David Sugalski donned the pseudonym of “The Polish Ambassador” by mixing and scratching records together in his free time, one of which included a skit of two show hosts making fun of a fictional representation of the European diplomat. Since his start in Boulder back around 2007, Sugalski has gone on to release a wide array of funk, hip-hop, breakbeat, EDM and glitch, as well as form his own label, Jumpsuit Records — a reference to his snazzy work attire when dropping beats on stage. You may be familiar with his songs “Superpowers” and “Let the Rhythm Just”, both of which utilize powerful melodic hooks to decorate the sonic environment. The label is also a force of nature in advocating the use of green energy, using their platform to form non-profits and raise awareness for all things sustainable.
Jumpsuit recently held their first festival in Taos appropriately named Jumpsuit Family Gathering, where all signed artists — ranging from acoustic to rap to afrobeat — jammed away for three nights straight during an abnormally stormy weekend up in the scenic mountain town. Sugalski, with his partner and fellow Jumpsuit signee Ayla Nereo, talked to the Daily Lobo on the last day of the festival regarding all things music, touring, and sustainability.
DL: How’d the label get its start?
Nereo: David formed it mostly!
Sugalski: And Ayla was one of the first artists. Her, being my sweetheart, I play her all the music that comes in that’s potential. She’s A&R basically, and Ryan is the event curator. We started off with the jumpsuit creative co-op, which was just four or five artists supporting each other through social media and outreach. When someone released an album, we would each promote it and so forth. It just really didn’t work that well because, at the end of the day the label works because of one entity that really pushes things out there, and everyone else gets really busy that forgets to do things or whatnot. If there’s one entity compensated for their efforts, it’s more organized and efficient. It made more sense.
DL: Hiring multiple artists from various genre backgrounds as well as promoting sustainability and green energy is quite niche for a label, indie or otherwise. Care to talk about that?
Nereo: It’s sort of a constant dialogue between what does it mean to have a platform, as well as an audience that listens to you. On one level there’s an opportunity, and on another level, there’s a responsibility. What do we want to create on this planet, you know? For us it feels like the times we’re in right now, sustainability and an environmental focus of systems, as well as how we can work in harmony between humans and this planet, it’s something we need to all normalize. It feels nichey right now but I hope in the next decade, or in the next couple years really, it’s something that needs to be like: “of course, we’re standing up for this. We’re trying to create better ways to live.”
Sugalski: In terms of the artists and genre question — in our house we listen to all kind of music. It would be strange to me anyway else. I understand the concept of a thematic label, and I think there’s a reason for that. But on some level, it’s not true to my soul nor my heart. I don’t listen to much electronic music honestly. I listen to world and funk and hip-hop and gospel. Every kind of music that touches me, I give it a chance. For us the main release factor is, are these people part of our family? We don’t spend much time looking out yonder for artists and reel them into us. The number one ingredient is, are these people the kind of people we want to spend time and tour with?
DL: It seems obvious, to some extent, to have a platform for such broad messages of sustainability.
Sugalski: There are definitely reasons people don’t, or can’t, do it. Since we split our energy in focusing on these kinds of messages, on that end of things, there are other things we don’t have the energy for. We don’t have much blog outreach or news media because we have to be more strategic with our endeavors.
Ayla is called onto the stage to perform with another DJ
The label is the foundation for this, with everyone collaborating on each other’s sets and enjoying the shows. If we have all these artists from around the world just to push the music, it’d feel discombobulated.
DL: With the versatility of these artists, you utilize so many different kinds of genres here on the label. Is that in some way to reach out the sustainability message to all these different kinds of communities?
Sugalski: Definitely. Most of the artists that we bring into the mix are already on board with that. They know what we do, and though not everyone does action like we do – but they want to. They’re not in an abundance in their life to pursue it further, as we fund our artists to do these things. We’re trying to come up with systems to help support artists on the label to do that.
DL: I haven’t gotten around to checking out your latest material after “Pushing Through the Pavement,” which was the big one, but do your more recent materials as well as upcoming recordings utilize a broader scope of sound or are they still mainly electronic?
Sugalski: Dreaming of an old tomorrow was still continuing that theme of weaving organic and electronic. This latest one does that but it goes a little back to having electronic back in the focus. It’s definitely a more dance-oriented record. It’s called Color of Flight.
DL: It’s interesting how so much electronic music came out of Boulder (by) the time you started and it’s so easy to be labeled as just “another electronic act out of Colorado.” Is there anything worth reflecting on that kind of culture? You broke out of that in a really unique way. I feel like people are like “oh, he’s just another Pretty Lights,” but you kind of broke all of those expectations.
Sugalski: I’m not an artist that’s not nearly as big as a lot of those other artists, but The Polish Ambassador and Jumpsuit Records have developed a following that tends to bring together people that, almost on some level, come together because they know the types of people going to be there. They know there are going to be people that love all kinds of music, people that change the world for the better, more activist oriented and spiritually grounded people. Other electronic music focuses more about the lights and excitement, which doesn’t tend to create really cohesive communities. And that’s kind of how The Polish Ambassador has been defined — it’s a reflection of mine and Ayla’s life. We’re just homesteaders. We’re living that garden kind of life, being close to nature. Our fans appreciate that.
DL: What’s your take on the first annual Jumpsuit festival now that it’s essentially concluded? The past two days seemed like some crazy trials and tribulations.
Sugalski: There were so many ups and downs. Again, the quality of people that came together — there was a struggle. The first two days of the festival, a thunderstorm would come in, and then the sun would come out with some rainbows, and then another downpour that would flood one of our workshops. There were a lot of things that got rescheduled, but because the people that came to the festival were sort of earth-oriented, nature people.
Nature put on such a spectacle, so much so that the weather became the headliner for a couple of days. In addition to that, everyone needed to band together. A lot of friendships were forged very quickly and came together to help out the festival. It was very potent and beautiful. Maybe even more beautiful if it was sunshine the whole time. And now today, since it was such a great day, it was even more appreciated. Everyone is so lit up and happy and smiling faces.
DL: Next year then? Second annual Jumpsuit Family Gathering?
Sugalski: Maybe! We’re gonna have a team recap this week and go from there. I imagine there will be more Family Gatherings, I’m not sure if they’ll be here or California or Colorado.
DL: Lastly, what’s next for The Polish Ambassador and Jumpsuit?
Sugalski: On a small scale I’m going to Austin in a couple days to go play a show, on a bigger scale I’m working on a new album. Should be released early 2018. I’m tinkering with a live band concept, working with some people on that to bring that to fruition. I’m still on tour pretty hard until November and then I have 2 months off until a 3-night run for a new year’s run at the Boulder Theater. And then I’ll be taking some time off to flesh out the new album, to create new music and digest the year.
Audrin Baghaie the music editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @dailylobomusic