The 6th edition of SpaceFest! (December 2nd & 3rd) will take place in Gdansk, Poland, and Pure Phase Ensemble are inextricably linked to this. The following interview is held with the key members of the project and the Festival:

Anna Szynwelska – Director of SpaceFest!

Karol Schwarz – curator and founding member of Pure Phase Ensemble, musician (7faz, KSAS), owner of Nasiono Records, producer

Needless to say that if you are anywhere near Gdansk, this one is not to be missed…

Hi Karol and Anna! Please introduce Pure Phase Ensemble to readers of Last Day Deaf…

AS: Pure Phase Ensemble is an international, shoegaze-psych collective, created especially for the SpaceFest! festival which is organised by the Nasiono Association and Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art in Gdansk. Each year different musicians (both those on the threshold of their musical breakthrough and artists with more considerable experience) are invited to join the group, depending on the artistic vision of the leader. The main idea behind the 5-day workshop is to create an international instrumental collective that will compose the music material to be presented to the public at SpaceFest! Through workshop improvisation the musicians arrive at a joint artistic vision resulting in a set of unique songs.

Each year this unique performance is recorded live and subsequently released. Every incarnation of PPE involved a new “musical director” – so far we’ve worked with Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Chris Olley (Six By Seven), Steve Hewitt (formerly of Placebo), Jaime Harding (Marion), Mark Gardener (Ride), Hugo Race (The Bad Seeds, The True Spirit) and Ray Dickaty (formerly of Spiritualized). This year, we’re taking Anton Newcombe and Emil Nikolaisen on board – visit us on December 2-3 to hear the results!

Why did you decide this project should be an ephemeral one especially for SpaceFest!? Are you thinking of turning P.P.E. into a more stable band/group in the near future?

AS: The beauty of this project is that it’s so unique. It’s also unpredictable – depending on a vision of the musicians we invite, on the atmosphere in the studio. It’s ever-changing and open to constant development. The initial concept was to make songs based on a wall of sound, with guitar effects, delays, reverbs, electronic beats and a phase in the background (‘phase’ as in ‘Pure Phase Tones For DJs’ by Spiritualized) and generally this aspect is still present in the music we create. But the artists we work with add their heart and soul to the project and make each edition different and so special.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to make it ephemeral – just a result of the nature of the project. As each edition involves different musicians and each incarnation of PPE can be described as a different musical journey, a closed concept, it’s only possible to re-create it on stage in the same constellation – with the same musicians. In the past we gathered the musicians of PPE 3 ft. Laetitia Sadier to play the material once more for Warsaw audience, or PPE 4 ft. Mark Gardener this year to present their music at The Liverpool Psych Fest. So it’s possible to meet up again for a special occasion.

KS: We never considered turning it into a regular band. But if we get gig offers and people want to hear us live – then why not? We’d be happy to share our music and play more concerts. Anyway, for me the most important aspect of PPE and SpaceFest! is spending time together with other musicians – exchanging ideas and learning from other people’s experience. The workshop gives you one-off chance to work both with renowned artists as well as the upcoming young musicians – and what they are bringing to the table is priceless.

This year the project will also involve world recognized Anton Newcombe (The Brian Jonestown Massacre) & Emil Nikolaisen (Serena Maneesh). How did this cooperation come about?

AS: I got in touch with Anton about two years ago on twitter. As I remember he retwitted one of our live videos (either PPE ft. Mark Gardener or Dead Skeletons) – and I was like “wow! How cool is that!”, 🙂 and immediately asked him if he’d like to play at SF!2015 with his band. He liked the idea but when we talked with his manager it turned out that BJM are already booked on that date so it didn’t work in 2015. But as soon as I began working on SpaceFest! 2016 line-up and thought about looking for a leader for Pure Phase Ensemble it was obvious for me that I have to ask Anton first. He’s known for being a prolific musician who collaborated with numerous artists, who plays God knows how many instruments, an open-minded person and certainly more experienced on stage than anyone I’ve ever met. And again when I asked him to join Pure Phase Ensemble he was enthusiastic about the idea of working with Polish musicians and creating something that would be remembered for years. And after exchanging some initial random thoughts about what we could do and what to avoid, Anton jumped at the idea that we should also invite Emil Nikolaisen who’s a musical genius, fantastic producer, and moreover – a loveable person to have around. We couldn’t say no to such an opportunity! And that’s the story 🙂


The 6th edition of SpaceFest! (December 2nd & 3rd) will take place in Gdansk, Poland, and Pure Phase Ensemble are inextricably linked to this. The following interview is held with the key members of the project and the Festival: 

Anna Szynwelska – Director of SpaceFest! 

Karol Schwarz – curator and founding member of Pure Phase Ensemble, musician (7faz, KSAS), producer, owner of Nasiono Record

Needless to say that if you are anywhere near Gdansk, this one is not to be missed…

How easy or difficult is it to be involved in a project/collective with so many artists either from the Polish alternative scene and the international scene? Is it all about jamming & free artistic expression then?

