Studium Instrumentów Etnicznych are one of the most sensational bands on the domestic folk scene. Studium’s performances are a spectacle of hypnotic drumming and unconventional lyrics.
One of the most sensational bands on the domestic folk scene.
The leader of the band, Piotr Stefański, is a screamer, musician and orchestra animator. Sylwia Nadgrodkiewicz is the second vocalist in the band, although the most important is the orchestra of musicians playing on various rhythm instruments, such as African drums and metal barrels.
Maciej Szajkowski from Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa and R.U.T.A. said of Studium Instrumentów Etnicznych:
They managed to create something new, which is hard to come by in contemporary music. They managed to create a community around sound. Their mutual selfless love of music and charismatic vocalists are what ties them together. They combine trance, poetic lyrics, and minimalism. They encapsulate a certain rawness and enthusiasm that we often search for in music.
Studium Instrumentów Etnicznych places a big emphasis on rhythm and trance. In order to induce such a state in their audience they perform on all kinds of different drums, primarily African ones but not only. They also play on the djembe, dundun, conga, cajon, and metal barrels. In addition to that, the bass guitar, trumpet and ‘woodwinds’: the Andean pan flute (also known as zampoña) and didgeridoo also feature, as well as mbira (thumb piano), the flute and gongs. An accordionist even joined in on their album. These instruments are gathered from across various continents all over the world, although the music seems to be detached from any specific territory. The key to Studium Instrumentów Etnicznych can be found in their native land – according to Piotr ‘Stiff’ Stefański trance plays a distinct role in the traditional music of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains.
Neither content nor artistic means, but rather the form of the activity (playing together, improvising often) and the end result, is what the band adopts from the local musical tradition. The musicians, living in their rather small hometown, lead drum workshops for children and adults. They teach others how to use the drums and percussion not only to create an intense noise, but as a form of a calm accompaniment to a dark ballad. The unsettling atmosphere of the songs is amplified by their lyrics.
As the band meticulously points out on their website, they formed on April 12th 2012 in Skarżysko-Kamienna. Their debut album Tu nie ma miejsca na strach (There is No Place for Fear Here) was recorded in 2013 at United Records Studio and was released in the winter of 2014. Their described it as: ‘an album for avid drum lovers, fans of psycho-folk and kooky lyrics’.
Indeed, the spoken and screamed lyrics by Stefański, and sung by Nagrodkiewicz are paranoid and absurd. ‘The four elevator walls define everything / information and space, space and information / that reaches here all the way in between these walls / here the light measures everything / quantity and the weight of English feathers’ as Stefański sings in Winda (Elevator), before he begins to explain why the fifth floor is holy and divine. It’s a strong, trance-like piece. On the other hand, in the muffled and hushed Laleczka (Doll) Nagrodkiewicz sings psychedelic, disturbing lyrics.
Before Stefański formed SIE (Studium Instrumentów Etnicznych), he played in Natural Beat Band, Stiff Stuff and Menomini. About his lyrics on SIE’s album he says: ‘the tales show our, my inner world – full of discussions, emotions, compassion. We are the receptors of the reality that we experience. We are enhancers of the emotions and stories that overflow through us.’
In June 2014, Studium Instrumentów Etnicznych won the Skoda Auto Music competition. The jury was composed of Fisz, Mela Koteluk, Piotr Metz, Katarzyna Nosowska, Andrzej Smolik, and Wojciech Waglewski. As for the prize, SIE was granted the opportunity to record an album and perform a concert in Agnieszka Osiecka’s Studio in the 3rd Programme of the Polish Radio. So far, they have performed at such festivals as: Cross-Culture in Warsaw, Rock Fest in Cieszanów, Folkowisko in Gorajec, and Folk Mikołjaki in Lublin. They have also performed at the WOMEX international ethnic music fair. In 2013, they received a non-statutory distinction at the PKS Festival in Kraków.
Author: Jacek Świąder, June 2015, Translated by: Zuzanna Wiśniewska
- Tu nie ma miejsca na strach