Strawberry Fields Title Image

DPRP's Menno von Brucken Fock speaks with
Wojtek Szadkowski (Strawberry Fields & Satellite)
on 9th and 11th April 2009

Satellite came about in the beginning of the new millennium as a project from former Collage composer/drummer Wojtek Szadkowski. The highly acclaimed debut in 2003 was called A Street Between Sunrise And Sunset and featured ex-Collage member Robert Amirian on vocals. Another ex-Collage member, Mirek Gil was one of the guitarists next to Sarhan Kubeisi and the drums were recorded in Mirek Gilís studio. The rest of the recordings were done in the studio of yet another ex-member of Collage: Krzysiek Palczewski, who played keyboards on the album and got credits as co-producer. Extraordinary melodic symphonic music in the same vein as Collage, also with influences of Genesis. The artwork and bandlogo were done by no one less than Mark Wilkinson of Marillion fame. Next to a number of guests, the line up of the first album was completed by Darek Lisowski (keyboards) and Przemek Zawadski (bass).

The successor to the debut, Evening Games was released late 2004 and featured the core of the first line up minus keyboardist Lisowski and guitarist Mirek Gil. Recordings on several locations in Poland including the studioís of Amirian(vocals) and Palczewski. The artwork on the second album consisted of a photo taken from a painting by Deanne Hancock.

On the third album Into The Night, released in 2007, the line up is still the same except for bass player Zawadski: he turns out to be replaced by Jarek Michalski. Guitarist Kubeisi contributes to the songwriting in bonus track. Artwork - again olive greyish green as main colour, was done by Jan Ternald. Recently Satelliteís fourth album Nostalgia saw the light of day. This time Szadkowski apparently decided to take full control again because he wrote all the music, played both drums and keyboards and produced the album as well.

Recently another album was released: Rivers Gone Dry by Strawberry Fields. This too turns out to be a project by Wojtek Szadkowski. Although less progressive, still an album worth checking out for all people liking melodic female fronted music, symphonic to some extent.

Enough reasons to have an interview with the artist responsible for so much great music as we know from both Collage, Satellite, Peter Pan and now also from Strawberry Fields.

Wojtek Szadkowski
 

Part 1 : Thursday, 9th April 2009

MENNO: Hello Wojtek, I hope you are well! Are you ready to switch from Polish to English?

WOJTEK: Of course, always! This may seem a little odd, but Iíve spent some years studying English literature at the University so for me itís not too much of a problem. It struck me when I was in your country, most of the people I met were speaking more perfect English than the English people themselves!

MENNO: But Iíll bet itís harder for Polish people to learn English than it is for us, Dutch?

WOJTEK: Not necessarily, although I admit the languages English and Dutch share a common background unlike Polish. I would think learning Polish for you Dutch would be more of a problem! (grins)

MENNO: No doubt about that! But, weíre here to talk about music, your music to be more precise and this conversation is being recorded so (laughing), be careful with what you are about to say, because you know Ďanything you say can be used against youí... No, just kidding, nothing in this interview will be published unless you approve. Do you remember we actually met some years ago in Holland? I was the guy who introduced the band back then and you were having some difficulties with gear and sound-check.

WOJTEK: (laughing) Itís a relief that I can read first what youíre about to publish, because sometimes my emotions get the better of me and I might regret things Iíve said or your interpretation might be different from what I tried to say. Yes, I remember playing in Holland that night, now I get the picture!

MENNO: If I may Iíd like to dig a little in your history as a musician. When did you first start playing an instrument and when did you decide you wanted to try to make a living as a musician?

WOJTEK: Iím not the kind of musician that grew up with musical instruments and one that has had many years of classical training. I think the first time I picked up a guitar was when was around 16 years of age. My parents bought me one and the first thing I tried was to play some melody line of my own on the high E (as you name it) string. From the moment I started to play, I started to compose. Although I listened to music, I always hated to play other peopleís stuff. As for the drumming: when I heard the Beatles, Ringo became my idol and not being in the possession of a drum-kit, I started to play these rhythm patterns with my bare hands on the table, chairs, all kinds of things. Then I bought myself some sticks and pretending I was playing a real kit, I started to use my lamp as a cymbal, my chair was the snare, some pillows were the toms and the plastic shell from the tapes (in those days there were no CDís but mainly tapes and cassettes) was my bass pedal. With this Ďgearí I started to copy Ringo in songs by the Beatles.

