Trupa Trupa; “A strange band that shouldn’t exit, but it exists…”

Trupa Trupa is a band from Gdansk, Poland. An historic town, in a country which had great sufferings. It’s the background for their music and lyrics, which are quite minimalistic, like the poems of songwriter Grzegorz Kwiatkowski. Almost an unreal band, connecting very different musical visions and tastes. “We are so different, we shouldn’t be together in one band. But we know that the biggest value of everyone is the synergy of Trupa Trupa. A strange band that shouldn’t exist, but exists…”

Photo (c) Frédéric Lemaître

Trupa Trupa only exist for ten years. “Wojtek (Juchniewicz, vocals/guitar) and Tomek (Pawluczuk, drums), just graduated at the Art Academy. They just dropped by, because they knew I had a place to make music.” Grzegorz Kwiatkowski (vocals/guitar) tells about the beginning of the band, somewhere in Gdank. “And Rafał (Wojczal, keyboard/guitar) was a brother of my friend. So it was a band by accident, but full of friendship. In normal life we wouldn’t meet as friends. But in a short time we found out that really interesting things were happening in our music.”

Grzegorz is a poet, philosopher, activist and songwriter/singer/guitarist of Trupa Trupa. His lyrics for the band had the same evolutions as his poems. “The words are smaller, the number of words became less and less, a process of reduction and cancelling.” That means also more pure, as only the most necessary is said. “It is lyrically very close to existential philosophers like Samual Becket. Close to nothingness, to say nothing, to silence.” The empty spaces are an open playground for the listener. “Yes, he makes his own structure and narration, he is putting himself in this empty spaces.” For Grzegorz this is even the biggest achievement of Trupa Trupa: giving space to the listener. “It is meditative, contemplative.” But he also admits that their music is not easy. “People in modern times want to be fully entertained, a full narrative story. Trupa Trupa in a way is a bit like poetry, a niche. Not everyone reads poems and Trupa Trupa is that little weird psychedelic band that is not for everyone.”

Grzegorz is a man who can make this comparison. He has already published seven collections of poetry and is working on the next one. “For many years I thought that Trupa Trupa and my poems were different worlds. But now I think they are super close to each other. My poems are very minimalistic and pessimistic and my part in Trupa Trupa is the same: minimalistic in lyrics and playing.”

But there are also differences. Grzegorz is, of course, his own poet, but in Trupa Trupa he is just one of the four members. “It is a very democratic band; not autocratic, but open. And it is almost an unreal band. Everyone has a different musical taste and our visions are hard to connect. But that is also a big bonus. These many ideas in one song, in one album.” Indeed, the band has many, very exciting and unexpected layers.

Photo (c) Frédéric Lemaître

“I mostly listen to classical music like Bach, Schubert, Mozart, Glenn Gould; but also to the Beatles and the Velvet Underground. My friends showed me bands like Fugazi, Can, Sonic Youth. When every person is so different you will always learn from each other; Also in the studio. It is a very creative methodology.” He even calls it ‘a band of mistakes’. “Every problem we had, turned in a strange kind success after all. The mixtures of problems and visions, that normally don’t mix with each other. The four of us have a so different psychological structure, that we shouldn’t be together in one band.” So you would better on your own? “No, no, we know that the biggest value of everyone is the synergy in Trupa Trupa. And we become bigger friends, year after year.”

Trupa Trupa means roughly ‘a troupe of corpses’ and still has his home base in Gdansk. A town with a history in a country which had great sufferings. Inspiral issues for Grzegorz. “I am a rather happy person but Poland is a very devastated country caused by the second world war, by communism. My grandfather was a prisoner of concentration camp Stutthof. His sister too. My pessimistic vision of the world is because of my family roots, the history of Poland and some influences from the Philosophic and literature world, like Arthur Schopenhauer, the biggest philosopher of pessimism, born in the same city, Gdansk.” And in Grzegorz’ opinion, there is still suffering. The past is the present. “Ten years ago I thought that I was maybe too focused on the past, on this brutal history of nationalism, right-wing parties, hate speeches. But I wasn’t wrong: the reality is just like that, full of violence, hate, populistic ideas, holocaust denial movements.”

Grzegorz formulates carefully. He touches on a heavy topic. ”Everyone should have the knowledge that he is a potential evil person who, in some circumstances, could kill someone, if someone allows him to do that. But we are always searching for the evil part in others, not in ourselves. In other persons, parties, human races, religions etc.” A few days ago he had even a lecture at Berkeley about this issue; his first but surely not his last. “So now I have a new platform to discuss this problem.” He also does in his poetry and music of Trupa Trupa.

“For sure, there is some pessimistic atmosphere in our music, it’s not jolly music. But you have to decide what is this ‘nothingness’, this ‘nowhere man’. When you explore a dark and pessimistic atmosphere, you need some light. It gives you some hope in a paradoxical way when it is too dark. For me, contact with dark art, makes me in a strange way happy and joyful, being a good person.”

Hope in a strange present and an uncertain future… “There weren’t better times to live in human history, so I am also realistic and thankful. I think people will even get a better life in the future, more and bigger, but the quality, especially in art, will be not so important.” But suffering will always be the biggest problem. “Not my suffering, but the suffering of beings. I can’t accept this stage of dying and suffering. This is my idée fixe.” With his poetry and music, Grzegorz invites people to see this process. “The best art is the art where you don’t give answers but just think together with others.”

Trupa Trupa, and Grzegorz, may sometimes feel heavy, dark, but “Everything is going in a good direction. That means: respect the others, trying to be a good person. In art life and in normal life.” The next stage will be September 2021, when the band will release its new album. An unexpected life jacket on the dark seas of history, present and future. Or, as only musician, poet and philosopher Grzegorz Kwiatkowski may say: “Trupa Trupa is a mix of things which are odd, which are strange. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s scary, full of contemplation. It’s like a rollercoaster, not an obvious journey. A strange band that shouldn’t exist, but it exists…” Happily after all.

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