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Sergiusz – Safe solutions do not always work

The thing about the music industry is that as quickly as you can appear in it, you can leave it just as quickly. Only a few stay in it for longer, and that’s how it is with my interlocutor today. Sergiusz told me about the way he made a living on the production market, his passion for the saxophone and his trip to the United States. I invite you to read.

You’ve been on the scene for quite a few years now, and at the same time you’re still creating with the greatest. It’s hard to forget about you.

I’m very glad you say that. If you look at the production scene in Poland, I actually made my debut in 2016 and my productions still appear somewhere. Those who started at the same time as me, you can say that they have fallen out of circulation a bit, although there are of course those who are more recognizable than me at the moment. However, I am happy that I am still able to do my job. Of course, one year is better, the other is worse, but somewhere out there, listeners are constantly seeing range numbers that I produce. I’ve always assumed that I’m not going to be a beat wholesaler and produce 40 of them every month in a drawer to be sent to various rappers later. I rather aim for large collaborations or with people who have great potential, such as Asster. First of all, I’d like to make quality music that I’m not ashamed to sign up for later. I prefer to do fewer big things than, for example, 30 small productions, because it comes out relatively the same. The truth is that lately it’s also a little harder to work with the biggest ones all the time. The competition is high, and a lot of performers resort to cooperation in the studio with the producers they have at hand. This applies mainly to Warsaw. A large access to ready-made samples means that a DJ or sound engineer of a given rapper can create backgrounds that sound quite good in a short time. However, such treatments do not always work well and in the end many of these albums sound quite average. This is of course my subjective opinion. But I appreciate where I am and I think I’m already established on the scene.

Do you send beats to rappers or do you work together in the studio?

Most of the time I send them my productions, and over the years I’ve been able to connect with most of the people in the scene. If someone doesn’t work with a limited group of producers, or even with just one, I manage to appear on their albums. With this form of cooperation, there must also be a large flow of information. When I sent such a beat, it is already arranged so that the rapper knows where he should record the verse and where the chorus. Ultimately, there is no need to do much more to be able to close it calmly. Then of course there are rappers who like to work together in the studio, where these creative cells are activated and ideas are exchanged.

It is probably easier in the latter form for those who live in the capital.

That’s true. I come from Wielkopolska, from the town of Dobrzyca, but I went to high school in Jarocin. Then I moved to Wrocław to attend a music school. I have been living here for a total of 10 years and have been consistently developing my career. However, I think with the amount of production I do, maybe I should focus more on getting the audience to know me in addition to the rappers. Of course, if you ask a hip-hop recipient who Sergiusz is, many will surely say that he knows my things. However, they are not so connected to me that it turns into numbers on my social media to catch other collaborations. For me, it’s not like I have tens of thousands of followers on Instagram and thanks to that I can catch some additional cooperation and benefits. This is probably also due to my character, because I still don’t feel these social media enough to be able, for example, to talk to the camera every day and show everyday life. Deemz, Wroobel or several other manufacturers can do such things. Thanks to this, their socials are spinning and it’s really great, although it is also to some extent due to the fact that for some time they were “hooked up” to some rapper. Wroobel, making an album with Reto and playing concerts with him, is treated by listeners more as a performer, not just a producer. That is why fans of Reto are also fans of Wroobel, and fans of, for example, Bedoes or Szpak are also fans of Kubi Producer. For me, there is no such relationship, but I hope that it will change.

Kubi Producer was also always listed in song titles, appeared in clips, etc.

This is a matter of character, but also of meeting someone along the way. I broke out by sending beats over the Internet, I appeared somewhere in the background in two music videos, but I never had a greater desire to be in the spotlight. In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t entirely good, because when you have a built audience, you can also release your producer stuff later. Then they will have a similar publicity as rapper’s copyright stuff. The most important thing, however, is to do what you love and in harmony with yourself. Then more big things are sure to happen.

After all, you’ve released a lot of hits over the years. Have you managed to raise your standard of living?

That’s for sure. I still may not live in my apartment, but I have my own studio in it, where I work with pleasure. However, I have the prospect of buying something of my own so that I don’t have to go as far as taking a loan. The number of issues I managed to produce in Poland and the royalties I received for them is really nice money. You know, it’s definitely not as much as a rapper earns. However, compared to my peers starting their professional careers in corporations, I think I have nothing to complain about. I am satisfied with the standard of my life that music gives me. A man also has his own priorities and chases dreams, but I don’t need certain things to feel good about myself. I know what life is like and what I expect from it. I certainly have a comparison when I was still a student, and now from year to year a person jumps to a higher level.

I remember your statement from a few years ago, where you said that you don’t know if you’ll still want to deal with rappers in a while. I understand, however, that the teaser remains?