Now at some point there was a band in my school looking for a drummer and although I have at the time never been near a real drum-kit, I told them I could play. They invited me and I got to sit behind the kit and we started to play and it was real easy for me. Fortunately they were even worse as musicians than I was, but we enjoyed ourselves very much and this how I got my first experience as a real drummer. A different story is how I learned to play more complicated stuff: once I heard the album Seconds Out by Genesis and I was totally blown away by the drumming of Phil Collins. I practiced the Cinema Show and subsequently the whole album until my fingers were aching and when I finally got it all under control, I learned that the stuff I had been practicing, in real life turned out to be performed by two drummers, because with Genesis on stage there was Bill Bruford and Chester Thompson too! I think this is why I sometimes overdue in a little and do strange things on drums. In my opinion the most beautiful things happening with music are happening because of lack of knowledge: well trained musicians make no mistakes but might lose some creativity, while people like me make mistakes all the time, but those mistakes lead to new ideas and different approaches. Iím 45 years old now and I still not know the chords on the guitar or even the names of the strings. I donít know anything about musical theory and thatís why Iím able to do things schooled musicians would not do.

MENNO: What about the keyboards?

Krzysiek Palczewski WOJTEK: That is from the time in Collage. Whenever I got an idea how to arrange the music or I had a composition, I started to show what I had in mind using the keyboards and gradually I started to play chords as well. In summary I wouldnít say I am a good musician at all, not on any instrument! When I started Satellite it became a necessity for me to play keyboards, not only because more of my compositions were conceived using keyboards but also because keyboard-player Krzysiek Palczewski wasnít always available, like on the last album. Due to unforeseen circumstances he was unavailable for about 2-3 months so I had to do practically all keyboards myself to meet the deadlines I had agreed on. It was a very strange situation as I didnít expect this to happen, but surely Iíve learned a lot again! Krzysiek did submit some keyboards at a later stage, but they were too cosmic in my opinion and didn't not fit the overal character and mood, so I just hung on to the things I had recorded already leaving just a few glimpses of Krzysiek keys. Heís still in the band though and he is an extraordinary keyboard-player indeed. I hope he will be recording with us again on the next album.

MENNO: But you didnít consider hiring another trained keyboardist?

WOJTEK: Why? I thoroughly enjoyed doing the keyboard duties and as far as Iím concerned they sound just fine. You know on the previous Satellite albums, Iíve also recorded some keyboards, but thatís not stated in the booklets. Apart from that Iíve shown Krzysiek on several occasions how I wanted the keyboards to sound, so many of the basic sounds are Ďmineí too. On many occasions however he was able to improve what I had in mind but I couldnít play myself adding some great new sound and structure ideas as he is very creative (when forced to). Thatís why the current album is different: my chords are not as complicated and well developed as Krzysiek would have played themÖ

MENNO: Krzysiek is still in the band? What about the live shows?

Robert Amirian WOJTEK: Yes, Krzysiek is still a member of the band but he has been busy with all kinds of things this last year. He would be playing live with the band but the problem is our vocalist, Robert Amirian. He is also involved in other projects, TV and such and he decided that he was not going to perform live anymore. Itís his decision and I have to accept that as a fact I have to deal with and it leaves me with two choices: either maintaining Satellite as a studio project, just like The Alan Parsons Project, or changing the vocalist. My biggest problem is Iím just so terribly fond of Robertís voice, heís a great singer, one of the best, and it would be extremely hard to find someone else.

MENNO: What kind of music did you grow up with? Obviously Genesis has been one of your sources of influence and inspiration. What other acts of genres of music do you like?

WOJTEK: No doubt it is of great importance for your early development that you have one or more idol. When you grow up and the creativity starts to flow however, you should try to become your own idol. I hear a lot of bands ou there just trying to copy their idols and thatís something I have tried hard to avoid. The most important band for me is always the Beatles (this band changed my life, my way of thinking and the attitude towards life), then I can think of Genesis, but foremost King Crimson: in my opinion the most creative band since the Beatles. They combine creativity, passion and technique in a most unbelievable way. Iím not very interested in genres as a whole like (neo) progressive rock, rather bands that I like because individuals or bands create a genre and itís not the other way around. I like to listen to Joy Division, Billy Holliday, Louis Armstrong, Big Band stuff, Simply Red, Chic but also Madonna and Michael Jackson Ė these two ARE my true IDOLS I just love them! From the newer generation also Robbie Williams, Kings Of Leon and Fall Out Boy. Itís strange for me to observe people comparing my music to Porcupine Tree or Pendragon: I just donít know, because I havenít heard their music at all. I might hear some single tracks but you cannot call it conscious listening. Every day Iím walking around with thousands of tunes in my head and Iím constantly in the process of composing. Since Iím not able to write down the music I conceive, I must either record it using the guitar or the keyboard or use my cell phone to record a melody and many of them are just locked away in my head. I never plan anything, I just do...

