Olivia Ungaro Olivia Ungaro
Foto von Christine Seefried
Olivia Ungaro Olivia Ungaro
Foto von Christine Seefried

Olivia: Krakow’s Electronic Music Scene Is on the Rise

September 16, 2017
Text by Therese Kaiser
Olivia Ungaro
Foto von Christine Seefried

Olivia talked to us about how Krakow is slowly overcoming its feeling of inferiority and embraces its young, vivid and exciting electronic music scene.

When you want to find out what is going on in Krakow’s electronic music scene there is no one better to talk to than Olivia. The Krakow-based DJ, booker, promoter, and producer handles various projects simultaneously, being part of the Chrono Bross and We Are Radar collectives. Also she is a resident DJ at the Unsound Festival and club Szpitalna 1, where she also handles booking duties. In this interview by Therese Kaiser und Ulrich Rois, she talks about the development of Krakow’s music scene, her own musical inspirations and the meeting points between club-oriented and experimental music.

Your mixes have a very specific aesthetic to me, that seems to be inspired by the darker side of 80’s electro, wave and acid. Can you talk about your main musical influences and how you first got into mixing?

My biggest inspiration is electro from heroes such as Drexciya, The Arabian Prince, Model 500 and all Underground Resistance. I also used to listen to a lot of Intergalactic FM (in the past it was CBS) and from there I started to follow the Dutch scene with Legowelt, DJ Overdose, I-F and all the other synthesizer freaks. I also really respect Esplendor Geométrico and this kind of sound. I’ve started to play with my brother Kinzo Chrome and together we discovered a lot of music. He is more of a freak for obscure, underground Italo sound, so for sure that’s why I think I like all this synth sound in music and a touch of the darker side of 80’s music.

You have been very active in Krakow’s electronic music scene over the years, as co-founder of the now defunct Radar club and as a resident and booker for the “We are Radar” parties. What was your main motivation to get involved in organizing parties?

Well, I’ve done parties with friends for 14 years now in Krakow. My motivation is quite simple: I want to invite exciting artists to Krakow! Many of them have never played here, so people in Krakow have a chance to hear all these amazing people. Krakow is a small city, its is very touristic and also student place - but because we are so active, a lot of good parties can happen. The Krakow scene is very special in my opinion, there is a lot of promoters who really do a lot for the city’s scene.

Olivia Ungaro
Foto von Christine Seefried

Unsound Festival has become one of the most important focal points of different strains of avant-garde music, especially at the intersection of experimental music and (post-)club sounds. What are your thoughts on this development and how do you think the worlds of experimental and club/dance music can learn/profit from each other?

Oh, it is a perfect combination in my opinion. Experimental music makes people more open minded, and when you hear something completely new - whether you like it or not - it shows you a new side of music. I think experiments like these push the envelope and help to develop music further.

How has Krakow’s electronic music scene changed and developed over the past? and what do you expect to experience regarding this field within the upcoming years? What are your own plans, any new project(s) you are currently working on?

There are many interesting young artists, the scene here is growing every year. There are a lot of new party series and a bunch of extremely talented upcoming producers. What I can see is that people from abroad slowly realize that here in Poland we have great artists that haven’t been noticed before. When I look back I feel like we were a lot shier, feeling as if our scene did not compare to other - Western - countries. This is of course not true, but I also had this feeling of shame, that maybe we were not good enough. Things are changing and young artists are more self-confident and they don’t have this feeling anymore that we are from this poor part of Europe where techno arrived later. Also the clubs are changing, sound systems are getting better, and the audience is more open-minded.

I’ve been djing for 14 years and I love to do it - slowly I however focus more and more on my own productions and try to spend all my free time in the studio. Unfortunately I don’t have so much free time because of my work for Unsound and my booking job at club Szpitalna 1 and I also play abroad more often than a couple of years ago.

As you know, Utopia 3000 is an event based on a rather distinctive manifesto which emphasizes equality on different levels. It is an attempt to discourage hierarchy among artists and guests, it renounces the concept of guest list and backstage and further has a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment of any kind. Do you feel like this is a valid strategy in changing the way club culture is developing right now?

I love this manifesto. To be honest I hate all these guest lists and backstages where all of the people prefer to sit around rather than to dance and listen to music. Last week I had a conversation with Chino (with whom I do Radar parties) and we talked about how backstage areas can destroy a party. All „cool” people sit there, they don’t even dance and the audience doesn’t even see the DJs, they don’t have chance to talk with the DJ because he/she is hiding backstage. Of course I understand the idea of backstage and there should be some quiet place for artists to get some rest. But mostly if you go backstage as an artist you meet completely random people who just sit around and won’t even talk to you, so it gets rather uncomfortable. I also don’t like the idea of a hard selection where one person decides if you look good enough to get in. This is also some kind of discrimination. A club should be a safe place to have fun and listen to music, so of course there should be a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment of any kind.

So, last but not least: what can we expect from your set at Utopia 3000 at EKH on Saturday?

There will be a lot of electro, acid, wave and EBM sound!

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AG Geige, L'autre Allemagne hors les murs, La Villette, 1990 Paris. Foto von Dieter Wuschanski, Archiv Frank Bretschneider

Geniale Dilletanten im Dresdner Albertinum


PW-Magazine is a bilingual online magazine for contemporary culture run by Luca Büchler and Lewon Heublein. 

PW-Magazine is supported by the Federal Chancellery of Austria and Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.