"We didn't like each other in the beginning," admits Greg, the elder of the two. They met in 2002 through a mutual friend when they were just teenagers. Greg was trying to be a DJ, "collecting records but not playing anywhere." Voitek was the "new guy in town, playing really good." Perhaps it was a touch of envy that drew them into a musical exchange, but it was a sort of brotherly antagonism that perpetuated the relationship. "In the beginning it was more like a competition," explains Voitek. "Then we weren't playing back-to-back like now," steps in Greg—a verbal relay that last the length of our conversation. "I was playing my set, he was playing his. Of course I didn't like all the stuff he was playing, and he didn't like all the stuff I was playing, but we saw many records [belonging to the other] that we thought were great."
It wasn't until they started actually DJing together that the real camaraderie began. But even then feuds persisted. "We were going to Berlin with a huge list of records," remembers Greg. "Running to the shop to see who will give their list to the guy first. And then of course we were fighting: 'This record was on my list!' 'No, it was on mine!'" This was back when (as the name suggests) 3 Channels was a trio with a friend of Voitek's from his choir days. But after a few parties the third member dropped out, leaving Greg and Voitek to carry on the project. They landed their first club residency after just one party together in their hometown of Szczecin. "Everything was so mysterious [back then]," reflects Voitek. "We could play with DJs that we never thought possible. [It] was funny because the club, Mezzoforte, was just a pizzeria upstairs and downstairs a club for 200 people. We got people like Wighnomy Bros, Tejada, Anja Schneider, Sasse, Âme. They were good times."
The duo love a bit of chaos. They can't help it—even in their production work. "Of course this is not the best way to do it," says Voitek, "but in the end it seems to be working out." He's right. Greg has only just joined Voitek in Berlin (having spent the last six years ferrying back and forth from Szczecin), yet they've managed to put together two albums as Catz 'N Dogz for Claude VonStroke's Mothership sub-label. Their debut, Stars of Zoo, featured collaborations with Monty Luke, Mathias Kaden and French outfit dOP, and even more on 2010's Escape from Zoo, which saw Claude VonStroke stepping in as executive producer for the project. There's now a third in the pipeline, a collaboration with Pets affiliate Martin Dawson, which will see them approach dub, soul, R&B, disco and even rock with the aid of singers like James Yuill, Paul Randolph, Cari Golden and Ben Westbeech. "When you collaborate with somebody it's like a funny game, it doesn't really look serious, know what I mean?" Voitek continues: "It's just fun and then at the end there is a track. All our collaborations on the albums we did in the past were with people we met accidentally or were our good friends."
The guys seem to have an abundance of "good friends." The phrase crops up often, with "funny" or "fun" a close second. But, in the end, it couldn't better describe Catz 'N Dogz. Even with their label, Pets, the sole A&R agenda revolves around promoting friends and releasing the sort of party fodder that's pretty much summed up in the title of their label compilation: Friends Will Carry You Home.
Perhaps there's more shrewdness lurking behind the jokey veneer than they're willing to admit to, though. On the subject of the label in particular, they prove to be quite serious and dedicated, promising a real focus on Pets in 2013 as the label turns three. Showcases are planned across their various strongholds: A double floor takeover at Watergate with the entire crew is scheduled for March, a head-to-head with Dirtybird in Mexico at BPM and something in Miami with frequent home Get Physical are already in the calendar.
Greg keeps stressing they have so much work on—but when did it become all business? "For me, in the beginning when we were doing music, it was a really fun part of our life," replies Voitek. "It's not that it is really more business-like, it's just that we have different priorities now. The fun is in a different way." They've grown up in other words. Which isn't to say they aren't still surprised and humbled by it all. Discussing their recent Body Language mix for Get Physical puts it all into perspective for the two. It's a record that in many ways represents an amalgamation of all they've achieved so far. Their edit of "Get Up Everybody" by Zack Toms' Parade, for example, was inspired by a tape made by Voitek when he was 13 during a spell in Los Angeles. "It was like the second time in my life I had heard house music," he reflects. They contacted Nervous Records and were granted a license to use the vocal.
"So we managed to make an edit of something we were listening to as teenagers. The people that run the label are friends that we meet for a beer," continues Voitek. "It has just reminded me that we are super lucky with everything." He uses living with Soul Clap well before they began releasing, and discovering Eats Everything's "Entrance Song"—the biggest selling record on Pets—through another housemate, J. Phlip, as examples of some of the coincidences that have brought them to this point.
So while they might have had a rocky relationship in the beginning, Catz 'N Dogz seem pretty harmonious these days. When they first met Voitek was just 17, then an outspoken, hyperactive faux-rebel, pretending to come from a bad neighbourhood. Greg, two years his senior, was the quieter, sensible and studious one—juggling after parties between studying to become a tax officer. Ten years later and their characters (much like their music tastes) appear to have merged.