MENNO: How did you become involved with Collage?

WOJTEK: This was in the days of the school-band I mentioned before. I was walking down the street one day and I heard some rock/blues music coming to my ears from a basement. It sounded awful, but the guitarist (turned out to be Mirek Gil) was just amazing. He sounded like Eric Clapton in his days with the Cream or Jimmy Page (in Led Zeppelin). About two weeks later a guy appeared at school telling us he was in search for a drummer, so I stepped forward and said, yes I can play drums. It turned out to be that band Mirek Gil was playing in! But, Mirek also played in another band with a vocalist just sounding like Phil Collins and invited me to join them. Because of our constant desire to improvise Mirek and me were thrown out of that band and thatís where we started to form our own band in the mid eighties; that band was the foundation of Collage.

MENNO: I donít suppose you earned a lot of money in those days?

WOJTEK: No, not at all. We started to earn some money with Collage in the early nineties and before that we were students. I lived at home and I went to the university of Warsaw to study English culture and literature. It was very hard for me to combine study with music because I was asked to appear on television, do interviews, play live shows so at some point the people responsible from university confronted me with an ultimatum: I had to choose between university and music. No need to tell which choice I made? I finally managed to graduate but it took me a long time.

MENNO: What kind of technical aids did you use during the Collage days to write your music and bring it to the other members of the band?

WOJTEK: Until Nostalgia, practically all of my music was composed on the guitar. So I used to play basic chords and sing a melody for the band and we just improvised around it. I always had a song with the proper basic vocal lines and sometimes a sketch of lyrics and sometimes just rough ideas with my voice humming the melody. The Collage song War Is over is an example of a song that was almost ready to record in a few minutes after bringing to the rehearsal room. I have so many ideas that is always difficult to choose and if you listen carefully the songs on both Collage or Satellite are composed from all kinds of different melodies (hums an example): itís all about these melodies and emotions of course.

(At this point Wojtekís cell phone starts making noise with a ringtone from Harold Faltermeyerís Axel F. We had a little chit chat about Axel Foley but Wojtek had to leave for a rehearsal with Strawberry Fields and never expected an in depth interview. We made arrangements to continue this conversation on April 11.)

Part 2 : Saturday, 11th April 2009

MENNO: So, how are you this morning, wide awake?

WOJTEK: yes I am, in fact we are in the middle of making preparations for a Polish tradition at Easter: egg painting. We do it with the family, my wife and two sons.

MENNO: Hey Wojtek, thatís really nice, I hope Iím not interfering too much! (laughter at the other end).What did you do when Collage disbanded (1996) and when did you decide to try again with Satellite (2000)?

Strawberry Fields WOJTEK: When the band split up we, Collage minus Robert Amirian, got the opportunity to become the backing band for a famous Polish singer Anita Lipnicka. She used to be in a very popular band called Varius Manx, but around 1996 she moved to London to pursue a solo career. In London she worked with renowned session musicians and producer Danny Shogger.Her first album was an enormous success in Poland. She was looking for a band to play live with her to promote her solo-album and we were out of a job so we ended up touring with her, playing all the big venues, travelling with three big trucks packed with stage and lights, for one and a half year. On one special show we were supported by Danny Shogger, Chris White (Dire straits) and Hugh Burns (George Michael, Gerry Rafferty, and many more) We had a few days of additional rehearsalis together with them in the studio to change all arrangements. That was a big time working with those great artists. After that Mirek and I did some TV shows with Morten Harket from A-ha promoting his solo album, and then I focused on my family: my first son was born and two years later the second, so I became a family man. I had a regular job working for Sony Music Publishing. I was responsible for the A & R there. The Beatles back-catalogue, Presle and may many more artists, and searching for new talents, signing some bak catalogues of famous Polish stars belonged to my tasks. Still, after a few years, I couldnít stand to be outside the core of the music business anymore. I wanted to compose, play with friends and have fun just like in the early days. I wasnít planning on recording or anything like that, I wanted to play again.

