Sw@da: Podlasie music slips away from definitions

Sw@da (Wiktor Szczygieł) is a music producer from the Podlasie region, promoter of folk, electronic dance music and hip hop music.

His music project was awarded at 22nd Polish Radio Folk Music Festival New Tradition. The artist proficiently combines different kinds of music, which is noticeable also in that created for the Xylopolis exhibition. Composed together with a vocalist – Karolina Cicha – the song takes a listener to the extraordinary regions of electronic-folk sounds. It merges the future and tradition.

In the interview, Sw@da
explains where he drew
inspirations while creating
music for the project
Xylopolis and confesses
what the Podlasie region
means to him.

Sw@da, phot. Agata Awruk
Sw@da, phot. Agata Awruk

What approach did you take when creating the song for the Xylopolis exhibition?

When incorporating local influences in my music, I focus on their multicultural aspects. I am inspired by the traditional singing style, the Belarusian white singing, enriched with accords of the steppe melody and tones from the Tatar music. Needless to say, I intended to move the audience. Hence the clear, dominant rhythm section. If you can – dance!

The project Sw@da reflects your fascination with, among others, the music of the Podlasie region. Tell us, what inspires you about this traditional music? Ethnic music and electronic sounds – it seems to be a challenging combination, but you managed to bring it together perfectly.

The term “Podlasie music” slips away from definitions. It lives in many dimensions – Polish, Belorussian, Lithuanian, Tatar, Jewish – and regardless of dissimilarities, they can come together, if only you dig deep enough and look for common features. This is folk music, and folks have had to face alike challenges, struggle with similar unknowns and seek answers to analogous questions. Actually, the combination with electronics is justified in this case. At a certain level of engagement, the composition is just the music. Its origin or instrument types used is of secondary importance.

What comes to your mind first when the word "Podlasie" is said?

The Podlasie is my home. This is where I feel best. There are too many my “favorite places” to list now. The word “Podlasie”, just like “home”, activates emotions. And they are always fluctuating. When you drive south from the city of Białystok, you will reach the Land of Open Shutters situated in the valley of the river Narew. With emphasis on “Open”, I would like this name reflect the whole Podlasie region. We have the potential to make this happen.

The questions asked by:

Joanna Buharewicz


Agata Awruk