Polish Jazz: Q&A with EABS

Published 13 November 2019 by Amy

The Polish Jazz London Series is coming to a close with a headline event from EABS at The Great Hall, Leyton on Thursday 21 November. Here, Marta Bielawska-Borowiak of Goniec.com talks to EABS ahead of their show...

On October 1 you played Ronnie Scott’s in London – how do you remember this concert?

It’s a very historic place. One regular told us that we might be the youngest band that managed to play there. I remember watching Chet Baker’s DVD recorded at Ronnie’s 10 years ago. Back then it seemed like an unreachable place. And here we are now…

It worked out, we played a good gig to a full house. We were so nervous. We thought we didn’t play that well and we’d be never invited back again. Luckily, we got feedback from the organisers that it was great and that we are welcome to come back with future projects.

You have a reputation as one of the most interesting and, in many aspects, most fulfilled bands in the world. That’s how Ronnie Scott’s described you. What in your opinion gives your work such a good reception from both audiences and critics?

There is no recipe for it. It works out as we play instrumental music engaged in social issues. We tell interesting stories, then we play about them or vice versa. We are not ashamed of where we are from and who we are. We are EABS from Poland and we deliver real Polish jazz.

Do you have a favourite style of music?

People say that EABS comes from hip-hop circles. It’s true, but when you look at each one of us we all have different roots. For example, Pawel Stachowiak grew up on metal, Kuba Kurek on folk and improvised music. Our common ground is the language of jazz.

How do you feel about London?

London is one of the capitals of music entertainment. It is not just a place – it’s the people. I love the London audience and not just when we play. I also like to be part of that audience. I like how people there feel music. In London, people talk about feeling the vibe. It is something I naturally feel and I miss it when I leave London.

Soon we will see you at the Polish Jazz London Series. What are your emotions accompanying this event?

It’s great that we can come back to London with our new album. It will surely be a special concert as each one of our performances is sacred to us. From one gig to another, we have a growing group of fans in UK. It’s fantastic that Polish jazz is received so well and is met with increasing awareness from jazz fans around the world. It makes us very happy!

How do your roots influence your work? Where did you grow up and what music shaped you?

It’s hard for me to talk for all of us. We are connected by our Slavic souls. We all grew up in Poland, we think in a similar way and we share the same history. When we meet, we play music with no boundaries. We don’t have to think about where it all comes from, it just organically turns into our music.

Tell us the story behind 'Electro-Acoustic Beats Sessions'. What were the beginnings of the band and where is the name from?

The event happened because of the initiative of Spisek Jednego, who was a resident of the Puzzle club In the heart of Wroclaw in 2011. I say ‘event’ because in the beginnings Electro-Acoustic Beats Sessions was a series of jam sessions. There were four of us: Spisek Jednego on the decks, me on piano, Adam Kabaciński on bass and Marcin Rak on drums. I started a special songbook with short hip-hop loops that we developed in a number of ways at the jams. Local musicians joined in. Some played with us once and didn’t come back, some came from time to time and others joined in every time. That’s how we became seven people on stage. Then we realised that we are a kind of a band. We continued playing in Puzzle, but we didn’t invite other musicians to play with us anymore. We worked as a band for many rappers and singers eg. Jeru the Damaja, Jesse Boykins III, Raashan Ahmad… Then we stopped functioning as a ‘live band’. Once there were more and more of these kinds of bands, we stopped working with rappers and turned towards jazz. We recorded ‘Repetitions – Letters to Krzysztof Komeda’ and made a lot of noise, which we are still making.

What are your dreams for the future? Who would you like to collaborate with, and where would you like to play?

Our dream is to compose and create another album and to work on film scores. I would love to take our music to new continents that we haven’t reached yet: America, Africa, Australia.

You play gigs in Poland and abroad. What experience do you have with different audiences? 

It’s different every time. I mentioned the London audience. There is a big contrast between playing for European and Chinese audiences. Europeans react the loudest to dramatic music and any type of virtuosity. Chinese audience find it to be too much. They come to gigs to rest. When you play a beautiful ballad, it makes them ecstatic. It’s really interesting, because when we make setlist in Europe we play mainly lively music and it’s the opposite in China.

Get tickets to see EABS on November 21 at The Great Hall, Leyton