VIXEN: We have to learn to deceive but truth will always be valued more
Born in Silesia, lives in the Białołęka district of Warsaw. A rapper who is not afraid of preschools and shopping malls. One of the most talented Polish artists and music producers. Vixen shows us around places that are important to him and explains where he is in life at the moment.
We are in a shopping mall “Galeria Północna” [“Northern Gallery”] in Białołęka, a stone’s throw from your apartment. Are you comfortable here?
Yes, very. I’ve lived in various districts in Warsaw. First, in Żoliborz at Włościańska street, then in Mokotów close to Łazienki Park – it was great, you could go jogging, stare at squirrels, but unfortunately it did not last long. Afterwards I lived in Ursynów, and then Młociny that I did not like very much. From this perspective, Białołęka is fine.
Despite the fact that it’s a huge, unrealised urban plan of a housing estate of the future and a “Warsaw’s bedroom”?
It doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable. I think that my adaptation capacity allows me to function normally here. I try to focus on my own life and not look at others. As far as construction of housing estates is concerned, I don’t think there’s a big difference between Białołęka and Warsaw from the other side of the Vistula river.
So, you’re saying there’s chaos in urban development? Well, the situation is similar to the one in our heads. Our estate is nice because low buildings dominate it, I don’t even have an elevator in my block. There’s a tiny park next to my building that joins a forest – it’s not very big, but I enjoy the fact that I can enjoy wild nature 3 minutes after leaving the house. And although I am in the city, not many Warsaw residents living in Białołęka go out for a walk or jog. I don’t usually meet many people here, it’s quite intimate.
Photo: Bartek Barczyk for Archisnob
Is it a bit like being in Czaniec – a village in the Silesian Voivodeship where you grew up?
Just a little bit. I appreciate the fact that I have this place close to my house where I can be by myself. I like walking and wandering without a purpose. Sometimes I just ride my bike and explore, get to know the area without wondering where it will get me.
Whenever I am in a new place, I imagine looking at the map from above, with green points marking places that I already know and red points markings those I still have to get to know. I like discovering the area in this way. I like parks, green areas and water the most. I feel good wherever there is space. Łazienki Park and Pole Mokotowskie are probably my favourite places, but not when they are overcrowded. In parks I am looking for places where I can calm down – of course if I’m by myself. The situation is different if I’m in the company of others. Pole Mokotowskie works great in both cases.
Do you return home often, to the south?
I try to, but since my son Xawier was born, it’s hard to find the time. A two-day trip is an expedition if you’re taking a kid. I would only be able to visit my parents and my sister, and I would have to come back. But I would like to make some time, go fishing – my brother-in-law has shared this vision with me that he gets up in the morning and quietly sits in contact with nature. Without the pressure that we have in Warsaw. Here, people are really tense; you can see it on the roads when they get pissed.
Do you miss Silesia in Warsaw?
Architecture in Silesia brings to mind dirty walls and dark streets. Of course, I realize that this is a big generalization, but this is how I feel. Do I miss it? Not really. But I miss the mentality of this region. This familiarity, kindness and positive attitude, and maybe also the way words sound in Silesia, because as you know, they sound slightly differently.
Photo: Bartek Barczyk for Archisnob
You have moved to the capital rather late – after completing studies in Bielsko-Biała.
Yes, it’s true. I did not have anyone in Warsaw, so I decided to move here when I found a companion.
Didn’t you feel that there’s no place for a creative person, a musician outside of Warsaw?
No, I didn’t. I quickly realized that you could give an interview or do other things associated with music and work during a two-day trip. So, I didn’t feel that it is impossible to have a successful career outside the capital.
But I finally moved here and I am definitely glad I did – I feel the difference when it comes to opportunities and the concentration of people, various industries, and various worlds. It’s a great mix. In Warsaw, wherever you go, you’ll always meet someone who does something, or knows someone who does something that – frankly speaking – will help you realize your goals.
But is it bad? This is the dynamics of interpersonal relations. Exchange.
Exactly, it is natural that everyone does their own thing and uses others to achieve their goals. If you don’t understand it, you are either naïve or will understand it a bit later. Sometimes people say: “You speak up only when you need something”, but it is only natural that you are not in contact with everyone on an everyday basis. Relationships “accompany” achieving goals; if we can meet to help us both, then it’s okay, that’s how it works.
Photos: Bartek Barczyk for Archisnob
Your words reveal that you studied sociology. This is also heard in your last album To nie Vix4Pe [It’s not Vix4Pe] – it’s about relationships and it reflects upon places, for example the song “Miejsce zoo” [“Urban Zoo”].
I don’t think that this song is very innovative – such reflections on corporations and references to the animal world are not new. I wanted the album to be multi-dimensional, to have an additional level, to allow people to go deeper.
Do you write the lyrics?
Yes – and I have written a large part of them in the shopping mall “Galeria Północna”, where we are sitting just now. In the past, I hardly left home when I wrote. I needed to be by myself, in my comfort zone in order to write something meaningful. But since I moved to Warsaw, I started to go out “into the field”. Places influence my creativity. Places stimulate me, just like people or situations. I like to write in shopping malls, because here I have everything within my reach. I can look at people, observe situations they encounter. “Galeria Północna” – unlike, for example, the shopping mall “Złote Tarasy” [“Golden Terraces”] works for me in the context of creativity because here is a lot of free space – there are no crowds, there is room for thoughts. I’ve written most of To nie Vix4Pe in “Galeria Północna”.
So, you sit at a table with a cup of coffee and lines just come to you?
