Trupa Trupa is a band that merges poetry and psychedelia. As the artists call it: ‘a combination between a circus in a cemetery and funeral rites in a circus’. Their music was recommended by ‘Pitchfork’, played on the BBC and their album ‘Jolly New Songs’ was mentioned by the US edition of ‘Newsweek’ in its summary of 2017.
Rock band from the Tri-City.
The band consists of Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, Tomek Pawluczuk, Wojtek Juchniewicz and Rafał Wojczal, musicians from the Tri-City. In 2010 they recorded their first EP (MP3, 2010), and slightly later they issued their debut album (LP, 2011), which was received warmly, but without much attention. The breakthrough came with the album ++ (CD, 2013) recorded in the New Synagogue in Wrzeszcz, which attracted the interest of the press (both in Poland and abroad), and most importantly became popular among listeners with its cabaret-circus character. The band’s rock emploi was refreshed by guest musicians: the trumpeter Tomasz Ziętka and the saxophonist Mikołaj Trzaska, jazz legend of the Tri-City and Europe.
Few Polish rock albums have aroused my curiosity lately, and I have hardly any criticism for this one, though some tracks would have certainly profited from more expensive production. Instead of disintegrating, Trupa Trupa are becoming bolder and carefully putting together their musical world, wrote Bartek Chaciński in his blog. Death and the associated helplessness is the main theme of the album. It sometimes acquires a grotesque face like in Grochowiak’s poems, and sometimes sounds frightfully true, said Marcin Bieniek (T-Mobile Music) about the lyrical content of the album.
In March 2015 their third album entitled Headache (CD, MC, 2015) was released by the British label Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records (earlier albums were issued by the band). Trupa Trupa’s next CD was this time created in a normal studio, recorded by Adam Witkowski, and produced by Michał Kupicz.
A Glitch in the System: An Interview with Grzegorz Kwiatkowski
Kupicz had never been in our concerts. He didn’t know how we sound and perhaps this is why he was able to take a fresh look at our music. To our pessimistic works he added something of his own, he added a few more guitar chords, he muted the piano a bit, and it was then that it all began to make sense – said Grzegorz Kwiatkowski about the creation of Headache – The head of Blue Tapes David McNamee runs the website 20 Jazz Funk Greats, where he reviewed the album ++ [he called his review ‘Too Strange For Humans To Like’]. And he liked it so much that he offered us to release new material. But he wanted it to be something quite different than the previous one. He generally likes very niche and experimental things.
The musicians from Trupa Trupa draw inspiration from The Beatles (‘After listening to Headache a friend of the band concluded that it was a bit like the dark side of George Harrison, and I think there is something about that’ says Kwiatkowski ), Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, and Fugazi, as well as classical music such as works by Bach and Schubert. Added to this is the aura of the Tri-City (‘the Wrzeszcz quarter in particular, due to the presence of very good areas for drinking and walking’), poetry (after all Grzegorz Kwiatkowski is also a successful poet), and the works of Werner Herzog (the early ones, such as Stroszek , Fitzcarraldo and documents from the 90s. ‘What is happening to him recently is sad and the relocation from Munich to Los Angeles probably did not do him any good’, said Kwiatkowski).
The band’s music has not gone through a revolution, it is the result of development, write reviewers about the album. Trupa Trupa still venture into unexplored areas of guitar anxiety, they still like rough sounds...Despite the fact that the band is led by a poet, as I need to mention once again due to my personal poetic inclinations, the texts are not overly intellectual or stagnant (both singers write them). Words function like keys, stimulating and enhancing the mood created by the sounds, wrote Rafał Krause on the pages of Screenagers.
In 2017 another record of the band, Jolly New Songs, was released. It was on everyone's lips even before its premiere. The single promoting the album was played by BBC Radio 6 and the esteemed American radio stations KEXP and WMFU. The songs on the album are still about death and love, and in Kwiatkowski's lyrics grotesque intermingles with literalness. When it comes to music, the fascinations with the psychedelic classics drift towards gloomy ballads. Certainly, the band's compositions are more and more deliberate and mature. The musicians look for new means of expression, but within the pre-established convention.
