KJ SAWKA is on a mission as he continues to trigger full on production through drum and bass experiences, making reality possible through his label Impossible Records . Stemming from a solid background of pure creativity, he provides full on live captures making him am unstoppable force. Having credibility as both an instrumentalist and producer, he dates back to his days with Pendulum as their drummer, and since then, has expanded into both his solo project, KJ SAWKA, and his band Destroid, a full bass music band ( Dubstep influenced ) along with Excision and Downlink. Having been captured by his sound for over a decade, I had the honor to further connect with him so he can share it all. Discover everything from his live set up to his inspirations and motivations as he fuels creative exhilaration, philosophy, intriguing technical aspects/approaches, his vision behind his label, and current projects and advice. Finally caught him live at The Black Box out here in Denver, Colorado recently and can assure it was a mind blowing and refreshing boost!
KJ SAWKA SHARES HIS STORY
Tell us the story behind your solo KJ Sawka project. When did all of this illuminate? Share with us the moment when you felt music production was key.
When I was around 18 years old, I was already tired of starting all over again when my bands broke up after creating such great music and working so hard. So I started KJ Sawka solo project, that would never break up. Unless I die!
You’re the founder of Impossible Records. Tell us about the vision behind your label.
I wanted to be in control of my music and release any type of music at anytime. Also, I’ve mentored so producers and artists over the years, it’s a perfect way to get their music released and heard by the world. Our vision is for the seemingly impossible to become reality.
What’s your setup like? Everything from studio to live setting to style.
My focus is around the drums in every situation. In my mixing and producing studio, I have a big ass electronic drum kit where a listening couch would normally be positioned. Then I have multiple loud practice areas to work and shed for hours and days at a time. I do dj style live sets with a table top drum pad called an Octapad alongside a laptop/dj rig. I do solo sets using my full drum kit with a laptop and octapad station. Then I play in the bands utilizing different drum kits for each band. I love most styles of electronic music, from fast and heavy to slow and fluffy to straight pop and rock.
You’re also part of the group Destroid, a full on bass music band, Dubstep influenced along w/ Excision and Downlink. What’s the vision here?
We are aliens from another planet, set out to save the people of the earth by beaming them to safety using our bass cannons.
Where do you see this EDM scene headed?
The popular stuff is gonna become more pop and there’s going to be surge of deeper underground music that will attract the younger audiences.
What’s your philosophy behind the technical aspects of music production?
Make what you love, working hard to accomplish your goals. Finish your tunes. Get your kicks and snares sounding unique and punchy. Read How Music Works by David Byrne.
How would you say being an instrumentalist and producer has helped to expand and evolve your creativity? Are they beneficial to one another?
Being a musician and producer is a very powerfully creative thing. They complement each other in every way.
You’re the drummer to drum and bass, electronic rock group, Pendulum. How did this all align and how has the experience been?
We met back in the Myspace days of 2006 or so. We were fans of each other and started collaborating. We met face to face at Ultra music festival in 2008, when I was playing with BT. Shortly after, Rob called me up and asked me to be a member of the band.
Are you currently working on any new projects?
Yes, some really big secret stuff.
Tell us a bit about the ‘Unsung Heroes’ release/project you collaborated with Dylan (ill.Gates). Are you guys planning on more collaboration in whichever medium arises?
Dylan is the best and we had so much fun with our project. We made a tune together, came up with an epic tour promo video, made a plan, released the tune, toured for 2 years and made another tune that should be out soon!
Who’s been a major inspiration to your musical career?
Phil Collins, Primus, Rush, Iron Maiden and Adele.
What’s one thing that keeps you constantly motivated?
Drumming. Everytime I get unmotivated, depressed or just stuck in a rut, drumming usually pulls me out of it and gets my juices flowing.
Amazing show out here in Denver, CO at The Black Box on 11/2 for your live drum experience tour out here in North America. How did it feel?
That show was fun and I love Denver. It was an octapad set, not my full drum experience. About half of the shows were the full drum kit. The full drum kit show is the biggest, most insane thing but my octapad dj set is super fun and a bit more energetic in a ‘dj’ way.
Word on the street is that you recently started working on some music with Mr. Bill. What do you like most about collaboration?
Yeah, Bill and I have a dope tune that is 95% done. We did an epic tour last year that was insanely fun. We learned so much from each other and bridged our electronics in ways we never would of imagined.
Do you have any advice to up and coming musicians/producers?
Work your ass off every single day to create the very best music you can. Then dive into understanding marketing, promotion, booking, management, record labels, internet marketing, sales, branding, distribution and accounting. And kick ass at normal life stuff and adulting. But most of all, stay young hearted and never think that anyone ever cares about what you are doing or have done. Like Travis Barker says, “No one cares, go harder”
In what other medium would you like to see your creativity expand into?
I’d love to continue to learn other instruments, singing and a deeper understanding of many music styles from around the world.
In what ways does your creativity continue to evolve? Care to share any of your magic tricks that keeps life flourishing?
I try to keep reading and educating myself daily. I try to keep practicing drums and production techniques everyday as well. I compartmentalize my sessions on an hour by hour basis and also on a weekly basis depending on the projects at hand. Celebrating my successes is super key to being happy and it keeps them on the forefront of my mind to continue to celebrate and have fun in life. Let’s make the most of it!