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Cream [Interview]

24 min read

Whether operating solo or as part of the famed Cream and Deep Fog duo, Polish artist Cream has firmly etched his place in the history of progressive music. With a discography that dates back well over a decade, the Jarosław resident has showcased his music via 3rd Avenue, Beatfreak Limited, Deepwibe Underground, Einmusika, Movement, Proton Music and Univack, while earning continued support from genre tastemaker Hernan Cattaneo. Canada's Strange Town Recordings has also been a landing spot for Cream, with four appearances since making his label debut in 2021. This week sees Cream follow his remix of Adam Toxic (via Strange Town) with his first ever Canadian Tour.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Cream to learn more about the release of  his Adam Toxic remix, recent gigs, nightlife in Poland and more. Enjoy.

Hi Cream, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

I just wanted to say how thankful I am for the invite. Being your guest is an absolute honor. Even though I'm usually swamped with things to do, I try my best to stay in a good mood. Whenever I manage to sneak in some relaxation time and dive into some music, I've been really vibing with Alphaville's latest live album. They teamed up with a symphony orchestra, and it's pure magic. I got to experience it live at their concert in the beautiful Munich Philharmonic earlier this year. I've got a soft spot for this band because they dropped their first track right when I was kicking off my DJ journey.

How was your summer? And what gigs stood out for you across those months?

The summer has been crazy busy, starting back in May when I had the chance to kick off a musical adventure in Asia, rocking out for some awesome folks in Sri Lanka. Then came the whole summer festival whirlwind, starting with the wild ride at 'Beats for Love' in Czech Ostrava, followed by killer sets at Sunrise Festival, Wisłoujście, and some epic times at Audiolake. And you can't forget the unforgettable nights in clubs all over the place in Poland and Europe.

But, let me tell you, one of the absolute highlights was celebrating the 10th anniversary of the amazing Deep Sesje team. That Booth party in Wrocław with the Deep In My Soul crew was absolute madness.

I've been DJing for over 38 years now, and I still see playing for people as my true calling. Looking ahead, I've got some exciting stages on the horizon, including my upcoming tour in Canada and hitting my 200th performance for the year."

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your production work and otherwise, please. There have been quite a few amazing electronic music artists to emerge from Poland like yourself, what was it like growing up there and who were some of your local heroes? Who did you look up to and why?

Absolutely, it's true that in Poland, we've got a seriously talented bunch of artists rocking the electronic music scene. Let me drop a few names for you: Catz and Dogz, Deas, Karol XVII & MB Valance, Tuxedo, Enigmatic, Monojoke, Deep Fog, Karol XVII, MB Valance, RafaEL, Greg Ochman, Vonda7, Weikum, Tommy Gustav, Milkwish, Miqro, Odra, Sept, Duss, Jurek Przeździecki, Agim, Gigi, Pysh, E.F.G, Neptun 505, CJ Art, Noemi Black and our homegrown legend, Angelo Mike.

When I kicked off my DJ journey, you couldn't just click and find tracks online. Nah, back then, it was a whole different ballgame. Vinyl records were where it was at, and you had to hunt 'em down at markets in a handful of Polish cities.

I threw down my first set way back in 1984, man, that feels like ages ago. But right from that day, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the long haul. There's nothing like the feeling of spinning tunes you adore for a crowd and crafting the vibe you want them to groove to. Like I mentioned earlier, I've been at this DJ game for over 38 years now, which translates to millions of hours rocking clubs, festival stages, and all kinds of places.

Back when I got started, the Internet wasn't a thing, and I had no clue how other DJs were doing their thing. You just had to jump in and carve out your unique style. I honed my own mixing techniques, and I've always kept it live – no sync, no master tempo tricks, none of that. That's why every set that comes from me is 100% live, and each one tells a story. Whether it's my tale or someone else's, I weave it through my sounds. There's always a beginning, an intro, the journey, and the grand finale, just like a juicy novel to dive into. I don't follow the crowd with the popular tracks you see in the Beatport top 100 played by other artists. It's always my vision and my story, and I put in hours to make it happen.

If you were a tour-guide for nightlife in Poland, what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

No doubt about it, I gotta give a shout-out to Prozak.2.0 in Krakow – that place has seen some epic sets, including ones I've thrown down with heavyweights like John Digweed and Guy J. Then there's Luzztro in Warsaw – it's got this vibe you won't find anywhere else. And how could we not talk about Smolna? It's a cornerstone in our scene, no doubt about it. And let's not forget the gems like Sopocki Sfinks700 and Poznań's 'Schron' – they're all part of the story.

