ECHOES OF YUL‘s live performance at The National Museum in Warsaw’s Gallery of Medieval Art in late April this year encompassed multiple artistic facets and coincided with a vinyl re-release of “The Healing”, one of the most well-rounded, ambient, post rock and drone experiences of late 2015. It prompted us to embark on an examination of the art of ECHOES OF YUL or, to be more exact, the music from Michał Śliwa, the main brain behind ECHOES OF YUL, who has a passion for creating ambitious projects that blend art, cinematic music and technology. We had the chance to speak with him about his experimental process, his latest record, vinyl format, Polish independent music scene and more. Read the full interview below.
Hey Michał! So, what’s the deal with this new re-issue of “The Healing”? What prompted you to offer this new edition?
Hi. This is not a “re-issue” just the delayed format. “The Healing was meant to be released in all formats at the same time but the vinyl was delayed, due to the circumstances it took a few more months to complete. That`s a bummer but i didn`t want to wait until vinyls came out so Zoharum and i decided to split the release dates.
With everything being digitized, what encourages you to support the vinyl format? How important do you feel vinyl is?
The fact that I had to wait for a few months for the pressing plant to produce the records is the best example of increase in the demand of vinyls. But it is just a format, you know. It sounds a little different comparing to CD or digital version and artwork looks definitely better but i’m far from idealizing it as a “proper one”. I support every physical format in the same way, and feel sorry for decaying interest in CD which is in fact fantastic: small, persistent, durable, great for storage. Good thing is i can buy a lot of records for pennies now cause everybody seems to abandon CDs.
In my case releasing record in digital format only is not enough i like to touch it and smell it (laugh). The process of creating design for “The Healing” with Maciek from Zoharum was the most pleasant experience during the whole time of preparing “The Healing” for release.
Can you hear the difference between both formats of “The Healing”?
You can hear different mastering and when comparing one to one, cd to vinyl you listen to the same record but it sounds a bit different. CD sounds more polished and vinyl is more like “to the limit”. I can`t tell which version I prefer.
Generally speaking, even with the rise of the Web solutions to new levels, what’s your opinion on its takeover over physical media? Where will it lead us? Will digital media eventually win over traditional formats?
They already won. Physical formats are for minority of listeners, collectors or people who are hibernants. I don’t think that they will disappear completely and there always will be a niche for tapes, vinyls or CDs but the truth is that streaming media is now the standard way of listening to the music.
“The Healing” hasn’t been unleashed for free download. How do you feel when it leaks? Do you care?
A little. Releasing physical formats is not a cheap business and selling options are limited, especially when you dont`t play gigs, so i care about condition of my labels. Zoharum for example is a small company and the business is clear: if they don’t sell enough amount of records they won`t have funds for another release. Of course promotional aspect of filesharing is undeniable, especially when you don`t play live as i do so this matter is important for me. Finally i hope if somebody likes the record enough, they will pay for it.
Anyway streaming music is killing filesharing too (laugh).
The record offers more ambient and calmer approach than your previous efforts. How do you think your music has evolved? How has your creative process changed over the years?
With every record i need to incorporate new methods and tools just to escape from repeating myself. My creative process is a mixture of “let`s try something new” and jamming with guitar, looper and drum machine as my usual way of composing. I see new album as natural progression for EOY and have a feeling that the resulting album is a kind of farewell to the heavy formula of the previous records; I wanted to make it more intimate, something like “bedroom doom” (smile). I`m much calmer now and have less negative emotions to put into my music and it definitely can be heard on The Healing.
Can you serve us a brief description of the equipment you used to record “The Healing”?
It would be a very long list. I started recordings during my advanced G.A.S. period: used a lot of guitars and synths, tons of stompboxes, noise generators and stuff like this but i ended up with minimal setup of hollow body guitar, mic and a small amp.
Are there specific criteria do you look for in judging whether or not your demos and sounds are worthy of being put on the final record?
My personal taste only. It takes a lot of time to get some kind of continuity and coherence especially when compiling the whole record. This time it was easier because i planned to release vinyl and was limited to 40 minutes which appeared to be a good thing. From some point i had “the picture” of what The Healing should be like – quieter and more minimalistic effort. Finally a lot of tracks with drums or heavy guitars were hidden deep in the mix or removed completely. A lot of heavier tunes which didn`t fit to the concept of The Healing was released on my personal label in small amount of copies on additional tape “The Healing Sessions” with outtakes and demos.
When you produce, do you draw more inspiration from organic, rock, electronic sounds, or rather various things outside music? What provides you with a firm foundation for your experiments in sound?
There’s no simple recipe. I draw from everything: music, movies, art or just a small things around. I love to record various sources with my dictaphone and break them out of context. It is very important part of my process.
There are a lot of strong elements, all building up a surprisingly calm and mystical atmosphere. Would you say that you are a spiritual person?
I`m quite opposite to that, down-to-earth guy. It`s hard to explain overall result: this is simply the way i want to hear music: not overcomplicated but multidimensional, tense and soothing at the same time.
Is this an aspect of your music you continue to pursue in order to develop yourself? Do you see your own art as a healing force in everyday life?
Not really, music is very important part of my life but without any healing powers. Definitely everyday life has a huge influence on my music but from my experience i see that no big dramas and boring existence have better impact on my creativity.
I’m sure that ECHOES OF YUL would serve a perfect cinematic adventure, yet there are no music videos or visual stimulating videos skits created in support of your sonic art. Would you like to change that? If you would have to produce a film based on your music, how would you imagine it?
Yes i would love to change that but i don`t want to add random or mediocre visuals to my music so i try but still can`t get proper results. If i was to produce a film on my music it would be rather slow picture, with good visuals, long shots, meditative mood, you know, this kind of stuff.
I love cinema, i`m absolutely indiscriminate watcher and i draw a lot from the pictures, especially when constructing tracks: many times they have more in common with film storyline than regular style of composing songs.
Ok Michał, so lastly, what else can we expect from ECHOES OF YUL this year and beyond?
I hope to release next record the following year, i have plenty of new tracks and sketches but this time i feel they have to mature and i need to find the key or denominator for the whole record. For now i can hear that new record will be straight progression from what you can hear on “The Healing” but more focused on guitars and more complex rhythms. But it can change. From the perspective of last few years i see that every EOY records differ from each other.
Are there any exciting events on the horizon that you are planning on participating in as a spectator?
I live in a small town and don`t have much of exciting events around.
By the way, what’s your impression of the music scene in Poland? Do you have any favorite new artists that you’d recommend to us before we sign off?
Polish music scene is stronger than ever before. I`ve been witnessing colossal amount of fantastic bands and records over the last few years in almost every kind of music. Current indie music scene is the best ever, electronic stuff are great, etc.
I can’t wait to hear new forthcoming records of my fellow musicians like ARRM or GUANTANAMO PARTY PROGRAM: have heard demos of the forthcoming GPP record and i’m sure their new record will be their best. My new discoveries but no so “new” as a bands are two great projects: NOWA ZIEMIA and GHOSTS OF BRESLAU, the type of ambient music i like the most, organic, haunted and absolutely beautiful.
Zoharum is a good place, I’m honoured to be amongst many inspiring artists, they have dozens of great projects in their catalogue (go check GAAP KVLT). In fact, actual state of music “industry” in Poland is quite good for small, independent labels, Internet helps with promotion and they are ran more like ventures of love than real businesses. I totally support polish labels like Instant Classic or Arachnophobia to name just a few.
I appreciate your genuine honesty, Michał. Thanks so much for your answers and good luck! Cheers!