If you’re a friend of Pulse, the names Voitek and Greg are probably well versed nouns in your vocabulary. If not, then you may be more familiar with them as Catz ‘n Dogz. This year marked a legendary point in the Polish duo’s career, reaching milestones such as their first Boiler Room performance and their debut on Radio 1’s Essential Mix. Before they start their North American tour this month, coined “It’s Raining Catz ‘n Dogz,” Voitek was kind enough to set some time aside to Skype with us from his Berlin apartment in Friedrichshain. In between the laughs and reminiscing on this summer’s unforgettable festival season, we got down to finding out what really makes Catz ‘n Dogz an entity of its own. Don’t miss the duo’s show at Output tonight, Thursday, November 14th.
It’s safe to say that 2013 has been a massive year for you and Greg, what have been the highlights so far? Well definitely the festival and summer season. We really had a blast during our Dirtybird residency in Ibiza and we played a couple of really, really amazing festivals. We also closed the biggest Polish open-air festival. Outdoor parties this year were the best. Some of them were just mind blowing. Greg and I would just look at each other and we couldn’t believe it. Definitely playing for a couple thousand people outdoors has been a highlight. It’s what we’ve always wanted to do.
The Pets Recordings party during Sonar was also really nice. All our friends were together in one place. The sound was pretty quiet but to be honest we were very lucky to have our party at the venue when we did. Our party was luckily the beginning of Sonar, on Wednesday. The hotel neighbors were not pissed off enough yet to cancel our party. The parties on Friday and Saturday were canceled at this venue because of complaints.
You guys also played your first Boiler Room set this year. Tell us a little about that experience. It’s funny because we played a Daft Punk edit for fun in our Boiler Room. It was and idiotic edit we did. We just wanted to make a joke and it turned out to be a pretty big hit over the summer… we played it a lot. I actually just posted the track for free on our Facebook. A lot of people asked us when we were going to release it, so we just decided to give it away.
How do you and Greg actually feed off each other during a set- in respect to transitioning and track selection for example? We’ve become this one weird person. We noticed that in the beginning we were still talking to each other as we were playing, but now we choose the same music. We even talk the same way now… it’s kind of weird.
We’re going to make an album right now actually. We don’t know for what label yet or the concept but I think we will base it around how we’ve become like one person now. We spend so much time together and we’ve played so many gigs together and we live two blocks away…
You both live in Friedrichshain. Where’s the official Catz ‘N Dogz studio? Our studio is on the border of Friedrichshain and Prenzlauerberg. We have our studio from old friends at Upon You Records, a Berlin based label. Marco Resmann runs it with a couple of other people. We’ve known those guys for many many years, from back when we had our 3 Channels project. We spread the message through our friends that we were looking for a studio and then one day Fabiano wrote to us that there was a studio space available and we answered straight away that we wanted it. Finding studio space in Berlin is super difficult.
Tell us about your Essential Mix, which must have been a big part of the year for you guys. How did you create the mix from track selection to actually recording it? Well to be honest, we were hoping to make an Essential Mix for a long time. It sounds kind of weird but we’ve been collecting music for an Essential Mix for a while before we knew we were actually going to do it.
It was one of our goals in life, so we really put a lot of classic tracks in our Essential Mix. Not all of them are necessarily hits, but there’s history behind them. The mix is like a weird mixture of stories and different tracks that come from different backgrounds. I actually listened to it again a few days ago again and I think it’s still pretty... not bad.
As Catz ‘n Dogz, you released your first EP in 2007 on Dirtybird. How has your musical style evolved since then? I think we go backward and forward with certain styles. It’s been a couple of years and I think our music has already made a circle. Its like, we play for a few years a bit slower and then for a few years we come back to the style where we want to just go banging in the party! Right now we’re in the stage where we play kind of hard, I would say, but there’s really no certain style we follow. That’s why we changed our name from 3 Channels to Catz ‘n Dogz, because we wanted to keep the Catz ‘n Dogz project more unpredictable. Actually it’s not very smart I would say because it took many years for people to trust us with one sound. I think it’s easier to base your career on if you just have a certain, one style.
What exactly was your 3 Channels project? 3 Channels was more like… some kids from Poland trying to make music. One of our friends was also involved in the project, but it didn’t really work out. He was not really keen on compromises so there was no point for us really to keep the name.