You have a new remix of Adam Toxic’s ‘Ghost Town’ out now via Strange Town Recordings. Tell us a bit about the remix and who’s been playing it.
Let our readers inside your studio, what is your current setup, and what tools are featured heavily in the writing of your ’Ghost Town’ remix?

My buddy from way back, Adam Toxic, dropped me his track 'Ghost Town.' Man, let me tell you, the melody in that thing just snatched my attention right away; it was like a hypnotic spell. So, naturally, I thought, 'I gotta whip up a remix for this!' Every track or remix I cook up goes through a trial by fire during my gigs. I'm talking eyes on the crowd, watching their vibes, and making tweaks on the fly. It's all about the message and how people feel the beats. Gotta keep that cool groove going; it's my trademark. And guess what? This track got some major love from Ruben Karapetyan, Dylan Deck, Weird Sounding Dude, Dj Ruby, and LORRAÎNNE.

Now, let's talk tools. My go-to DAW is Ableton Live, no contest. And when it comes to instruments, I'm all about the virtual stuff for the speed. Those modern VST plugins? Man, they sound so dang good that you can hardly tell 'em apart from the hardware. I've got a soft spot for U-He Repro-1, gives me that sweet analog flavor, and NI Massive and Spire have their moments too. But don't get me wrong, I ain't a plugin hoarder. Simplicity's the name of the game, you know.

This is not the first time you’ve released with Strange Town, so what is it about the label which makes it a great home for your music?

Naturally, I've had the pleasure of dropping quite a few jams with Strange Town Recordings, and one of my babies there is 'Entropia.' That track's still got a special place in the label's heart. But you know what keeps me coming back to work with these cool cats? It's mainly Brian, the big boss over at Strange Town Recordings. Let me tell you, the guy's a wizard and a total sweetheart. He runs the label with all the pro vibes you could ever want. So, it's no wonder I keep coming back for more creative adventures in this super inspiring place.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

One of those books that really got under my skin is 'The Shadow of the Wind' by the Spanish maestro Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It's not just a book; it's a full-blown magical journey where reality dances with enchantment. Right from the opening pages, I was hooked into its enigmatic world, and trust me, I couldn't put it down. It was like a spellbinding whirlwind, sweeping me into a rollercoaster of emotions, mysteries, and unforgettable adventures. 'The Shadow of the Wind' resonated with my soul and passion like nothing else, leaving me in a state of awe that still lingers.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book, and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

I can't say it's just these five, but if I had to pick, Dmitry Molosh would definitely be up there. His style is something else, and sharing the decks with him would be a blast. And hey, let's not forget about Cid Inc, another ace I'd love to team up with. Of course, the dream gig would be rocking the stage again with legends like Guy J and Hernan Cattaneo.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

When I've got some downtime, you'll usually find me in the kitchen – I'm all about cooking. If I weren't in the DJ booth, I swear I'd be wearing a chef's hat! It's my passion, my little escape from the daily grind. But you know what? That's not all that tickles my fancy. My other big love, aside from music, is diving into a good book. I mean, I could flip those pages non-stop, and it always puts a grin on my face (chuckles).

Books, man, they're like a treasure trove of ideas, opening up new horizons and whisking me away to far-off places. They even fuel my creative sets, like I mentioned earlier – my sets are like stories told through music. I once told my favorite music journalist, Artur Wojtczak, that books and music have given me a life motto that guides me in everything I do: 'The true measure of a person's greatness is their humility.

What does the remainder of 2023 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

After my gigs in Canada, Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) is up next this Thursday. Then, on Friday, I'm holding it down at 'Grand Club' in Rzeszów, my home turf. Saturday's taking me to Bydgoszcz, and in November, I'm jetting off to Lisbon, Portugal. To cap off the year, I'm diving into a concert tour in Argentina, and I'll be wrapping up the year in Amsterdam.

Oh, and hold onto your hats for the upcoming releases – another one of my remixes for Karol XVII and MB Valance is about to drop on Get Physical Music in just a week. Guy J's remix from that compilation already got some love on your channel. And to put a bow on it, my EP for the Indian label Juicebox Music will be hitting the airwaves.

I gotta say, this year has been a wild ride, easily the busiest in my career. Can't wait to see what the future has in store.

Big thanks to Progressive Astronaut for this chat – it's been a true honor and a blast!

Cream's 'Ghost Town' remix is available now via Strange Town: https://shorturl.at/eAZ09

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