Pawel Kosmala on experimental music and changing the world one small world at a time
Polish guitar player and musical experimentator Pawel Kosmala has an interesting and original style of playing the instrument. It also helps that the man is as humble as it gets when it comes to his music, mingling with fellow musicians in Warsaw, and being a stand-up dude in general. He loves collaborating with fellow Drooblers and giving back to the community. Pawel has made quite a name for himself around here, so the spotlight we are giving him is well-deserved! Go on, mr. Kosmala…
Hello! Tell the world about yourself. How did you grow up to become the musician you are today?
Hello World! I’m Paweł Kosmala, a Polish bedroom experimental musician, coming from Przeworsk, currently living and creating in Warsaw. I’ve been a “noisy” kid ever since I can remember, often drumming on a table or singing anything that came to mind. My first instrument was a Casio keyboard – I wanted to play like Jean-Michel Jarre. I didn’t really learn anything beyond a few melodies back then, though. It was only after I discovered rock that I started playing Guitar Hero, and soon after that, classical guitar. An electric Epiphone was the next step and I’ve been a guitarist ever since.
Introduce your current musical projects and tell us what makes each one special for you!
I’m focused on the solo Agyzerax project right now, recording a new album, Past Love Love Past. The album will feature some nice solos by fellow Drooble musicians, it’s going to be great! I also have some songs in Polish coming, as well as some new metal stuff.
You have been playing music for a number of years now. How do you find the drive and inspiration to keep going?
I try to keep developing and experimenting; I actually felt like I was at a loss after the release of my third album, Next. I was afraid that I might be burning out musically. That’s why the fourth record, Alpha Omega, sounds so different from the previous ones – I was trying to immerse myself in ambient music communities, noise, lo-fi, landscapes, that kind of stuff. This had proven to inspire me lots and the recording of AO was a really refreshing experience. Any feedback is a good luck of motivation, too – it’s truly delighting to know that your music has made somebody’s day better.
And new inspirations keep appearing; to name just a few, I’ve recently started listening to Imogen Heap, John Frusciante, EyE-C and Cactus Erectus. It’s having a big impact on my writing and composing.
How challenging is playing lead guitar in a metal band, according to you?
It does prove to be quite challenging, and it did even more when we first founded Strzyga. I’ve had little experience with playing with a band, so it was always about improving – which is a great thing! Being the lead guitarist also used to feel really overwhelming – I was insecure about my playing. People generally seem to enjoy my style, though, which is great! The band is suspended now, but I don’t feel like the door is closed forever – time will tell!
Is it difficult to find like-minded people as an experimental musician?
It really is. In my hometown, people don’t really listen to such stuff, which is understandable – experimental is no mainstream. In a big city like Warsaw, it’s a lot easier to find people who are into such psychedelic music. The worldview is generally different, and it was honestly quite hard to find myself in such a different environment at first.
How is your local music scene in your perspective? Do you feel like you belong there?
The music scene has been rather small, as far as I can remember. Everybody knew each other and came to the concerts, which are always a big event. Recently, I must say, it seems the scene is recording, and it’s probably going to only continue doing that because while it’s fun to play for your friends, it’s just not really profitable. Concerning the whole Subcarpathian Voivodship, I think its scene is doing okay, but it’s definitely the cultural epicentre of Poland.
What is your all-time favorite record and how did it change you as an artist?
This is a tough question. Something inside me is screaming The Dark Side of the Moon, and while I think it’s the best album ever, it’s not my favourite. That would probably be Muse’s Origin of Symmetry. The energy, sound, arrangements, vocals, ambiance, everything about the album is just flawless. I love the fuzzy guitar tones.
Citizen Erased is probably my favourite song ever. I’ll never forget hearing it live in Kraków, after everybody in the crowd started cheering: Citizen! Citizen! And just like that, Bellamy started playing the killer riff opening the song. A wonderful moment indeed.
My song The Doll is heavily inspired by this record, especially New Born. I couldn’t quite get the fat guitar tones, and the vocals are obviously inferior, but I think it works nevertheless! Muse is generally the band that is probably my biggest inspiration overall. Nothing was the same after I started listening to their music. I also think Metallica’s St. Anger deserves a honourable mention here, just due to the fact that it’s such a misunderstood album. It really captures some emotions just so well.
What are your favorite software and hardware tools for music production?
FL Studio is my main DAW, I really like the workflow, even though it’s not always perfect. I also use Ableton and Guitar Rig. As for hardware, a Schecter Damien 6 w/ Floyd Rose is my favourite guitar; for some clean parts, I also use a guitar with single-coil pickups I’ve made with my father (not without the help of a luthier, too). The amp I use is a Roland Cube 80XL, quite a versatile one. I mix my stuff using some JVC columns, with the help of Pioneer SE-M531 headphones. I’m looking forward to getting an actually decent microphone…
Out of all the live shows you played, which one was the most memorable, and why?
Playing with Strzyga as support for legends of Polish metal, such as Dragon, Kat & Roman Kostrzewski and Turbo was great. I was actually surprised to see that they are such great people to talk with, quite humble. They’re obviously outrageous artists, but they aren’t some unreachable, mystical creatures as I’ve imagined them before. They’re people after all, too. As for interesting stuff happening during the concerts, I remember falling over while trying to jump on the stage in style before playing before Żywiołak in Rzeszów. Obviously, I fell over, breaking a string. Since our setlist didn’t involve any solos for Maciek (Strzyga’s rhythm guitarist), we just quickly swapped our guitars and went on to play a great gig. Only later did I find out that my stupid stumble actually resulted in some serious damage to the guitar, frets especially. Had to get that fixed…
What is your biggest musical goal?
It used to be fame. For years, my mind was set: fame. fame. fame. Now though, I don’t think it’s that important anymore. Sure, I want people to hear my music, but I think it’s not about how many people listen to you, but rather who is truly touched by it. I’d rather make music for 5 people who actually care then for 10 000 who don’t really mind. I feel like that’s the detachment from money that makes experimental music honest. I can’t handle thinking: “are they gonna like it?” anymore. Whenever I feel something sounds right, I go for it. I don’t want to change the whole world. I feel like changing people’s small, personal worlds is just as important.
How has being on Drooble helped you as a musician?
A lot! I’m now a community manager for Drooble. I’m always doing my best to help. The community is something I’ve been trying online for years, but sadly, most underground music communities are self-promotion centered, which means there’s little to no feedback there. On the other hand, Drooblers are always helpful!