While Hospital have been roadblocking the headlines with benchmark setting Beatport number ones and massive albums from the likes of S.P.Y and Kings Of The Rollers, their Med School imprint has been equally busy making serious manoeuvres…
Following Whiney’s absolute killer album Waystone in late 2018, they’ve dropped a crucial fusion EP from the inimitable A.Fruit, equally essential Whiney remixes by Lakeway and Toronto’s Polaris who, we can confirm, has officially joined the label.
His arrival follows a whole string of cameos on both Med School and Hospital that date back to 2016’s Future Sound Of Canada. Since then he’s been casually dropping his signature atmospheric sounds on a whole host of V/A albums on both labels including Forza Horizon 4, both 2018 and 2019 editions of the Sick Music series and 2017’s Hospitality In The Park compendium… All of which builds up to his official debut EP in May.
Famously being called out by the label boss Tony Colman on the Hospital podcast for not being prolific enough, Polaris (real name Vlad) is now sitting on a whole stack of newness and it’s about to start flowing out very soon. We called him up to see where he’s at…
You’re based in Toronto… There’s some proper jungle heritage in that city!
There is man. It has deep roots here since the very start. I think at one point in time it was one of the most popular spots for jungle outside the UK. We used to have this party called Electric Circus which was heavily jungle focused and it would be broadcast on national TV. I’ve seen clips. I wish I was there but I was too young and wasn’t even living in the country at the time.
You came over from Romania, right?
I did. We came over in 1999. The 90s in Romania was a hard time, there was a lot of turmoil, there were leadership changes and the eventual revolution happened. My parents worked very hard and saved up for us to move to a more stable country. I think the plan was to move to the US but we somehow ended up here. I’m glad we did.
And now you’ve ended up on Medschool… I think this has been bubbling behind the scenes for a while, right?
Yeah they offered me a deal in early 2018 and I had some tunes finished and a few older tunes, but they weren’t my current style so we started fresh and I started writing a whole new batch again. Tony [London Elektricity] said on a podcast that I’m not the most prolific of artists and he’s right. They had to kick my ass into shape. I wasn’t producing fast enough.
Too detail obsessed and overthinking each track?
Pretty much. It’s a trait I inherit from my mother. I’ve spent huge amounts of time perfecting my drums and obsessing over making things sound as good as I possibly can.
Quality over quantity!
Absolutely but I was focusing on it too much and the compositional side suffered, I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t composing, I was fussing over details. So I had to sit down and have a long talk with myself and get back to writing. This was last summer and I was going through some life changes that inspired and motivated me to write so it was perfect timing.
So all this goes back to the Future Sound Of Canada EP, right?
Yeah I guess. I did some stuff with Schematic which we released on Technique, which was amazing because before then I didn’t really have anything on really significant labels. Then Hospital approached me about the Future Sound EP, which we did. Then a whole bunch of tracks landed on compilations like the recent Forza one. And now there’ll be a release in May. My debut EP.
Sick. I have to say Alignment on Sick Music has been my favourite of yours so far…
Thanks man. That’s a very different track to what I used to make. I actually started it two years ago before any of these releases started happening. It sounded unlike the version you hear today. I went back in on it and I remember liking the bassline and that was pretty much it so I scrapped the rest of the track and kept that. That was a turning point for me; I’d found a grittier, angrier sound that’s a development from the deeper, more liquid sound I’ve become known for.
Are you incorporating more of that into your new stuff?
Yeah of course, I never want to be stagnant. Evolution is so important for any artist. I want to continue incorporating new ideas and experimenting with new things all the time but finding balance for that fusion can be a challenge; balancing light and dark isn’t easy and I’ve discovered it’s a case of constant refinement. I think my earlier songs were way too busy. I had way too many things going in there so I’m learning to pick my favourite elements in a track and making sure there’s nothing in the mix to take the attention away from them.
Nice. I went back to your earliest tracks, the Bright Eyes EP from 2012. When was the last time you went back over your old stuff?
Oh not long ago at all! Last week in fact. I needed to send over all my pages and artist accounts to everything to Hospital. It’s strange to listen to them, it’s like night and day in contrast.
Where you in life back then?
I was getting deeper and deeper into my love for electronic music I guess. I was into various kinds of electronic music, especially trance, for a few years but then I went to this party called Freak Out where I heard drum & bass for the first time and fell in love with it. From that moment on I saved up a whole bunch of money for my first Macbook because I wanted to start writing drum & bass. Unfortunately it got stolen a month after I bought it.
No way man!
Luckily my mum lent me hers for a while and that’s when I started to make drum & bass. Or try to make it, I should say. It was on Garageband.
That first EP of yours was on Garageband!?
Oh no, I’d moved onto Fl Studio by then. But I have to say I was actually experimenting with trance for years before on my old PC. Like I said, I was heavily intro trance all through school; hard trance, progressive trance, I just loved that synthy sound. So I was making that long before I even knew drum & bass existed on Cubase.
You were in a band around this time, right? Black Road Blue Skies… Perfect teenage band name!
Ha! We were driving to the studio one day and the sky was so blue and road was so black, it just made sense. I was actually in a few bands throughout high school. I was in a death metal band, I was in this band and another band with me and my friend just playing keyboard. But Black Road Blue Skies took off the most mainly down to the drummer who was very connected and got us quite a few gigs in the Ontario area. That’s how I started getting used to play to audiences. It became pretty serious so I put a lot of time and energy into the band and ended up flunking so badly I had to repeat a year.
Classic. Sounds like you’ve always had very eclectic tastes, no allegiance to one genre…
Absolutely, the one exception is drum & bass. That’s been my foremost obsession since I first heard it.
So are you becoming more prolific now things are heating up a bit?
Yeah I guess I am. I have a remix of Keeno & Whiney’s Spheres coming very soon and I’m already working on new music and I’m working on a remix for Etherwood, too. I’m just writing a lot more in general so yeah you’re totally right, I’m writing with more focus because it’s becoming a tangible thing.
When you see the results it gives you a kick up the arse!
It totally does man and that’s a positive influence on everything I do in life.
What else inspires you in life?
I’ve always loved motorbikes since I was a kid and got one last year. It’s very inspiring to have that freedom to go wherever you want whenever you want and being out in the elements. I’ve found myself riding home from a trip up north where it’s nothing but trees and no one for miles and I find myself humming ideas and tunes that come to me. That’s how most my ideas come about; I’ll wake up with a line in my head and I’ll have to get it down straight away or put it down on my voice recorder before I forget it. That’s how most my ideas come to me.
Oh cool, you’re one of those blessed artists who pretty much dreams up tunes?
Haha, it’s happened. It’s mostly ambient stuff; sounds and chords progressions but yeah it’s exciting. I know ideas don’t come to everyone as easily so I feel very lucky to have that. Whether it’s aliens breathing ideas into my head or what I don’t know!
Whatever it is, long may it continue…
Totally man. I don’t want it to stop!
Polaris’s remix of Keeno & Whiney – Spheres is out now. Watch out for full EP in May.