest of the Ripple office. Joining us all the way from Poland, Wojtek Szadkowski, takes his place on the Ripple red leather couch and educates us on the world of Strawberry Fields.

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkle, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears. What have been your musical epiphany moments?

The Beatles. Listening to them and watching them and their attitude towards life – all this changed me forever. I learned how to be a rebel in a more creative and intelligent way than crashing windows on the street. King Crimson – and the song "The Court Of The Crimson King." I was crying and shaking while listening to it. Could not stop tears running from my eyes. God, this feeling was so intense it almost hurt. And the song "I'd Love to change the world (ten Years after) – I heard it on the radio just after the info about John Lennon's death. I recorded this song on both sides of my tape and played it over and over. This was the only song recorded on this 60 min long tape.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

This is always a mystery. I just feel this is the right time,and I just start to sing a melody. When I got an instrument – every chord I play inspires me to sing along a melody , sometimes with the first line of lyrics. I just happens. "For Instance the song Your Story," was composed on a small hand made kalimba. I just started to play on it and immediately the main background theme appeared. Then I started to sing and the song was almost ready.

Later I added some guitars and other arrangements. But from the very beginning I felt how this arrangement should develop. The most important thing is that you have to feel the song.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

I don't need motivation. I listen to all kinds of music from Motown soul and R&B, to contemporary pop and rock including Kings Of Leon and Fall Out Boy. There is also some Club and disco music I love too. The music I do not listen to very often is country and new prog rock.

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?
Syncretic melodic pop rock.

What is you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

When I compose I never think of the audience. I am trying to express myself. Bring the music I got inside to the surface and release it. So this is not my intention to please audience. Of course after the CD is out I am happy to hear someone likes it. But when I am working on an album I just don't care.

In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?

In my case all is just pure intuition. After the melody is born I just play it, sing it and try to feel what would be the best arrangement for this particular tune. And Each melody got its own DNA and all arrangements variations are coded there. If you learn the code you'll do the right thing. A good composer got this ability to ride the DNA of the song.

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

Composing is my inborn quality. I just can't get rid of it. I cannot stop composing. So I don't need any special motivation. We need a good manager. He should know what to do to move things forward. If you know such a person just let me know. We will try to play as many gigs as possible. You cannot copy the live experience of listening music in a given moment in time. You can capture the sound and picture – but watching the video is just bring on memories of this moment.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

Are you kidding? My wife would kill me.

Where do you see you and your music going in ten years?

This is always a mystery. I love the feeling when music comes to me. These are unexpected encounters. Music leads me so I just cannot answer this question.

What makes a great song?

Talent of a composer. And a suitable arrangement.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

I hate the word "write." I prefer "compose." Why? I just do not know any notes, names of chords, guitar strings and metrum and all those musical rules and theory I just don't understand. I just cannot understand how people can read music and play it looking on a sheet of paper. And I am perfectly happy being a musical alphabet. I do what I like. The first song was actually a very simple melody I started to play on a single string (this thinner one) of my first guitar a few minutes after touching it for the first time.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

The song "Evening Games," and a few songs from Nostalgia. I never listen to my albums. I usually don't like those songs. This is why I enjoy gigs so much. This is the only opportunity to put some new emotions to these old songs, refresh them. There are tiny pieces of songs from my previous albums I like, but very few songs I adore from the very beginning to an end.

Who today, writes great songs? Why?
Michael Jackson, Madonna, Robbie Williams... You listen to them for the first time and you feel you always knew them, If you know what I mean... There are many good enjoyable songs... great songs but not immortal. And don't ask me why. No one can answer this question.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

Vinyl. Most natural sound. And I just cannot forget the smell of the record and cover after unsealing it.

What's the best record store in your town?

EMPiK Megastore. Something like Virgin Megastore.

1 comment:

Mike said...

No, no, no. Empik sucks. I'm from Poland and I know that comparing it to Virgin is like comparing ant and elephant.
Forget about alternativ music there.

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