We don't know where we are going unless we know where we've been
Without that knowledge... history is gone with the wind
POLISH - DISCO pioneer discjockey
bio and interview for the polish leading deejay
as same as for the books:
Janek 'YAHUDEEJ@Y' Pawul
Before that movie, I was a normal Polish kid like millions of others in the '60s Poland. I would run to the school, then tear trousers on the trees and fens. On Sunday I would help in the church. I did not realize that there was any Communist system, other country, cultures, people and lifestyle. My existence and life was my home, father, mother, my brother Frank and a lot of friends around - similarly poor kids of workers. I was so happy during my childhood in the neighbourhood public garden, a few nearby streets and places around.
One hour in front of cinema screen and that movie changed all my life. I staredt to collect rock 'n' roll star magazines and newspaper pictures, then created a band together with school friends. If there had been no Beatles, Elvis Presley or Rolling Stones, then probably the world would be completely different than is today. The '60s cultural revolution changed the whole planet - one place more, another less, but definitely changed. It changed one poor Polish kid - me!
I just pretended because I was too poor to buy records or turntables or any electronic equipment. I did not realize at that time what I was doing and where it was all leading. It was something not controlled by me, a kind of feeling stronger than me. Life goes on giving new experiences. I had to choose between the normal lifestyle for all young people that time and between something that was total fantasy, unreal at that time in Poland. It was a big problem for me and for my future.
I started thousands of hours of training my voice, style of speaking, learning about music, artists etc.
One day, I got my first job. I started to work as a deejay at the Culture House and played hard rock band records with my commentary for public / audience. The first one I remember was Led Zeppelin - their second album presented to over 400 young people. I was playing track by track, with my commentary between. The audience was sitting around and listening. No dancing yet. Then followed similar gigs, popularizing the records of: Deep Purple, Budgie, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Black Sabbath, Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad, etc.
I say as a joke (but this is really true) that I was a disco deejay at the time when there were no discotheques in Poland yet. When in 1970 I first heard about discotheques, I then started my first disco, called BEATOLAND.
There were a very few 18 - 20-year-old young people who created the Polish discotheque and deejay scene. We were so excited and fascinated by the whole idea of disco and deejays that we did not care about money, etc. We did our job for free almost and were happy we could do it at all. Our main problem was how to get proper records produced outside of Poland and it was very hard to access any new music. We did not care about the law, regulations, customs etc. We just wanted to pursue our passion in real life. It created huge troubles for us then. But thanks to our determination, discotheques became reality on Polish territory in 1970.
Then in the early '70s the "UK wave" came - labels such as Bell, RAK, PYE and artists like Gary Glitter, Suzy Quatro, Smokie, Bay City Rollers, Status Quo, Slade, Kenny, Elton John, Rod Stewart, etc. I mixed this "UK wave" sound with early and mid '70s USA soul and R&B records - most of all labels like Stax, Motown, ABC, Epic, Columbia.
That was all popular and good music to dance to but not really the disco sound yet. Disco music came a little bit later and then I started to play Gary Toms Empire, Crown Heights Affair, Commodores, Kool & Gang, Barry White, Sly & Family Stone, Sister Sledge, Bee Gees, Peter Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, Chic, KC & Sunshine Band, Isaac Hayes, Salsoul Orchestra, Donna Summer, Silver Convention etc.
Via this famous and hated 'licence system' they started to create a different kind of discotheque style, music style and deejay style - different than in the western world. There was no other place on the planet Earth anybody controlled deejays in such crazy, stupid way by using special political "deejay license". But here in Poland there were a lot of sick mind Communists who wanted to advance their careers in any way they could. The world went its own way but Poland went in a completely different and opposite way.
It was at that time that I started to think seriously about how to get out of Poland, ask for political asylum and emigrate for good. It was not easy because that time I was married and had two wonderful kids. But Communist persecution was so strong that I couldn't stand it. Life was so very hard everyday. All my youthful dreams were completely trampled! My deejay friends from the UK and USA had careers, money and a good life. Whereas I, in my homeland Poland, was on the verge of going to jail or commiting suicide. That was a painful time for all of my family, and also for my young and pretty wife, and for my old mother who believed in her beloved firstborn son's dreams.
