|It’s difficult to catagorise Melbourne electro three-piece, Koshowko. In terms of genre, it’s the kind of music that borrows from here and there and ends up sounding like something you can’t quite put a finger on.
Martin Koszolko, the polish-born force behind the outfit, has an undeniably approachable feel about him. Sophisticated in his attire, yet easygoing in his approach to life, he is instantly congenial to conversation. From behind his wire-framed glasses he speaks with the wisdom and insight of someone twice his age. It could be the refined polish accent, but there’s a sense that whenever he speaks, it’s probably going to be worth listening to.
“The perfect music for me is a song that uses as many different influences as possible, and has as much versatility as possible,” says an introspective Koszolko, from a basement cafe in RMIT University.
“I know some people are just into one genre and they like to approach things from a purist’s perspective, but if you love many styles I think it’s natural to include elements of all of them in your music,” he says.
Koszolko has come a long way since his days of studying philosophy in Poland. It was there that the origins of Koshowko emerged from an interest in the music production capabilities that a couple of his friends were demonstrating with their cheap PCs.
“I just thought wow! You can do it all yourself. I just wanted to do exactly the same,” he says.
“There was a lot of disappointment at first,” recalls Koszolko, regarding his initial experiments with electronic music production. “The computers were slow and the software was not powerful enough, which meant I couldn’t achieve what I first thought I could.”
“But now I can do everything with my computer.”
It shows. Koshowko shifts seamlessly from 80s style synth-driven pop, to soulfully sung dub with plenty in between. These sounds are achieved through sleek production that brings an assortment of diverse musical influences to each song. It all comes together to give a strong sense that Koszolko could pull off any sound he directs his efforts towards.
It probably has something to do with the fact that he chose to study sound engineering after balking at the prospect of furthering his philosophy degree.
“Everybody who is studying philosophy has got to realise you are going to become an academic… and I just wasn’t ready to commit to a PhD. Maybe when I’m forty I’ll go back,” says a pensive Koszolko, clearly relieved to have pursued a life away from twenty thousand word theses.
And that’s how he ended up in Melbourne. Sound engineering got him involved with media and that landed him in a position with RMIT University in the applied communications department.
For Martin, Melbourne quickly provided him with opportunities to collaborate with the city’s abundance of musical talent. It wasn’t long before he was tentatively accepting an invitation to perform at Fitzroy’s First Floor. The result, after what he calls a period of nervous over-preparation, was a stunning debut that marked the beginning of the Koshowko live act.
“It was just so great to get the good feedback,” Koszolko says of the experience. “It’s always important for people to understand what you are doing and I just loved the aspect of real people and real interaction”
That was five years ago. Only a year after he had migrated from Poland. “Back then it was much more experimental and down tempo. It was me with a few synths and my computer.”
These days Koshowko is a three (sometimes four) piece, that incorporates woodwind and an array of vocal stylings into its act. The ever-changing line-up allows for an impulsive live act that is never the same. But local gigs can be hit and miss.
“Melbourne has such an unpredictable variety of music venues. Particular streets will have their own audience, yet you can never be sure that an individual venue will turn out the way you expect.”
“Only last October we had a full house for our EP launch… yet a few days later we performed at the much more widely promoted Electrunda festival in front of almost nobody.”
“We like playing in Fitzroy the best because we know it is more accepting of music. There’s something always on. Outside of Fitzroy it becomes harder to find things to do musically.
”For now Koshowko is concentrating on the re-release of its Anarchy Monarchy EP. The initial release was stalled due to a spur of the moment mini-tour of Germany in November last year.
Thematically, Anarchy Monarchy draws upon Martin’s philosophical background but also touches on the familiar topics of love and relationships.
“The lyrics vary from something very emotional and basic to something very ironic and complex,” says Koszolko. “My music is written in a way that is not an order, but as food for thought”
“When I was 18 I thought I had the answers to save the world. Now I realise that sometimes I don’t have the answers for even my own life. So I think the last thing I would like to do with lyrics is preach. But of course you have your own approach to life so you want to write what’s close to your heart.
”Looking to the future, there’s a lot a collaboration and remixing work in the pipeline for Koszolko. He is also releasing a cover on the upcoming Severed Heads tribute album. But for Koshowko it could be another EP.“
I think for a band like us who are just taking off, channelling your work into an album will technically take over a year to create, and people will lose interest in you. But EPs can provide your audience with a constant supply of fresh work… Hopefully we can keep ours interested.”
For more info visit the Koshowko website. Anarchy Monarchy is out through iTunes.
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