You and Greg started your own label, Pets Recordings, in 2010. What inspired you to start your own imprint? The first idea for the label was to connect Polish artists with the rest of the world. We started releasing a lot of our friends but now I think the direction is that we are trying to put more concept in every release, so every release is like a different concept. Everybody that’s sending us music is always kind of pissed, especially at me, because I’m super picky. That’s the thing with Catz ‘n Dogz and Pets Recordings. It’s like a paradox because we are trying to avoid having a concept and releasing certain styles, but there is a style and we can’t really define it. Maybe they just say that because they need to put it in a category - artists and labels without a category can’t exist in press and stuff…
A friend said something funny to me the other day - if you’re trying to be before a trend, you have to be kind of behind it. We kind of work this way. We are always a bit behind everything but on the other hand in front of everything.
On one hand, we are releasing artists on the border of more commercial sound and sometimes we work with people like Axel Boman who are a little more underground. We also work with super underground artists like KiNK and Rachal Row. Eats Everything’s first single was released on Pets and “Entrance Song” was the start of his career. So if we think about it too much in the way of “what will sell” and what people will like, I guess it wouldn’t really work.
A lot of electronic music is losing its passion these days. People are looking to sign artists that will make a large profit. You and Greg are still very true to yourselves and your original intentions with Pets Recordings. I guess it’s all about surrounding yourself with nice people that are inspiring you. You begin to inspire each other. I try to surround myself with people that I can learn from, not necessarily googling the top 10 charts and trying to be friends with the artists on there… it doesn’t really work.
How exactly does the crowd influence your sets? Of course there are some boundaries… we’re not going to play something we hate but we have such a big spectrum of music we like and are able to play, so its not that difficult for us. We are not just strictly house DJs or techno DJs.
How was it working in the studio with Daniel Pierce aka Eats Everything - as the new Catz Eats Dogz project? Working with Dan was kind of like the beginning of 3 Channels, we were just being idiots in the studio and then at the end there was a hit record. Seriously, there was nothing behind it. The second track, “Warehouse,” was purely supposed to be a B-side. It’s something you can play in a big room or in a small room. It will not make people go really crazy but people will get into a groove. From the beginning, “Evil Tram” was supposed to be something weird. The percussion we used in the record sounds at first like someone is hitting something hard on the wall. On the other hand, that was the point. As Catz ‘n Dogz we are more careful of what we do and Eats Everything is more careful with what he’s doing on his own. When you are alone in the studio you over think stuff, but when we’re together in the studio we just did the record in half of the day and then went to eat some chicken or something. It was just so natural because we hang out during the summer in Ibiza and we share a lot of music. I guess that’s why it took us just two hours to make a record.
Where did the EP get its name, ‘Stinky Lollipop?’ It’s a funny story actually and you’re the first to ask! This story is really weird. Mobody wanted to stay in one of the rooms in our villa in Ibiza because for some reason it was really smelly. When Claude von Stroke was there with his wife and kids, his seven-year-old son Jasper started to call this room a “stinky lollipop.” It was so weird to hear this come name come out of a seven-year-old because when you think about a “stinky lollipop” out of context, you think about something else. That’s why we decided to use it, because it was such a weird situation.
As I said, on the EP there’s no big story, it’s just supposed to be really interesting club music. “Evil Tram” as well… the story is about those evil trams in Berlin, the ones where you look at them from the front and they look like somebody is really angry. It just looks really German.
Can we expect any Catz Eats Dogz appearances in the near future? We’re going to do a small tour in February. It just got confirmed, I think it’s like four cities in February. The name of the tour will actually be Catz Eats KinK, because it’s going to be us, Catz Eats Dogz playing all night long with a live act by KinK in the middle of the night.
I’m not really sure what cities are confirmed yet but I know it’s going to be in Europe and we’re going to do the whole tour by train, so it’s going to be really fun.
So what do you and Gregor expect from your North American tour starting this month? We definitely want to see all our friends. We have so many over in the States because of Dirtybird. San Francisco is of course always one of the highlights and we’ll get to see all our friends in LA. Basically, we go to the US as a bit of a break from the European routine and then we see friends. The parties are always great, people are always so welcoming to us, it’s really nice.
What are Catz ‘n Dogz's plans for BPM in January. We still haven’t announced it yet, but we probably should. We have a party on the sixth and so far it's us, Heidi, Danny Daze, Till von Stein, and Nick Monaco. There might be one more person confirmed, but we’ll see you on the sixth!