Natalia Zamilska: “All or Nothing”

by Maxwell Stetson

In this National Geographic article, neuroscientist Valorie Salimpoor looks for answers about her personal, euphoric reaction to the Johannes Brhams’s song, “Hungarian Dance No. 5”. She wondered how and why this music moved her and the processes it took within her brain. These questions led her to Thalia Wheatley, a Dartmouth psychologist, who offered an explanation.

Thalia found “[that] every time you listen to music, you constantly activate [musical] templates that you’ve [created] that predict the reward you’ll feel from a given piece.”

In her opinion, “new music is presumably rewarding, not only because it fits implicitly learned patterns, but because it deviates from those patterns, however slightly.” I believe this constant template reformation and pattern shifting is an aspect to be loved, especially when it occurs organically. When this occurs, it can progress your tastes and emotions into a new and unknown fields, allowing you to think and feel differently.

I begin with this to highlight a similar joy I felt when listening to the pioneering artist we’re featuring today.

When I first heard the culturally shattering sounds of Natalia Zamilska, my musical template was completely rearranged in wonder. Her creation of raw and heavy techno, noise, electronica and modern world music was new, artistic and incredibly exciting to me.

“Duel 35” was the first track of Zamilska’s that made me a huge fan. It consists of the toughest booming techno sound, both danceable and sexy. The tribal chants and noisy pops later in the song add to its power. The sound, combined with an incredibly artistic and creative video, made me feel like Zamilska was creating art, not just music.

Natalia admitted she didn’t expect much to happen after releasing “Quarrel,” a 2014 single,  yet the feedback was so affirmative that she felt like she had to finish an album as soon as possible. “Untune” was then created during live shows, as she used the audience members as her collaborators, testing various musical creations on them. Since then, her recognition has been accumulating worldwide. The Quietus, an art/culture online magazine out of London, rated “Untune” as one of the best tracks of 2014, while Vevo ranked “Duel 35” as #15 out of the top 100 songs from their “Other Side of Music” for 2014. She’s since accumulated 7,200 Facebook likes and 1,700 Soundcloud followers and was featured on Dior’s Toyko Fashion Show, 2015.

It’s an honor and a pleasure to share this amazing interview with you! Here’s Booty Shakers’ exclusive interview with the incredible talent that is Natalia Zamilska!
Cześć Natalia! How has 2015 been for you so far?

Ever since I released my first single Quarrel last January time has been flying so fast that I didn’t even notice it’s 2015 already. So far New Year has been pretty intense and filled with work. I have many plans and ideas and would like to make the best out of 2015.

In an recent interview, you said you played drums as a teenager and then drum and bass at university. Were you ever part of a band and did you ever expect or want that music to have the same response as it does now? 

When I was a kid I dreamed of becoming a drummer and performing in front of large crowds. After imaginary shows I would throw my drumsticks into the crowd and trash my drum set. Later bass came into the picture, however I never played in a band. I always preferred the solitude of the studio where I would come in, put my headphones on and just get lost in the music while playing.

Can you describe what it felt like when you first discovered your sound? How does it affect your production process now?

What today can be called “my sound” is an outcome of a journey taken over the years. I looked for my own path; brushing against many musical genres feeling like none of them really expressed who I was. I searched for sounds that would best express what I have to say, sounds that represent me and what I stand for. I was always fascinated by bass, lower registers and rhythm therefore I decided to spend time perfecting technical aspect of my music. In it I wanted to achieve monstrous sound but at the same time leave room for emotion and feelings. I felt total freedom of expression. However, I feel like I am constantly looking for something new. I would like to find sounds that are able to reflect my emotional state. Otherwise music makes no sense to me.

It sounds like you’re always creating music. What does your studio look like? Do you have any favorite instruments, plug ins or analog controllers? 

I focus on Ableton for which I am in search of new external instruments, effects and plug ins. On top of that I use external controllers, play with different synth sounds and record single tracks. I don’t have favorite musical instruments – I get bored too quickly. Lately I’ve been trying to implement live bass, a good sound card is also a key to ideal sound, which I am completely crazy about.

What equipment do you use when performing?

I try to condense the amount of equipment I travel with. Usually I take my laptop and midi controllers on the road with me. I also do that because when I record tracks for an album I record them live at home using exactly the same tools, which I use during live performances. It gives me a better feeling and more freedom to improvise during live shows.

Photo from Szczecin Artistic Agency

Do you ever collaborate with other artists? Any dream artists you wish to do so with?

Yes I did. At the very beginning of my career, I tried to collaborate as a duo but it quickly turned out that I am made to work as a solo artist. I am very difficult to work with because I like when things in music go my way. Perhaps because each track tells a story, talks about feelings and experiences, I don’t create music just for the heck of it so it can exist as a cluster of technically well-put together sounds. That’s where my stubbornness comes from during the creative process. There are artist that I dream of collaborating with such as Laurel Halo and Gazelle Twin, although I am not sure if I am bold enough to work with geniuses such as the two of them. I also have a dream to make a track for M.I.A. – in my opinion everything starts with dreams.

Were there any live musical events that influenced you throughout your life? Do you have any memorable stories from them?

When people ask about musical events which were memorable to me, Hieroglyphic Being comes to mind. I saw him in Denmark at the Phono Festival in 2014. It was incredible, a guy with a backpack showed up on stage, took out two controllers hooked them up to the mixer and started the show of a lifetime. For the first time in my life I had a feeling that someone can “see” music. He was extremely focused, which didn’t stop him from interacting with the audience. During the same festival I got to see Emptyset, I still remember the staggering force of sound. Besides these two shows I will also never forget the M.I.A. gig – after that performance I went completely crazy for her. For the first time I saw someone so charismatic, powerful and energetic.

Where have been your favorite place to play so far? Do you have any gigs you’re really looking forward to?

My performance at Insomnia Festival in Trosmo, Norway brings back great memories. It was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to travel. I never had the chance to do so, until Untune came out I got to go on tour, and not only see but play in Tromso. The show itself turned out to be amazing – the room was filled with dancing people. For Polish shows the most memorable ones are Sopot, Poznan and Warsaw. I know that when I play in those cities there will be a great connection with the audience. I am not sure if I have any specific places I’d like to play in the future. I live day by day and let myself get surprised (and have a mini heart attack) when a new invitation comes in.

Photo from Hamariweb
Photo from Hamariweb

Do you have any mottos?

There is a saying: “either don’t attempt, or achieve.” I live according to the binary code. I believe in the all-or-nothing principle. People closest to me view it with a slight uneasiness thinking that’s a little dangerous way to lead your life, being able to bet everything on one card. I myself however, follow my intuition; those who don’t take risks don’t have anything. Last year I bet everything – it paid off!

What’s next for Zamilska? 

I keep going forward, I’d like to learn new things, perfect my skills, grasp emotions and channel them into my music. I don’t think that I will ever stop searching. I constantly push my own boundaries and have very high expectations for myself. I also feel a great responsibility towards my audience, who in such great ways welcomed my debut album and myself. I was given a chance and lots of energy from people. I’d like to make a way better album than Untune in the future.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us at WKDU Natalia!  You have tremendous talent, vision, and inspiring passion!

Check Natalia Zamilska out on Facebook, Soundcloud, Instagram, and more.

Listen to Maxwell on WKDU Wednesdays at midnight.