My shadow streak

Certainly this is an album of my shadow streak, references to my childhood, to things and places that have shaped me. There is a kind of melancholic tenderness in it,” says Grzegorz Turnau about his new album “11:11”.

My shadow streak

Once, when I was hitchhiking, in a big truck, the driver turned on a Grzegorz Turnau cassette at one point. I’ll admit that I was quite surprised.

Grzegorz Turnau: Apparently it was some TIR-nau. That’s nice, that’s fantastic. I would be the last impostor if I said that what I do, I do purely for the idea. I’ve always cared very much that people listen to what I do, that they come to concerts and buy records. If a singer or an actor, someone who creates on stage, says that he doesn’t care about the audience accepting him, he can safely be considered at least a confabulator.

How is it that you, an artist who originated from the Piwnica pod Baranami, an environment that has nothing to do with popular song, has become so popular that his records are bought by people who don’t know what Piwnica is?

I am the worst addressee of such a question because it is the most difficult to evaluate or coolly review one’s own work. How it happened – I don’t know. But you said it well – deriving. And here is probably the key to it – I am not a Piwnicznik sensu stricto, I only grew up there, I met my masters there, I had the opportunity to co-create a cabaret there for many years. But later my path was trodden on my own responsibility. And the origins of my musical actions should also be sought outside of Piwnica. I am as much a part of Piwnica as the Beatles or jazz. And maybe the diversity of my emotions around pop music, and thus the ideas that came out of it, was decisive for me to be associated more widely.

I had the impression that at times you were close to the boundary separating more ambitious music from pop.

There is a formal and intellectual rigor that I try to live up to. There is a standard I’m aiming for and I probably won’t achieve it, although I try very hard. If I meet these requirements towards myself, if the discipline, which is not easy but must accompany every craft, and which somehow enforces this rigour, is kept, I have a feeling that the audience will appreciate it. And I think that’s why it is the way it is.

Aren’t you afraid of going beyond what is called a poetic or author’s song?

These terms are a Polish specialty. I haven’t encountered it anywhere else in the world. If we label a song “poetic” or “author’s song”, for example. on the Beatles from “Sergeant Pepper” to “Abbey Road,” this is poetry song in its purest form. There’s nothing there of trying to format the work so it’s suitable for radio, so it’s not too long, etc. I think we’re confusing two things here: the material that these songs are made of and the effect. It’s often the case that the routine and boredom that often accompanies fulfillment in a format has the opposite effect – the more we want to please, the less we please. I’ve never written a song or constructed an album to fit a ready-made format and premise. I move in many spheres.

Your albums, despite their characteristic style, are different from each other. Is it the effect of different emotions accompanying the music or just an escape from this routine?

– Both. We run away from something all the time, from the inevitability of life’s various failures and defeats, successes and apparent triumphs. And we keep running. Each of my records is an approximation to my own epitaph, each record I try to capture this life somehow, to name it, to trap it. A song on the album is a song trapped, captured like an insect in amber, kept forever.

And what emotions decided the shape of “11:11”?

It’s definitely a record of my shadow streak, references to my childhood, to things and places that shaped me. There’s a kind of melancholic tenderness to it. This album sounds modern, but you shouldn’t expect some fireworks. We use sampled sounds and symphonic orchestra, and these two worlds co-create what I myself am made of. From the old times and from what is now. All of this – this is a slice of my life.

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