Intrepid & industrious exploratory duo Handra – Filip Zdrodowski and Marek Szpak – have delved into the realms of tension-laden atmospheres, mystical abstracts and spiritual mystery… one of which being the title: why would we ‘Forget’ something so good? How could we?
How dare they.
Check the exclusive Handra mix at the end.
Handra. How’s tricks with you?
Marek: Hi, thanks. We are pretty good. We have a new ep on Addictive Behaviour. We’ve already received some feedback, which has all been really positive; this makes us very excited about the whole release.
Tell us some highlights of the year so far, some things that have really resonated with you/inspired you.
Filip: Well, personally a lot has happened so far, however music-wise it is all the same. We live in two different cities and at the same time are trying to develop Handra. This of course requires a lot of sacrifices and discipline- but it doesn’t mean we treat the work as a burden.
It’s the opposite – we love it.
M: We have been in the studio a lot but not only producing our Addictive EP. You can hear bits of our recent work in the mix we have prepared for you.
How do you feel that you are changing as producers?
F: We’re certainly trying to be a bit more experimental than in the past, this should also come across in our future releases.
M: We definitely don’t want to be pigeonholed as typical D&B producers. We actively follow current trends in music. And being honest, there are so many emerging styles these days. Some music is so different that we are not sure how to approach it. And there are a lot of the new styles which are worth paying more attention to.
For the past year we have been collaborating with many artists, which has been a very useful and enriching experience.
Every D&B artist we have worked with lately has a very different approach. They see the music in a different way to us and use diverse production techniques.
It has allowed us to learn so much and helped to look at our own music from a different perspective.
I have to ask… can you tell us about your amazing artwork! It’s always a big thing with Handra: the way it looks. Many have simply forgotten about cover art in a ‘digital’ age.
F: I’ve always been approaching Handra as an audio-visual project from the very beginning. The graphics complement our vision in a way that we are not able to express by the use of sound alone. This approach gives us a complete unified picture of our work.
I always insist that we have an influence on the artwork for each release and this enables us to demonstrate whatever we want to express.
I’m really into graphic design and work in the industry, so visual and aesthetic impression is something natural to me.
Everything can be an inspiration. The dark side of nature and modernistic architecture influence me most – those motives repeat usually on our covers.
M: When Filip and I started working together, we were already experienced DJs and music producers. We knew straight away in which artistic direction we wanted to take Handra.
The integrity also applies to the visual side of our creativity- just listen to the tracks and go through the EP covers and you see that it all falls into one unit.
By the way, we would like to say ‘hello’ to Adam Chro, the designer of our graphics.
Big up, Adam!
OK: this release is fantastic. But why the mysterious title ‘Forget’?
M: We had a different title for the track however we simply forgot it, so we called it ‘Forget’ ha ha.
But on the serious side, we actually had a different title at the beginning however there was no vocal included and we had a feeling that the track was lacking of something. We came up with an idea to invite Tiiu (below) to provide vocals and the track’s title came actually from her.
How did the vocals come about and do you find it inspiring to work with vocals i.e. does it shape what you do?
F: ‘Forget’ is one of those projects that has been started, put aside for a while and recycled. As Marek mentioned earlier on we had a feeling that something was missing and we definitely needed a vocal.
We suggested Tiiu to take part in our project and she sent her samples and the track changed in character a bit. I think it’s quite natural that the track sometimes becomes a background for the vocals, as originally the track wasn’t going to be too rolling.
And how did you come to work with the magical Mystic State? Take us into the tune.
F: I remember when I heard ‘Beneath the Surface’ by Mystic State and Signal. I freaking loved it and wrote to the guys right after listening to the tune.
Since then the collaboration somehow started. Big up lads!
What additional words have you about the ep?
F: ‘Forget’ is on a quite different vibe to our previous tracks. We have treated it as a learning curve. The track went through the evolution from a typical D&B tune into more of a song style. We are happy it worked out that way, as we like to do something different from time to time. It’s a part of our evolution process as artists.
M: This is actually the very first Handra track that can be described as a song.
It does have a typical D&B tune structure however we have been trying to highlight the vocal tones and move the typical heavy base to the background.
What D&B are you feeling, what dubs and so forth? From who?
F: I really like Lenzman’s dubs I’ve received recently. Some great tunes from him in the pipeline! About producers – Fre4knc is the one who is my favourite at the moment. Really sick and top level sound engineering. Rolling, deep and minimalistic vibes. Deffo stuff for me.
Feeling Friske a lot as well. He has this dirty street style I’m really into.
M: There are many great D&B tracks these days, but couple months ago I heard something freaking huge. I am always looking for new approaches in music, especially in D&B. So when Receptor fused D&B, Breaks, Trap, Rock and I-don’t-even-know-how-to-name-it in ‘Crossover‘… amazing.
What is a tune of any era that is food for thought right now that fits with your mindset?
M: I am a full time optimist and I always look for the bright side of life what doesn’t mean I can’t get a bit melancholic from time to time. Handra is the solution for my down time.
If I have to pick up a tune that keeps me going for all these years is NRG ‘You Got Me’- I am an old school reveller and I always will be.
F: I’ve been listening D&B since 1998 and I bet for Marek it has been even longer. Tracks from this period have had a huge influence on me and the way how I am these days.
Special track for me is Ed Rush & Optical remix of ‘The Shining’- typical techy and dark tune but very moody, nostalgic and deep at the same time.
I would describe myself as a person with a lot of conflicts inside – I have quite a lot of contrasting emotions and probably this is the reason why I like the music that mirrors this.
These types of tunes represent me as a person. Realness is very important for me in everything I do.
Handra exclusive mix