[INTERVIEW] ROBERT BABICZ

[INTERVIEW] ROBERT BABICZ

It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words. To see Robert Babicz’s studio set up is to begin to understand the story and trajectory of this unique artist and innovative master of electronic music, sound design and audio engineering. The Polish-born, German-based producer has over 1000 releases on seven albums, and tracks for labels including Bedrock, Intec, Systematic, Audiomatique and Treibstoff. We talked over Skype while he was in San Francisco, ahead of the second gig on his North American tour. His spirit is warm, welcoming, thoughtful and light-hearted. The conversation was insightful and punctuated with laughter as he weaved profound early experiences into turning points and decisions that led him to pursue the craft with full commitment. As he remarked, “For me, it’s a decision about being alive or dying. I take it this serious.” He sees sound and hears images, seeking and celebrating beauty and humanity. He talks about finding his purpose, music as “geometric art form in time”, the value of making mistakes, the profound impact of his first gig, getting organized and accessing a place deep within where constant energy flows. It was a mesmerizing conversation. I hope you enjoy getting to know this talented producer, esteemed artist and soulful person. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk today!

You’re so connected to your emotions, can you talk about how you translate feelings into sound and how you see sound?

I think in general, it’s a gift for every artist. That whatever feeling I have, how I feel in the day - if I’m sad, angry, happy, whatever - I can always transform this into music. So there is, in a way, never a bad mood. I can transform everything. Always. Everything is kind of a form of energy and it feels good to make music out of this.

It even feels nice to cry while playing music, it just feels good because I can release it and it's the same with every feeling. I don’t know if other musicians work the same like me, but for me every emotion is a very important energy. And I can work with it. Everything that I see is sound as well. It’s like colours and forms and everything. I look at something and I hear something.

And that’s like every day, all the time…

Every day, all around me non-stop.

So cool. I read that early on, music was a way for you to be in the moment, a way to be completely immersed. How do you create that over and over again in your performances and when you’re producing? Or is it a constant at this point, a seamless experience?

My goal is to have this constantly in my life, of course. But it happens on the stage, kind of easily because I play live, and play my own music, so I have to focus on this and immediately I’m here. I have to focus. And of course, I love to have this in my regular life. Actually making pictures - this photography thing - helps me a lot.

How so?

It really changed the way I see things. Like completely.

How you view the world..

Yes. I would say there is a stereotype about men or boys, that boys are not into details. It’s like women can see all the details, while boys just see one (laughing). I learned to switch between this and I can see a lot of details in little things that I find super lovely. Super nice. Like, just a shadow from something can be super beautiful. Things I was not able to see before.

Just through the images and photography..

Yeah. And now I don’t need the camera anymore, just by walking on the street I can see all these beautiful things around me.

You’ve trained your eye to look for the beauty, the detail..

Yeah.

(photo cred: Cirque du Son, Hamburg)

It’s funny, I do photography too.. That’s how I perceive photography - like a lens to see the beauty of the world.

Yeah, it really transformed the way of seeing the world. Super interesting. At the same time I’m hearing sounds around me and so it’s like, I’m Alice In Wonderland (laughter), just by walking on the street.

So it could be a moving image and you hear stuff?

Yeah. For myself I understood that the music I’m doing is geometric art form in time. Like you use time..  Because every millisecond that’s happening, sound has a kind of form, and just you design the whole time, the whole object. And give it like a structure. Because it’s becoming, it’s putting stuff together, in ways. It’s a game, it’s kind of working with energy and shades and colours.

Different expressions of the energy..

Yeah. Because I’m so emotional, I always put all the emotions inside, because that’s me.

And then you can carve it based on what you’re seeing. Like you try to bring as much beauty as you can, or the harmonic..

Yeah, yeah that’s something natural. I’m not planning to do this, but because it’s kind of geometric it feels always better when it’s beautiful.

Coherent..

It’s like it comes natural that you try to make it beautiful.

