1. Do you remember when you first became interested with the technology or equipment that you now like the most? How did that happen? Please write a few words about what you do.
One of my earliest memories is sitting next to the piano and listening to my mother practicing and singing at home. She has a music education and used to work in several cultural institutions in my hometown, as well as organised events and sat on the jury for cultural festivals. She also took me to plenty of concerts and performances for all kinds of music styles and age groups which was a huge inspiration from an early age. Thanks to this I was surrounded by music and art from further back than I can even remember. Later, in primary school, I would visit my mother in the music store she managed in the centre of my hometown, Gorzów Wielkopolski – that was the time when my relationship with instruments and sound took off. I was there pretty much every day, waiting for her to close the shop and absolutely fascinated by all the instruments. I didn’t really know how to play but it didn’t stop me from spending hours and hours every week improvising with whatever there was. My father was a bit of an audiophile and he always wanted to get the best sound system possible for the house and the car. I spent a lot of time driving around with him, listening to music and analysing my experience of the sound. I couldn’t really afford to buy my own CDs or records as a teenager but thanks to the internet and piracy (oops…) I got the chance to explore the music I was curious about, exchange with my friends and dive deeper into things I was interested in.
Eventually I saved up for my first MP3 player with 512MB (which was a huge deal at the time), and since then, I spent most of my free time listening to all kinds of music and creating playlists for different occasions, moods or friends… I listened to songs and albums I got from friends every day on the way to school, during breaks, after school and I was even falling asleep with music. Together with friends from school I produced my first hip-hop tracks when I was about 13 or 14. I was totally fascinated by hip-hop at that point, it was lots of fun. I got my first DAW – “e-jay” or something like this – by browsing one of the music magazines and I started creating beats with samples after school at my grandparents’ place.
Then, in high school, I invested in better headphones and started to focus more on the quality of the production and the spatial characteristics of the music. I would go to Jazz Klub Pod Filarami where many virtuosos performed with their instruments and also to Klub Magnat where one could hear incredible experimental projects, both those more or less known. I began noticing how in modern electronic music, the virtuosity of sound often comes with a certain vision based on producer’s skills – from their understanding of the different aspects of mixing and building space for each sound to unravel textures and create a unique environment for all the elements in a track. At the time I didn’t have a proper understanding of how music is produced and how many stages of development there are, as well as how many people are involved. I was sure it was all done by a single person: the artist performs his or her song, it’s recorded, and gets signed to a label, released and distributed to public. But I decided I wanted to know more – I decided I wanted to be a sound designer.
I moved to Poznań where friends introduced me to the basics of Ableton and I started experimenting with it. After a few years of studying economics and putting on my own events in Poznań, I moved to Berlin. After months of struggle to find an apartment I moved into a house in Wedding with five rooms where all of us were producing music. I created my first songs and learned more about the production process from other amateur producers there. I also learned about SAE Institute and their Audio Engineering degree and I knew immediately that this was what I was the most passionate about pursuing: there I could explore different aspects of producing audio, learn how to work with industry-standard equipment and software.
I started SAE in 2017 and since then I’ve had incredible two years of my life when I could focus on exploring my passion and obsession with sound on a professional level. It let me realize that I was always interested more in experimenting and getting creative through the technical aspects of the music and sound rather than writing my own songs or performing. SAE helped me focus my research and work into recording and mixing engineering. I have a huge respect for teachers and supervisors there who were very patient in answering all my questions and helping me accomplish the projects I was interested in. Also, the experience of being in such an environment and community of students who are all passionate by doing same thing itself was a huge boost of energy and opportunities. I would recommend it to everyone to hang out in spaces like this where people research and study music/sound/audio and collaborate together. This way you can all learn from each other and gain experience in areas beyond your boundaries.
My main focus now is working with Audio Engineering, collaborating on cross-media projects within Uferlos Studios, supporting LGBTQIA+, female-identified and non-binary community with The WØMB, DJing, and raving whenever I can have some time off 🙂
2. Did you ever have to face stereotypes inside your own head? Girls often say that, at the start, they had to fight off their own conviction that machines are not meant for women. How to take down that blockade?
