Following the release of their new album, Of the Sun, Trupa Trupa’s Grzegorz Kwiatowski joins us for a double-dip interview, counting himself first among that illustrious of No-Wave clubs, the Second Helping Boys.
First of all, how has life treated you since we last spoke?
To be fully honest, both good and bad. All the run-up to a new album takes a lot of time, even too much time. I’ve been reading same book for three weeks, and that means I’m not really reading.
But of course, I’m happy it’s all going well with the album. First reactions are really great. The release date is like the birthday of a new baby. So we are happy and proud. I just don’t want to kill my poetry and writing abilities because of Trupa Trupa stuff. Sometimes I think that can happen cause of this ADHD sick excitement around a new album. But I recognise the problem, so it can’t be so bad.
Can you describe the sensation of putting work into the world for others to see?
On one hand, the work is only for you, and you know it, so everything is fine. You are proud of it. But on the other hand, it’s your child that you’re showing to others. Even if others say, ‘what an ugly child,’ that’s cool, because if it’s really ugly, that means something. But if they don’t even notice that you’ve had a child, you think, ‘what’s going on?’
I’m just guessing this could become a problem. It’s been fine till now. But I want to be as truthful as possible. Artists are narcissistic, egoistic people, and they pretend they don’t care about reactions of others — but that’s not the truth.
What was the biggest risk you took in the studio for Of the Sun?
Every one of us has got different opinion. I am always afraid of professional atmospheres and equipment. We were recording the new album in a great studio, and I thought it would be killed by this professional stuff. And in some ways, that happened.
For me this new album is broken, but that’s the biggest victory of it. These pessimistic, sad songs have a lot of light inside, from this studio and its big open space. As usual in Trupa Trupa’s history, accidents built some broken structure which became the best element of the art.
We’ve already recorded dark, pessimistic albums with a dark sound (Headache and Jolly New Songs). So I’m happy this new sound is different. The songs themselves are also a bit different; more regular. You might say normal. But they just pretend to be normal. A light, professional studio atmosphere helped a lot in this schizophrenic situation. Of the Sun is more broken because of it.
How can you tell when a new album is 'finished'?
We compose and record many songs. In every rehearsal we’ve usually got two or even three new sketches. So after a year or more, we just feel that we have to do something with it. Cause if not – we will live in one big mess. So in some way, it’s just cleaning.
After the first big clean, we’ll have about twenty-five songs — then twenty, and then fifteen. And we record those fifteen. The recording process is always full of surprises and accidents so we just pick the best fifteen. It’s an intuitive process; we just know what’s best. Usually.
Sometimes we really don’t like something, or don’t understand it. ‘Only Good Weather’ and ‘Falling’ are some examples from Jolly New Songs. But now we think those songs are great. Sometimes we don’t have enough distance from stuff, and that’s why our great producer Michał Kupicz is really the fifth member of the band, and he also helps us in the selection process. And than we’ve got happy end, happy finish.
What are the differences between writing in English and Polish? Do the two languages require different poetic approaches?
I think it’s really similar. I read a lot of English poetry. My poetry is written in Polish, but I grew up on English language poets like Eliot, Larkin, Whitman and Masters. So I guess — or rather, I hope — I’ve got some intuition for both Polish and English stuff. My method is similar for both. It’s very minimalistic; almost invisible. And of course it means something.
When a new album is released, how does your relationship to the older ones change?
We’re proud of these three albums: Headache, Jolly New Songs and Of the Sun. Earlier, we weren’t fully satisfied in our production process, and it took a few years to gain control over it. That’s why I think as a band we’ve got four years of history, and our first album was Headache in 2015. We really like all of them. They are all a bit different, but at the same time they’re our kids, and they are similar to each other. But they are not twins. And they've grown less and less muscular I guess. They are more tiny.
Which dates are the most exciting from your upcoming tour? Can you recall your favourite space to perform in?
For most of us it will be our first time in New York, so I guess that’s got something extra. We all love Velvet Underground. But in general, we are excited about all the places we visit. Two years ago, we played in Chamonix in the Alps, three thousand metres high. Not in club, but outside on snow. On our back there was Mount Blanc, so it was a really weird and psychedelic feeling. It wasn’t an absolute favourite — there have been a lot of great places — but it was definitely the strangest.
What does the future hold for the music industry?
I really don’t know. I can only speak from our perspective. I think it’s not so bad, provided there is some space for bands like us. For example, we had really great intellectual review in Pitchfork, and we were on the front page of Pitchfork for a whole weekend. That was really weird. But of course good for us.
And what does the future hold for Trupa Trupa?
We’ve already got ten songs composed. We’re still composing and working on new stuff, but these ten songs are very, let’s say, solid. We are proud of them, and very slowly we are starting to think about the recording process.
There is a lot of touring now. I hope it will not kill the spirit of the band, but make it stronger and weirder. If we are friends, and the fundament of our band is our spirit, than nothing bad will happen. Nothing can destroy us from this bad, crazy outside world.
The industry is structured in such a way now that emerging artists need to shout to be heard above the rest. If you could give new artists one piece of advice what would it be?
I know that it will sound banal, and I’m not a person who should give any advice. But I think artists should be proud of their art’s spirit, and they shouldn’t feel ashamed making this whole advertising stuff around it. If you advertise spiritual values, why not? Even William Blake did it. I think artists should use all marketing channels to be visible.
What they shouldn’t do is make artistic compromises. I know I sound very old school, but for me it’s evergreen school. I think art is saintly stuff. We should take care of it, and be very true with our inner reality. No compromises with the outside world for sure. Of course, we should be open for critique and dialogue. Its cool; it’s developing process. But if someone forces you to do something, then you should run.
Header photo: Frédérick Lemaître.
Words by Andrew O’Keefe