But early in 1990, the USA administration refused me political asylum. They explained to me - "there is no longer Communist power in Poland and there is no serious reason to let you stay in the USA". That decision came as a total shock to me, but I had no power and no chance to fight against it. It was a very stressful and sad time for me.
So, I had to come back to Poland in April 1990 and start to reorganize my life once more. I tried to get back to deejay work (never mind there was no longer Communist power) but there were still the same people who persecuted me before and who still secretly decided who could work as a deejay and who could not. That was, of course, a "SMALL" detail that the USA immigration administration (INS LA) didn't know about when they refused me political asylum. INS LA had just one idea - send this Polishman out of the USA and that's exactly what they did.
WHEN I WAS ONLY 16, I LIVED IN A SMALL CITY IN THE SW OF POLAND CALLED DZIERZONIOW. THIS WAS A WONDERFUL TIME OF MY LIFE AS I ATTEMPTED TO LEARN ENGLISH BY STUDYING MAGAZINES AND LISTENING TO THE RADIO DJS. BEING SOMEWHAT SHY, I DID ALL MY PRACTICING IN MY SMALL BEDROOM CLOSET TRYING TO BETTER MY ENGLISH AND TO TRAIN MY VOICE SO I SOUNDED LIKE THE UK DJS I HEARD FROM STATION LUXEMBOURG 208. AFTER A FEW YEARS I FELT CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO LEAVE MY LITTLE HIDEAWAY AND SHOW THE WORLD WHAT I COULD DO.
FINALLY IN APRIL OF 1970 I MADE MY PREMIERE PRESENTATION IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE OF 400 PEOPLE IN THE CITY NAME BIELAWA. I COMMENTED ON A LED ZEPPELIN LP II. LITTLE DID I KNOW THAT THIS WAS MY BEGINNING AS A DJ AS WELL AS AN INTRODUCTION TO POLAND TO WHAT WE NOW KNOW AS A DISCOTHEQUE. ALTHOUGH MY KNOWLEDGE OF EQUIPMENT AND WHAT TO DO, WAS LIMITED, I LEARNT FAST AND WITHIN A FEW MONTHS I WAS ON MY WAY. THIS WAS POSSIBLY THE FIRST DISCO TO BE HEARD IN POLAND. IT WAS THE FALL OF 1970.
BARRY - Tell me something (as much as possible) about the pioneer deejays you know / you've met in your career ?
Y@HU - LIVING IN POLAND, I MET OF COURSE MANY POLISH DJS, MANY WHO WERE JUST BEGINNERS LIKE MYSELF. THOSE PIONEERS WERE: Andrzej Matuszek, Kazik Jarząbek, Józef Sochowski, Jurek Kindla (RIP), Jan Bowdór, Bogdan Tyc, Janusz Nowak, Mirek Palka, Jacek Pluta, Piotr 'kumys' Kobyłecki, Bartek Tęskny, Gabek Wydra, Jan Sokołowski, Konrad Korski, Ryszard Matejko, Wojtek Zamorski + two our tchechoslovakian deejay friends - Peter Sis from Prague and Fero Labuda from Bratislava. I remember also two very special people: Konrad Wrona - WHO BUILT THE FIRST DISCO CONSOLE in Poland and very first professional deejay manager Czesław Gazda.
1973 - First Polish Discotheque Deejays Tournament/CONTEST I MET OTHER DJ PIONEERS: Benek Patocki, Włodek Preyss, Darek Śmietański, Maciek Dobrski, Andrzej Olechowski, DJ Eddie and a few I do not remember names today.
