Exclusive Mix & Interview
August 11th, 2019
Genre: House / Afro / Techno
Photo Credit: Natalia Krauze
Welcome. So glad to have you. Introduce yourself to our audience. Anything special you would like them to know?
Hello, I'm Marta and I'm a DJ from Wrocław, Poland. I also create and host cultural, culinary and other events in my city. Sometimes I organize parties. Besides that, I work as a copywriter and a PR person in Brand Marketing and Re-Branding. And I still write here and there as a journalist - that is my first profession. It shaped me as a person in many ways and will always be dear to my heart.
DJ-ing occupies more and more of my time. I've recently started learning production too. I guess I'm a creative and passionate go-getter, always curious, sometimes stubborn. :)
Thank you for inviting me and giving me a chance to introduce myself to your audience. I feel honoured and humbled that I'm able to release my mix for Smelly Feet Records next to Sarah Farina, SAMA, Barbara Boeing and among others.
You recently returned to Dj'ing after a long hiatus. Tell us about the transition back into the scene.
Yes! I returned to DJ-ing last year and since then it has been quite of a journey. My first gig after a 9-year break was in March 2018 and it was called Tropical Edition, after a discussion of the same title I hosted here in Wrocław. We talked about club music from Africa and Latin America and tropical influences in today's Electronic and R&B music. One of my guests was Mikołaj Kierski, a founder of Basy Tropikalne, a Polish platform promoting Contemporary Electronic music from the aforementioned regions, which consists a net label, a radio show and a series of tropical music oriented parties. And the funny thing is, we both debuted then at the party in Wyspa Tamka. I had my "second” debut after a long hiatus and he played for the first time. I was nervous nobody would come but fortunately, that wasn't the case. :)
Back in the day, I used to play regularly for 3-4 years in three clubs in Wrocław. Simultaneously, I was working as a journalist - first for the radio, then for a regional daily newspaper. When I decided to do it full time, which included long hours of work, often during weekends, I couldn't focus as much on DJ-ing anymore. Making people dance was fun and I have always been passionate about music but honestly I didn't take DJ-ing that seriously to consider it a career choice.
Journalism became more engaging as I started writing for national publications. When I quit the daily newspaper in 2014, I was drained and became an editor for a culinary magazine. During the years I mentioned to different people here and there that I would like to return to playing but nothing happened. I was anxious about stepping outside of my comfort zone, which would include learning new equipment, being in my late 30's, I thought maybe I'm too old for this and I didn't think I really knew what exactly I liked to play. I was still writing a bit about music, also being a judge in annual local music awards which are quite important here.
So another doubt was: am I able to make a transition from judging other artists to being judged by others? Plus, I was mostly associated with so called black music: Soul, R&B, Hip-Hop and Funk. I was writing a lot about it as it is a part of Black American culture, which I'm passionate about, I also create and host events on Black America. So I'm not surprised when some people make comments about me playing Acid or something else they would not expect. It's all good. :)
Photo Credit: Łukasz Giza
"Now that I don't limit myself, it's getting more and more exciting. I don't play any specific genre and I don't want to be categorized."
Why come back and how does it differ from before?
The timing was right. I was going through some personal stuff and music has always been my happy place. I sang a bit in my childhood and teenage years, was learning a bit to play the piano, was glued to the radio, then talking and writing about music – anything connected with music has brought me joy. So I bought equipment, a friend gave me a few tutorials and I started practicing at home. My thought was, "Am I still able to make people dance?"
After the first gig at Wyspa Tamka, I played at a few Hip-hop, Soul and Funk parties but I knew I wanted to play more than that. I also knew I had to find the club in Wrocław where I'd played regularly all night for six or seven hours every time. I wanted to make sure I felt comfortable with changing genres, keys and BPMss - building tension, space, cadence and overall - keeping the people on the dance floor. I was doing all of this back in the day and my style has always been eclectic. But now, people are different so I felt like I was learning it all over again.
Art Cafe Kalambur is a very open place, they trusted me and now I play here regularly. The IDM and Electronic club scene in Poland, and Wrocław in particular has changed a lot during the years. It's very interesting and inspiring. It's a cliche but everything is easier now - the access to music and making connections with other artists and party promoters. You've approached me on Soundcloud. I've also met a few other people online, which I think is amazing. After returning to the DJ realm, music became one of my biggest priorities, it just happened naturally. It has grown to be such an important part of my life again and I even surprise myself with it. Having to prove myself has been challenging at times but also rewarding. I could tell you the stories about some party promoter's attitudes towards me but I prefer focusing on what I do, which gives me so much joy.
Tell us who your influences are and what have you learned from them? How have they shaped you into the artist you are today?
I'm too humble to call myself an artist. At least not yet! As far as influences, there are too many artists to name. I have a soft spot for rare joints and Kashif production style, catchy keys in Rave songs and Chicago House bangers. I also love Electro and early Egyptian Lover stuff. What else? New jack Swing era, Black Jazz Records and Nu Groove releases, Kwaito from South Africa, Ghetto House. Add some Acid tunes and contemporary Electronic music from Africa and Latin America, old Fania Records catalogue. When it comes to DJ-ing, I love what Carista or Dee Diggs are doing nowadays. They play different genres but it all comes from "the soulful place”. You expect they will play House next but here comes Techno, then some weird stuff you would not expect and it still works. Based on the fact that my roots are in "black music”, I like this approach. For me, it's never about the genre, it's always about that cohesive groove.
When we first discovered you, we became fans instantly. Tell us about Recepcja mix.
Thank you! It was recorded in the Recepcja club here in Wrocław. I wanted to put out something I recorded live so I'm happy it's there. Actually, I made a few other connections because of that set. When I listen to it right now, I think it's too polished but it's OK because I play many House and Tropical tunes too. Although, it's only part of what I do, it's still me. I've always been a sucker for a good melody which I'm not ashamed of. Well, I know some DJs are. :)
Photo Credit: Łukasz Giza
"Just going with the flow, trying to be better at what I do and play more in the places that I want to play."
Moving forward as a DJ, what would you like to accomplish?
I'm enjoying every minute of it and who knows what the future holds. I have plans and ideas but we'll see. Now I'm in the process of changing equipment and learning production. Just going with the flow, trying to be better at what I do and play more in the places that I want to play.
Life outside of music. Tell us your passions.
I mentioned before my passion for African-American culture. Also, I love food and wine. Whenever I get a chance to, I travel. I was living in the U.S. for a few months. My traveling is usually connected with food and music. I'm also pretty reflective, love dogs, spending time in nature, cooking for my friends and going to museums and galleries.
Marta Sparrow, in a few sentences. Tell us about this mix you made for us. Where did you get your inspiration? Is there anything special you want the audience to know?
This opportunity means a lot also because this mix is the first recorded representation of who I really am as a DJ today. Two new mixes are already planned. I've been waiting for a while to put out something new because I wanted to make sure I would figure out what I wanted to play. Now that I don't limit myself, it's getting more and more exciting. I don't play any specific genre and I don't want to be categorized.
There were three goals with this mix: I wanted it to have a structure and cohesive groove, to make you dance and take you for a journey though various sounds that I like. So there is a little bit of Classic House and Electro, a touch of Global Bass, Techno, a sip of hard drum, a catchy weird tune from Egyptrixx, some Mariah Carey vocals, a few of my personal discoveries and tunes from Polish artists like Gaijin Blues and VTSS.
I edited most of the tunes, created different loops, changed their order and BPMs. Hope you will enjoy it.
Photo Credit: Łukasz Giza
More about Marta Sparrow