MENNO: Whatís the music scene like in Poland? If you werenít selling albums in the rest of Europe, you would probably have a hard time to survive?

WOJTEK: Fortunately Iím also selling albums outside of Poland but if this was not the case I believe I still could make a living as a musician. The main thing for me however is to perform live, playing gigs all around the world thatís what I like the most. It is also necessary to gain popularity. Promotion outside of Poland is very difficult so gigging is the way to make a name for yourself. What we really need is a good promoter/manager outside of Poland. With Strawberry Fields we are ready to go on tour and with Satellite also if we could find a good vocalist, but without someone who looks after promotion and booking, itís impossible and I really donít want to have that responsibility myself. I would be able to work with other people, compose with other people and create popular music as well, but still thereís the problem with not having someone to take care of the business side outside of Poland, so if you know a person who is willing to support me in that aspect, it would be great! Many bands are touring in Europe and obviously have such contacts, while we donít!

MENNO: Donít you know who they have as liaison or canít you ask them?

WOJTEK: No, I donít know. But thereís something else. Iím from a different generation and in my time everybody wanted to help one another as musicians. I would be happy to provide information and letting other musicians benefit from my experience and contacts. The modern generation of musicians, although all of them are great guys, are thinking in a different way. In the back of their head is Ďmaking an albumí and sometimes this is the only reason to form bands to do just that. When I was younger all we wanted was to make music together and we never thought about recording ever! Forming a band had a totally different drive compared to the present day. I am constantly creating and composing, regardless of what happens with the things I have created. Maybe thatís why older bands are stronger and perhaps better, because they are only thinking about playing music and not Ďwe have to record an album nowí. I mean, Satellite is a good band and Strawberry Fields, being more pop/rock orientated, could even be more popular and I think with the right people helping, this band really could become very popular internationally.

MENNO: You recently released your fourth Satellite album (and Strawberry Fields) through Metal Mind Records. The only logical choice for you?

WOJTEK: I have known the managing director Tomasz Dziubiński, for a long, long time and as I mentioned before, Iím not very good at spending a lot of my time looking for contacts, labels, promoters etcetera. Since I knew Tom for such a long time I decided to work with him on my projects. Biggest advantage is that I am allowed to do what I want to do and Metal Mind will release almost everything I create, no questions asked! Can you imagine a record label that would release my Strawberry Fields project without even asking for a demo? I have never ever had to give them a demo for any of my projects. For this attitude I am very grateful. They just believe in me. Most of the time I am too late to meet the deadlines agreed to deliver the master-tape and they even accept that, grumpy and pissed off naturally, but they do!

MENNO: All four albums by Satellite were ďDPRP recommendedĒ meaning 8 or higher on a scale from 1 Ė 10. Do you consider Holland to be a Ďgood countryí for Satellite and which other countries do you know Satellite is popular?

WOJTEK: Well thank you, thatís really cool! Actually this is a question for the record label, I really wouldnít know. But considering the responses via my space, Satellite gets positive feedback from all over world, even the strangest places such as Sri Lanka. So, the distribution must be reasonably good. As for Holland, I agree. In Holland there has always been a strong fan-base, but in France too. England I think not that much, as far as I know progressive rock is not very popular in Great Britain. The USA is a big market too, not to forget Japan. I HAVE to go to Japan because Collage also was selling very good there so I think for Satellite there must be a demand too, because the people there have a reputation to love progressive rock!

MENNO: What about youíre your neighbour-country Germany ?

WOJTEK: Certainly good reviews, so it might be possible to do gigs there. Definitely a country Ďto be exploredí. Italy itís the same. Iíve got no worries about the popularity of Satellite in Europe or the US. In Scandinavia there were very positive reviews too, that means we would have to perform live there too some day. Playing live is what we need to double or even triple the fan-base in all those countries! On the other hand, strictly from the point of view as composer, when Iím creating music, I donít care if people like it or not : I donít give a shit! This way of thinking does not affect my creative process of making an album. Once an album is finished and itís released, then itís a different story.

MENNO: Other progressive acts from Poland to name of few are Believe, Quidam, Riverside, Kayanis. Do you know of these artists? Whatís your position in the Polish scene?