I KNEW ALSO OTHER NAMES OF OTHER CITIES AND DISCOS: Jana Kras, Jerzy Kosela, Marcin Jacobson, Franciszek Walicki, Jacek Bromski, Roman Waschko, Marek Gaszyński, Piotr Kaczkowski, Witold Pograniczny, Dariusz Michalski, Zbigniew Niemczycki, Krzysztof Szewczyk, Marek Karewicz, Roger Gregorowicz, Wojtek Jasiński .
WHEN TRAVELING TO THE UK I MET star deejays: Tony Hadland and Dugal.
BARRY - Do you keep / hold any contact with the other Disco deejays /artists / '70 mega stars (can you mention any names) with whom you've become close friends maybe, because of your work ?
Y@HU - JUST A FEW IN POLAND AND A LOT OF CONTACTS IN THE USA. YOU CAN SEE THOSE NAMES AT: http://1952yahudeejay1970.blogspot.com/
Y@HU - FOR ME, IT WAS DEFINITELY GOING TO NYC AND SEEING THE FAMOUS PALLADIUM. HOWEVER WHAT I WAS ESPECIALLY PROUD OF WAS TO BEGIN PUBLICATION IN ENGLISH ABOUT OTHER DJS / DISCO PIONEERS AS WELL AS RECEIVING PROMO RECORDS AND TO START TO COLLECT DISCO MAGAZINES.
BARRY - Do you remember/can you tell which was your best DJ gig ever ?
Y@HU - "MELODIA DISCO" and "ORIM DISCO" MID/LATE '70'S IN THE CITY NAME KATOWICE AND "TIP TOP" CITY NAME RUDA SLASKA - EARLY 80'S
BARRY - Have you ever done something else or is DJ'ing your life ?
Y@HU - YES TO SAY THE LEAST, TO SUPPORT MY FAMILY I DID VERY HARD WORK IN MINING COMPANIES, IRON FACTORIES, SHIPYARDS, ETC. HOWEVER I WAS UNEMPLOYED FOR MANY YEARS AND DID TEMPORARY JOBS JUST TO KEEP ME GOING AGAIN FOR MY FAMILY. SINCE A DEEJAY WAS NOT CONSIDERD A REAL PROFESSION IN POLAND AND THE PAY WAS TERRIBLE, I HAD TO LOOK ELSEWHERE FOR INCOME.
BARRY - Since you're one of the pioneer disco DJ's - how was the DJ regarded in the beginning and how it has changed during the years ?
Y@HU - IN THE EARLY DAYS, THERE WAS PASSION, HEART AND SOUL BEING IN THE DJ BOOTH. MANY TIMES I HAD TO PLAY FOR FREE IN ORDER TO PROMOTE MYSELF AND BECOME NOTICED. TODAY, IT IS SO MUCH EASIER FOR THE DJS AS THEY HAVE ELECTRONIC GADGETS TO PLAY WITH AND THEIR WORK IS MORE "PLASTIC " OR NONCREATIVE SO TO SPEAK. THEY DEFINITELY DON'T HAVE THE SPARK OF THEIR PREDECESSORS.
BARRY - What do you think about today deejays who use samplers, CD mixers, "create" special versions of the songs and burn CD's at home of their "creations?" Is this serious or just fake ? - I mean they create nothing in fact they - just use good music made by someone else from the past. In other words - they can create nothing if it wasn't from such old, good records of the '70 ?
Y@HU - AS I JUST SAID, THEY ARE SIMPLY REDOING OTHER MUSIC WITH A NEW TECHNOLOGY. YES SOME OF IT IS GOOD, BUT WAY TOO MANY DEEJAYS ARE JUST MECHANICAL. MANY OF THEM JUST PLAY THE SAME BEAT THE WHOLE NIGHT LONG AND HAVE NO IDEA OF HOW TO TAKE THEIR AUDIENCE ON A WONDERFUL MUSICAL JOURNEY. THIS IS NOT WHAT A TRUE DJ SHOULD BE !!!
BARRY - Where do you live now ?
Y@HU - SOUTH OF POLAND - CITY NAME RUDA SLASKA.
