Maceo Wyro was a guitarist, DJ, radio personality, talent scout, propagator of electronic music, and one of the defining artists of Polish independent music of the turn of the 21st century.
Maciej Wyrobek was born on 13th October 1971. His parents were Bogusław Wyrobek, an early Polish rock’n roll artist, and Hanna Rek, a vocalist.
He began his musical career in a band, Citadel, but he gained popularity with Paraphrenia, founded in 1990. With the band he won 3rd prize at the Jarocin festival in 1993. Mantrykota, an album that premiered the following year, strayed far from the band’s punk roots. It was based on improvisation and artistic creativity. The band took elements from many genres, such as psychedelic music, reggae, and even metal and incorporated them into their work. Apart from varied inspirations, ‘street music’ and recordings of city life found their way on to the album. Wyrobek, the creative powerhouse behind the album, also played bass on it.
The guitar parts was played by Bartłomiej Tyciński, and backing vocals were sung by The Old Singers. Tyciński became the main figure in The Old Singers. Later, together with Maciej Moretti (who was also present on Mantrykota), he went on to establish Mitch&Mitch.
Wyrobek did not follow in Tyciński’s footsteps. Taking after his parents, he had some background in jazz and soul, and later developed an interest in so-called ‘black’ music – funk and hip-hop. He also became fascinated by DJing. It’s worth mentioning that he was a regular performer at Filtry, the most recognised Polish club of the 1990s, based in Ochota. He left for New York in 1995, after DJing for a couple of years.
After returning to Poland, he wrote for a variety of cultural magazines, such as Laif, Machina, Aktivist, Fluid, and Kmag. He also had his own broadcasts on Jazz Radio, Roxy, and, most importantly, Radiostacja, the heir to Rozgłośnia Harcerska. The title of his show there, Dziani Wąsacze (Mustached, Loaded Guys), became one of his many nicknames. He had a vast knowledge of music, which was clearly visible during his radio programmes. Although he put a lot of time into preparing them, it did not stop him from performing at various parties and events. His sets were preceeded by many notable artists, for example 4 Hero, Jazzanova, Afronaught, Richard Dorfmeister, Gotan Project, US 3, Jon Carter, Howie B, and The Shrine Sunchro System just to name a few.
In 2002, together with Envee, who wrote numerous songs for the likes of Fisz and Natalia Przybysz, he founded the Niewinni Czarodzieje (Innocent Sorcerers) DJ collective. This project became his claim to fame and the source of his biggest artistic achievements. They created electronic dance music, heavily inspired by funky groove, breakbeat, jazz, and neo soul. It was a sound that merged elements of hip-hop with club music. Their tunes were not about fitting into one specific style – they tried to have fun discovering new trends and merging various genres.
The name of the collective wasn’t taken out of nowhere. It was inspired by Andrzej Wajda’s movie from 1960, wherein jazz music was portrayed as a way to rebel against dull, everyday life, to broaden your horizons, and, of course, to pick up girls. Maceo and Envee used synthesisers and gramophones, and utilised live music in their performances. In concert they were often accompanied by trumpeter Tomasz Stańko, bassist Wojtek Mazolewski, and pianist Marcin Masecki. Their songs have been covered by many distinguished musicians, for example Novika, Maria Sadowska, Marika, Sean Palmer or Brodka. Besides their own compositions, Sorcerers were also known for remixing works of Sistars and Krzysztof Komeda. They performed extensively abroad, for example in the UK, Austria, and Hungary.
Maceo Wyro was a graduate from Red Bull Music Academy, and, starting from 2009, he organised the Warsoul Sessions under the auspices of his alma mater. Not long before his death, he created PiLi PaLiLi, another DJ collective, also with Envee. The day before his death both musicians were hosted by Agnieszka Szydłowska on her broadcast on Trójka.
He died 14th May 2014, aged just 42. An aneurysm in his brain burst, causing intracerebral hemorrhage. A few months after his death an EP, U Know Warsoul, was released featuring the last song by Innocent Sorcerers. During Tauron Nowa Muzyka festival in Katowice in the summer of 2015, a concert in Maceo Wyro’s memory was organised. Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet, Natalia Przybysz, and pianist Marcin Wasilewski performed, among others.
Maceo Wyro’s mixes are available online at https://www.mixcloud.com/maceowyro/
Jacek Świąder, January 2017. Translated by AS
- 2002 – Envee & Niewinni Czarodzieje album
- 2003 – Believe & See single
- 2004 – Anthem single
- 2006 – One Dollar Race / The Score single
- 2014 – Sweet Slang on EP U Know Warsoul