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Skalpel interview: Ninja Tune Surgeons-

Author: Andrez Bergen
Sunday, 9 April 2006
Two Poles, Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudlo, make up the single-entity known as Skalpel, and they generate suave muzak that sounds like it could be sucked straight out of that time-zone in the '60s when international telephony was just a tad tricky - crackling, time-lapses, and all.

Then they attack and deconstruct it with an aplomb familiar to listeners of labels like Warp and Plug Research; or Ninja Tune, with whom the duo signed. This should be no surprise; Ninja Tune is the some-time home of boffins of electronica like Luke Vibert, Kid Koala and Mr. Scruff.

TRANZFUSION:
What exactly is "Skalpel" music, and how is it different from the music produced by other people-

SKALPEL:
Skalpel is combination of jazz ambient and hip hop. It's inspired by Polish jazz and what makes it different from others is that inspiration, specific mood of polish music and the way we produce it. Through the years of producing beat, we think we developed our original sound and way of production - our music is produced on a computer, but it sounds like a live jazzy combo.

TRANZFUSION:
Your music has been described as "the resurrected, dusty & smoky spirit of Polish jazz of the '60s and '70s, re-imagined for 21st century audiophiles". Do you agree with these sentiments-

SKALPEL:
At the beginning we were influenced by the specific sound of Polish jazz, but now we think we go our own way. So we think it's more creation then resurrection - but you can still feel the dust of the past. We increased the interest in old Polish records, and a lot of them were reissued, so in a way we did resurrect them...

TRANZFUSION:
Why the name "Skalpel"-

SKALPEL:
We use "Skalpel" as a tool for sculpturing sounds in space and, being Ninjas, we sometimes use it as a weapon to cut the crap nu-jazz, boring lounge, and too-easy listening music.

TRANZFUSION:
How did you hook up with Ninja Tune-

SKALPEL:
We sent them our demo EP called "Polish Jazz", then half a year later we were signed. In the meantime we played our music to DJ Vadim when we were together on tour in Poland. He liked it and we think he whispered a good word about us too...

TRANZFUSION:
Why did you choose that label to call home-

SKALPEL:
Ninja is the beat label for the music we do. At the beginning we were especially inspired by turntables trick-nology. We set our demo to a couple of labels and one of them told us that we sound very Ninja Tune - then we knew we would love to call Ninja our home.

TRANZFUSION:
You're on a label that boasts people like Vadim, Kid Koala, Hexstatic, Mr. Scruff, Coldcut... do you have much to do with any of these guys-

SKALPEL:
We were on the ZENTV tour in 2004 around Europe, where we met Coldcut, Hexstatic and Kid Koala and we remember it as a good time spent with nice people . We have a special relationship with DJ Vadim, who often visits Poland, and we did the track "Voice of Reason" with Yarah Bravo.

TRANZFUSION:
You're Polish; Vadim is Russian... do you ever get into any political discussions with him-

SKALPEL:
DJ Vadim has lived in the UK from his early years. We mostly ask him about the UK rather than Russia. Of course, you can talk for hours with him about politics; he has much to say about it - but we prefer other topics.

TRANZFUSION:
Tell us about the Skalpel Remix Competition held by Ninja Tune - and what did you think of the winners' interpretations-

SKALPEL:
As you know there were over 100 remixes to choose from. The best four are on our EP, and it proves we like them. Our favourite is the Dr. Rubberfunk remix. Each of them is a different style, which is what makes our music exciting for ourselves. Together with Ninja we agreed the Bakini remix the winner. It has a mysterious mood and good drumming; we also like the way of using our samples in it - which takes this track far from the original version.

TRANZFUSION:
What do you dislike most about the contemporary music scene-
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