We know Blazej Malinowski, the master of deep and hypnotic techno, not only from his outstanding live and DJ-sets, but also from his releases on labels such as Semantica, Silent Season and The Gods Planet. In 2021 the Polish artist extends his multi-sided career in techno by launching his own label.

Monument had the pleasure to have a chat with the curator of the brand new Inner Tension imprint, whose first release sees the light in January 22nd.

Hey Blazej, and congratulations for your new label Inner Tension. Please tell us more about your new imprint.

Hi, thank you so much! The idea of curating my own imprint has been at the back of my mind for a couple of years now. Yet, it was only around a year ago that I got the feeling the timing was finally right. I had decided on the label’s name near the end of 2019 and started the whole process. One of the major steps was planning the first four releases. I always wanted to experience this challenge – to create my own platform for curating releases that I believe in.

I wanted also to invite my exceptionally talented friend Eerie.mydriasis to become responsible for the cover photos. It is very important for me that the label will have its specific concept and both sonic & visual identification. So my aim is to build a label that will reflect my own personal taste in music.

Has this been your long-time dream to launch a label? Could you describe the general timeline from the idea for actually having the tangible label and release in your hands? 

Yes it was. I had been intensively thinking about it for the past 5 years. It was the natural step forward, but also a longtime dream to be able to release and build a label from scratch. I realize that it will take a lot of time and dedication to build something significant out of it, but at the same time the perspective to do so appears to me to be both exciting and immensely rewarding.

I am trying to be patient as much as possible with the next steps I take. The one thing I have learnt in my music path is that new projects’ development always takes much more time then expected at the beginning. Now everything is very close and I feel that I took the most important step of creating the first record for Inner Tension. I hope it will go much further that that.

What is the sonic/musical identity of your label? 

It will reflect my own personal taste and identity for sure. I believe that the most important aspect for it is to have a music direction that I can connect to. I have always admired such labels as Semantica Records – it has been around for so many years and as a listener one can see the small changes in music direction; but at the same time, there is one curation/narrative mind behind every decision – you can sense it and that is what I am mostly drawn to. I am at the beginning of the road, but with this first chapter I really hope that I will be able to release many interesting records in the future.

Where does the name “Inner Tension” come from?

Inner Tension was an EP that I recorded few years ago and released at The Gods Planet. It was dedicated to my daughter. I had the exact idea how the label should look like for quite a long time. At the same time, its name was the challenging thing to figure out. After many weeks of looking for the right one it suddenly came to my mind – it was ready and just waiting for me right before my eyes, I just needed to realize it. This name is important to both my heart and mind. It is a natural continuation of the feeling I have towards making music and life in general. Creating music, playing gigs, releasing new material is amazing, but it can be difficult and emotionally demanding at times. It is a combination of my personal journey and emotions connected to it. 

The first release “Katharsis EP” is by you. Is there a specific story behind this release and the tracks behind it? How was the creative process?

I had made this track probably back in 2015. Until now I have played it many times in my live acts. It always gave me the feeling of being completely lost in the very moment. I promised myself that I will release it on vinyl someday. I even had one opportunity to put it out digitally, but I decided I would wait for the right time and for the physical record. After turning my own label into reality, it seemed natural to build the first release around this track and emotional impact it has on me. It took some time but I am happy that it did. It gave me the opportunity to think everything through. The name of the EP was based on the first track but with all that happened in 2020 I guess it got some additional meaning to it.

Oscar Mulero remixed one of the tracks in the release, and his work provides an interesting, a bit more raw approach on it. What was the motivation behind inviting Oscar to remix the track?

When planning the label, I decided to ask artists that I have always admired to contribute to it. I have been following Oscar Mulero’s work for a very long time. He is an example of a person that creates music on his own terms. He has been on the scene for a long time and I always felt he sticks to what he believes in. I did not expect he would agree, but decided to invite him to this co-operation anyway – and when he did I could not be more happy about it. The process went very smoothly and in the great atmosphere. Oscar was very humble, professional and open for my input, but after hearing the remix for couple of times I did not have any other feedback except that I loved what he did. I really appreciate that he took the time and made this long interpretation close to my original sounds, but with his recognizable, amazing sonic signature.

