He takes this in and muses on his successes from the beautiful isolation of his 10-acre homestead in the Sierra mountains, complete with a 3,000-square-foot garden and a solar-powered music studio. It sits quietly two hours away from his native Oakland, California, and while it offers a bit of reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city living, it brings its own challenges.
“It's totally a lot to manage,” he says. “I didn't realize that taking it on, and now I'm part musician and totally part farm manager. It's kind of crazy.”
Between massive sheet moulding projects and long days spent tending the fields, he finds ample time to work on his music. Since first donning his signature, multi-colored jumpsuit in 2005, he's damn near released an album every year. Even while he worked on Color of Flight, he was writing and releasing other projects.
“It's almost to my detriment sometimes that I'm that productive, because a lot of times I don't give space to things that are really important to me,” he says. “I can't really turn off that creative side. … On the outside, it's like, 'Oh, wow, Polish Ambassador is really productive.' Sometimes it's hard to hear that. I want to be able to do an album every two or three years and take a lot of time for yourself. I think that's maybe what I'm moving towards, but we'll see.”
Color of Flight was mostly written and recorded in said solar-powered studio, though it was greatly influenced by more temperate climates.
It opens with playful colors and chanting vocals on “Take Wing,” the kind of track that braces you for cool things to come. “Punjab Shuffle” is cocky with Asian effects. “All Night Long” is warm, muggy and full of the excitement of a night in a tropical party paradise. “Return” is steamy with Caribbean spice, hand drums and sensual saxophone. Its 13 tracks encompass a technicolor swath of multicultural influences, though there's something decidedly equatorial about the canvas.
“I've traveled a lot in the past three years or so as I wrote,” he says. “Hawaii, a few places in Central America, Australia. It was definitely inspired by more tropical zones, for sure. Some of it was actually written in those places while I had some of my production gear with me. A lot of it was written here on my little homestead up here in the Sierras, though it was definitely largely inspired by my travels.”
It's mostly instrumental, which stands in contrast to The Polish Ambassador's three preceding albums: 2014's Pushing Through The Pavement, 2015's Terra Bella and 2016's Dreaming of an Old Tomorrow.
“It's like an inhale and an exhale,” he says. “The records where I have lots of vocalists on them, I'm really stoked about those. On some level, they have the potential to reach wider audiences, and they're also harder to create. It's a lot more work to have a featured performer on every track, manage personalities and come to a finality in the song both people are stoked about. That's the inhale, like 'OK, I can do this.' It's going to be more work, and then the exhale is easy. It's easy for me to put out a record with no vocals, because this is what I do. It feels really good in that respect, to just have something that came forth in a really easeful way, and I hope when people hear the music, they feel that.”
Fans will have the chance to feel it live at one of his upcoming shows, although anyone looking for the most purely distilled Polish Ambassador experience should mark their calendars for the first-ever Jumpsuit Family Gathering, a special festival experience from the man who's played so many.
The festival will feature two nights of performances from The Polish Ambassador, his friends and signees to his Jumpsuit Records, plus yoga, workshops, “ecstatic dance,” lawn sports and more. It's going down in Taos, New Mexico, Sept. 29 to Oct. 1.
“It's something we've been talking about for years,” he says, “and I'm really excited for the first one, because there's such a beauty in being a part of something at the beginning.”
Visit the Jumpsuit Family Gathering online for tickets and more information, and listen to the Color of Flight in full below.