Eastern Bloc

From RNZ Music, 3:05 pm on 4 June 2016
DJ Marek of Eastern Bloc

DJ Marek of Eastern Bloc Photo: Yadana Saw

Seasoned resident club DJ and one half of bass outfit Eastern Bloc, Marek Peszynski speaks to Yadana Saw about juggling beats, babies and bands.

Uptempo bass, jersey club duo Eastern Bloc are gaining attention. Last month, MTV Australia leaked their Pop Like video, and their debut EP Flamingo hit number one on both NZ Apple Music and Spotify charts. They’ve played Rhythm and Vines, Splore 2016 and have more upcoming dates. So far, so good for DJs Artur AKA Beat Mob and Marek, whose stage name Eastern Bloc was a nod to their respective Ukrainian and Polish ancestry.

“We both realised we were Eastern European and our villages were [geographically] quite close to each other. Hence our quite volatile personalities and love of vodka”

Staying true to the ethnic-typecasting, Marek jokes that “Eastern Bloc is the sound of disappointment”. But as he shares the story of how he moved into beat production instead of vinyl spinning, I can’t help wonder whether it is the fork in the proverbial road of adulthood and a sense of former self.

Reflect on the last fifteen years of club and bar life and there is fairly high chance that DJ Marek was behind the turntables of many nights of frivolity.

“Studio Nine, Matterhorn, Havana, Good Luck, Bettys. Sandwiches - I played the opening night,” says Marek.

His residencies were predominantly in Wellington, though Aucklanders would have encountered his sets too. There are some particular features to the DJ lifestyle: late nights, ongoing parties, alcohol - at the very least, and a strong competitive gamesmanship between DJs and the music they played.  It’s a seductive way to live, but for Marek it was ultimately unsustainable when he became a father - though the big turning point only happened when the eldest of his three children was about to start school.

“I fought it hard [until then], it was messy. I’d stay up. I’d get home at 6 and the kids would be up by 6.30. I did my best to remain composed, but it is really difficult.”

And that’s understandable when playing music to a crowd is your formative experience that becomes your adult way of life

“I remember my first gig, I was in Seventh Form in 1995, and I put my hand up to DJ the Junior Social”

Having seen pictures in magazines of a mixer, which he promptly hired from audio accompany, he then

“Brought two tape players from home and stacked up my arsenal of 1995 [dancefloor] bangers and a cassingle of Deee-Lite’s Groove Is In The Heart.”

So began Marek’s insatiable taste for vinyl that only he owned; attending dance parties on any given night - which was easy in the era of Squid Bar, The Box, Cause Celebre, The Brain et. al. It was also the era of easily accessed student loans, enabling Marek to invest in his first mixer and turntable set-up which he put to good use hosting house parties in his warehouse flat and thus completing the picture of mid-90s youth. Marek went on to work in record stores, vinyl labels, and promotion locally and overseas, and throughout continued to DJ other people’s music.

Now, with Eastern Bloc he’s moved into producing, but as the self-confessed “Big Poppa” amongst his and Atur’s collaborators, such as Montell 2099 and many up-and-coming producers, Marek’s not sure he’s ready for his parenting instincts to kick in in this “non-parent” world.

But so long as the music’s good, Marek won’t be hanging up his headphones just yet.

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Music details

Artist: Eastern Bloc
Songs: Japanada, Pop Like, Pinky
Composer: Aldridge, Peszynski
Album: Flamingo EP
Label: Private

Artist: Deee-Lite
Song: Groove is in the Heart
Composer: Tei/Brill/Kirby/Chung/Deee-Lite/Q-Tip/Hancock
Album: World Clique
Label: Elektra