In pursuit of black music

In pursuit of black music

Have you ever wondered where the groove comes from? Because I think constantly and probably for the rest of my life I will subject this topic to deep analysis. The word “groove” appears often on our lips, but in Poland it is usually negative. We repeat like a mantra: “only blacks so groove”, “we are far from western playing”, etc.

Stop chasing, start playing!

The definition of a groove changes with the latitude. Virtually every musician has a definition of groove. Groove is born in the head in how you hear music, how you feel it. You shape it from birth. Every sound, every song you hear affects your musical sensitivity, and this has a significant impact on your style, including the groove. Therefore, stop chasing the so-called The “black” definition of a groove and create your own. Express yourself!

I am a white boy from frosty Polandia who had a chance to record reggae in Jamaica in the legendary Bob Marley studio, together with world-class musicians of this genre. They have this music in their blood, and then I listened to it for maybe a few years, and I played a maximum of three. In Poland they said: “Profanation! Commercial shit records at the temple of reggae music ”(meaning StarGuardMuffin and Tuff Gong Studios). But only part of the Polish reggae scene had a problem with that – radical followers of Rastafarian culture and, of course, nerds who hated everyone who did something. Interestingly, in Jamaica no one minded that we play reggae “in Polish”. On the contrary – they made it an asset that distinguishes us from their native artists. Nobody told us to play there differently than we did. The local musicians found themselves in the songs prepared by us without any problems, and in the end everything “banglared” for them, which they confirmed by dancing while listening to the previously recorded pieces. This moment made me realize that there is no such thing as a single definition of well-made music.

Is it wrong that we play differently from our Western colleagues? Is it wrong that we have a different sense of the groove, a different musical sensitivity? Of course not. On the contrary – it is our advantage. It just so happened that black music is ubiquitous in the media, but we shouldn’t be so concerned about it. There are many great native artists who play “in Polish”, create brilliant music, and at the same time exist on the music market. Give yourself a chance, give your bandmate a chance. Give your drummer a chance, because just because he doesn’t play like Chris “Daddy” Dave doesn’t mean he doesn’t have “that something” in him. You have to judge for yourself whether what you are doing is good. It is worth listening to others, it is worth taking the opinion of outsiders into account, but you and the rest of your crew have to decide whether what you are doing is good and suitable for showing to the world.

Just look at Nirvana. At the beginning no one gave them a chance, but they consistently did their job, eventually making their mark on the history of popular music in capital letters. Thousands of such examples could be cited. Interestingly, there is one thing that all these artists have in common.


And this is how we come to the heart of the matter. What you represent defines whether or not you are an interesting artist.

Recently, I had the opportunity to have two very interesting conversations on this topic. Together with my colleagues, we came to the conclusion that more and more people talk about the technique used to play music (equipment, musicians’ performance skills), and not about the music itself. The guitars we play on, computers, preamps, compressors that we use for recordings, music schools that we graduate, “joby” which – ugly speaking – we include, become important, and we stop talking about what we really have to say as artists. As a result, we create products that have perfect packaging, but unfortunately – are empty inside.

In pursuit of black music

We are chasing the West, but maybe not exactly where we should. After all, black music came from expressing emotions, and not from playing backwards. Nobody thought whether to play anyway, but what they wanted to convey. The same thing happened in our country in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, where music was a medium. The content was the most important. I have the impression that today we have an arms race. I catch it myself that it is more important where we record the album than what we record. More important is how many people come to the concert than what we want to tell these people at the concert. And that’s probably not what this is about …

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