WOJTEK: I donít know the artist Kayanis. I think most of the people in the music business know my name and I hope I am a well respected colleague. Due to the popularity of Collage in the nineties, when we were playing the biggest venues together with pop/rock bands, everybody are familiar with my name. Every time a Satellite album is released there are big reviews on the internet, in the newspapers and the leading rock-magazines in Poland, so thatís quite okay. However, the progressive music is not mainstream in Poland anymore and just like everywhere else the sales of CDís is decreasing. look at Billboard: The units you have to sell for Ďgoldí are far less than 5 - 10 years ago! Sometimes the sales of a well promoted pop-star is comparable to the sales of a band like us. That means that if we would get the same kind of promotion, we would be selling far more! For instance Evening Games was number 2 in the Polish charts for two weeks. To give progressive rock a fair chance would mean restructuring of the promotional tools. The two biggest radio-stations in Poland have a lot of influence: major record labels wouldnít dare to sign an artist without their approval! Itís ridiculous. You know, many people in Poland love progressive rock but many of them donít know of the younger bands: they all know SBB, because itís a very old band, but if they would know those younger bands, probably the old music-scene would be different and Ďprogí would be far better promoted. Itís slightly changing however, so maybe in about 3 yearsÖ. weíre hoping for the best!

MENNO: Maybe the internet, my space, you tube, website makes it possible for artists like you to be heard through other channels than the radio?

WOJTEK: Thatís true, but again you have to get someone to build a website or a Ďmy spaceí and maintain it, send emails etcetera. I wonít do it, I have no time! It would be very efficient though, but a time consuming business too!

MENNO: Listening to all Satellite albums, especially Nostalgia and the last Collage albums, musically there is not too much difference for my taste. What are the differences for you as an artist?

Strawberry Fields

WOJTEK: For me those albums are not comparable at all. Looking back at the last Collage album Safe, I think there are a few good songs on it but itís making a switch towards pop-music; Safe wasnít even meant to be a Collage-album! The composing of that album took us only two weeks, the producing however took about 800 hours! While we were composing, it began to sound like Collage and with a few adjustments here and there we decided to make it a band album after all. Nostalgia on the other hand a is very personal album, composed by a different man in different time of his life. Especially because I donít think Safe was a good album I wouldnít compare it with Nostalgia, also because in my opinion Nostalgia contains the best melodies I wrote so far and the lyrics are much more meaningful, though fairly simple. Maybe Moonshine has got similar kind of mood, so you might be right but to tell you the truth, I never listen to an album once itís finished so I really wouldnít know. In Collage times Mirek and I composed most of the songs, but we worked on them in the rehearsal room. We improvised and arranged the songs together, thatís a big difference from Satellite, because I am doing all the composing AND arranging myself. The rehearsal room is in my head. Of course I work with fantastic musicians and their soloís are much better than I could have come up with, but thatís a different matter. Most creative processes in Satellite are mine including composing vocal lines.

MENNO: And comparing Collage and Satellite from the point of view of a businessman?

WOJTEK: Satellite is certainly making me some money but due to an agreement with Sony Music Publishing, for a number of years not all revenues are mine, Iím afraid (sighs).

MENNO: Are you still in touch with Mirek (Gil)?

WOJTEK: Sometimes things happen that are beyond your control or that you donít understand. I cherish all those moments Mirek and I were improvising, composing and arranging and I think we were an extremely good creative couple. As time goes by people change, develop other interests. I would love to compose with Mirek again but at this point I donít think it can happen. But occasionally we meet each other and have some beer together.

MENNO: On Nostalgia Robert sings more aggressively, instead of using his very melancholic, soft singing voice. Personally I have the impression he has to put lots of efforts to sing the many high notes on this album. Deliberate choice ?

WOJTEK: I have finally managed to push Robert to the strongest, powerful sound I knew he was able to deliver and Iím extremely happy with the results. Moonshine was the peak for Collage and Robert sang a 100% of his abilities there too, so I can imagine there are some similarities there one could detect.

MENNO: Robert records his vocals very often twice with an octave difference. Is there a special reason why you want them that way?

WOJTEK: Although the vocal lines are mine, I feel it is right to allow the vocalist to use his imagination and to come up with his own interpretation. Robert likes to arrange the vocals this way.

MENNO: Nostalgia has been recorded throughout 2008. Does this mean you do just one track at a time?

