There’s techno. Then there’s Zamilska. Influenced by worldly influences and self-expression. the Polish producer and composer Zamilska creates deep, raw and heavy atmosphere that will leave you in a trance. We exchanged emails with her to find out more about her production influences, work in video games, and her third album Uncovered.
How did you first come across electronic music? What got you into producing?
One day a stream of consciousness fell over me and I heard a voice: “You need to become a producer”. Of course, I am joking. But in all seriousness, I had two dreams: one was to become an astronaut and go into space. Second, was to become a musician. I am not great at math, I count on my fingers, so musician it was.
I don’t remember the exact moment when I decided that but as a teenager I always knew I wanted to make music. At thirteen I wanted to be a Rockstar, play bass, drums, throw them into the audience and break them on stage. At fifteen I got my first computer. After stumbling across Bjork’s “Post” album, I knew I would be making electronic music and somehow mixing in my inspirations for rock’n’roll and world music. I sold my first guitar to see Bjork. Then I spent many years working on my skills and building my workshop. I quit my job, sometimes money was really tight. It all paid off though, it always does when [you] bet on what you love.
Who were some of your music influences in general?
I think Massive Attack are the most important band in my life, but otherwise it is difficult to choose specific bands and people. I am not big on authority figures. I’ve never had a mentor, other than Buddha, when I was a teenager.
What influenced me were different genres. When I was a child I played this game, I would put two cassettes into my stereo system and play both of them at the same time. I’ve spent most of my life looking for a way to combine all of my musical fascinations into one, polished product – a production I could call mine. I never followed the beaten path.
I am a fan of black metal, hip hop, trip hop, world, ethno, cinematic, dubstep (before Skrillex), glitch and all unidentified sounds. So I decided to blend them in a way that will create my sound. I am still experimenting and hope to achieve my goal before I die.
I watched your live performances at Opole 2016 and Transgresje Festival in 2015. You use an Ableton midi controller to perform instead of a turntable and mixer. What drew you to a hardware based set up? Do you use any hardware synths or a modular set up to produce, or just software?
I follow one rule – less is more. When I have too much equipment I get stuck on what to choose. It often eats up a lot of time, time that should be spent on the creative process. I just sold one of my bass synthesizers. I am not a hardware nerd. I’ll borrow, buy, try, play, record and then give it or sell it back.
I like the modernity and freedom that software can give you. Ableton gives you unbelievable sound possibilities. I also love what Native Instruments have to offer for producers. It’s also very important to me to travel light. Everything goes into a carry-on bag when I travel abroad. I don’t need to tell you how they handle luggage at airports. I also use a lot of field recordings – I have a computer and software for this. Sometimes I use live bass guitar, vocals and hard effects – but only in the studio, during the recordings.
I know some people pay attention to the amount of equipment used by a producer during their concert. For me that is not important. If someone is gifted they can blow your mind by hitting one button.
Your tracks often have a ethnic/tribal/world elements that create really hypnotizing rhythms. You’ve also stated in previous interviews that Islamic and Hindu cultures are important to you. Where did your relationship with those cultures originate?
Journalists always ask me that and I never know what to answer. When I was a child ethnic sounds calmed me down. Seriously. I even have a photo of me at five or six years old, standing next to a Peruvian performer, who played music in the street. Other cultures have always fascinated me more than my own.When I was fifteen I loved Dead Can Dance and Natacha Atlas. I was interested in different religious from around the World. I read a lot of books on that subject. Ethnic samples are as a natural addition to my music as is bass.
I got this overwhelming feeling while traveling, I woke up to a sound of muezzin coming from a nearby mosque. I travel when I can. Asia and Africa are closest to my heart. I would like to set out for a whole year and just travel the World. Implementing ethnic sounds in my music is a way of rebelling against the white race supremacy over other cultures. When I show different cultures in my music, I do it out of respect. It is my way of saying: “go outside your wall, see how beautiful and important World surrounds you”.
In between your last two releases, you’ve been a remixer, composer, producer, radio host, while your music has been featured in video games, television, and fashion shows. What’s another art medium that you would like to be apart of in the future?
There are still a lot of things I want to do. Hopefully I’ll have enough life to do it. I would love to write music for the big screen. For a movie like “Sicario” I really respect Jóhann Jóhannsson. I think [this was the] first time in my life I was so shocked by an artist’s passing. There is no straight answer. I have many dreams, or rather plans for the future. Sky is the limit. I dream of meeting people I’d love to work with (please tell MIA that I love her).
Speaking of video games; I found out about you and your music through the game Ruiner. I listened to the soundtrack for days. How did that come about? Do you play video games yourself? If so, which one is your favorite?
Ruiner’s team reached out to my management asking if we’d like to work with them. It was an instant “yes”. I used to play a lot of games, classic stuff like Tony Hawk, Max Payne, GTA or No Ones Live Forever. These day a thought about buying a console crosses my mind. But it quickly goes away. I spend a lot of time in front of my computer when I work. So when I have some free time I prefer to spend my time outside, with friends, in a gym or reading a book. Not playing games. However, once in a while I meet with some friends to play VR – I love wearing it on my head. We always play the Beat Saber – as befits music.
Uncovered has original vocals and lyrics, which is a departure from your previous LPs. What inspired that exploration?
Life. My private dramas. There came a time in my life when I wasn’t able to express everything simply with just instrumental music. I felt the urge to add words and vocals. Until the very end I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing, but I really wanted to do something completely different from the previous albums. I did everything intuitively, no planning. It was all based on keywords that best reflected the state in which I found myself at that moment.
The imagery for Uncovered is awesome. What was the spark of inspiration for it?
I was preparing for a photo shoot – I had to come up with a story, give the photographer some direction. All ideas seemed unfitting, unmatched. I was listening to “Hollow” searching for the right idea and I found a really creepy photo of a levitating girl. It was about something bad that wants to leave your body, come out of you so you can start again. Exorcisms, voodoo acts – you can hear it in the album. Uncovered is a story about cleaning, dropping weight of your shoulders. A fall with an attempt to rise.
All of your releases begin with Un-, with Untune and Undone coming before. With Un- being the prefix meaning not or opposite, what is something in the world that you would want to reverse or make opposite?
After the third album I’ve noticed that a trilogy has formed. A certain stage has ended. What’s next? I don’t know. I hope the third album will open a different door for me. Where? Who knows. But I know one thing “Un” is over. There isn’t a thing I would like to undo in my life. The bad shit is also needed. Provided you learn from your mistakes.
Any chance for a stop in the US supporting Uncovered?
Hopefully! I haven’t been there yet, and I hope that it will change soon…