Thursday, January 11, 2024

Let's meet AJ KAUFMANN of The Swamp's FAIRYPORT CONVENT - interview with Fuzzy Cracklins of The Swamp Records

Let's meet AJ KAUFMANN of The Swamp's FAIRYPORT CONVENT - interview with Fuzzy Cracklins of The Swamp Records

Fuzzy chats with one of the most talented and prolific artists in the psychdelic scene -- with three of of his projects on THE SWAMP RECORDS! 

Read the full interview after the break!

Fuzzy: In a world run by the streaming services, how does an indie artist connect with their fans?

Yes, streaming services are hardly helpful for the hard-working artist. Thankfully there's bandcamp. I always send people to bandcamp, though I appear on streaming services because the labels I work / have worked with put my music there. I agreed of course, and it's good to exist there, but financially, bandcamp is the way. There's local gigs, poetry meetings, recording sessions, social media, email, or bandcamp messages. You have also worked out an amazing network with The Swamp Records, so being on your label I find the network you have built and the idea of bandcamp code sharing the most helpful way to survive on the internet.

Fuzzy: Your album covers feature artwork which fits perfectly to the sound of your music. Tell us more about how you develop your covers and which artists you work with.

I usually work with Justin Jackley, one of the most talented guys ever. Sometimes he lets me use his designs, sometimes he makes one especially for me. I love his imagery. We sometimes discuss the cover, but sometimes he just sends in a couple of pieces and lets me choose and it turns out it fits the music perfectly! For my most recent CD, "Bard's Woman..." I hired Spencer Robens (Hamburg, Germany). As this is a much softer album than usual, I needed "softer" art. Sometimes I make the covers myself, and sometimes I use AI. But if Justin is available, and fits the idea, which he does almost every time, I always go with Justin.

Fuzzy: Your lyrics and themes run across a wide variety of styles and topics. From where do you draw your lyrical inspiration?

I used to read a lot of books, really a lot of books. From science-fiction through the occult to obscure Swiss poetry. Some 15 years ago, when I published my first poetry book, "Siva in Rags", I felt most comfortable in beatnik shoes. But as time went by I figured out I need my own shoes to really travel. So, I took from there, and never looked back since.

Fuzzy: Who would emerge from Thunderdome - The Small Faces or Kraftwerk?


Fuzzy: You are surely one of the most prolific musicians in the psychedelic scene today. Do you have time for anything else? Any other interests or artistic endeavors to tell us about?

I always had to have time first for school, and then for work. But I never found serious work until recently, when I started working in a local record store, Wino & Winyle. We even have The Swamp CDs on offer here in Poznań which is awesome! I like to draw, paint, and write. I also try to read some books, and find some time for other projects like Psychedelic Mayhem or The Yellow Blackness. I try not to be in a hurry despite a lot of things going on simultaneously. I think I have a nice, simple life.

Fuzzy: Is there any place at all for AI in the indie music scene? Any way for it to serve as a tool for the indie musician?

I think there is, but I'm more a guitar-centered guy and these days I know little about the new technology. Like I said before, I sometimes use AI for artwork, and some of the art it generates is really nice for album covers. So, in that way it's already a tool, and in my opinion, a helpful tool at that.

Fuzzy: You recently did a soundtrack for an indie film. How did you get involved with that project, and how did you go about recording music for a movie? Is this something you might do again in the future?

Nicolas Tourney of Snow in Water Records always finds a way to keep things interesting for me - he has this wider, bigger idea, that's only available to real artists - and he gets me involved in many art-centered projects. The first soundtrack I did was for "Fairytale of Zero", a short film by Bene Malen, which even got to travel around with indie film festivals. I think it was in 2020. So, "Chemins" was a natural step forward from this project. I think it works - one has to imagine what to add and what to subtract from a movie scene. I like art cinema, but that's one thing I hardly find the time for these days, so "Chemins" might be the last dream project, and later maybe it's time to focus on bigger movies, if any director is interested in my music of course.

Fuzzy: Which artists and bands should we be listening to right now?

I am a big fan of CIA Hippie Mind Control on The Swamp Records. These guys have their own strong thing going, and it's not a genre, it's not a style, it's not songs or lyrics, it's just the CIA Hippie Mind Control experience. I love them. I also dig Volt Ritual, and I think they've got a new single out. Since I joined The Swamp Records I started to follow the stoner scene more seriously, and there's many great albums currently out there. Searching on bandcamp might be a revelation if you dig deep enough. I especially like small, home-recorded projects. I find that they're often the most sincere offerings on the internet, and I'm a big fan of honesty in art.

Fuzzy: What's the music scene like in your home town of Poznań?

I used to complain about it. I still do in fact, but ever since the project with Jeff Gburek on Ramble Records, I know I'm not the only one complaining. There's no such thing as "the sound of the city", and an artist like me, active since 1998, is considered a "psychedelic pioneer" - we had Niemen in the 60s, so he was the pioneer. Just goes to show the ignorance I suppose, but it's nice to be appreciated, so I don't complain about the "pioneer" or "unsung hero" tags anymore. But speaking of the scene, I can't think of any band or artist names, sorry. But there are many nice places to play a gig or two, so that's cool. But I don't feel like a part of any specific local scene. Maybe because there ain't one. Or maybe I am ignorant. I guess most of what happens here happens at jam sessions, where jazz and blues is the answer, and at small venues, where people can just play their music when booked.

Fuzzy: Tell us about your most recent projects and album releases.

The most recent stuff would be the new Fairyport Convent EP, "Fields of Doom". It's 5 news songs for January 2024. The next step is the new Fairyport Convent CD on The Swamp Records in February. I am really excited about it! I am sure it will draw some more people into the Fairyport madness. And it's already the 2nd Fairyport Convent CD on The Swamp which is amazing!

Fuzzy: If someone was new to your music, which 5 or 10 songs from your catalog would you want them to hear first?

Behind the Veil of Isis, Navel of the Universe, Alleygates of Sin, Gold, Amsterdam Song, Distant Clusters, Górczyn is Brooklyn, White Lady, Aurora, Berger.

Fuzzy: The Desert Island Question: OK, which 10 albums would you take with you to your paradise island?

Black Sabbath - Master of Reality, Yes - Tales from Topographic Oceans, Yuri Morozov - Strange Angels, Ewa Braun - Sea Sea, Ścianka - Statek Kosmiczny, Moskwa - s/t, Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland, Monster Magnet - Powertrip, Velvet Underground & Nico - s/t, Eloy - Inside.

A big thanks from Fuzzy and The Swamp Krewe for all of your great music!

And a big thank you to Fuzzy and The Swamp Krewe for all they do for the underground!

Listen to AJ Kaufmann's music at