In the return of our Weekend Playlist feature, we speak to local dj DJ Ryan R about vinyl, djing and nightlife in Wroclaw – not to mention his 5 tracks to get the weekend kick started!
DJ Ryan R is a local DJ and music producer who plays at a number of Wroclaw's best alternative venues, including Nietota, where he will perform a set on Friday night. DJ Ryan R is also a regular on Radio Ram, where plays tunes on Maciek Przestalski's show Fleszlajt.
Ahead of his set on Friday, DJ Ryan R took up some time to speak to Uncut. Here's what he had to say:
Your sets seem to cover a rather broad spectrum of music. Is it possible to characterize what you play in any given evening?
Yes, that's correct (about the variation of music). I always used to say that there are basically only two genres of music – good and bad, so I play different music from all over the world – this might be jazz from the Czech Republic, rhumba from Angola, funk from Trinidad, disco from India or house/techno from Poland.
What I don't play are chart busters because I believe that there are plenty of djs in Wroclaw doing that and I don't see the point of having the same music in every club. Besides, I believe that in the history of music there has been a huge amount of great songs that have never got the attention that they deserved and that's exactly what I'm trying to do – put them in the spotlight.
It appears that you are a rather big fan of vinyl. These days we are of course surrounded by all kinds of advancing technologies – yet vinyl still remains relevant for many. What is it that has contributed to its continual mass appeal?
For me personally it's a form of self-restraint. I used to dj using digital forms of music – mp3 and wav, but at some point I figured out that there's so much music that I don't even remember what I played a week before. I completely lost myself in the pursuit of new tracks and spent more time searching for new stuff than actually listening and enjoying that music.
I think a lot of people feel that way and vinyl records are great way to get yourself attached to records and simply remember the ones that you really like – because it's just there on your shelf, not on a computer hard-drive where it can be easily lost. You can grab it, enjoy the cover, the smell, plus there's that whole ritual of putting on the record, setting the needle and so on.
So it's experiencing music on many more levels than just pressing play on your music player.
How do you go about sourcing new sounds and tunes for your sets?
I find new music by reading blogs, books, forums and listening to classic and new dj sets recorded by my DJ heroes (like Daniele Baldelli for instance). I also check all other projects by my favorite artists and inspect whole catalogs of music by my favorite record labels (in which I find discogs.com to be very helpful).
The I go to Sunday markets like the one on Mlyn Sulkowice or Dworzec Swiebodzki and hope to find them, and – to my surprise – very often I do find them. If not I look at allegro or olx. I'm also a regular in Wroclaw's second hand record stores like Duza Czarna or Vinylove. For new releases I usually choose Warsaw's Sideone and record stores from Berlin or London (like Oye or Honest Jons).
I'm also lucky in that my father travels a lot and he often brings me records from abroad, so that's why I play a lot of tunes from distant countries like Japan or Chile. But sometimes searching for new music is just plain luck – like when I was last at Mlyn Sulkowice and I found that rare German minimal wave record – Vono – just because I liked the cover 🙂
What's your thoughts on the music scene in Wroclaw right now? Do dj's have the opportunity to go a little left-field with their choices? Or is it a case of simply going through the motions and playing the same old hits?
I would say Wroclaw's nightlife is pretty vibrant right now but it's also pretty much all the same 😀 By that I mean that there are dozens of clubs playing hits and there are also many clubs playing techno and in both cases the clubs are packed week by week.
Promoters and club owners/managers are usually pretty open minded but I'm afraid I cannot say this about most people visiting these clubs. Sometimes I think people don't go to the club to experience something unique but they want over and over the same stuff, same songs etc.
Of course there are exceptions, such as Kalambur, which is my favorite spot right now and where I guess I might say I'm resident DJ. Perhaps Uff Club too. To be fair I must also say that there's plenty of people coming to me when I DJ who ask about tracks I play and often say that they didn't even knew they like this sort of music. This happens a lot in Nietota and that's why I enjoy playing there so much.
That's the thing that really drives me and what I'm trying to achieve. I don't want to say I "educate" people but rather show them some alternatives and prove that experiencing something new can also be fun.
As well as doing live dj sets in bars and clubs, you also play some tunes on our favourite local radio station, Radio Ram. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Well it's not exactly my show but I guess I might say I'm a regular guest of Maciek Przestalski's on his great radio show called 'Fleszlajt' on Radio Ram, which involves guest DJ sets from the most interesting DJs from Wroclaw like Dejot, Czikitas Brothers, Dr Oldskul and so on.
I really appreciate his efforts and I think he's doing really great job with this show. Also, in reference to the previous question, I would say that there's plenty of people eager to experience alternative music. This is representative of the positive comments and kudos after each show. However, perhaps these people don't have or don't know how to find these DJs and the clubs playing this sort of music. That's exactly why Maciek's show which is so important – it is broadcasted on public radio and is widely available.
The same thing is true of the students at Radio Luz with guys like Pawel and Sebastian from Purpurowe Rejsy, who I used to work alongside before I had to quit to do my day job. I hope one day I can get back to radio more often and host my own show!
Last but not least, you look like a man who's involved in a number of projects. Is there anything else you are working on right now?
Yes, beside Djing I also record my own music. I just had this great release on Transatlantyk Records which is a label ran by Zambon and which shows great variety of the current top Polish electronic artists/djs like Naphta, Universo, Ptaki, Bartosz Kruczynski, Lutto Lento, Jazxing, Unitrax, Selvy or Eltron John to name just a few.
I'm really happy because Trans Afryka EP, which I contributed towards with my track Umqondo, was made available worldwide and it sold out really quickly in countries like UK, Germany, USA and even Japan!
This gave me great motivation and I'm currently finishing tracks for my new EP inspired by Polish jazz tradition (but still club-oriented!) as well as few other tracks which might be released by foreign labels. However it's too soon to speak about the details.
DJ Ryan R's Weekend Playlist
On our weekend playlist feature we ask local DJ to pick 5 tunes to get your weekend kick started. Here's DJ Ryan R's choices:
DJ Ryan R – Umqondo
Universo – Umhlaba
Kram – Zabita woda
Tatsuro Yamashita – Funky flushin'
Asha Bhosle – Pass Aao Na