In your previous interview you said you have planned in total of four Inner Tension releases. Do you wanna share something about the future artists involved with the label – what should we expect? 

I wish I could, but I got used to announce the things that are right around the corner and sure. I do not want to go into specifics, but I can say that I want to invite producers that are inspirational for me. I would also like to give the space to the new coming names, that I believe have something important to say with their music. The second record would also have my track with a remix, but after that I will start to bring more and more producers to the project.

In case you have already signed other artists on your label, how is it to shift the focus from being the recording artist to being the label curator? 

This is the biggest challenge for me in curating the label. With releasing music somewhere else there is always a dialogue about the music and record itself. With my own label I am alone in the process and stand on the other side of it. At the same time, I have to say I love it! It is still new to me, so I could probably say more about it after few more releases.

Did the COVID-19 situation have an impact on your plans on launching the label? How did the past year treat you in general?

2020 was extremely weird for me and for all of us in the scene. I had my ups and downs, but I was trying to focus my energy on making music and finalizing the projects that I had in my mind. In general I cannot complain, although I miss playing, traveling and meeting with people. At first I wanted to release the first Inner Tension record before the summer, but with all the Covid-19 news all around the globe I decided to postpone it. Now I cannot and do not want to wait any longer; I want to focus on the next releases and records I am planning.

You have also hosted Inner Tension events before the launch of the label (and before corona). Are these two linked with each other, and if so, in what way? 

Yes of course. When I started hosting the parties under the Inner Tension name it was a first step and an introduction to what and where I would like to go with the label. I had a chance to make three events at Warsaw based Smolna club. I booked Deep Space Helsinki, Artefakt, Svreca, Adriana Lopez, Dtekk and Kameu. For the last party, I played 5h B2B set with my dear friend Claudio PRC. It was my last pre-Covid-19 era event and it seems now like it was ages ago. I had many more ideas for the next ones, including a release party, but 2020 had different plans for all of us.

Leading a label must be a whole different journey compared with hosting events. What has been the most interesting, challenging or mind blowing thing in it? What have you learned?

I am still learning – Katharsis will be the first record I will release by myself and I still feel new to it. It is a new process that I need to get use to. I have many friends who are running their own labels, so I had a lot of help in terms of how to do things properly. So, in the end it was just a matter of making a research about distribution companies, costs and all the other little details that had to be done. In that terms it is new and different, but the general rule is the same – music comes first and then it is just about putting it out there.

When I invite artists to play on my events I am always absolutely sure that I want them to perform at the specific party. In releasing music I want to have identical approach. So I guess with hosting events the stress is adding up just in the last days to the actual date, whereas with releasing records there is much more components stretching over longer period of time. I learned again that I tend to overthink lots of things and maybe sometimes it takes a bit too much time. I hope that, in the end, the music and the whole concept will speak for itself and people would be drawn into it and find it interesting.

So in 2021 you are a producer, DJ, event host and a label head. Did I forget something? Should we expect something more from you in your multi-sided career in music?

You covered almost everything. I have been also hosting a radio show for more than 10 years with my friend Michal Wolski. It airs every Sunday at the polish Radio Kampus, where we play music that we love. There are no opportunities to play at the moment, so I am focusing on making music including my album – I still do not have the deadline when I will finish, but it is getting closer. 

If there is something else you would like to share with us, the word is free. 

I would like to invite you to listen to the Inner Tension 001 record and express my hope and desire that 2021 would be easier for all of us and we could enjoy music together, not only at our homes.

Thank you for this interview, all the best with your label and best of luck for 2021!

Thank you so much for the talk and support.
Happy New Year.

Blazej Malinowski’s “Katharsis EP” releases on Inner Tension on January 22nd.

Picture: Carol Grykorug