It is not even about writing the entire text there, sometimes it’s just a single line that will be powerful and will affect the audience. Everyone has their own filters, preferences, but – at least in my case – when I listen to a song and a line touches me, then maybe I won’t open to the entire work, but I will definitely check out the next song. Although it can be tricky, because if one, two, three songs of a given artist touch me, I may be afraid to check out his/her new work – I am afraid that s/he went so far that I won’t be able to catch up with him/her. It’s like meeting your idol – you have an idea about him/her but when you meet them you realize that they are normal human beings with problems, and that they may struggle to overcome them. And you don’t want to accept it, because in your head they are heros and you want them to remain exactly how you’ve imagined them.
It’s an interesting issue – and it’s put forth by a rapper who is identified by many people with rebellion and opposition to norms. On stage you are Vixen, a female fox, and on the daily basis you are an ordinary guy who picks his 2-year-old son from preschool, cleans his apartment when his family is coming for a visit and leads a “normal” life in the Białołęka district in Warsaw.
Let’s be frank – every nickname and artistic image is a creation. When I was starting to rhyme, I wasn’t aware of this. Over time, I realized that not only the artist builds this creation, but also other people, the audience. It’s difficult to change the label people give you.
As for my nickname – when I chose it for myself I wasn’t aware of its meaning, I didn’t even know it was female. I used to play this game on playstation and there was this character I couldn’t defeat. I finally did, but I liked it because it gave me so much trouble. My friends adopted the nickname and it stuck, although I’ve been thinking about changing it many times.
Your video for “Romantyczna miłość” [“Romantic Love”] has 7 million views on YouTube, so you are known to many people. Changing the nickname sounds like suicide. (laughs)
Yes, but it would have also give me a chance to build everything from scratch, more consciously, in a more thought-out way. I would be able to associate with my character, my artistic creation for longer. On the other hand, I might be thinking about it for two years. Apparently, personality changes every seven years…
…because apparently this is how long it takes all cells in a body to exchange.
And this is authentic – when I think about situations from a few years ago, I have the impression that my way of thinking has changed completely. And I think it’s great, because even if at this moment I am not fully happy with who I am and where I am, I know that everything can change. Since all cells are exchanged during these 7 years, I can change as well and everything else can change – for better…
I am usually an optimist, so I believe that even if something seems to be worse, it’s not necessarily the case – it can bring about something better at the end. Maybe these are clichés, but they are true.
Photo: Bartek Barczyk for Archisnob
And are you happy with where you are as a musician and artist at the moment?
I don’t believe in stabilization in music, in a belief that you have achieved something and are satisfied with it. Being – I do not like to use this word, but I think I have to – an artist, I believe that stabilization is the worst possible thing. Exploring, not being satisfied with what is – is inscribed in the definition of art. You can’t feel confident; you can’t stand on firm ground. You can’t be convinced that people will love your songs. Uncertainty pushes you forward – and again, for many people it is a negative force, but I would not be able to have it any other way. Certainly, relationships, family need stabilization. But I could not, for example, work “from 9 to 5”. I would gain some peace, but I would lose something that is very important to me – this element that allows me to create. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to survive an 8-hour day in a regular job. I worked with a phone for a while…
Yes, here in Warsaw, in Mordor [informal name for an area with many offices of corporations at Domaniewska St.]. Skyscrapers, people working like ants, suits, briefcases, race, deadlines, pressure, crowd… It was horrible! I worked in non-standard hours and worked with cool young people, but I couldn’t stand it. These conversations with leaders and forcing people to buy various things – it was a nightmare. Additionally, this eyewash during first meetings: “if you work, you’ll get to the top!” But you cannot see the top, it is unreachable. I liked talking to people but this constant rejection that is part of the job was awful.
Photo: Bartek Barczyk
Is that why you chose a path of life, in which rejection is also very much inscribed? (laughs)
But now I do what I like. When I make music, I accept the fact that I might be rejected a hundred times or more, but I will continue to do it anyway. I even asked myself recently: would I still make music if I did not earn any money? The answer was yes. But, of course, I do a lot to help sell my music. I cannot say that I am not adapting to any trends or drifts, because I am. But I do it intentionally, and I choose only the trends that are close to my heart and that suit me. And I believe that’s okay. Besides, I don’t want to be 40 and do the same things all the time, and tell people that’s progress. People are not stupid.
Oh, that’s new. I have the impression that many artists, music producers and people managing show business have an exactly opposite approach.
People sense if a song came from the heart. I don’t know how. But people recognize if something is calculated, designed for success, a “belt production”, or if it has real emotions. If the world is the Internet, then such songs – sincere, true, are valued more. And it seems to me that also people who are guided in life by true emotions and who have sincere intentions are valued more. You can deceive, we have to learn to deceive, but truth will always be valued more. Another cliché. But it’s true.
What are you working on now?
It’s an album, well, I don’t even know if I can call it an album – it’s a material created from four parts corresponding with four seasons. I’m not sure what will come out of this, but I’m excited. Well, I am excited every time I work on something new.
Will you be stressing afterwards?
No, there’s nothing to be stressed about. I know that I am fully responsible, and that if something requires improvements, it will have to be improved. I have this great opportunity now that I got the keys to the studio and I can be there alone. It’s a perfect solution. I am extremely grateful to Michał, the owner of Domofonia studio, that he gave me this opportunity, because it is amazing – I can be in the studio by myself, record, try, explore the material, it’s like being home alone and dancing to music. There is freedom, naturalness, because there is no one there to judge you. Other people’s gaze changes you. It’s impossible to dance like that when others are watching.
Photos: Bartek Barczyk for Archisnob