Heh, I guess I was struggling a lot with my identity in general… I knew I had a female body, name, and was perceived as female all my life but I always felt more in the middle. I didn’t even think much about the struggle – it just came naturally for me to pursue what I was interested in, despite what some toxic people thought or felt about it. Sexism existed in my life (big-time) but it didn’t stop me from doing things I was passionate about. It gave me more strength and an understanding of the importance of educating myself well enough so I didn’t need to rely on some questionable mentors. There are only 5% women working in Audio Engineering worldwide; most audio equipment is designed by men; most of the work and recognition goes to men. This, of course, needs to change, and the way we can build some balance is by raising awareness, and supporting each other in doing great work.
3. What’s your current musical obsession? What are you concentrating on in your work?
Currently I’m very much interested in recording and mixing music for other artists as well as creating or executing cross-media projects. Since 2015, I’ve been running Uferlos Studios which is focused on creating aural-visual productions for artistic and commercial projects. We did some collaborations incorporating sound design with film, writing, photography, book launch events and performance art. In 2019, I opened an artist-in-residence program where I invite artists from abroad to come stay in my home studio in Berlin and collaborate on a project together.
4. What was your biggest inspiration this year?
My first big inspiration was The WØMB – including all the experiences, awareness and our community which started growing from the beginning of the year, as the project was developing. It was a lot of super hard work to maintain the project while studying a fast-track degree at school and working on other projects, but the energy and knowledge that came with this was overwhelmingly beautiful. It is a stunning experience to be surrounded by such a strong network of people, and the support from all kinds of professional and emerging artists within the creative media industries, willing to connect and share their experiences in order to create a more gender-balanced industry in the future. I genuinely believe that this is the way to make a change: by supporting each other and creating spaces where we can all share and learn from each other. I hugely respect the Oramics team for doing so much work in Poland – it’s beautiful and thank you for everything that you do!
Regarding inspiration, by far the biggest win for me was mastering of TOTAL SOLIDARITY – Benefit Compilation for Grassroot LGBTQIA+ Organizations in Poland… There are no words to describe how much this means to me that I could help to create this compilation and make sure it sounds coherently on different sound systems. It was a huge challenge nevertheless the result still brings tears to my eyes and makes me proud of every single person involved in creating this beautiful manifestation of solidarity and unconditional love. I deeply care about supporting the LGBTQIA+ community in Poland in particular, as I was born there, grew in a smaller city and learned how necessary it is to educate society, rise awareness, break stigmas and search for solidarity.
5. What was your biggest obstacle this year and how did you deal with it?
My biggest struggle was to find time for my personal life. During the last two years since I started studying and doing all the other projects, I pretty much killed my private life. I was probably the worst friend and partner on the planet working all the time, and not being able to stop, relax and take a moment for myself and my friends and family.
I’d been managing many different projects, doing assignments and handling a lot of stressful situations and deadlines which had an effect on my mental health by the end of the year. After finishing my degree, I decided to take a few months to reduce my work to maybe 20% and take the rest of the time for self-care and go more with the flow of my body and spirit instead of focusing on responsibilities. It was a great choice – I needed a break and now I’m ready to go back to 110% work mode 🙂
6. What advice would you give to girls who’d like to follow an artistic or professional path similar to yours? How to get started? Who to contact? Where to learn about equipment?
I would recommend reaching out people in your surroundings who do things that interest you: don’t be shy to ask if you can assist them in exchange for gaining some experience or knowledge. Define your short-term and long-term goals and be bold about them. There are many good people in the industry willing to pass on their knowledge to the new generation. Also, don’t waste your time in a toxic or patronising environment – find a place where you feel safe, welcome and empowered, that’s very important! Ask as many (specific and well-thought-out) questions as possible but remember to give something back, whether it’s your support (e.g. showing up to the gigs of your friends/mentors), voluntary work or whatever brings positive energy back to the community or the person that helped make you who you are. Keep on doing what makes you passionate and inspire people around you. Above all, connect, share and support each other!
Some supportive networks or organisations I’d recommend:
- www.soundgirls.org (and their FB group);
- www.thewomb.net (site, FB group and symposia) – for gaining knowledge and networking;
- www.female-pressure.net – for networking;
- www.musicboard.de – for funding opportunities;
- www.cdm.net – for info on gear;
- Meetup – for workshops and networking;
- Aequa – local community and knowledge sharing.
- Pensado’s place – endless tutorials on mixing engineering;
- www.protools-expert.com – endless tutorials on post-production in Pro-Tools
- Recording Secrets For A Small Studio by Mike Senior
- Mixing Secrets by Mike Senior
- Handbook of Audio Engineering by Glen Balou
- Secrets of Dance Music Production by David Felton and Greg Scarth
Interview led by Justyna Banaszczyk