Photo: Press (Monster)
Poland has become a popular travel destination for festivalgoers in recent years, but also has a thriving grassroot scene. Oramics is one of the collectives who managed to represent the local community and its music internationally while also tirelessly taking a political stance. Monster is one of the core members and both with her mix for our Groove podcast – highlighting producers from the Polish scene – and in her interview pulls no punches. It’s a joyful rid, brimming with excitement – “fast and furious,” as she puts it.
First off, how have you been doing this past year?
I’m glad the worst horrors of the pandemic are over for now, because it was tough. Artistically, I was very lucky to have been asked to record many mixes for some amazing platforms, so I did have something to work on, but not going out and not playing for sweaty crowds definitely had an impact on my well-being. I did become closer with some people, who I really appreciate and it was interesting to see how some friendships developed in those difficult times, it was almost like being in a big support group. Right now, after two or three weekends when things have opened up in Poland I can clearly see the difference between this almost normal life and the pandemic life, I love going out to clubs, concerts, restaurants, the gym, finally being around people, so I really hope the vaccinations work and we’ll be able to enjoy a normal life again.
Before you started your DJing career, Discovering Intergalactic FM was a key moment for you. How did you even come across it and what was it that interested you in their programming?
I don’t remember exactly how I came across it, probably through my fellow DJ’s from Poznań, who were into italo disco and electro. Those were the sounds that drew me to Intergalatic FM, the old synths, cheesy melodies and the versatility of the programming. I always liked the Dutch scene for not sticking to one genre but rather playing around with different styles.
You made your first steps as a DJ and event organiser at the Rozbrat squat and alternative social centre in Poznań. How did you get involved with the place and what was the idea behind your Squat The Electricity event series?
I came to Poznań to study and I was already very political and really wanted to get involved and Rozbrat was known as the most active radical social center in Poland at the time. I quickly got involved and after a while I also got into music, hence the Squat the Electricity parties. At the time there weren’t many clubs in Poznań so local DJs wanted to play anywhere. The idea of playing at a squat was interesting and fun and I have to say that was a very cool experiment, mixing club music with punk energy, very carefree and not judgmental at all.
These days, you are a resident at Projekt LAB. How did that come about and what role does Projekt LAB play in Poznań’s scene?
Projekt LAB asked me to be their resident in September 2019 after I’ve played there numerous times and also organized Oramics club nights and workshops there, we also worked together on safer space posters for the club, which seem to have been the first ones to be introduced in a Polish club. The owner and the manager of Projekt LAB appreciated what I did as a DJ and an activist and wanted me to join their resident crew, which made me very happy, because I believe it’s the club with the best programming in Poznań. They have been really consistent with booking artists who aren’t commercial or obvious and they are also very forward-thinking when it comes to club politics and it is the longest-running underground club in Poznań at the moment.
You are also a member of the Oramics collective whose efforts to serve as a platform and advocate for women and members of the LGBTQI* community have become more crucial in the face of Poland’s already infamous legal discrimination against queer people and its “LGBT-free zones.” What kind of problems does that raise for Oramics, and what potential do you see in using club music and culture in building a political platform in this context?
Oramics have been around for four years now and the changes within the scene have been really visible and it can’t be denied that Oramics was a big reason for that, having released over 150 podcasts by female and LGBTQ artists and having organized numerous production and DJing workshops. We also released the Total Solidarity compilation in 2019 with over 120 tracks by artists from all over the world, who helped us raise money and international awareness about the oppression against the LGBTQ community in Poland. I see this as a chance for the international scene to pay more attention to Eastern Europe and its club culture, which is growing rapidly but not getting enough support. We need to be treated as equals not only by our own government but also by the Western scene which seems to be very self-centred and still sees us as a very distant land while in fact we’re very close.
Oramics celebrated its third birthday last July with an online festival that included a zine, workshops and a panel discussion with a focus on the scenes in Eastern Europe. How did it go and would you say that online festivals like these can foster community-building on a more international level?
It was definitely a chance to talk to people we wouldn’t have had a chance of communicating with if it weren’t for the pandemic. The panel especially was very eye-opening when it comes to the common experiences of Eastern Europeans. Unfortunately, gathering people from so many countries in real life is very costly, so in this case online festivals are the only solution, I guess. With that being said, I think a lot of people will stop watching online panels soon when everything opens up again.
Poland has been making a lot of progress regarding its vaccination rollout so far, which will inevitably lead to a restart of the nightlife sector. Most of Poland’s club scene however has been in a precarious situation already before the pandemic. What will be the biggest obstacles the scene will face once doors can be opened again?
The clubs have opened already with some restrictions as the government allowed vaccinated people to take part in music events without any limitations, so we’re beginning to see the new normal. The most controversial issue for me will be dealing with people who decided to start their own events during the pandemic, cynically using the gap in the market. I don’t understand or support that, I have some understanding for clubs that opened up several times to cover their rent because they didn’t get any financial support from the government, but not for the people who made money for themselves specifically when parties were not allowed. I don’t see them as part of the club culture, which should be safe and not selfish, so I hope they will not be allowed to participate in it anymore.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
This mix turned out really fast and furious, probably because of the first parties I played after lockdown which were absolutely mental. During one of them, the manager of the club turned down the music during my set because the moshpit on the dancefloor nearly knocked down the DJ table on stage. (laughs) So that’s the idea behind the mix: let’s be wild on the dancefloor together again soon! It also includes some tracks by very talented Polish producers: Phatrax, Naphta and Rhythm B. that you should toally pay close attention to.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
I am already booked for a lot of shows in Poland this summer, with some big events coming up, really hoping I’ll be able to travel abroad soon, because a lot of really juicy bookings were canceled for me in 2020. By the time the mix is out I’ll be fully vaccinated so I’m ready to go!
Stream: Monster – Groove Podcast 301
01. Phatrax – PRRRAH
02. 5ZYL – Where Your Car At
03. Ejeca – Stoke It
04. Dj Genderfluid – Acid Uprising (Original Mix)
05. Matt Finnegan – GALLOP
06. False Witness – Life Can Be Cruel (D.Dan Remix)
07. Rhythm B. – The Vid
08. Lagos feat. Vecthör – Délire Paralléle
09. Aloka – Brain Confusion
10. Farron – Bratanic Surfers
11. MALUGI – It‘s Not A Phase Mom
12. Sansibar – Sissi
13. DJ Simlocked – deeplurker
14. Quest?onmarc – Chasing The Sun (06h00 Mix)
15. Naphta – Pokrzyk
16. Force Mass Motion – Explosion
17. Mattia Trani – No Future
18. baka – nighshifter
19. Tom Jarmey – T-1000
20. Prayer – No One Left