Electronic musician David Sugalski, who performs under the name The Polish Ambassador, tells me he never intended to make a career out of music. Back in college, he started experimenting with samplers. “When I was just getting started composing, I was doing a lot of scratching,” he says. “I was into collaging music. Finding old records and making my own drum beats, puzzling together music by finding elements of other people’s music and weaving them together.”
Not long after, Sugalski, who lives in California, started making his own sounds. The response was positive. “This thing found me,” he says. “This guy who makes nerdy synth music and dressed in a space age outfit.” Wearing brightly-colored suits, with bow-ties, he’s the host of an interstellar cocktail party circa 1963, the lord of the lounge. And this year’s release, Land of the Lush, has that lounge-y feel. Esquivel or Martin Denny with a laptop.
On the record, you find elements of modern EDM, but it’s all mixed with jazzy saxophone and flute, as well as Paris hot club violin. Sugalski says he definitely leans toward non-traditional electronic music. “I really love to weave in organic elements,” he says: chill, like Thievery Corporation, but more danceable. Album-track “Forest Funk” begins with what might be a happy little mandolin tootle, before a four-on-the-floor kick drum beat kicks off the rest of the party — a little Afro-Caribbean while remaining resolutely club-centric.
Also out this year from Sugalski is Twilight Safari. In it, he takes on some darker, more bass-driven and hip-hop influenced sounds with collaborators like Bay area rapper The Grouch. From Twilight, “Hijack the Magik,” featuring Nitty Scott, has the pulsating feel of Bhangra dancing. Also featuring Nitty Scott is “Flavaz.” Showcasing Sugalski’s scratching skills, “Flavaz” is a straight-up hip-hop banger that wouldn’t be completely out of place on Cardi B’s next album.
This time through Eugene, Sugalski will do a DJ set for New Year’s Eve. But he’ll also be appearing as part of Wild Light, a collaboration with Bay Area folk musician Ayla Nereo. Seattle’s Yaima, a self-described “Cascadian elemental and alchemical electronic music duo,” will also perform, and rounding out the lineup is Eugene’s own electro-swingers High Step Society.
It all kicks off 8 pm Monday, Dec. 31, at McDonald Theatre; $35 advance, $40 door, all-ages.