As Zach Schonfeld wrote in the American edition of Newsweek:
The band is Polish and the lyrics are in English, but the undercurrent of anxiety and dread that distinguishes Trupa Trupa's music knows no nationality.
Whereas Jacek Świąder commented in 'Gazeta Wyborcza':
10 Questions for... Grzegorz Kwiatkowski
Trupa Trupa does not play very complicated music, but they arrange it in a way which makes it interesting. Every song has got its own scenario, there is no clichéd following of the chorus/verse patterns or crescendo tricks.
In 2019, American record label Sub Pop released their single Dream About, preceding Trupa’s fifth studio album entitled Of the Sun. The album hit shelves all over the world in the last quarter of the same year thanks to the cooperation of Glitterbeat Records (Europe), Lovitt Records (USA), Moorworks (Japan) and Antena Krzyku (Poland). Pieces from Of the Sun were played by Iggy Pop on BBC 6; the album was also appreciated by, among others, the reviewers of British magazine Metro.
In the autumn of 2019, Trupa Trupa further extended their discography through a split cassette recorded with Austin-based alternative band Suspirians. The cassette was released in a limited edition by American label Whited Sepulchre. In March 2020, their next EP entitled I’ll Find was released. The opening piece, Fitzcarraldo, is especially memorable. It is a musical tribute to Werner Herzog’s film of the same name, which, according to Kwiatkowski, is one of the best films ever made. The third track, Invisible Door, is Rafał Wojczal’s debut as a singer and a songwriter. The final form of both I’ll Find and Of the Sun was undoubtedly influenced by producer Michał Kupicz, who mixed both albums.
The piece Fitzcarraldo was included in the spring summary of the best new records according to The Times, among the tracks of such stars as The Strokes and Neil Young. The band’s recognition is confirmed by its presence in the world’s most significant press titles. Trupa Trupa was featured in such magazines as Billboard, The Guardian, National Geographic and Swiss magazine Le Temps.
The band played at the OFF Festival (2013), the Ars Cameralis Festival (2013), the Open’er Festival (2012) and the Soundrive Festival (2014). The musicians twice won Gazeta Wyborcza’s STORM OF THE YEAR cultural award for LP and ++. Trupa Trupa was also nominated for the Aktivist award in the Artist of the Year category. The song Take My Hand from their first full-length album was included in an album by the Third Programme of the Polish Radio (Offensywa). In 2016 they played in the famous London’s Café Oto, two years later they toured France and Switzerland.
The group also performed at prestigious festivals such as SXWX (South by Southwest) and Desert Daze in the United States, Primavera Sound in Spain, Liverpool Sound City and Rockaway Beach Festival in the UK, Iceland Airwaves, Colours of Ostrava, Eurosonic in the Netherlands as well as French festivals Allotropiques, Hors Pists, Soy and Rockomotives. Their concerts were broadcast by the Internet platform Boiler Room and TVP Kultura.
In July 2020, the band took part in the legendary NPR ‘Tiny Desk’ concerts, adding their recording to the collection, which in the following weeks was complemented by mini concerts of such stars as Lenny Kravitz, Norah Jones and Tame Impala. In the following months the band is planning a European tour with experimental rock band Algiers.
Trupa Trupa Plays London
- EP (MP3/FLAC, 2010) Issued by the band
- LP (CD, MP3/FLAC, 2011) Issued by the band
- ++ (CD, MP3/FLAC, 2013) Issued by the band
- Headache (CD, MC, MP3/FLAC, 2015) Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records
- Jolly New Songs (2xLP, CD, DL, 2017) Ici D'Ailleurs..., Blue Tapes And X-Ray Records
- Of the Sun (LP, CD, 2019) Glitterbeat Records, Lovitt Records, Moorworks, Antena Krzyku
- I'll Find (EP, 2020) Glitterbeat Records, Lovitt Records, Moorworks, Antena Krzyku
Websites of the band:
Source: press materials, ed. FL, transl. Bozhana Nikolova, May 2015, updated by MG, August 2020.