There is no other who can talk, in such depth, about SpaceFest! 2017 than its Director Ania Szynwelska, who was kind enough to answer to Last Day Deaf’s questions. There you go!
So, lets go back and ask you how did the SpaceFest! begin? What was the initiative?
Well, basically it started about 8 years ago. Me and Karol Schwarz (a musician and founder member of Nasiono Records) were talking about the music we listened to – bands like Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Spiritualized etc. which hardly anyone knew in Poland because in here American grunge or garage were always more in fashion and people didn’t understand British alternative music. We observed it ever since our high-school days. So we decided to create a festival presenting the music we loved – shoegaze, but also krautrock, space-rock, noise and all kinds of psych sounds – and to create some kind of fashion for it. If people don’t listen to it then we can make a change and make it popular! And with support from the City of Gdańsk and Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art we started this project back in 2011 when the first edition of SpaceFest! took place. And so far we’ve had 6 editions and the 7th one is about to happen on 1 and 2 Dec 2017. Some of the artists who played at SpaceFest! in recent years include: Dead Skeletons, Silver Apples, Anton Newcombe (The Brian Jonestown Massacre), The Telescopes, The KVB, Mark Gardener (Ride), The Oscillation, Death Hawks, Simon Scott (Slowdive), Damo Suzuki, Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab). It brings me a lot of happiness to see how the festival grows and how the music it presents becomes more and more popular indeed!
What should we expect for this year’s festival’s edition?
Traditionally, fans of new psychedelia, krautrock, space-rock and shoegaze will have their musical palates catered for. Festival-goers may be sure that the rich and varied line-up will provide ample opportunity to discover new artists, enjoy breath-taking visuals, immerse in the amazing, sizzling atmosphere, and spend two days in complete oblivion of the winter and cold outside!
This year’s line-up include Italy’s New Candys who have just premiered their new, brilliant album ‘Bleeding Magenta‘. This will be their first show in Poland.
Another band to make an appearance at SpaceFest! 2017 are 10 000 Russos from Portugal. Their industrial psych/post-punk has been charming fuzz-heads across the globe with its stomping, shamanic mantras and otherworldly krautrock slant. Just imagine how massive and mind-blowing it will sound at SpaceFest in B90 on 1st December – we get goosebumps at the mere thought. It will be ecstatic!
Fans of space-rock and Krautrock should enjoy the massive Mugstar, whose music is said to be the sound of 10,000 suns exploding and pulsating with repetitive beauty, like a sonic mantra. This music is fit to accompany you across oceans or deep into space.
Blind Butcher from Switzerland, on the other hand, will give us a stage explosion of space rock, glam rock, glitter, lycra and sequins – a mix that will definitely see some wild dancing and heat up the atmosphere.
Odd Couple is another band bound to give an energetic show. This duo from Berlin outgrew the age-old framework of guitar, bass and drums with a confident vehemence.
In turn, Mexico’s Tajak will stage a noise-punk massacre with a touch of native tribal songs. Tajak has been referred to in numerous ways, yet “apocalypse in the shape of sound” fits perfectly to what the band has achieved as their live reputation.
Another band to appear on the SpaceFest stage are Dead Rabbits from the UK. Their sound takes the Brian Jonestown Massacre-inspired psychedelic rock sonic aesthetic and crashes it head on with Lou Reed’s simplistic guitar work and Jason Pierce’s absurd yet painfully human poetry.
The festival’s stage will also host two up-and-coming Polish bands that merit particular attention. 30 Kilo Słońca are a trio from Kołobrzeg, whose music combines elements of space-rock, improv and yass. Professional live performances and complex soundscapes are their trademark. The second Polish act are Wilcze Jagody – close friends in life, whose stage performances ooze their love for synth pop, shoegaze and 1980s sounds.
The two days of concerts will be preceded by a workshop that will see the new incarnation of Pure Phase Ensemble –ephemeral group created specially for the festival. The musicians are going to rehearse for five days at the Łaźnia 2 Centre for Contemporary Art in the Nowy Port district of Gdańsk. This edition of Pure Phase Ensemble will be curated by Maciej Cieślak of the legendary Polish band Ścianka, who said: “We will try to invent music from scratch, and naturally fail at doing so, but let’s hope we create something interesting in the process.” Michał Gos (Oczi Cziorne, Lonker See) – one of the most prominent musicians of the Gdańsk-Sopot-Gdynia independent scene – will play the drums. We will also hear Nasiono Records’ very own Karol Schwarz (7faz, KSAS), who has been responsible for the musical cohesion of the PPE project from the very outset, play the bass guitar. The band’s line-up will be completed by young musicians from Poland and beyond. The effects of the workshop will be presented live on 2 December on the SpaceFest! stage in B90. The entire set will be recorded and released on CD in 2018. This will be an unforgettable edition of the Pure Phase Ensemble project!
Which other festivals are notable for you?
I really liked Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia. I think they do a great job and the line-up, side-projects and atmosphere at the festival are awesome. The people who stand behind organization of the event are just fantastic people who love what they do, are always ready to help and it was real pleasure working with them last year when we presented Pure Phase Ensemble ft. Mark Gardener at their festival.
How is living and creating in Gdańsk?
Generally, being an artist, musician or a cultural events animator in Poland is rather difficult. You need to have a regular job to earn your living and you usually have to create art and music after hours, as a side project – for your own satisfaction rather than for a profit. There are some cities in Poland that support cultural organizations and artists to keep them afloat and we’re lucky that Gdańsk is one of them.
Anyway, Gdańsk is full of prolific, talented artists and there’s a lot of great concerts and other events going on that are worth checking out. And what’s beautiful is that the musicians here know each other, support each other, create various projects together – there’s a sense of community, which is quite unique. There are several independent labels, like our Nasiono Records or Music Is The Weapon, as well as some active freelance culture animators and NGOs (non governmental organisations) that help young musicians, or independent bands in general, and keep the area sizzling with various music events.
What are the plans for SpaceFest!?
There are still lots of artists that I dream of inviting to play on the SpaceFest! stage so I hope, I believe there will be a chance to make it happen. This year’s edition of the festival is taking place in an industrial area of the historic Gdańsk shipyard, in B90 club renown for brilliant sound (probably the best concert venue in Poland!). So we’ll see how the new place and space influences us, how the 2017 edition works out and what opportunities it will bring us for the future. So fingers crossed! And one thing never changes – we want to present beautiful, magical sounds to the people, help musicians and the audience integrate – bring people together to experience something special in the city of Gdańsk which thanks to SpaceFest! is now the psych capital of Poland.