I last year discovered the album “Czary” by the Polish solo-project KRZYWDY. The album has been released on Zoharum and reveals a true fusion between different music genres like Dark-Ambient-, Ritual-, Ethnical- and Neo-Folk music. The album took me by surprise and clearly reveals a very strong potential. I wanted to know a bit more about KRZYWDY and asked a few questions to Mateusz Szymański.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Who’s hiding behind KRZYWDY and can you tell us something about your musical background and artistic activities?
Mateusz: My name is Mateusz. Apart from running this project, I am a member of a band called ROSK. I am responsible for the bass guitar and synth layers, but the band involves us on a bit bigger scale than a typical understanding of roles in a band. I am also trying to be as active musically as possible, learning new things about instruments, composition, music production, etc. Also on a day-to-day basis I am a Sound Designer in Gamedev, currently working on “Gwent”: The Witcher Card Game in CD Projekt RED.
Q: I’m intrigued by the name of your project; KRZYWDY can be translated as ‘harm’ while the title of your album “Czary” means ‘witchcraft’. They both reflect the darker side of life so what does it all mean to you?
Mateusz: Almost correct! It is the plural form of harm, so you could translate it into ‘harms’ or ‘wrongs’ and the album title means literally ‘spells’. This has to do a lot with the darker side of humanity and life. Firstly I thought that this project would be more of a Black-Metal focused kind of music, before I even started to write material. Then I realized that Ambient music connected with some Nordic Folklore will give me space for more personal relation to music, more intimacy.
Q: Your debut album “Czary” is inspired by different kinds of music, but it definitely has something Ritual, Ethnical and Dark-Ambient like. Like you mentioned it’s inspired by Nordic Folk and –mythology. Tell us a bit more about it all and how do you transpose the concept into music?
Mateusz: Well, I was always interested in Medieval, Fantasy and Scandinavian-related things. I even was a member of the Early-Medieval Reenactment Movement here in Poland. You know, sword fighting, paganism, etc. Also I love all sorts of instruments, to begin with ethnic ones and end with synthesizers. I decided trying to blend what I love the most from both worlds, some sort of middle path between shamanism / paganism and Ambient music.
Q: When did you start to compose the album and what have been the different noise sources and equipment you’ve used?
Mateusz: I think it started more than 2 years ago now. Part of this material was born with a need to have something to perform live with. I was given an offer to perform in an old coal mine, 320 meters under the surface of earth. How could I not participate in such a special event? My first EP was definitely a material I could not come out and perform in front of the audience. I asked a few of my friends from ROSK and Kuba Sokólski (drummer of Polish band MERKABAH and ILLUSTRATOR) if they could help me with the performance. This way it all started.
To cover the second part of your question. I use several hardware synthesizers, like Korg Volca Keys, Korg Monotron, software synthesizers, such as Arturia Analog Lab and combine it with ethnic instruments such as framedrum, percussion, acoustic guitar, flutes and obviously the voice.
Q: The artwork of the album looks pretty sober, but it perfectly represents the music. Can you give us more details about the artwork and the link with the music and their titles?
Mateusz: It was created in cooperation between me and my friend Mister Cadaver (link: https://www.facebook.com/mistercadaver/). First the whole layout was created on canvas and then brought to digital. I always liked symmetry and symbolism, so I decided to introduce it in the cover of “Czary”. The central symbol represents the Nordic Solar Calendar, which has a strong connection to the life-death cycle that rules our world. I am quite fascinated by the Old Norse way of understanding time as not a linear being, rather cycle. As you might notice the first track is titled “Ginnungagap” -which is the void from which the universe was born and the last one is titled “Ragnarok” -which can be translated as the end of the world (at least the world we know, because it was also a beginning of a new world). Second and fourth track titles can be translated to “Wiseman’s Words” I and II. The third track title can be translated into “Winds Made Of Stone” it is a closer look on the Norse cosmogony, where chaos formed our world, where flames met the ice, where a skull of Giant Ymir was used to form the firmament and other bizarre chaotic events occurred.
So, as you can see, the link is quite strong, everything that can be related to mythology; legends are somehow connected to wisdom, to rituals, to things that we could address today as Witchcraft and Spells.
Q: Because of the Covid-19 pandemic artists can no longer perform in front of an audience. How do you experience the situation and how do you expect things evolving? What are your further artistic plans?
Mateusz: This is a cruel reality check. But, my close friends and I are ‘lucky’ ones to not be professional artists earning their money from music, so we quite dodged the bullet and were not experienced in a very bad way by this situation. But honestly, it sucks. Greatly. I really miss the times of performing live with ROSK and KRZYWDY and assisting to concerts of various other bands. I expect that a great amount of smaller clubs and bookers won’t survive this storm. For now, I mostly focus on creative activities with my band and creating new musical sketches for KRZYWDY, ROSK and gather ideas that don’t belong to any of those two.