WOJTEK: No thatís not how it works with me. As I mentioned, Iím constantly in the process of creating and composing and most of the time Iím working on a number of songs simultaneously. An hour or two on one song , than I switch to another song and shape that one, go back the first song and so forth: I never concentrate on one song solely. Itís just like giving attention to your children: you canít focus on just one, you have to give some attention to each one of them regularly. Besides, Iím too impatient and too curious: when Iím working on several songs Iím eagerly awaiting what melodies will come next for each one of them. In fact Iím working on one whole album at the same time, in the case of Nostalgia I was working on Rivers Gone Dry by Strawberry Fields as well!

MENNO: Just like the previous albums, Nostalgia too has been released in a regular slipcase version and as a digipack with extra tracks. Your idea or the record companyís?

WOJTEK: The record companyís. I donít see the point or benefit, but they ask me to give them a couple of extra songs and I deliver. However sometimes these extra tracks are not as well arranged and produced as the other ones on the Ďregular albumí.

Jarek & Amarok MENNO: How did you get Amarok (Polish progressive rock artist - MvBF) to play on Nostalgia?

WOJTEK: He happened to be recording in the same studio we were. I didnít know Amarok (Michal Wojtas) was such a versatile musician and when I heard what he was doing, I asked him to help me play some hammonds in and of course the last guitar solo in the last track. This initiated another project of mine; presumably it will be called ďThe TravellersĒ. I have some tracks ready to send to him and then I will wait for him to do with his guitar whatever he wants and send them back to me.

MENNO: Nostalgia is the third album with the same sort of colour setting and atmosphere on the cover: your idea and does it have a specific purpose these covers look alike to some degree?

WOJTEK: The choice of the artwork for the cover is my decision alone. Every time I look for an artwork that matches the album Iím working on. For the first album I was working with Mark Wilkinson. It was my idea and I contacted him. we talked about how I wanted the cover to look like. But the unicorn was not my idea (hahaha). The second cover was an existing artwork I picked up. Technically it may be not that good, a bit childish perhaps even, but it fits the title Evening Games perfectly. The third cover (Into The Night) and DVD cover is from an artwork by a great artist named Jan Ternald, I just loved this artwork. For Nostalgia itís a combination of two entities. I got inspired by an artwork featuring a woman in a white shirt standing on a boat, but I didnít like it as such, flies around her head and all. I suggested artist Trine it should be a man sitting in the boat with a glass in his hand, to put in a TV-set and a reflection of a cityscape in the water. There you have the lonesome guy, sort of drifting, reflecting and floating between two worlds, reality and memories.

MENNO: The other album you and Robin released recently was Rivers Gone Dry. Does the name Strawberry Fields refer to the Beatles in some way?

WOJTEK: The Beatles is the greatest band of all and Iím always looking for a good and catchy name so... Although we have had some discussion, reviewing a thousand names, none of them was as good as this first idea: Strawberry Fields. Thereís an obvious relation with the Beatlesí song there but it reminds also of a slightly psychedelic era so I think itís a good combination. But most important of all: itís just a very good name!

MENNO: How did this project come about?

WOJTEK: The problem with me is I have so many ideas. Often I compose six or seven songs per day, all those couldnít be suitable for Satellite, that would be insane. Surely not every song I compose is good enough, so I make choices and maybe one out of a hundred is meeting my standards but there are many different styles in what I compose: also pop- and rock-songs! Physically I have no time to bring all those songs to the studio and record them to make an album. It happened about a year ago, I had some free time to spend and thatís when I started thinking of a project outside of Satellite. Robinís voice is truly amazing and she inspired me to put the songs together for the album.

MENNO: How did you find Robin?

WOJTEK: This is a strange story but Iím a strange kind of guy you know! It happened one time when me and Radek (Chwieralski, guitarist in Peter Pan Ė MvBF) sat in a bar and I was discussing this new project of mine with him and his girlfriend Marta (aka Robin). I was telling them I couldnít find the right vocalist for this project. After a few beers I said to Marta: ďyou know what: you will be the singer in my new projectĒ. At the time I didnít even know if she could sing AT ALL! And I was not drunk. I just felt this would be the right person.

MENNO: Thatís a bit peculiar indeed! You stated that you wanted to do things outside of Satellite, but in Strawberry Fields you ended up using the whole band except the singer?