BARRY - Who were (as you remember) some of the great show and artist of the time ?
Y@HU - SINCE I LIVED IN A COMMUNIST COUNTRY IN THE '70/80'S, I REALLY NEVER SAW ANY ARTISTS EXCEPT ONE - THE FIFTH DIMENSION IN THE MID 70'S - A GREAT SHOW.
Y@HU - FOR OVER THIRTY YEARS I WORKED AS A DJ. BUT NOT ALWAYS ON A STEADY BASIS. AS FOR TODAY, I FEEL I HAVE DONE MY "THING" AND I AM NOT CRAZY ABOUT THE DANCE MUSIC OUT TODAY. THERE IS JUST TOO MUCH TECHNO MANIACS, NOT ENOUGH OF THE PURITY OF GOOD DISCO AND R&B - BUT I PLAY / MIX FROM TIME TO TIME ANYWAY.
BARRY - What music do you prefer and vinyl or CD ?
Y@HU - I LIKE VINYLS OF COURSE SINCE I AM SO NOSTALGIC FOR THE PAST - BUT THERE IS NOTHING SPECIAL IN VINYLS. VINYLS ARE SOUND CARRIERS OF "DINOSAUR ERA" IN ELECTRONIC AND SOUND REGISTRATION. COMPARE TO CD AND DIGITAL - VINYL IS SIMPLY PIECE OF SHIT PLASTIC - BUT I KNOW THERE ARE A FEW MANIACS AND BACKWARD WHO LOVE THIS SHIT !
HOWEVER, TODAY I DO PREFER CD'S / MODERN DIGITAL SOUNDCARRIERS AND MANY OF MY FAVORITES FROM THE PAST ON NOW REISSUED ON CD'S. THE QUALITY OF THE CD WITH ITS DIGITAL FORMAT IS MUCH BETTER THAN VINYL EVER. HOWEVER THERE ARE STILL MANY DJ'S WORLDWIDE THAT MIX THE TWO OR JUST PLAY VINYL. EVERYONE HAS THERE OWN PREFERENCE.
BARRY - What was your favourite club you worked for ?
Y@HU - IN POLAND: MELODIA, ORIM, TIP TOP.
BARRY - Do you plan write any book about '70 discos / deejays or an autobiography ?
Y@HU - DEFINITELY YES FOR I LOVE TO WRITE.
BARRY - No doubt for me that black artists created late '70 disco music, disco history based on soul and R&B - what is your point of view ?
Y@HU - AGREE 100% - WITHOUT THEM THERE WOULD BE NO DISCO MUSIC - NOTHING.
BARRY - Do you feel yourself as connected any way to the deejays whose created late '70 disco - discotheque and today clubs history based on soul and R&B ?
Y@HU - YES FOR I CREATED A LOT. NOW I AM TRYING TO PRESERVE THE DISCO ERA FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS THROUGH MY WEBSITE - I CALL IT "NEVER ENDING INTERNET BOOK".
BARRY - Do you prefer very early old style, (radio close style) deejays use microphone, speak to the people or those came later - just mixing records with BPM, pitch control ?
Y@HU - I PREFER THE EARLY STYLE - I MEAN VERY EARLY, BEST STYLE BY FAR FOR THEY HAD A GREAT CONNECTION TO THE AUDIENCE. I MEAN SPEAK TO THE PEOPLE - WHAT WAS EDUCATION BY THE WAY OF FUN AND DANCING. LATER AND TODAY THE AUDIENCE HAS NO IDEA ABOUT WHO IS THE ARTIST OR THE NAME OF THE RECORD. AUDIENCE IS LISTENING AND FALL IN LOVE TO THE MUSIC - MAYBE(?) - BUT THEY DO NOT KNOW WHO OR WHAT IS THIS SONG / ARTIST BECAUSE TODAYS DEEJAYS DO NOT SPEAK AND DO NOT INFORM ABOUT. MOST OF THEM (TODAYS DEEJAY STARS - GROWN UP MALE) SIMPLY HAVE NO VOICE AND ANOUNCE TECHNIQUE AND SOUNDS RIDICULOUS LIKE AN FEMALE OR KID. AL THEY DO IS - THEY JUST PLAY RECORDS LIKE MACHINES - WHAT IS VERY BORING AND BAD FOR WHOLE MUSIC BUSINESS. I CALL THIS VERY BAD "FACTOR MUM" OF TODAYS CLUB AND RADIO AND MUSIC BUSINESS.
