• Sikdope on His Polish Roots, Blowing Up With Borgore, and Trying to Move to America in Trump Times

    Dawid Kabaciński is best known by his producer/DJ handle Sikdope. The Polish breakout star from a couple of years ago has been touring nonstop since his collaboration with Borgore, “Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse,” blew up online in 2014.

    I spoke with Sikdope via his home in Koszalin, Poland, where he walked through how he got the electronic bug in the first place, what it’s like to become an internationally touring DJ, and navigating the slings and arrows of trying to immigrate here in the midst of all this political, xenophobic turmoil.

    But before you dig into our interview with Sikdope, click play on this exclusive mix he put together for you ahead of his gig at Beyond Wonderland SoCal the weekend of March 24.

    What are you up to?
    I’m at home in Poland, chilling, getting ready for a tour.

    I heard you’re considering moving to the States.
    Probably this year or next year we’re moving to the States, for sure. I’m looking at Los Angeles.

    Because Poland has four seasons, we’re in wintertime right now, and I’m freezing. But L.A.’s weather is wonderful—always warm. It’s like -10 degrees Celsius here. I’m not sure how much that is in Fahrenheit, but it’s cold. [14 degrees Fahrenheit. Yikes.]

    Tell me about growing up in Poland.
    I was born in 1990. Pretty much my whole family is full of musicians. My mother is a guitar teacher. Both of my parents both went to music school, so it was an obvious choice to send me to music school. I spent nine years there. I played two instruments: piano and saxophone. So yeah, music has always been present in my life.

    I went to school when I was 7. I finished music school when I was 17-ish. I was cruising around, playing in different bands, nothing serious. In late 2009, I started making electronic music. At first, I was just making music for fun; I didn’t think that music is going to be my day job. I was messing around at home, making music, and only showing to friends. Then suddenly, labels got interested in my stuff.

    “I was raised on metal music, on live music. Then I heard this huge bass in the club and thought, ‘this is something.’”

    What style of music were your parents exposing you to?
    Mostly it was classical music and jazz. But I was quite the opposite: I’m a huge metal fan. I was never like super down to listen to music my parents wanted me to. Metal, rap, everything heavy.

    Who were some of the bands you really loved as a kid?
    Slipknot, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer—pretty much all the classics.

    A ton of the producers in your scene come from either a metal, thrash, hardcore, or rap background.
    It’s funny; I know so many producers who grew up in the metal scene. Producers like Borgore—he’s also a super metalhead. I think what’s similar between metal music and electronic music is the rhythm. I think that’s what hooks us up—the heavy rhythm, with a super fast pace. It’s so intense, as much as electronic music.

    When did you start getting into electronic music?
    My friend told me about this underground party in my city. At most, our city is like 100,000 people. We had probably two nightclubs. One was really mainstream; the other was really underground. My friend told me there was this huge drum & bass party happening every Friday, and I got hooked immediately. It’s so intense. I had never seen something like that before. I was raised on metal music, on live music. Then I heard this huge bass in the club and thought, “This is something.”

    What was the name of the club?
    Klub Plastelina. At first, I was just attending shows. Then I was thinking that I also want to do sounds like that. That’s when I started to mess around with software.

    You were just in your bedroom and doing FruityLoops?
    I was using a cheap laptop and super, super cheap speakers—nothing fancy back then. I was just doing it after school.

    What was the music scene like in Poland then?
    The scene there is kind of weird. It’s nothing like in the States. We mostly have either underground shows or super mainstream festivals. When you have festivals in Poland, it’s mixing up bands and pop artists with electronic artists. There are almost like no all-electronic music festivals, like Beyond Wonderland. It’s mostly Coachella-type festivals.

    So, how did you start getting attention?
    When I started out, I was playing small shows in Poland. Eight-hour, all-night sets for $50. Then I started traveling to other cities in Poland. Then, suddenly, some labels in the States started getting interested in me. So, I started putting out music on Buygore, for example. That’s when things started getting serious. Borgore was a huge help for me, when it comes to getting my name out there. We made a tune in 2014 called “Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse,” and it got like 100 million plays on YouTube or something. That was the year I quit school and went full-time on making music.

    Were you still studying music at school?
    No, I was actually studying journalism—so that was funny. I just got overwhelmed with the duties I had in the music school. I didn’t have any free time.

    Tell me about the last two years.
    It was crazy. After I put out this tune on Spinnin’ Records, I started getting these worldwide bookings, playing the States, playing Asia. It got so hectic that I didn’t even have time to spend at home. I’m pretty much living on the road.

    What have been the best parts of living on the road for a couple of years?
    I think the best part is all the people I’ve met. I’ve met so many good friends because of making music, flying around, playing these shows.

    And the worst part?
    I think the worst part is being away from my family, my fiancée. That’s the toughest part, but everybody’s gotta do something, right?

    “I hope there’s not going to be a problem with me moving to the States. I’m hoping there won’t be any nightmare with the laws getting so much stricter, you know, no foreigners can move here or something.”

    So you’re trying to move to America right now with your fiancée?
    Yes, that’s the goal—in 2017 or by 2018. I really want to move to L.A. with her; that way she can fly with me more often. She’s flying to some shows with me, but not all of them, because she’s got stuff to do. The worst part is that I live really far from an airport. The closest airport is in Berlin, 3.5 hours away. I can’t handle the distance anymore.

    Knowing that you’re trying to move to America, what’s it been like following the American election cycle?
    The thing is, it’s so tough to get a visa to the States. I hope that this could change soon, so that it could be easier for my family and friends to visit. That’s why I’m still struggling with whether I should move now or later. I can always fly to Poland, but I’d love for them to see the States.

    I’m just hoping that everything is going to settle down soon. I hope there’s not going to be a problem with me moving to the States, because that seems like a possibility. I’m hoping there won’t be any nightmare with the laws getting so much stricter, you know, no foreigners can move here or something.

    I assume you heard about DJ visas going up in the States?
    That’s crazy, because my visa—a 0-1 visa—that’s an artist visa that costs about $4,000. If it goes any higher, it’s going to be mental. I’ve had to give up on booking so many shows because there was no point in me doing these international flights, which are expensive, and just playing one or two shows.

    How do you like the US?
    The first time I came to the States was because of music. It was always a dream of mine to come to America at some point in my life. It was so much bigger when I came here, from skyscrapers to architecture. The architecture is so different here. Everything is so easy.

    What else do you have coming down the pike in 2017?
    I haven’t played a show in Poland since like 2013. I’m playing my first show in Poland after this huge break in February. Then Indonesia, Paris, Spain, Thailand—all over the place this year.

    Is the Poland show in your hometown?
    No, it’s in South Poland. But the venue’s really nice. I also have some good tunes on the way. I’m actually gonna be putting out a new single next week. In February, I have a single coming out on Musical Freedom—Tiësto’s label—on February 6. It’s called “Old School” because it’s got this old-school bassline under the lead synths. It’s been killing it in my sets recently, so I’m super stoked for its release.

    Tickets to Beyond Wonderland SoCal are available here.

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