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Friday, 10 June 2011 07:22

Wired in #16: Dog Whistle

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Today we have Wired In's first interview with a band from Poland! Ania and Helena, the girls behind the Warsaw-based band Dog Whistle play toy casio and bass, sing together and manage to create a really hip sound. If their songs sound a little edgy it might be because the band is still young and their recording was not done professionally. Hear past that however and this particular roughness adds something to the music. They're definitely a band to look out for over the next few years! Co-founder Lena talked to E&M about why shitty groups can motivate you to start your own band, and about the people who inspire Dog Whistle's music, like her dad Krzysztof Marzec, the star of a famous Polish children's TV show.

E&M: What's the most difficult part of founding a band?

DW: It's sometimes hard to stay motivated, but since we started the band for pure fun and the joy of not being professional, it's no big deal for us. I believe it's also very hard to find someone who believes in you, but we were lucky enough to be spotted and supported by some people who were important for us.

E&M: Did you ever attend a concert where the musician impressed you so much you thought: "Wow, this is something I really want to do as well"?

DW: Yeah, we used to have it all the time! That's one of the main reasons Dog Whistle came about! We used to go see loads of concerts and festivals and get really impressed and jealous. But it wasn't only about the bands we admired - we've seen many bands that couldn't really play and we thought: "If they can - or rather, can't do it - why can't we?"

E&M: And how did the band name come about?

DW: It was a result of a long brainstorming session backstage at the Nina Nastasia concert in Warsaw. She's our very favourite singer and we had a chance to meet her before that show, then we all got drunk and she asked us to play some of our stuff. We did, and the next thing we knew we were opening for her on the next day's show - no rehearsal, no setlist, nothing at all! And I think it was her manager Kennan who came up with the name. He's a lovely guy. He and Nina still keep in touch with us and are really interested in how the band's going, they're like our godparents.

E&M: So, tell us who exactly is behind the Dog Whistle.

DW: I'm Lena and I play a toy Casio keyboard - my first Communion gift, and a big hit with kids back in 1992/3, so it's really vintage. I also try my best to play a left-handed pink bass guitar. Ania plays bass as well because we couldn't really agree who should go for it, we both wanted to, so we share. Ania also plays guitar. Our most important non-band member, sort of what Brian Epstein was for the Beatles, is my dad Krzysztof Marzec. He's a musician, composer and long-time child TV show star, so he knows what it's all about. He gives us all the hints, teaches us to hit the right notes and do the chords, lends us gear from instruments to guitar picks, records and produces our songs and is the sound engineer at the shows. A real renaissance man! And we're looking forward to my boyfriend Matt joining us on the ukulele for occasional collaborations.

E&M: Do you allow a lot of time for working with the band or do you have other jobs that keep you busy?

DW: It depends what's going on. We both have day jobs: Ania is an English teacher, and I work as a concert promotor, so it's kinda hard to be fully dedicated to the band. But if we have an important performance, we can pull ourselves together and play a couple of rehearsals a week - it's really for the common good!

"What makes a band cool and attractive is the way they play... language doesn't really matter."

E&M: Your band is still quite new, what has it been like so far and where do you see yourself in two years?

DW: We still treat it like a hobby, we're having fun, and that's the way it should be! But it'd be cool to apply a little more, practice more, finally learn to play and maybe go play some shows outside Poland and make it to international festivals. I think there's an idea behind our band and it'd be cool to show it to the world!

E&M: In one of our recent interviews the guys from Wilhelm Tell Me said it's hard to get signed in Germany if you sing in English. What is it like in Poland; are bands singing in Polish more likely to attract a mainstream audience?

DW: Not really. What makes a band cool and attractive is the way they play, their sound, their production. Language doesn't really matter. Many bands we know and that are a couple of steps ahead of us sing in English, which got them a contract and made them a pick for international fairs and festivals like Primavera Sound or SXSW. It's true though that really mainstream pop acts sing mostly in Polish. But we find it much more difficult to write decent lyrics in our mother tongue than in English, even if that keeps us underground. We don't really plan to go mainstream.

E&M: What's the most uncool album you've ever owned? And what music do you listen to nowadays?

DW: I used to be a big Bon Jovi fan from age eight to twelve, so I guess "Slippery When Wet" was the cheesiest! Ania's is probably one of her Meat Loaf records, a guilty pleasure from the days of her youth. And nowadays, I listen to a lot of Welsh music, stuff like Cate le Bon, Super Furry Animals and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, which are totally obscure here. Ania is very much into American alternative bands like Shellac or Les Savvy Fav. Our band is partially a result of our love for Sonic Youth.

E&M: And finally, what does Europe mean to you?

DW: Europe means a lot of nations on one continent, and an enormous richness of music, cultures, cuisines and history to exchange and explore! And to me it also means it's much easier to travel and communicate. I'm interested in the culture of every European country I go to and wish more people would get hooked on Poland!

E&M: Thanks for the interview, Lena! Check out Dog Whistle here!

Last modified on Sunday, 26 June 2011 14:51

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