debut ep & interview
Imagine a painting collaboration between Gerhard Richter and Jean Michel Basquiat.. Vibrant, urban Jazz infused poetry dissolve in the layered, contemplative, linear abstractions of the squeegee paintings to create an deep experience of cosmic grammar floating between infinite warped spaces.
The compositional triptych izzjazz examine the possibilities of creating living "sound and word paintings." while crafting sonic art objects as meditations, out of scraps of dreams, visions, hallucinations assembled over electronica flotsam. It's a sound design driven, hyperlink studded liquid amalgam of audio that reveals new layers of meaning with each successive listening.
Multiple listening to izzjazz as a 3D, immersive sound sculpture (installation/ live) or on headphones is highly recommended to grasp the full experience!
We were able to witness the conversation between the Lukasz Polowczyk, aka RQM (text and verbiage). and the Leonard de Leonard (sound composition and sound design).
Lukasz: Did you realize that it took us five years to release our first EP? That's insane!
Leonard: Because we are super slow. (laughter) It's because we started with something completely different and it took us time to figure out what this project is really about. But now, since we got it, we're pretty quick.
Lukasz: Do you remember exactly when we started making this experimental stuff?
Leonard: We worked on the dance-floor tunes for a year. And it didn't work. You weren't really feeling it. At some point, I remember, we did something completely different. We started to experiment with the "drone" sound, we slowed everything down – and it all fell into place. And the work flow was suddenly really good. We started to produce a lot of songs after that. Now I remember! it all changed when you said: "no beats. Lets make music without beats."
Lukasz: I remember that. But in the end we have beats, they're just really understated…
Leonard: But it was important that we made this decision. It opened a new door for the project.
Lukasz: You're right. From that point on we were in this new space and we were both inspired. Pretty much every time we met we created a new tune. I remember how liberating it felt not to be locked to the grid and to have all this freedom in regards to rhythm. I could finally follow my own clock, my own body.
I'm curious though, because we haven't really talked about this explicitly: what was driving you while we worked on this stuff? What was your key reference point, your inspiration at the time?
Leonard: Nothing concrete. I followed the sound. I was lead by your voice and I went deeper with it. When you work on something you have to be inspired. And if I feel that something is going the right way, I just go with it. I loved that there was no structure that we had to work with. It was more organic than making dance music. It didn't have to be functional, at all.
Lukasz: That's a huge change for you, right? You produce a lot of club music..
Leonard: I used to write a lot for motion pictures. This project is a bit like that. I love pure sound. I love experimenting. I love field recordings. And this project helped me expand the way I write music. It freed me from functionality and structure. It was really relaxing in that way. It's my yoga.
And what about you? I remember you were really down about the business and dance music when we started izzjazz.
Lukasz: So many things came together, or maybe came apart, back then. I felt trapped, formally. I couldn't express what I was going through with the tools that I had. When you get older you realize that the world is not black and white, but rather an infinite amount of shades of grey. And that's hard to express. I guess this was one of the projects that allowed me the freedom to explore a new form without feeling obligated to any subculture, to a market, to anything, or anyone, really. If this project is yoga for you, for me, it's a meditation retreat or a vision quest. Or freedom.
Leonard: Exactly. I also felt free doing this. There were no rules or presets.
Lukasz: Were you into spoke word "music" in the past?
Leonard: A bit. I listened to a lot of Hip Hop when I was young. Spoken word was never the main thing because of the language. I heard Saul Williams, of course. I started with Public Enemy, but I listened to so much different music then: Metal, Jazz, Hip Hop… This was before the internet. I used to buy all these American imports. It was all really exciting, finding all this music. William Burroughs could also be considered spoken word...
Lukasz: What about French artists? France has a long tradition of spoken word music, with Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Brel etc.
Leonard: That's more chanson. I guess it depends on the definition of spoken word. We made our son watch videos of Jacques Brel the other day and Serge Gainsbourg. It's more melodic than modern spoken word. But I guess Gainsbourg started out with Jazz, so it's connected.
Lukasz: And what about the new stuff? Is there anything along the lines of what we're doing, happening in France, right now.
Leonard: I don't know. Maybe? There's some slam poetry which is quite interesting, but it's more Pop – so not exactly what we're doing. I live in Berlin for 10 years now, so I can't really speak on this. There's definitely some interesting Hip Hop and Electro happening there. But then there's so much music out there right now and I don't have the time to check it all, so I really can't say. Lukasz: I feel you. I also don't see much happening in the American spoken word scene, but that's not to say that there's a drought, it's just that nothing new had reach me recently. Having said that, in the 90s spoken word was a mainstream thing, thanks to Hip Hop. Which probably means that spoken word went underground, again.
How did it feel hearing your music as 3D audio? I'm thinking of this whole Paraesthesia event that we did with MNTN and our extended fam…
Leonard: It was interesting. I love meeting new people. I love to learn from new projects and from other people. It was like this with MNTN. And it was crazy to hear something that I did in stereo on so many speakers. It opened a new way of writing music for me. Normally I don't use so much stereo because you don't need it in the club. After hearing the 3D mixes I went back and worked on the stereo spectrum of the final mixes of our EP.
Lukasz: Right. I used to bitch about it all being in the center. (laughter) So do you think you'll continue working with immersive sound? Or that we'll explore this format some more with izzjazz.
Leonard: Definitely. Even though I can't imagine not working with stereo anymore, because it's so practical. But if we have the right circumstances to present our music - definitely! The cool thing about MNTN is that you can work with your headphones because of this binaural thing and that you can start with 4 speakers and work up to 64, for live shows. So I think it'll be possible, at some point.
Lukasz: I also would love to explore it some more. I kind of felt like I just learned a new language and understood what's possible, but that I didn't come close to exploiting it. We only scratched the surface. For me this project, and smpl thngs, with Graciela Maria, or this music concrete project that I'm working on with DE KJ are kind of the answer or maybe the solution to that hole that I dug myself into before we started working together. I feel like I need to work really hard again to learn and to master all these new idioms. I feel like I'm growing again. I'm finally free to do things that I wasn't formally able to do before. Exciting times.
In closing, where do you see izzjazz going in the near future?
Leonard: We have the basis now, so we can go deeper with it, and go faster. I tested all these different ways of creating sound for izzjazz (piano with reverb, granular synthesis, field recordings) and now I want to explore this music and this type of music making. Variety is very important for me. I can't live without the energy of the club, but this is my yoga.
Lukasz: And mine. I just wish we could really get some muscle tone by doing this. (laughter)