Did you always have this default of seeing this kind of beauty or looking for this beauty or was it something that you trained yourself into?

I think I had this always, but I was not aware. I was really not aware. I remember as a kid how I was running through nature, forests, sitting on a tree, watching just trees moving to the wind.. for hours. And dreaming. Yeah, for me it was normal. I didn’t understand what I was doing.

And then when you found music, and photography, did it start to express more?

It was like different kind of levels of spiritual waking up. Like, you wake up more and more and more. I had a very hard time as a kid because I got abused by my father and he was beating me a lot. During my childhood I was extremely afraid of all adults. I was very, very afraid of every human. When you’re a child, you love your parents and then your parents are not nice, but you don’t know how it could be different. And I thought, Okay, if the people you love so much are like this, how is the world outside? So, most of the time I was alone. I was feeling good in nature. I was constantly in a day-dreaming state. And I was super super shy. And because it was very hard in my childhood, I had like two or three situations where I even wanted to kill myself. Like, when I was 9 years, when I was 14.. I had no idea why I was born. I had no idea, really. I could not understand humans. Today I’m not sure if I can be thankful to my father, but what happened in a way helped me to open some doors inside me. Because when he was doing bad things to me or beating me, I found a place inside my soul where he was not able to get me. Where I was secure. It was like another world. I’m still connected to this other world. So I have this direct connection to, let’s call it, this other dimension, and from there all this constant flow of energy comes.

Incredible. How did that turn around for you? The music must have been one of those moments that helped..

I never planned to be musician. It was amazing that this happened to me. I mean I loved music a lot, of course. And there were a few key moments in my life. Now I understand it, after many years. One of them was when I was 9 years old or something. I had a small radio, like a ghetto blaster, and every night I was listening to music in bed when I had to sleep. At the same time, I was always a fan of science fiction and spaceships and flying to space. One day I caught a radio show that was playing electronic ambient music, but I’d never heard this music before. When I heard this kind of sound and music, I personally thought I got a transmission from a space ship. (Laughter) And I was super, amazed and afraid like, listening to these sounds because I thought Wow, this is from another world (laughing). So I think this was one of the key elements. And then later on, I was 16 when this acid music came along. When I heard this abstract music, I had again in a way this, Wow, this is so different! So, abstract. And then again two years later I had the chance to play around with some instruments from a friend and I recorded a few tracks on a cassette. Really I had no clue what I was doing, I just had fun.

Amazing.

Really I had no clue. I played around. And I recorded some tracks on a cassette and I don’t know what was driving me. I saw an advertisement in a magazine - a young label was searching for electronic music artists. I sent them this cassette, they called me back two days later, Wow this is amazing! We have to release this - send us the master! And I told them, You have the master in your hands. (Laughter)

Basically, this was my first record. From the cassette. And then, two months after the release of this first vinyl, a promoter from my city, he found my number somehow, called me and asked if I wanted to play his party. I said, Of course, yes. (Laughing) But I told him I have one problem, and he said, Yes, tell me what, what’s going on? And I told him, I don’t have any instruments (laughing). And he said, Oh, no problem, we can ask some people and get you some.

So then I went there, two hours before and found instruments I never saw before. I took my headphones and started to program, and then I played my one hour set. Straight, like improvised weird techno music. But this was the very, very, very important moment in my life and something where I was really feeling good, and giving love unconditionally and getting this back. I was just myself. And this was like a bomb inside me.

And this was around 18 years old?

