Text by CLOT Magazine
Our next Mixtape comes from the Polish producer Cafe de la Jungle, where he has recollected some of his latest inspirations regarding pace and rhythms.
Cafe de la Jungle is Tomasz Zając, a Kraków-based producer who uses modular synthesis, field recording and sampling techniques to build mystical worlds on twelve-inch discs. He’s recently released Tuvan Spirits EP (Dans de la Desert, 2022), where he explores his fascination and interest in shamanic practices in highly dynamic sound environments.
His excellent debut Dancing with Cicadas was rife with dangerous and mysterious rhythms, but Cafe de la Jungle takes a more laid-back approach in the new EP. Built around cavernous ambience and bass notes, sounds that paint a picture of a dance ritual so subtle, it’s visceral and highly narrative at the same time.
We were enthralled with his rhythms and track unfoldings. For the mix he has prepared, He shares that It’s an extension of his latest inspirations and direction of music in terms of pace and rhythms. I’ve been listening lately to a lot of halftime, trip-hop stuff. Naturally, listening involves a lot of digging and collecting music. I had this feeling that this style would be perfect for your mixtape series.
In Tuvan Spirits EP, you explore your fascination with shamanic practices. Could you tell us more about the creative process for the album production? What were the challenges?
I very often work conceptually. There is a lot of inspiration in the traditional folklore of many different cultures. So I had this idea that with each release, I wanted to focus on the culture of a specific region or part of the world and present to the listeners my interpretation of it. In some ways, the process was similar to the first record. There is always a trigger which pushes toward one or another idea. That can be a story or music. This is how I got inspired by Tuva. It’s a region which I found thanks to the great Tuvan band called “Huun-Huur-Tu”, which is famous for throat singing, among others. It sounds so great, like mixing voice and electronic music. So I started to read about the region and its legends and culture. I felt so inspired that it immediately got me working on some sketches – and that’s the story.
The most challenging thing was keeping it within the desired boundaries while having all those new inspirations around. I tend to listen to very little music during my creative process, but it’s not possible for me to cut myself completely from it. Another one was coming back to some of the tracks after a while and getting into the vibe of those tracks. Having a day job not related to music makes it sometimes complicated to have enough amount of time to finish a song in one take. I try to go as far as I can with finishing the song so that I can capture the initial vibe
What are your main inspirations for your productions these days, and in which direction do you see your interests develop after this release?
My main inspirations are sounds of the world – instruments, animals and ambience sounds etc. There is still much to explore for me in those areas. For the next release, I would like to take the listeners on a journey to North Africa and the Middle East regions. Diving into more technical stuff, I’ve been exploring more halftime and trip-hop genres. I really like this 80-85 bpm pace. I am looking forward to combining that style with some tribal flavours.
What have you been most excited about recently about the Polish scene?
I’ve been most excited about the number of Polish artists who expand music boundaries in countless directions. There are a lot of great people brave enough to compose and share unique, original music.
You also record deep techno music with Michał Wolski. How would you say you complement each other’s work or how you approach collaborations?
It’s a blend of similar principles in terms of rhythms and timbres, but we both explore different styles of electronic music. Michal’s work focuses more on techno and drone aesthetics, and mine on tribal ones. Having those two approaches mixed together gives us a nice platform to discover new ideas. It’s a collaboration born out of friendship, so we talk a lot, share ideas, and exchange music. Everything here comes very naturally.
In your work, you use modular synthesis, field recording and sampling techniques; what is your relationship with technology and the analogue for your music productions? And how do you cope with technology (screen/digital) overload?
I like the unpredictability of analogue devices and the precision of digital ones. My music production is a world where those two technologies coexist with each other – Ableton, iPad, modular synthesizer, VSTs, acoustic instruments etc. I can easily send signals from both of those worlds, so sometimes, an analogue modular sequence is converted to a digital signal controlling some virtual samplers. Sometimes it is the other way around.
While I love technology, I cannot ignore its negative influence on my health. We must consider this a real danger, especially to younger generations. As a computer scientist, I spend hours every day in front of the screens. With that amount of screen exposure, I have experienced some real sides effects like eye strain or migraines.
In order to balance that, I’m trying to be involved more in some physical activities. Those give me significant time off from technology. Also, with the ‘screen time’ application, I could monitor my usage and develop subconscious control over how often I contact the phone. I only try to go there when I have something specific I want to check or read. Lastly, I try to allow myself to be bored. It gives my brain time to recover from all that dopamine received. This greatly boosts my creativity since it allows my mind to wander into music ideas, plans for the future etc.