In fact, 2022 was a tough year for me in that regard. I heard a lot of songs from different producers and they just seemed weak to me, and yet the biggest rappers recorded on them. I’ve lost the desire to constantly send my beats and chase after artists, because I don’t like many things anymore. I didn’t feel like anything worthwhile could come of our collaboration. 2022 was one of the worst years for me in terms of things coming out. The teaser for all this came back to me this year, when I moved to a different apartment, gained space and sorted out some things in my head. It’s only May, and I’ve already made 2 famous singles: “Patocelebryte” with Kizo and “Chess” with Cuban. I also produced tracks for the Paluch z Elephant or Asster albums. I can tell you that there will be many more such collaborations this year, because I am hungry for it all again. In 2022, less stuff came out of me, which caused my workshop to go up. Some time ago I had the feeling that I keep making the same beats. That year I was also focused on sending the best stuff to artists in the United States. I even managed to go there and meet in the studio with K Mack, who produced tracks for Beyonce and most of the biggest acts in the US. I also met Great John, who is responsible for the greatest hits of Sleepy Hallow and produced Nardo Wick numbers for the soundtrack of the movie “Elvis” or the movie “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody”. I made contacts there, but in the end, the American dream is not so easy to realize. The fact that you were there for a while does not mean that suddenly everyone is banging on you with doors and windows. You kind of send these things to people from the States, but the flow of information is just much worse and slower. Anyone who has tried it will probably say that. However, I am glad that the Sleepy Hallow album “Still Sleep?”, for which I co-produced the song “Down Hearted”, finally went gold in the USA. I think that few Polish producers can boast of such an achievement.

Have you been there long?

I was in 10 days in New York in total. It was a holiday and working trip, because I spent a lot of time in the studio. When I walked in and saw how the studios were equipped, and the walls had platinum awards for records from Beyonce, Rick Ross and all the cream, I was just amazed.

And these are the collaborations that excite you the most?

At the moment yes, because I would be very excited doing things in the United States. I am still trying to break through there and I hope that I will be able to make more productions. Maybe I’ll go to the States again because I have an invitation from people with big names who live in Atlanta. Of course, everything takes time and money. However, I would definitely be most driven by working with American artists, because it may sound a bit delicious, but I already had all the greatest artists in Poland on my beats. Well, maybe with a few exceptions. Of course, I still enjoy working with the greatest from here and I hope that I will be able to work again with artists such as Oki or Otsochodzi, because they have also grown over the last few years.

And what is it like to work with the biggest rappers in Poland?

It’s always nice when a rapper treats you as part of the whole process. He informs you, tells you what he has changed, what he would like to change and gives you the feeling that you enjoy each other’s work. Sometimes, however, it is the case that the rapper will just take the beat, and then only the manager calls to complete the formalities. It depends on the performer’s approach, whether he treats you as a companion for making music, or rather as someone who only provides some element, which he then transforms into something greater.

And privately, do you keep any closer contacts with rappers?

It’s hard to tell. In terms of such a purely human vibe, it is closest to Paluch and his team. He was always a man who could call for no reason and just ask how I was doing. There are also a few rappers with whom I am, let’s say, in such cordial relations. When they play concerts in Wrocław, they always invite me. I like going to such events because I know that we will have a nice talk and I will feel good there. There are also rappers with whom I have collaborated, but we only have strictly professional relations. A couple of times I found myself in such a situation that I accepted an invitation to go to a concert of such a person, and finally I felt a bit awkward, and the talk just didn’t stick. That’s how it is sometimes, and it’s perfectly fine for me.

How would you rate modern hip-hop? Do you think it’s going in the right direction?

I think it was the best. The need for a new quality that few introduce. Few things come out that are surprising at the moment. I think 2018 was a really fun year with some notable careers solidifying and a lot of albums coming out that really added something. It’s hard for me to say which way it’s going, but now it’s just secondary. Some people have been doing the same for a few years and wonder why it doesn’t eat like it used to. Well, because safe solutions do not always work. It’s nice when people try to do something different, although constantly raising the bar is not easy at all.

For example, I suspected that rap in Poland could go more towards rage beats. A few people recorded numbers on such backgrounds, but in the end, I don’t think listeners really buy this style.

It seems to me that in Poland rappers and listeners usually reach for the same type of production that they have known for years. Well, except for isolated cases. New trends don’t always catch on, and when something catches on so much, such as drill, nobody wants to listen to it anymore. However, there is something that Poles do not immediately jump into some specific styles. First of all, this young generation reaches for jersey club beats because they are simply excited about this American and Western scene. It’s also not that easy to make a number in a completely new style for you, because you’ve never been interested in this kind of music before. However, you will always reach for what you know more often. If we listen to the top Polish rappers, it all sounds quite similar. Anyway, in the west in the US the situation is quite similar, because when listening to albums by people such as Lil Baby, Nardo Wick, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, they play the same beats that change every two years. Drill may not be a hit with them anymore, but there was a time when almost everyone did it. It changes all the time, and then it comes to us with a considerable delay.

Do you think hip-hop will be followed by a new genre?

To be honest, I don’t think so because rap is just so easy to listen to. You have a beat, simple harmonies, a verse division, an ABAB chorus and lyrics about something that a person identifies with. This music is also accessible to the masses, and it always has to be. Most people are not connoisseurs and do not reach for any sophisticated genres on their own. I can’t imagine that anything could replace rap. Of course, there is pop, but it seems to me that it is harder to identify with the artist.

