Poland might not be a major exporter of EDM talent, but it did spawn two major international tastemakers. We're talking about Catz 'n Dogz, of course, AKA Wojciech "Voitek" Taranczuk and Grzegorz "Greg" Demianczuk, DJ-producers extraordinaire and the masterminds behind Pets Recordings.
As a European counterpart of sorts to Claude VonStroke and Justin Martin's beloved Dirtybird, the Pets label has been responsible for some of the decade's most massive records and breakthrough artists, bridging the gap between bass music, house and techno. And it follows that Catz 'n Dogz are quite adept at destroying dancefloors, as you'll find out when they throw down at Treehouse on Thursday.
Crossfade: How did the two of you first hook up? What glues the partnership together?
Voitek Taranczuk: The town that we come from, Szczecin, has less than 400,000 people who live there and the scene is very small. So it was just a matter of time until we met. From the beginning, we had a similar vision. I don't know how to explain it, but a lot of people in our hometown were kind of thinking about what other people think about them, so every time they were organizing a party there was no real proper vibe. At the beginning, it was just Greg and I organizing parties, and these parties immediately had a really good atmosphere. What we were doing was just very natural. We never thought it would go so far. I guess we were just lucky.
I guess the fact that we were really different, that's where the name Catz 'n Dogz comes from. At the beginning, we were completely different people. I was always more of an active person, doing sports, and on the other hand, taking a lot of drugs and doing a lot of different things. Greg was still going out, but during the week he would just sit at home, always go everywhere by taxi, and know more about what's going on in the market, and economy and stuff like that. I was more into EDM and smoking joints. I think that is what actually helped. The music really connected us and glued us together.
How did you first get drawn to electronic dance music? Were you exposed to much of it while growing up in Poland? What has the local scene been like during time there?
As I said earlier, in our hometown there were a couple of people that were organizing parties. Our hometown is a one and half-hour drive from Berlin, so a lot of DJs from Berlin were playing in our hometown at the beginning of their career. We had Ben Clock playing in the restaurant in our hometown for 50 people. We had had Dixon playing for 30 people in the basement at a pizza place. But that was 10-12 years ago, so that was at the beginning of those big DJ's careers.
So in our hometown, there were these really cool things happening for two years. But, fuck, I actually forgot -- what was the question? I always take the subject and carry on in a different direction. Yeah, so then a lot of things changed in our hometown because Poland joined the European Union and a lot of people could go to work, especially to the UK, and a lot of our friends moved out from our hometown and a lot of people that were living next to the border of our hometown also moved out to work for better money and for the same hours -- so we lost a really big crowd of people and the scene kind of died, I guess.
The first contact was just because a couple of friends of ours were throwing really cool parties, because Berlin was so close, so definitely in our hometown they were cool. There were really cool underground parties in our hometown. Like late '90s to early 2000s.
You guys started out making music as 3 Channels, a project that saw releases on labels like Crosstown Rebels. What was that project all about? How did it evolve into Catz 'n Dogz?
There were two problems with 3 Channels. The first one was that, at the beginning, we worked with one friend of ours and he was not really keen on compromises. When you work with three people, you really need to know how to work in a team. It's like at work in the office, you always have to compromise with people. So we kind of dropped him, or he dropped himself.
We wanted to keep the name at the beginning because we liked it, but then after a few releases, we noticed that people just really expected us to play techno and minimal, because some of the releases on Trap House and 3 Channels were more electro-house and minimal. At the time, minimal was a really cool word to use, and we never really played just one genre of music.
So when we did Catz 'n Dogz, we promised ourselves that we will always release different kinds of music and play different kinds of music, so people will notice that we're very flexible and not just a trend. It really took us years to make it happen, because after 3 Channels was known, especially in the underground world, the new name Catz 'n Dogz was not known by everyone at the beginning, but then people realized that it was the same people doing it.
What is the concept or mission statement behind Pets Recordings? Do you have any criteria for selecting artists to sign and material to release? Is there a specific style or aesthetic you're looking for to define the label?
Pets Recordings is kind of like Catz 'n Dogz, in the sense that we just want to release music that we like, and somehow it's working out. Generally, the main thing is that it has to be interesting. That's why the name is Pets Recordings, because it has to be the music that we would play and/or listen to at home. So at the beginning, we worked a lot with Polish artists, but we were also trying to connect Polish artists with some big remixes. We arranged really cool remixes and put out their singles such as for Mara Winter, as well.
But now, we are all over the place and trying to focus on getting cooler artwork and just really interesting music out, and we are pretty happy with the releases already because we never really thought that it would go in this direction. Follow the steps that were pretty big records, or Martin Dawson's Maceo Plex remix -- there were a couple of good releases that we signed and never thought that they would be really big hits. But yeah, it's working out pretty well.
Are there any Pets Recordings releases that you didn't think would become as big as they did?
Yeah, Eats Everything's "Entrance Song." Yeah, and actually, to be honest, Greg signed that record. At the beginning, Eats Everything was changing speakers and he didn't have the mix-down right, so I helped guide him to finish the breakdowns because that was really working for the party. We put out the record with not that much promo, and the record picked up during the Ibiza season and became number one for a lot of people.
Rumor has it that you're working on a third album. What can you tell us about this project? What can fans expect?
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We want to try and make an album that we've never done before. We were just all over the place, but now I think it's time to make more of a concept album. But we can't really promise this yet. This is what always happens: we have certain plans and then at the end, in the middle of working on a certain project, we're just completely changing what we're supposed to do.
It's the same with DJing. [Last week] we played the closing set after Dixon and we were thinking, OK, if we play at 5 a.m., we will probably just play a really deep closing set. But at 8 a.m., we still finished playing for a full tent full of people and went really, really hard minimal 120 BPM music. So we can always adjust to the moment and to new inspirations. With the new album, I can't really make predictions, but we're probably going to try and do more concepts and make the tracks more similar, stylistically.
Catz 'n Dogz. With Hardline and Ms. Mada. Presented by LINK and Miami Rebels. Thursday, November 21. Treehouse, 323 23rd St., Miami Beach. The party starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $10 plus fees via residentadvisor.net. Call 305-614-4478 or visit treehousemiami.com.