KS: It is all about being with people. Music gives you is the pretext to come together. 

AS: And it’s all about mutual respect, listening to other people in the band, and learning how important it is in music to stay silent from time to time.

A flashback to the past. Trying to set up this interview, I stumbled upon the overwhelming video of ‘Darkest Sun’. A 15 minute psychedelic/electronic opus. What do you recall from this night?

KS: Thank you, it’s always nice to hear good feedback.

My first memory: very hard time, it was first edition of SF and PPE so we had a lot of work and we were very tired. Actually I do not remember PPE concerts that much. I remember workshops better because a lot of fantastic and memorable things are happening there.

AS: It was certainly one of the brightest moments of the festival. The beauty of this song, it’s power, motoric  rhythm, outstanding vocals – it was overwhelming and put the audience in a trance. You should listen to the whole PPE 1 concert – it’s just perfect.

Nasiono Records is the label that releases Pure Phase Ensemble’s CDs. Could you please share some words about this collaboration?

KS: Well, we are Nasiono Records. We are PPE.

AS: We run the underground Nasiono Records label and we also have an association for musicians and artists by the same name – Nasiono (“a seed” in English). And we organize SpaceFest! as Nasiono Association – so it is only natural that we also release Pure Phase Ensemble records. It’s like one big family. You can say we’re self-sufficient in what we do.

Which Polish alternative (preferably unsigned underground ones) acts/ bands should we take notice of, who we may not have heard of?

KS: SAM-Sveerg.  This is more than music. It is state of mind. They are most crazy, dark, hell music.

AS: I could go for hours, there are so many… If you want beautiful sounds and vocals, you should certainly listen to Wilga, Asia i Koty, Enchanted Hunters. If you’re into guitars and space-rock then you should try Ampacity, Popsysze, Mordy. And for me Ścianka is a true gem that deserves to be noticed.

SpaceFest! is quickly approaching (December 2nd & 3rd). Why do you suggest people should attend?  What about the other artists will be sharing the stage with in this version of P.P.E.?

AS: It’s always worth attending SpacFest! to find out what Pure Phase Ensemble will sound like this time. And apart from Anton Newcombe, who will front this edition of PPE, and Emil Nikolaisen from Serena Maneesh, we’ve invited the following young and talented musicians: Olga Mysłowska (Polpo Motel) – voc, keyboards, Jakub Żwirełło (Oslo Kill City) – guitar, Maciej Karmiński (Jesień) – drums, Marcin Lewandowski (Judy’s Funeral) – bass guitar, Kacper Graczyk (Aiodine) – synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, voc. And of course Karol Schwarz, who has been responsible for the musical cohesion of the PPE project from the very outset, is going to be there. The only thing I can tell is that we can expect everything music-wise. As far as I know the instruments listed above can be exchanged between musicians or changed for something completely different or extraordinary that Anton brings. We’ll see!


About SpaceFest! – could you tell us about the lineup for this year’s festival?

AS: We’ll see German trio Camera, rightly compared with icons of seventies Krautrock such as Neu! and La Düsseldorf.

We’ll also showcase Czech shoegaze and dream pop from DIV I DED. This band builds on the achievements of such groups as Slowdive, The Jesus & Mary Chain or My Bloody Valentine.

We’ll hear cool, oneiric, ethereal songs from an Italian trio Be Forest.

In our line-up we also have MDME SPKR, a duo who transmit pure, raw energy on stage, with Lau Betti’s low, in-your-face voice that emanates sincerity and freshness.

Another heavier moment will be guaranteed by Polish band Wild Books, who are combining the raw sound of psychedelic punk with dreamy and fuzzy guitars.

Another Polish group in the line-up is Lonker See, whose sound oscillates around jazz, space rock and psych – their music is full of space, based on long forms, with a lot of room for improvisation.

We are also going to hear representatives of the new psych scene, The Third Sound fronted by Icelandic singer Hakon Aðalsteinsson, ex-member of Singapore Sling.

Like each year, SpaceFest! will also feature acts selected in a competition for young bands. This time, we are going to hear Rosa Vertov – an all-female band playing dirty, disturbing shoegaze, and The Fruitcakes – their songs are strongly informed by the San Francisco psych scene of the late 1960s.

SpaceFest! also entails DJ sets and wild dancing to strange sounds and surprising repertoire. This will be the responsibility of Snowid – a mystical forest creature, who will get his followers going with a mix of disco, psytrance, electro and dubstep; and two female, UK-based DJs: Ola’s Kool Kitchen and DJ Pomponette, who are going to present the most spaced out and psychedelic dance tunes from around the world.

How do you see the future of both Pure Phase Ensemble & SpaceFest!?

AS: Time will show. Now I’m focusing on this edition of the festival. When it’s completed I’ll think which direction to take next.

Do you have a message for our reader or is there anything else you’d like to add?

KS: Yes, I would like to say Hi to my mom. Hi, Mom! 🙂

Photo credits: Paweł Jóźwiak (1st & 3rd one)

Christos Doukakis