The world is a terror pit of bad vibes, alternative facts, and the Earth trying to kill humans with climate change before we murder it with pollution. It can be hard to see the gold in the gravel, but scratch the surface and there’s shine under the grime. Electronic musician and DJ The Polish Ambassador zeroes in on this brightness and then transmits a bold positivity into daily being through audacious, thoughtful electropop.
Jumpsuit Records, The Polish Ambassador’s label, will host an array of artists in genres as wide as neo-folk, post-funk, electronic, and world music. They’ll host their inaugural Jumpsuit Records Family Gathering in Taos from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. Beyond The Polish Ambassador, headliners include Wildlight, Ayla Nereo, Ample Mammal and SaQi. There’ll be yoga, the Wild and Scenic Film Fest, a three-day permaculture workshop, and other good vibes, with educational and body movement opportunities.
The Polish Ambassador gave us the down-low of who he is and what to expect out of his (and the fest’s) intentional music.
True or false: You are a hybrid alien being sent to soothe and activate earth with party tunes.True.
There’s a rumor that your neon jumpsuit protects your skin from intergalactic bad vibes. That is also true.
What brought you to electronic music in the first place?When I first started making music, I was more interested in the hip-hop aspect of it. Before I put out an album, I was interested in sampling. I did the turntable thing and I had a mixer and a sampler and I was interested in collaging together music from snippets of old records and field recordings. None of that music ever made it out publicly because that was a big part of my learning process.
From there, I started moving into the world of electronic music because the process of making music in that first way is an extremely tedious process, in the composition and in that you have to go out and constantly search for new sounds at record shops and garage sales and so on. The computer helped me to compose and make things quickly and experiment fast. That was the main reason I went toward electronic music. It was an easier canvas to paint on in a quick way.
Is performing draining, charging, or both? How are you able to be in front of so many people so often and still be at full energy? For quite a while when I started making music, I didn’t actually know how to take care of myself. What I was doing was playing all of these shows, all over the country, in these highly stimulating environments and then I would come home to my apartment smack in the middle of a city, which is also a highly stimulating environment.
What I’ve done over the last four or five years is I’ve relocated into the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. That’s my recharge station. Especially in the summertime, almost every weekend I am going out to a different festival. When I’m not doing that I’m coming home and hanging out on our land, with the dog, going to the river, and having a very non-stimulating, more grounded experience. That, essentially, is what allows me to continue to go out and be in these stimulating environments. It’s really fun to be entertaining people in that way, but there does need to be a bit of self-care if you’re looking at it to be a long-term thing.
When you’re recharging, what do you dive into? I have lots of little projects I work on on the land. There’s this one sunflower that’s a very fuzzy teddy bear-like sunflower. It has super soft leaves. I brought an irrigation line up to where our composting toilet is and planted a bunch of those and that has been toilet paper for the compost. Instead of using store-bought toilet paper, I have these really awesome padded leaves.
Every week I have a little project that I’m working on. Being in the garden and at the river with friends and hanging out with my landmates. I also have a studio on the land and making music is a therapeutic thing.
There is a lot of activism surrounding your music. Do you think other people in positions of influence should use their platforms for activism? I don’t think an expectation necessarily should be placed on any musician to do anything besides make music. That’s what they’re claiming to be – musicians. The same with actors. I don’t think that there should be an expectation.
What I would say is it feels like a very natural thing if an artist is weaving elements of their spirituality or ecological practices or idealism into their music. Why not look at it as an opportunity to speak and say, “Hey, this is why I make music – because of these feelings.”
Can you talk about Action Days, your consciousness-raising, community-building activities on show days?Action Days sprung from this idea that, “Hey, we’re all coming together at a show or festival and celebrating – let’s create something together that is a good something, a useful thing for a community near where the show is.” The action before the show or after the show becomes the reason that people are celebrating at the show. It creates more potency at the show when people celebrate something they’ve created together.
With the record label expanding, now we’re starting to get other artists involved doing their own Action Days, like Ayla Nereo. She has herbalism Action Days where she invites all of her fans to come out the next day to learn about herbalism from local herbalists. The label, in general, all the artists are really excited about finding out what their personal Action Days might look like. We’re stoked to be able to spread good intentions with the music and good action the day after a show.
Tell us about the Jumpsuit Family Gathering. It’s our first festival. There’s a lot of people who are coming together to work on it ... There’s an Action Day in the festival where we’re going to learn how to use Earthbags and build with them. We’re going to have a mini-film festival. There’s all sorts of really cool stuff, plus music.
There’s always that little spark, that magic that can happen at a festival that you can’t really put words to. We’re all really excited to see what that looks like and feel what that feels like ... Things fell into place and the right people came in and, not to say there hasn’t been a lot of work involved, but it feels like it was meant to be, in some way. We’re so excited about it and it potentially being a launching pad for other events like this around the country.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.Patty Templeton