Joanna Duda is a pianist and composer who combines jazz, contemporary, experimental, and many other genres of electronic music. In addition to her solo work, she is also a member of several bands including J=J and the Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet.
Joanna Duda is distinguished by her diverse approach to music. She composes, improvises, performs, and produces using both acoustic (mainly piano) and electronic instruments (computer, synthesiser, drum machine). She is also active in the field of visual arts and shows an interest in video art and installations. Duda often uses pre-made samples from various sources to create unobvious musical landscapes. She is also interested in the sonic potential of seemingly useless objects (for example, broken instruments) and tries to extract new sounds from them.
In March 2013, she released her debut album under her own name, the subversively titled The Best of. Besides Duda, it also features many notable guest musicians from the Polish jazz and electronic scene: Agim Dżeljilji, Jan Młynarski, Marek Pospieszalski, Kuba Janicki, Wojtek Mazolewski, Katarzyna Borek, Jerzy Rogiewicz, Radek Duda, and Tomasz Duda. The Best of is an eclectic and multi-faceted record. It features classical interpretations of Maurice Ravel’s compositions, a garish vivisection of Frederic Chopin’s Polonaise A-dur op. 40 nr 1, and electronic jazz-pop miniatures. Part of the album was recorded using a digital recorder equipped with two condenser microphones. In an interview with Jakub Kner, the artist said:
If an artist develops a characteristic sound, the music will prove its worth regardless of how it was recorded. This is why the album can be classified as lo-fi – what’s important is the message and not the conventional aesthetic canons of studio quality which sometimes draws all the attention of both the listeners and the musicians.
In 2019, Duda released her next album, KEEN, described by the artist as ‘zealous, poignant, acute, frisky, acute, deep’. The composer used scraps of instrumental sounds, field recordings, barely recognisable voice samples, noises, and broken rhythms to create KEEN’s eclectic sound. One of Duda’s artistic methods is to constantly change moods and styles, but on this album, she still manages to preserve an extraordinary unity of sound which makes it come off as outstandingly coherent.
Electric Knights, Classics & Abstractionists: A Brief Guide to Polish Contemporary Music
In 2014, together with pianists Bartłomiej Wąsik, Emilia Sitarz, and Michał Kozłowski, she recorded two pieces written by Julius Eastman (1940-1990), a key representative of the American genre of post-minimalism: Gay Guerilla and Evil Nigger. The album featuring the songs premiered at the Kwartesencja Festival in Warsaw.
Another of her projects is the Joanna Duda Trio. The ensemble debuted at the 2018 edition of Jazzahead! in Bremen as part of the Polish Night programme supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. The other members of the trio are Max Mucha (double bass) and Michał Bryndal (drums). The band tries to combine modern electronica with the sound of a traditional jazz band.
Duda has performed in Sisimut (Greenland), Tokyo, Berlin, Budapest, London, Dublin, Oslo, Paris, London, Prague, Brussels, Kaliningrad, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Delhi, and Bangalore among other cities.
She has also created music for several theatrical performances, such as Station des Corps (dir. Tomasz Bazan), Balladyna (dir. Krzysztof Garbaczewski), Herb Brecht (dir. K. Garbaczewski), 2 (dir. Katarzyna Pastuszak), Fetish WTF (dir. Dorota Androsz), and Nomadka (dir. Katarzyna Pastuszak).
Duda has received the Cultural Scholarship of the city of Gdańsk multiple times, and she has also received a grant from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. She has often received nominations for prestigious awards, such as TVP Kultura’s Gwarancje Kultury and Galiony Gdyńskie, She is also a member of the programme board of Halo Kultura Association in Gdynia, where she serves as the curator of artistic events.
Yass: The Jazz, The Filth and The Fury
contemporary electronic music
alternative polish music
- AuAuA – Muzyka do bólu (2010)
- Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet – Smells Like Tape Spirit (2011)
- Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet – Wojtek W Czechosłowacji (2011)
- J=J – 2013EP (2013)
- Joanna Duda – The Best of (2013)
- Mazolewski González Quintet – Shaman (2013)
- 3D (Joanna Duda, Tomasz Duda, Radek Duda) – Maty Repertuar (2013)
- Tomasz Sikorski | Julius Eastman – Unchained (2014)
- Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet – Polka (2015)
- J=J – Love (2016)
- Joanna Duda – Keen (2018)
Originally written in Polish by Filip Lech, translated to English by Patryk Grabowski, June 2019