BARRY - What was your favourite club, how do you remember: Studio 54, Sanctuary, Limelight, Funhouse, Gallery, Palladium, Paradise Garage or maybe David's Mancuso - Loft ?
Y@HU - OH! - LIVING IN COMMUNIST POLAND - KIND OF ARRESTED ON COMMUNIST LAND - BEHIND SHIT "IRON CURTAIN" - PREVENTED ME FROM SEEING ANY OF THE GREAT DISCOS FROM THE PAST AS WELL AS HEARING THE PIONEER DJ'S OF THAT TIME LIVE - BUT I RED ABOUT IN THE DISCO ERA MAGAZINES, SAW PICTURES, GOT RECORED TAPES FROM TIME TO TIME AND LISTEN DEEJAYS.
BARRY - What is your life now - deejay, producer - what projects are you working on now ?
Y@HU - TODAY I AM MOSTLY AN HISTORIAN OF THE EARLY DAYS OF DISCO AS MY WEBSITE IS DEDICATED TO THIS ERA. I SOMETIMES PLAY / MIX R&B - SOUL - FUNKY - DISCO MUSIC IN THE CLUBS AND BOOK / MANAGE A MANY DANCE MUSIC BIGGEST NAMES - ARTISTS / DJS AND WILL ORGANIZE EVENTS FOR VARIOUS CLUBS. BUT I ENJOYED THE EARLY DAYS SO MUCH MORE.
Y@HU - I SIMPLY HATE THIS TOTAL ROBBERY AND EXPLOITATION IN THE MUSIC THEY DO AND CREATE NOTHING !!! THIS SHIT WAS BORN IN UK AND GERMANY. THEY JUST USE OTHER - REAL MUSICIANS FRUIT OF WORK / CREATION. FACT IS THEY COPY AND DESTROY REAL ARTISTS / MUSICIAS MUSIC. THEY PRETEND THAT CREATE TECHNO OR HOUSE MUSIC. SHIT LIE !!! THEY NEVER EXIST IF NO COMPUTER OR ELECTRO INSTRUMENT (JUST TOYS FOR GROWN UP PEOPLE) PROGRAMS CREATED BY MUSICIANS AND SMART ENGENEERS. THOSE PROGRAMS PLAY INSTEAD OF THOSE FUCKING MORONS WHOSE PRETEND MUSICIANS, MUSIC BUSINESS STARS AND CALL THEMSELF DEEJAYS. THEY ARE SIMPLY FAKE AND PLASTIC.
I KNOW MANY OF THEM CLOSE AND PERSONALY - SO I KNOW WHAT I SAY. THERE IS NO HEART, NO SOUL, NO TALENT IN TODAYS DANCE "MUSIC" WHICH I CALL SIMPLY NOISE OF ELECTRO MACHINES !!! THIS TECHNO ERA (SAME LIKE NEW WAVE OR PUNK BEFORE IN THE '80) IS THE GREATEST SHIT IN THE MUSIC HISTORY !!! GO TO HELL WITH ALL THIS TRASH ! THANK GOD IT IS ALMOST OVER NOW AND REAL R&B IS COMING BACK ON THE MARKET TOGETHER WITH OLD GOOD SONGS / TRACKS OF THE PAST.
BARRY - What more do you want to tell - I mean - is there anything I did not answer BUT you want to tell us about ?
Y@HU - BE HONEST, HONOUR AND RESPECT MUSIC AND DEEJAY HISTORY, BECAUSE -
Y@HU - DEFINITELY!