“Playing music reserved for electronic music producers or DJs,” an interview with wh0wh0
wh0wh0 is a solo project by Jacek Prościński, a Gdańsk-based drummer and electronic artist. Jacek creates richly layered music, all controlled live with a hybrid-Sensory Percussion setup. He has a new self-titled album released by Coastline Northern Cuts.
Can you share your background as a musician?
I come from a family where art was always present. My dad was a painter, but he also played the guitar and (sometimes) drums. I started playing the drums at the age of twelve. I always wanted to attend the Academy of Fine Arts, but fate led me to the Stanislaw Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdansk (Poland), where I was born. I studied jazz for 5 years.
At the same time, I was getting deeper and deeper into the world of electronic music and was interested in production. I started to develop my own setup by expanding drums with a synth and sampler first. I played with many well known Polish artists using such a hybrid setup. I liked it, gained experience and started to become independent, trying to create things on my own in my studio.
How did you find your way to Sensory Percussion?
I was introduced to Sensory Percussion by a fellow member of the Bubble Chamber band––Michal Gorecki––a great bass player who was always on the cutting edge. I am grateful to him!
How do you describe wh0wh0?
This is my individual attempt to work on the music that is generally reserved for electronic music producers or DJs. It is also a compilation of my musical interests and experiences that I have learned over the years. wh0wh0 is synonymous with freedom for me.
What’s your compositional approach to writing music?
When composing, I have no boundaries––which is probably a result of many different influences. I try to avoid unambiguous inspirations, it’s even difficult for me to point them. This gives me comfort in experimenting, juxtaposing sounds from distant worlds.
I often succumb to the moment and improvise trying to create a solid basis for further development. When I put together some sounds and ideas - I start recording and improvising.
I like to have, in the back of my head, an idea of some neat, transparent form (let’s call it a backup ‘song’, haha!). Because of that I can try various ways of performing it and even when I lose myself, I can get back to where it all started. I am relying on the earlier mentioned solid base (whatever it may be - a beat, a melody etc.). I also like to experiment with song structures, which has resulted in some compositions consisting of two or three pieces put together.
Where do you start?
It really depends. I don't have a consistent strategy for creating new pieces. Sometimes it’s an arrangement of harmonic sounds (or even one) triggered with sensors, and sometimes it can be a bass sound played using a Nord Drum synth as a basis for mixing with other samples. Next time it's just a beat that I cover with harmonics.
What was the recording process like?
We ended up recording the whole album in my rehearsal room. Recording, production and mixing was done by a producer who works under the moniker Dalekie (real name Marcin Szulc). The major part of the recording took place during summer. I remember it was really hot and we recorded several versions of one piece with sweat trickling from our brows. We wanted to highlight the “live” aspect of the music, so the album consists of the tracks recorded mostly with one take, to keep the flow between the segments.
We really had a bit of a journey to actually record this album - it started shaping up a bit just before the pandemic. We worked on two gigs in December 2019 and while we were already recording some of the material, we came up with an idea for a live show - so it was a kind of a process of recording, concerts, recording and we finally made the album. Counting all the days that we spent on the preparations and recording, I think it was 29 days in total, full days over all those months - we wouldn't have been able to afford to record it in the studio, because we just had to get to the point where we had to work it out in a certain way to actually record it. No matter what I came up with (including a piece that consisted of 155 tracks), Marcin always remained extremely calm (haha!)
- 3 snare drums with Sensory Percussion sensors:
- Omar Hakim signature snare drum 13 x 5 (coated head)
- Noble & Cooley Classic Solid Shell Maple Snare Drum 14 x 7 (coated)
- Mapex MPX picollo snare drum 13 x 3.5 (mesh head)
- Paiste Masters 20" Dark Crash-Ride
- Turkish Millennium hi hats 14"
- Roland SPD-SX with 2 electronic kicks (KD-9 and FD9)
- Nord Drum 2 with four Roland PD-8 pads
- Tascam US-16x08 audio interface
- MacBook Pro 13” 2015 /w Sensory Percussion and Ableton Live 10
How is Sensory Percussion integrated?
Besides triggering the samples and usual Sensory Percussion business (haha!), the sensors are integrated into the lighting system during our live shows. This idea kinda overlapped with making the record. We use MIDI to control the light. I think it’s ok to say that I’m playing with the lights too because each hit reacts with a specific light. It is an extension of the music during live performances. Even though I am alone on stage, our live team is made of 4 people: Marcin, the producer, who also created the whole lighting system; Kamil - a great friend handling other lights at the venue; and the live sound is done by Tomek who, together with Marcin, runs the label and they released the record.
Do you have plans to tour this album?
Of course, we do! The pandemic situation makes planning a bit difficult, but we already have a handful of shows booked. Who knows? Maybe we will manage to visit you in NYC? That would be great!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you very much for the interview and congratulations on contributing to the expansion of knowledge and continued exploration of the drumming possibilities. Sensory Percussion brings things to another level. I'm still exploring your software, I'm actually about to leave to the studio to work. So one love and all that.