Miron Grzegorkiewicz talks with Misia Furtak about the M8N project, taking part in the Tallinn Music Week and identity.
You don’t want to perform solo anymore?
– I still do. I will keep M8N alive. However maybe in a different form, because I decided to finish my project which was inspired by mythological Ulysses. During my recent concerts, I felt that the stories which I tell just flow. I found great pleasure in performing live, however, I also had a feeling that the journey was over. “ULSSS” wasn’t a regular album. It was rather some kind of a project spread over time – with its own prelude, blooming and final.
Are you bored with releasing albums in a typical way?
– I was not exactly sure what I was looking for. Regular CDs, vinyl records, experiments with how music is published in fact didn’t appeal to me. The market has changed: streaming, a comeback of cassettes, surround sound. I was looking for something different.
I came up with this idea when sitting in a steam sauna in Nakla over the Noteć river. I was inspired by James Joyce’s “Ulysses”, multilayered Dublin, where various things are happening at the same time. Everything is cut into pieces so that we only observe limited fragments of reality. And we are not able to put it all into one piece. In my mind, I created a map of loosely connected dots.
Then there was a thought of creating music installation. I worked on this technologically and theoretically, I invented an application, added beacons – small devices which transmit radio signal by means of Bluetooth. They were supposed to be placed in various spots so that they could locate a certain person in a certain place, turn on and play music. It was all designed in contrast to how people consume music right now – usually, you have all records always at hand, in your pocket. And here you act as if you were going to the concert. Alone, without anyone, far away from clubs, in an unobvious scenery.
What a complex project!
– Indeed. The idea surpassed my possibilities to carry it out. Thus I made a variation. Conceptually I kept a map of spots which formed fragments of a story. I started recording pieces, one after another, but in a way so that the first one was a sparkle, and the rest resulted from it. That is why I used “Ulysses”. I adopted a motif of a traveler, thanks to whom my stories were not solely random movements of atoms which some of them vibrate more, and the other less.
Later on, the concept of storytelling emerged. I understood I can apply this as a tool to make an extremely strong impact on the listeners’ imagination by means of multiple media, in a very planned way. I decided that episodes, because this is how I named songs, will appear month after month. Eight tracks, in eight months, always on the eighth day of each month.
– To refer to the digit in a title of the project which took its origins from the infinity symbol between the first and the last letter of my name. However, regardless of the fact of how many tracks I could release, it was most of all a test of self-regime at work. Moreover, I planned to engage other people to work on this project. Will I be able to run this project and not fail? When I succeeded, I felt relieved and proud. I had downfalls on the way, however, on the eight day of each month the track was always ready. Of course, just before the release, we remastered some of the tracks, completed new remix, so that everything would be coherent. And this is how the album with nine covers was launched.
– Existing episodes we supplemented with the ninth track. Every piece had its own graphics, hence these nine new covers. We published them in wooden frames made by my folks in a garage. After a premiere, I closed the online stage.
I rushed with the next chapter – concerts. Every performance was a separate episode. That is why I decided to finish the ULSSS project publishing a live album. I like these live music pieces as they are less sophisticated. In cooperation with Kasia Miszczak, we created a video which I am fond of. The whole process lasted a year. On the way we changed the concept a bit, we finally recorded a live session in the woods. You know lamps and mpc powered by batteries, you enter an old fortification, moss on walls and you play. It was a final closure, depicting me and the way I came through. Previously I didn’t want to take part in this video but I realised I had been in hiding for far too long. This closure for me is some sort of a new beginning.
– I have an idea for a new project related to identity, Polishness. Tallinn Music Week where we met was a breakthrough moment for me. It opened my eyes on locality in music. In a wider perspective, locality is very attractive. I understood I don’t have to be with music all by myself, that it can have a wider range. It renewed my strength and the meaning of the M8M project.
And how did it happen you performed in Tallinn?
– I filled in an online form as usual. I was chosen by FatCat – the British record company. I knew that its boss had already been familiar with my music and I think it might have had some impact on being chosen from among many other applicants. I am pleased with this coincidence. I know how showcases look like, I mean festivals, where you want to present yourself not only to viewers but also to the international music industry. Thirty minutes of a concert is not much, but it is fine with me.
I came to Tallinn as an independent musician, appointed by the international record company, not sent as a representative of my country. Being chosen on the basis of my music gave me much energy. And moreover, Tallinn makes quite a good impression.
Even for someone born in Warsaw?
– Warsaw is my hometown, however, I appreciate Tallinn. It is a combination of the former Soviet Union which exists also in our country mixed with some Scandinavian vibes. There is no showing off. I am not saying it is a rule, but Poland because of its size has a tendency towards cheap luxury. In Tallinn architecture is modest and fitting. Even modern architecture here is executed with great taste.
So we are coming back to the idea of a project on Polishness?
– In a sense yes, because I was thinking in Tallinn how come we are so close and yet so distant. Do you know what I thought was completely different? Relationship of government with citizens. In Poland, there is a great distance, lack of trust and a need to show one’s superiority. And here during an inauguration gala, the Ministry of Culture was awarded a prize for supporting this event. This guy who was just simply sitting at the bar suddenly stood up, thanked and returned to people and continued talking with them. I think such approach would be difficult for our government to handle.
And did you hear a speech given by the president?
– No, I didn’t. Was there any?
Yes, there was, at the Academy of Fine Arts, on a stage between a cafe and a reception desk. Kersti Kaljulaid was talking about her plan of making everyone come and move to Estonia.
– So you know what I am talking about. Thus I was thinking about our national features, which are visible especially from the perspective of another country.
It all sounds as something worth keeping your solo project.
– You mean Polishness? Yes, I’d love to experiment with it.
interview by Misia Furtak
photos: Filip Klimaszewski