A conversation with the artist Lukasz Rusinek from Paprika Korps
Paprika Korps is a heavy reggae band from Opole, Poland, which has been playing throughout Europe and around the world since 1996. Their discography includes seven studio albums with songs in both Polish and English. Some of the releases are coming with some wonderful illustrations and/or animated clips designed by the band guitarist Łukasz Rusinek.
Lukasz is a multidisciplinary artist and my conversation with him took a nice detour touching all kinds of subjects related to arts - the local visual art and the history of the Polish poster, the legacy of Polish art cinema, music, Paprika Korps albums, and the Karrot Kommando record house.
| Your illustrations for Paprika Korps covers are amazing, what were your inspirations for Telewizor, Magnetofon, and Homemade Babylon?
I was always drawing a lot, and at one point I realized that if you have a computer and a drawing tablet, you can easily prepare your artwork for printing. That's how it started – more or less. About my inspirations, I was really into comic books from my early childhood. I loved Polish authors like Rosiński, Baranowski, Christa, and worldwide known stars like Moebius or Bilal. They were all so inspiring.
| As Paprika Korps you have a recognizable visual identity. Does this help the band on the show?
Sometimes it's confusing when you're playing a gig and the people seem to be focusing too much on visuals instead of music. But generally, I like to play with visuals behind me on the stage. They always make a special mood, particularly in small venues.
| Besides illustrations you also work in animations. What was your debut?
My first video was “Telehon” for Pablopavo. It was from his debut album, and also my debut as a creator of animations. It went well, I won my first prize at a festival, which was very stimulating and it appeared that making animations is possible even if you're working all by yourself, without a team. And about the costs, it depends on who pays. The rich pay more, poor bastards pay less.
| How do you relate to the echo of your art in the world?
For me, the biggest joy about art is to make it. The process of making an animation is so rewarding that sometimes I don't care what will happen to the film after. Of course, it's always nice to see someone appreciates your work, but for me, the most important part is the moment when I sit in the studio and draw the animation frame by frame. It's a little bit like meditation or making the mandalas. It keeps me focused and calm, and that’s great!
| Can you tell me some bands that shaped you as a musician?
Punk and Hardcore was and is important for me, and the rest of the band as well (at least I think so). Bands like Dezerter or Post Regiment shaped us so much more than any polish or non-polish reggae band. I'm a big fan of Fugazi too. Their late albums changed my way of thinking about the ways you can use a guitar as an instrument.
| But how about the classic Polish reggae bands like Izrael and Brygada Kryzys?
I know Brygada Kryzys music was a foundation for many bands, but for us, Izrael was the main inspiration, as they play strictly reggae. Anyway, I don't really listen to reggae lately, maybe some old stuff, for example, Studio One dubs are ok. As it comes to modern stuff, I prefer to look somewhere else.
I'm afraid Paprika Korps is still the only Heavy Reggae band in Poland. We made this genre for fun because we didn't fit anywhere else.
| While talking about punk and reggae I can't stop asking what is your input regarding the mix of music and politics?
Politics is everywhere. It's an integral part of everybody's life. So, some bands, like Paprika Korps write songs about it. When something makes us angry, confused or whatever, we write a song about it and play it as loud as we can.
| How much does today’s music owe to television and to the internet?
I guess television is dying. It will be a long and painful agony, but it will happen someday. The Internet is so easy to access and gives you so many choices that it can flood you basically with music. It makes it very hard to focus sometimes. For sure the Internet is a great place for small bands to reach an audience all over the world. On the other hand, it's very easy to miss some really good music, because of the quantity of it available.
| How did it turn out getting your music published outside your home country?
We like to travel very much. As a band, we visited most European countries and we have even been to Siberia to play some gigs. We definitely prefer to play live gigs instead of recording music. Records are just a way to play more gigs. Visiting other countries and playing our music to different people is the dopest!
Touring and playing gigs for people is one of the most satisfying things for both me and the band. When you travel thousands of kilometers, just to stand in front of some total strangers, and play your music for them, it creates some special bond. I guess it would not be possible if we would be only tourists visiting strange countries. I'm very lucky that I met the rest of our band many years ago, and we started to play together as Paprika Korps. It definitely changed my life.
| You’ve released music on cassette, vinyl, cd and digital. Which one do you prefer as a collector?
I guess vinyl. It sounds the best comparing it to other stuff. But to say the truth, my vinyl player is broken for quite a long time, and I just stream music online. My collection is getting dusty.
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