(MICROVIEW) Vivo Records :: Interview w/ Janusz Leszczynski

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Igloo :: Janusz! We have been in touch for some time. It is a very good opportunity to have the chance to find out more about you and your label, Vivo Records. But first – how are you today and what are things like in Zambrow, that’s where you are located right?

Janusz Leszczynski / Vivo Records :: Yes, Vivo is based in Zambrow. It is a small town located about 120 km from Warsaw, the capital city of Poland. Nothing special. Small, silent town where only a few weird guys are interested in the music I publish.

Igloo :: Well, hardly “silent,” now with you on the scene! In the recent past I have reviewed a few of your discs and especially enjoyed Baghiri’s Yalda and Nowe:le’s CD. But it seems to be Zenial’s Reworked disc of mixes by vidnaObmana, Andrew Lagowski, etc. that garnered my greatest attention. Can you tell me how that came together between you and Zenial? And what it was like to work with some of the included composers?

JL :: Zenial is a young but very actively working electronic musician who collaborates with an impressive number of other composers from around the world. His Reworked CD is the final product of these collaborations. I know Zenial from the beginning of his musical activity and I ‘m very happy that this album has been published on Vivo. My job was only to collect the best tracks and to package them with fitting artwork.

Igloo :: Zenial, he is a discovery for you? Can you talk about the thrill of being part of someone’s artistic life in this way –do you feel you are part mentor, part talent scout, part other?

JL :: No doubt Zenial is an artist who can be important in the evolving of the genre he represents. Great artist and friend. It’s always thrilling to work on new releases. I’m personally deeply involved in each of the releases I publish. Sometimes I have faint suggestions and its always nice when they could be the inspirations for the artist.

Igloo :: I am looking forward to the next Reworked collection. Will this be a continuous series?

JL :: Yes, another Reworked CD will be out on Vivo this summer. Main factor of this title is Aural Planet – a band whose solo album 5EX Engine was released on Vivo in 2002. IDM, technoidal rhythms and pure electronic sound by Aural is targeted to the less experimental sound listeners. But it still remains within the context of non-mainstream electronic music.

Igloo :: How did you get started and do you work alone – or is Vivo a collaborative? If you were to describe Vivo in a sentence, a mission of sorts, the genre of music you produce – what would you say?

JL :: I started Vivo as a distribution company in 1995. Vivo Records as a record label was born in 2000. It was always my solo project. Vivo is a part of my life, almost a part of my body. It really makes me happy.

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In one sentence? Hmm, it’s impossible. There is not any mission except publishing good music. It’s funny to read the pathethic words of what labels say about wanting to change in the world. Only the music matters – that’s it. Let the music speak for itself. No ideology really. Vivo seems to be a long time running project. I don’t want to connect the label with only a single genre. Trendy genres come and go. Vivo is open to different musical styles but the music must be extremely exceptional to be accepted here. It gives me huge satisfaction when the listeners think similiarly and the feedback confirms that, when they contact me or the artist directly or simply buy the record.

Igloo :: I recently connected with Andrew Lagowski in regards to his last (and may I say amazing) self-produced S.E.T.I. Sentient disc which is limited to about 100 copies. It is by far one of the best recordings I think he has produced. I hear that you will be soon releasing a collaboration with him and SI_COMM. Can you tell me more about it?

JL :: Probe has its exceptional sound. For me it’s a real new ambient music. I am fascinated by the collaboration between S.E.T.I. and Si_COMM. Very unique material –the CD is just coming out now. To learn more about the details would be the best to talk to the artists I think. Vivo is only a connector between the artists and listeners and I am quite satisfied by this state of things.

Igloo :: Artistic freedom, ahhhh! Can you talk about the emergence of the international wave of electronic sound? Is Poland hiding some amazing talent that the world has yet to hear from? How do you think the interest in more obscure musics and experiments is developing?

JL :: There are a lot of interesting electronic/experimental musicians here in Poland. All of them are waiting to be discovered for the international audience. Artists like Zenial, C.H. District, Maciek Szymczuk, Nemezis, Moan, Aleph, Spika, Seed or Aural Planet deserve to be recognized worldwide. It’s my hope they will find their place on the world electronic scene soon. In Poland the problem is that there is not an excess of media who are interested in the promotion of anything experimental. Not many record labels actively work on publishing and promotion of experiments here. Only the DIY CD-R publishers are pushing their releases out frequently. But you know, most of this stuff is released and distributed mainly for the closest friends of the artists. I am not sure if the interest in experimental electronica is growing here or not. Truly – I don’t care –I do my best to promote the music I publish and I’m really happy that I can find some people who are impatiently waiting for the new releases from Vivo.

Igloo :: You seem to have your distribution set up to reach audiences in Asia, Europe and in the United States. Where is your focused market? Do you think there is a country that seems to consume more edgy music than another?

JL :: All markets are similiar to each other. All of these regions are very important for me. I don’t want to say that there is a major one. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t feel that there is a nation which is especially well oriented on experimental music. Each nation has people who want this sort of music, “fresh blood.” On the records I have published the artists are from many different countries: Poland, Iran, Germany, France, Belgium, UK, Japan, USA –All of them do their job in their ways. Each of them is very good in their individual style.

Igloo :: True, but each country, in some way, represents a deeper, more tribal contribution to the larger world market, indie or not. Can you say anything about the connection between the music of the land and how it gets communicated to a larger world audience –I mean, do you feel in some way that you have a personal responsibility to get the voice of Polish musicians into the ears of people in Minnesota and/or Taipei?

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JL :: I don’t want to make Vivo the antenna for strictly Polish music transmitting to the world. I don’t think that my label is able to be responsible for all of the Polish artists. Also I am not sure if most of them would be even interested in cooperation with my label. It’s not my goal to tie Vivo with the local Polish regionality. Vivo music it’s no border music. It’s rather a universal sound for the people of different cultures. I hope it is.

Igloo :: Gotcha. Who were your influences when it came to establishing Vivo? And what are your primary musical tastes – any favorite artists – or people who you would like to work with?

JL :: It’s hard to say what label was a main influence for me. I’ve always respected Soleilmoon, Staalplaat, Touch, Tigerbeat6 – but also many others, also non-electronic publishers (ROIR, Young God, New Albion, Cuneiform a.o.). I just wanted to release my dreams and fortunately now it’s possible. I listen to the music of very diverse genres and artists but I always was very fascinated by Muslimgauze’s works. Fact that I was able to get his title in the Vivo catalogue is the best thing I have ever dreamed about. The same is with Scorn (Mick Harris project) whose newest album will be out on Vivo very soon.

Igloo :: Well, you know, I think that sort of pride goes in three directions: publisher, artist, listener and back again. I am gonna hit the old road, but before I do – thank you so much for chatting with me about who you are and what you do best. What can we expect from you in the very near future? Any final ideas to share?

JL :: Next Vivo CD releases are: Scorn’s List of Takers, S.E.T.I. & Si_COMM’s Probe, Amir Baghiri’s Ghazal, the previously mentioned Aural Planet with a new version in the Reworked series. No final ideas. Just listen to the music. Discover new areas. Be well. Thank you!

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Vivo Records Website

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