Mateusz Sobieski is a Glasgow-based jazz saxophonist from Poland. He has recently started a massively popular event, LayLow, at Glasgow’s’ The Rum Shack. A ‘BYOP’ (bring your own pillow) laid back night of music, showcasing a range of styles and sounds – such as a Brazilian jazz themed gig, a Christmas big band, and live saxophone over a silent film screening. SNACK caught up with him to find out more about his life and music.
How did you get into music and start playing sax?
I started because of good old envy. My older brother started playing piano when I was about five, I wanted to as well. I started learning piano for around four years. I didn’t have a great teacher. That put me off for some time.
At fifteen I went back to music, playing the clarinet. I was watching a TV show called Detective Monk and in one episode this guy was playing clarinet, it spoke to me somehow. I had a teacher who inspired my love for jazz. He was an inspiration. He died a year after I started getting lessons. His wife sold me his collection of saxophones, and I just taught myself. I moved to Scotland when I was 19, and just kept learning by going to jam sessions.
How did you find being a musician in the UK?
It’s kind of a love hate relationship. There is that beauty of doing what you love, but you’re living month to month. The last time I worked a ‘normal job’ was in the Premier Inn. A band I played with got offered to perform at a festival and I couldn’t get time off, so I quit. From then I just worked as a musician, hustling hard, playing on the street, saying yes to every gig.
What have been career highlights so far?
My first ever tour. We went to Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. My first sold out gig. Recording my first album, the list is endless.
And what have been the lowest points in your career?
I think that question is quite tricky. 65% of musicians in the UK are depressed. You put your self-worth into how you play. You punish yourself. You have a bad gig, and therefore you’re worthless. Many musicians have that association with music. What really helped me was thinking ‘my bad is good enough’, and then everything changed.
Tell me about the night you run, LayLow?
I was playing Shambala festival with corto.alto. We had a gig at a secret stage named Pink Flamingo at 1am. The vibe was so relaxed, there was carpeted flooring, a shoes off policy… It was nice to see that jazz vibe but not uptight or anything. This is how me and my friends in the jazz world are, we are not ‘classy’, or anything like that.
We love jazz: it’s music for the people, it shouldn’t be elitist. After the success of Glitch 41 at The Rum Shack. I thought why not set up a new night? Besides, after Blue Arrow Jazz Club shut down, we needed a new venue. Jazz venues in Scotland have always paid musicians badly. I wanted a new night that paid fair.
Check out LayLoy at The Rum Shack on Tuesdays.