Yeah, I was close to 18 years, close to finishing my high school. And then I understood, okay, this is maybe the reason why you are here. This is so strong, this has all the power, this makes sense. The first time in my life I had the feeling it makes sense to be alive. It feels good to be alive. It was also the first time, after this show.. I was going to my parents. I told them, No I will finish high school, but I will not go to university. I will not take any job, I will do this music thing. And they were shocked, and angry, so they told me, Okay son, if you decide this, then you have to leave. So they kicked me out of home. I could stay and go to university, or leave. And without thinking, just thinking for a second, I said, Okay I go. And it was the first time in my life I said ‘No’ to my parents. Before I was always afraid to say no. But now I understood that I had something. And then, really just it was like the universe was taking care, in a way. I found this really small flat. A simple room. I got a mattress from friends. Like, I had nothing. But after the first show people really liked it and then I got other shows and my first little, little money came in. And I was able to buy (laughing) - a little instrument here, and this and that. So I was just moving out, living super simple, but super happy because I could do my music. And then for myself, I just believed this is the right thing and whatever happened, like for me, it’s still like this, I will never give up. I just do this because I have to. So, that’s maybe one of the reasons why I think if you decide to be an artist, to take it seriously. It’s super fun and amazing and whatever, but if you take it really serious, as a serious thing, then you can do way more than just a hobby musician making some beats and some sounds. For me, it’s a decision about being alive or dying. I take it this serious.

That’s so powerful. It’s so cathartic to hear you.. I think through our stories we can see ourselves.

In the end I think every human goes through this and makes decisions. And yeah, since then I’m living my dream in a way. And having a lot of adventures.

What advice would you give yourself, if there was any advice, from where you are today, to back 10 or 15 years ago? Is there any advice you’d give yourself back then?

No, because another thing is it’s super important to make mistakes. It’s one of the best ways to learn. Make as many mistakes as possible, but try to learn out of them. I didn’t have any teachers, nothing. It was just constantly doing things. Doing them sometimes wrong or right, but doing them. And then, things will happen. And just believe. I’m kind of, I don’t know, maybe super stubborn in a way, because I’m just going my way. If I want something, I can wait like, ten years. It’s okay. I try to make it happen. But I will just go on and on and on.

That’s so awesome.

It’s this kind of way. But yeah, I believe things will happen. It takes time, but they will happen. Just don’t give up.

What’s most important to you right now as you travel and do this work?

These days it’s getting more and more important to me, because it’s something I never learned, to be organized. This is a lesson I need to learn because everything is just way more complicated in a way. But when you travel all around the planet constantly, it’s good to be organized. (Laughing) And I’m really, I just live in the moment and what happens next is.. And many times I’m super surprised why things go wrong. (laughing) But it’s okay. It’s something I have to learn now. And the rest, from the music way, I’m kind of happy because I’m in this flow very easily.

You’re going to Burning Man?

Yes, and from what I understood, I will play seven or eight shows.

What does that experience mean to you or what are you looking forward to?

Many people tell me, Ah it will be amazing, it will be super cool. I’ll let it happen.

You’ve never been before?

No, I’ve never been there but in this 26 years of traveling around this planet I’ve seen a lot of things. (laughing)

I’m looking forward to it. But I’m just thinking not to wait for something amazing to happen just let it happen. For me it’s clear I will do from my side my best possible I can do. I will put myself into it and I will run around doing my music and of course, with the camera, and let things happen. Just dreamland. Let things happen.

Amazing. What’s next for you?

After this America/Canada tour, I’m going back. I made a few releases that I have to send out that are ready. And I’m so happy about them. And there’s a South America tour waiting for December I think, and then some Asia.. Always something. I just love to be alive. It’s just wonderful.

So amazing. If you had to describe the most beautiful feeling of a geometric shape of, I guess it’s hard to describe.. I was going to ask how you see acid in a picture, in words, but you can’t describe it right?

I have no words for this, you have to feel it. And then you know it. When you feel it, you know it.

Thanks so much for this time, I really appreciate it.

Thank you!

(photo cred: André M Hünseler | thinkingpixels.com)

Many thanks to Robert Babicz for taking the time to do this interview, as well as his management. 


1 comment

  • Dj Buterfly

    Thank you very much ,cool interview ,nice read ,best talent .Wishing a bunch of new inspirations for your music career in the future .Great

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