Catz 'N Dogz's Voitek: "If we had to play just one kind of club, we wouldn't be happy"
Catz 'N Dogz (due at NORAD this Saturday, November 23) has had a smashing year so far. In addition to being invited to create a BBC 1 Essential Mix, the powerhouse duo has collaborated with a mother lode of impressive acts, including Eats Everything, with whom it put together a whole EP.
See also: The best EDM shows in Denver in November
The masterminds behind the tongue-in-cheek-named Pet Recordings, Catz 'N Dogz has also released tracks on some of the best EDM labels -- Crosstown Rebels, Dirtybird and more -- and when you hear the act's signature playful sound, you'll understand why.
The group's sound traverses subgenres from disco house to techno, always with a whimsical thread of groove meandering through the productions and track selection, and all while paying homage to the roots of electronic music (hip-hop and disco in particular) and keeping a finger firmly on the pulse of the future. We recently caught up with the duo's Voitek to talk about vocal sampling libraries, the new Step label and much more.
Westword: I've heard you've been doing some film-related projects -- can you tell me how you got started doing that and what that's been like for you?
Wojciech Taranczuk (Voitek): As Catz 'N Dogz, we are always trying to get involved in some different projects, so right now we are also changing up our design, and we asked one of our artist friends to create a special series of illustrations for us as well, and we might work with a really famous jazz musician from Poland for a special compilation -- we're not afraid to take these special kind of projects.
Our friend from Warsaw asked us to do this film project, and we said yes. It was fun, it was a really weird experience to play music in the cinema while people are watching the screen. It was a really tough experience; the day before we played a really long party with an after-party. And we were really prepared, we rehearsed a lot for that.
What was it like to be tapped to put together an Essential Mix? What are your thoughts on how it turned out?
We were preparing for this for a really long time, it was one of our life goals to do it, once our PR guy told us that we were going to do it, we kind of knew what tracks we were going to put on it. We put a lot of our -- maybe not classics that people would know straight away, but our personal favorite classics. The feedback was amazing, BBC has such a big menu, it's a pretty decent mix.
You've managed to incorporate vocals into your tracks in some very interesting ways -- are there any other instruments you'd like to experiment with?
We are right now working and creating our own vocal sample library, so every time we meet somebody interesting that's keen to do it, we ask them to do several recordings, and then we chop it out, and our library is growing and growing. And then we don't have to sample other people's records and ask for the rights to do it. I guess we work with vocals so much because, I think maybe it's because I was singing in a choir for seven or eight years.
And somehow, vocals, as an instrument -- it's something about the right frequency, and maybe because house and techno, it's very, how you say...sometimes vocal is something that gives it more soul. It's hard to think why, but it's just something about the right frequency, and it's also very plastic. You can do so many things with vocals, especially now with all the effects and instruments that are available, somehow it's one of the most plastic instruments. There's not that many instruments with frequencies that you can stretch like that.
When you started integrating your sets instead of playing back-to-back, what would you say was the hardest part of forming that partnership?
Spending so much time together outside of the club. Playing always was fun. In the middle of when our career kind of kicked off, we had a couple of crises, but musically wise, it's always been really fun. There was never a moment when I was like, "Oh, Gregory, you're going in the wrong direction, and I think we should talk." I have to admit, we are very lucky because we know a lot of people who didn't make it longer than two years.
What does it look like when you produce in the studio together? Do you find it's easier to start working together from the very beginning of a track?
It depends on the day. Usually, because I'm producing, but Gregory's more or less always with me in the studio; usually I'm overthinking stuff, and Gregory's the one who always wants to strip down everything, because I add too many layers. And he's really good at finishing tracks. There was this point in the track where I don't know what to do, and he's like, "Let's do this."
The two of you have also been known for your collaborations; how do you manage to incorporate so many different perspectives into your rhythm as a duo?
I guess once you are keen on compromises and already worked together with somebody else, it's easier to be open for other collaborations. We always like different challenges, and it's interesting, that's also why, our life is like this, we never really stick to one thing. If you talk to different people, different people have different perspective and this is the most fun. The change of perspective is something really interesting.
You've played a wide range of venues in your career -- which do you prefer: big festival-type stages or smaller, more intimate club settings?
No, it's the same with the music, the spectrum of music we can play, we just like so much different music that if we had to play just one kind of club, we wouldn't be happy. There was this party I think organized by Dearborn at a bowling place at WMC, and I even managed to play like a pub set for an hour. Right now because we play with USB, I can really play and work the records. It's so much music that I can squeeze on USB, and we have a lot of different fodders and different styles, and there's just so much music to play -- I have music I never even play.
And you've also played all over the planet; what are some of your favorite countries or regions to play?
It's always fun to go to the U.S. because we have a very good agent, and we have a lot of friends there, so the shows that we are playing there are for good people. And definitely the summer season is always, it's the one. Summer season, no matter what. If it's an outdoor party with a good sound system, it can be for fifteen people or 1500, and it's so fun.
Pet Recordings has also had a big year; where do you see the label going in the future?
We're just going to go with the flow, I guess. We always did. Right now, we've got to start from the new year, we're going to start this new concept label; it's going to be named Step -- backward "pets." It's going to just be four releases per year, and the concept will be that each time, the first release will come out on vinyl, and then we will wait four months to put it on digital, and when the first one goes to digital, the second one will come out on vinyl, so there will be one set after another, just four releases per year. It's going to be more like old-school sounding, more raw. Pets is more quirky and fun, Step will be more German sounding.
Where do you see Catz 'N Dogz going? What do you want to accomplish next?
We should do album, but we are struggling with the concept so far. So I can't really say anything about it. We have an EP ready that will maybe come out on Dirtybird, and we just did a remix for Heidi.
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