WOJTEK: The music is always the guiding light i follow making all choices. Apart from the fact it is hard to find the right people in a restricted timeframe, the compositions are forcing the musicians to play in another style and thatís exactly what happened. If I was to compose songs that were really totally different from Satellite, Iíd probably pick other people to work with. In this case I really didnít think that was necessary because all songs sound like I imagined they would sound. Apart from that thereís always me, Iím the constant factor and Iím not pretending to be anybody else. So as long as I am involved there will always be some clues pointing to me as the composer. Iím not trying to be a Genesis clone or anyoneís clone, I want to hang on to my originality.

MENNO: Another project initiated by you is Peter Pan. The current Satellite bass player Jarek Michalski is a member of that band and Robin was found through Peter Panís guitarist. How did you create this project?

WOJTEK: At some point I was kind of fed up with all the big production techniques and the clean, polished sound: never a note out of tune! I began to miss the passion in the music and I wanted to feel the raw and honest sound again, because in my view in many cases the production process is killing the music. Thereís too much compression and things. Iíve tried to minimize this on Nostalgia and I succeeded in realizing much more Ďspaceí than on the previous albums. So I started looking for a guitarist and found Radek through Robert Amirian. He mentioned to me he knew about a young talented guitarist, well known in the Ďunderground jam sceneí. I went to see him play in some club in Warsaw, we met and felt a mutual understanding. Still, at that point, he was far too quick for me: it was his Vai like technique playing, not him, not his soul. Every time the crowd went crazy while most of times I told him ďRadek, this was awful, youíre not bringing in any emotion at allĒ. It took him nearly a year to figure out what I meant but finally we got together and we began to rehearse. Even then he needed a while to produce that emotional raw sound as you can hear on the Peter Pan album Days. This album is recorded live for about 50%, they were in fact rehearsals but with sound improved in the studio. We did only three rehearsals but in the studio we failed to achieve the same kind of passion as in the first rehearsals, so I mixed the recordings in the studio with the recordings Ėwith only two mikes- I had left from those rehearsals. Only the vocals were re-recorded. The sound is so natural and rough, it really felt like a relief for me to feel the vibe of spontaneous music again and to record this kind of music just as rough as it was performed.

Robin - Strawberry Fields MENNO: Back to Strawberry Fields again: Robin wrote all the lyrics; did she also do the vocal line composition?

WOJTEK: No they are mine. But she wanted to write some of the lyrics but when she asked me to help her, I insisted that she would finish them herself. Sheís a great lyricist and I believe sheís got something hidden inside that she needed to express. Actually, it felt like a relief for me too: I could concentrate on the music and didnít have to worry about the lyrics. When Iím working with someone else Iíd like them to be creative and if I think they canít express it, I force them to do it.

MENNO: Whose idea was it to use so much echoing and reverb for Robinís vocal, especially in the first song?

WOJTEK: It happened by accident. We were adding some reverb to the vocal and someone stopped the tape, creating that sudden change. It was my idea to use it in the recording. |A similar technique by the way, is used in the title track of Moonshine: in the middle section thereís a sudden silence. Also on Evening Games, somewhere the music is cut very abruptly: I like this kind of contrast.

MENNO: Are you planning any shows with Strawberry Fields?

WOJTEK: If we can, yes! Weíre just about ready to play live but as I said before, Iím likely to get a depression because all other artists seem to be able to find the right people to get them gigs in Europe and until now we canít!

MENNO: What will be the core business of Wojtek Szadkowski the months to come?

WOJTEK: I have a number of songs already so we will probably start to record the second album by Strawberry Fields in May next year and also a new Satellite album. There will be a new Peter Pan album too, maybe even this year. Then thereís the project with Amarok and one more project, but that will be a bit weird I think. It will be a surprise, for me too!

MENNO: Wojtek, I really appreciate you have given me so much of your time and I surely hope to see you live with whatever band real soon!

WOJTEK: Thank you very much and yes, I too hope we will start touring soon!

Interview by
Menno von Brucken Fock

Discography
SATELLITE
2003
SATELLITE
2005
SATELLITE
2005
SATELLITE
2007
SATELLITE
2009

The Street Between Sunrise And Sunset

Evening Games

Evening Dreams
DVD

Into The Night

Nostalgia


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PETER PAN STRAWBERRY FIELDS
2007 2009
  LINK
Links
Satellite: Official Website
Satellite: MySpace

Strawberry Fields: MySpace

Jan Ternald Website
Amarok Website
Lady Trine: MySpace

Metal Mind Productions
MySpace: Metal Mind Productions

 


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