Now let’s get back to some less philosophical topics. Have you ever made music in a genre other than hip-hop?

Yes, and many times. I even did instrumental and film music. I’m also an educated musician, so sometimes this rap build, in terms of e.g. harmony, limits me a bit what I would like to express musically. But these are all things that I do for the drawer, because they are not at the level of my hip-hop beats. I can play the saxophone, I even play some jazz sometimes and I’ve had the opportunity to improvise with other musicians many times, so we were doing things in different genres back then. But I’m most comfortable producing hip-hop beats, so that’s what I do most of the time.

Do you listen to hip-hop on a daily basis?

Yes, but I listen to jazz much more often. It inspires me more. Doing your own samples or coming up with a melody, those things matter. It’s often harder to draw inspiration from hip-hop itself. But when it comes to rap, I mostly listen to American artists like Metro Boomin or Drake. In my productions you can feel the inspiration from their music, and especially the new, yet unreleased stuff is very relevant to the music of Metro Boomin or other top American producers.

Have you ever sampled your saxophone to a song, for example?

Several times yes. However, I am most pleased with the use of my passion for jazz in the song “Ortalion” by Taco Hemingway. When the song was almost ready, I got the green light to put a solo saxophone part on the outro. However, for this purpose I reached for one of the best Polish saxophonists, Tomasz Wendt, who is my teacher to this day. I could have recorded it myself, but I wanted it to sound as worldly and professional as possible. The effect was sensational.

I know you graduated from music school on this instrument. However, apart from that, there were also studies unrelated to music.

Yes, and I even wanted to study for more years. However, I came to the conclusion that going to the Academy of Music would involve full dedication to playing the saxophone, and then my hip-hop beats would be neglected. At that point, however, I already had a certain position on the stage, so I decided that I would just treat the saxophone as a hobby. So it is to this day. It was hard at that moment, and there’s nothing to hide. I combined my studies with music school and beat production. I had very little free time then, I didn’t go to parties much because I had to go to college the next day. I was there, for example, from 8 am to 2 pm, then I would go home quickly to eat dinner and go to music school from 4 pm to 9 pm. When I came back home in the evening, I had to make some beats, because I was already making a living from them then. When my studies left me and only music school remained, I already had the feeling that I had a lot of free time. I can practice my saxophone after school, and I can make easy beats. In retrospect, I would have given up something, and I think it would have been studies. After I graduated from music school, I suddenly became my own master. I could make music all day and not have to go to any part-time job. Nothing is chasing me, I have time to make dinner or go to the gym. However, it was also necessary to get used to this state of affairs.

Is it hard to be your own boss?

Yes, but it’s also hard to suddenly lose all your responsibilities. School and studies set my schedule every day, and now I have to organize this time myself. The best way to live each day efficiently.

These are issues that don’t happen to everyone.

That’s true. Even people who are full-time at home office have to get up for work, e.g. at 8 am and be in front of the computer until 4 pm. I had to learn self-discipline and work culture so as not to get stupid and lazy. When I was still living with my girlfriend in the previous apartment, for a long time in our bedroom I had my work space. When she left for work at 8 am, I had the feeling that during those 8 hours of her absence I should also devote this time to making music. I didn’t really work in the evenings, because the feeling that someone was near me didn’t always work well. Now I have a separate studio where I can work whenever I want. And this is a much better solution for me, because I didn’t always get anything right in the morning. Now that I’m more flexible, I don’t even count the hours, exactly how many hours I work. I try not to laze around, but to really have this day filled.

The more so that you have quite a creative nature of the work.

It’s kind of creative work, but I wouldn’t overdo it either. It is worth learning such daily, conscientious work. Even if you don’t get a beat on a given day, nothing bad happens. You have to stimulate yourself to be active, because if you don’t turn on this computer and start creating, you’ll never know if you have inspiration or not. Sometimes you can do something very good in 30 minutes, and sometimes you spend half a day on something and finally you get it or you don’t. This is also ok. It is important to finally see the effect of your work.

Have you ever made music for an ad?

This may be too much, because it was not done strictly for the client, but together with 2K we produced the number for Hodak and Kukon for the T-Mobile campaign. It was a very nice cooperation and easy money. The story is that we just did the stunt, and after some time with 2K, we found out that it was going to commercials. So we didn’t produce it according to any guidelines, which certainly gave a lot of freedom.

Towards the end, I wanted to ask you if maybe after these few years you’ve already convinced yourself to try to make a producer album?

I think so, although maybe I wouldn’t talk about the producer’s album right away, but rather about some singles for now. I even put some things away. Certainly in rap I have the most connections and opportunities to reach people, so I will try to finalize such numbers. To make a production album, you need to have a really strong nickname on the market. I just don’t set up right away. I can release this single for a few years to finally release it as an album. This is a very popular phenomenon.

Well, that’s the last question then. What is your biggest dream right now?

It is definitely to fly back to the United States to carry out your plan. I would like to continue working in Atlanta and learn from people I admire so much. I really hope that in the end these dreams will turn out to be real.

IG: @sergiuszz 

FB: sergiuszprodukcja

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