Polish born, New Zealand resident, Michał Martyniuk, is a pianist, composer and music producer, who has been making waves on the Jazz scene.
On his new single, ‘How Do We Make It?’, from his forthcoming Reconciliation EP, Michał Martyniuk brings his magic to the dance music arena with a stunning collaboration with soulful diva Vanessa Freeman (4Hero, Nathan Haines and Bugz In The Attic).
6AM digs deeper to find out more…
Hi Michal, it’s a pleasure to chat with you today, how is 2021 treating you so far?
The pleasure is mine! It’s been very busy actually and I have been writing a lot of new music. Also bought my first ever Rhodes! They are very hard to find in New Zealand, so quite an achievement in itself, haha. I have been collaborating and making music together with Nathan Haines and Frank Booker. Working with Bigpop Records on promoting my new singles – and the EP that will be released soon. I have also started a new business – and proposed to my girlfriend. We spent a nice holiday in Queenstown. It’s been crazy busy but I love it!
Please tell us a bit about where you’re from and what first turned you on to making music
I was born in Poland. My grandfather was a classical pianist. He taught me Piano from the age of 6. At the age of 8 I went to a school of music where I studied classical piano. I finished my studies in New Zealand at the University Of Auckland (Academic studies I should say – as I am always learning something new about music every day). I met a lot of great musicians along the way, which opened the door to me starting to produce my own music.
How would you describe your sound?
My beginnings are in Classical music and I believe it’s important to have classical training, especially as a pianist. Years later I switched to jazz. I love the freedom of improvised music. I am a big lover of grooves – and electronic music as well. My sound is changing all the time. I think a lot about life and that has a huge impact on my music and sound.
Who did you listen to growing up and do they influence your own music at all today?
My dad gave me my first record: ‘The Road To You’ by the Pat Metheny Group. As soon as I heard Lyle Mays on piano I was hooked. I wanted to play like him and travel the world playing in a band.
How do you typically go about writing a new track and what inspires you?
It’s always a different process, sometimes I start with chords first, then find a melody that fits on the top of the harmony. Other times I start with a melody in my head that needs some chords underneath. Often I come up with a bass line first or even just a beat. I try to listen to new music all the time to look for inspiration.
Tell us about your fabulous new release, ‘How Do We Make It?’, with UK Neo Soul songstress, Vanessa Freeman and fellow keys wizard, Mike Patto, what we can expect to hear?
I always wanted to make a track with Vanessa. She is a friend and I love her vibe. Also Mike Patto is a genius! I am very privileged to be working with them both and they made this track sound really good! It’s very modern.
I really wanted to make a dance track. I knew Mike would be the perfect person to get on board. The track is filled with synths, broken beat drum programming and a super strong vocal delivery – and message – from Vanessa. Lyrically reflective and uplifting at the same time – spot on in light of what’s happening around the world right now.
How did you meet and will you be working together again in the future?
I worked with Mike on a previous record project called “Odyssey” by After ‘Ours. After ‘Ours is my collaboration with longtime friend Nick Williams. We traveled from New Zealand to the UK to work with our favourite producer! We worked long days. It was an amazing experience to spend over a week in his studio. During that time I have met Vanessa. She is a close friend of some of my best friends in New Zealand. I am sure we will be making more music together.
You’re hailed as one of the rising stars of the New Zealand’s Jazz scene, with an impressive portfolio of music, so what made you take the plunge and start producing dance music too?
Working with Mike Patto made me realise how much I can actually do as a pianist. Electronic music is based on synths, beats, bass lines etc. – it can all be played on keys. I have created a lot of demos over the years and when I got my head around Logic I got interested in producing my own music. Also listening to modern music inspires me to be free and mix all the bits I like and try to make something new with it.
How did the writing / production process differ from making a Jazz record, if at all and did you enjoy it?
It’s not actually that different. The core idea is always the key. Once I made a simple demo with a nice chord progression and a catchy bass line I knew it would sound good with vocals. I got in touch with Vanessa and Mike to se if they were keen to collaborate. They loved the idea. I like having lots of people involved in the project. It’s very similar to making jazz although you replace synth bass with double bass, piano with Rhodes, drums with beats.
What’s your own personal favourite release to date?
I have a few records that I listened to on repeat. I’m still immensely proud of the ‘Odyssey’ album and one of my favourite tracks is ‘See The Light’, which features Kevin Mark Trails’ wicked vocals.
I am always working on new music. I have recorded a live concert that I am thinking about releasing – but also got lots of track ideas on my laptop that I want to finish. I think I will follow up with some more dance music soon!
How is the scene in New Zealand right now with the Covid situation and what does it feel like to be able to play concerts again?
We are very lucky here in New Zealand at the moment. Everything is pretty much normal here. I actually have a concert tonight. I keep playing with my jazz trio a lot. It keeps me in ‘shape’ – and I love improvising.
And how is the current Jazz scene and who should we be on the look out for?
The Jazz scene was never really big in New Zealand. Saying that, there are a few amazing jazz players here though. You should definitely check out Dixon Nacey and his latest record. Also Nathan Haines is about to drop new music soon. I have worked with both of them a lot. We are all good friends and we try to keep jazz alive here in New Zealand.
Which dance track holds the most precious memories for you and why?
I got into electronic music thanks to Nathan Haines. He is the only musician I know that is an amazing improviser with proper jazz records under his belt, but also known from his dance records like “Squire For Hire” or “Right Now”. I remember when he played to me his track “Believe” (the Kenny Dope remix), I was like, “yeah – this is a proper party tune man!”
What else have you got coming up that you can tell us about?
I have another project called After ‘Ours, together with my friend, producer Nick Williams and we are going to release our second album later this year. The album is called “Long Road” and features Omar, Kevin Mark Trail, Kuba Skowronski and more. Please check out our latest release on Spotify.