Music journalists say it’s the strongest debut in Polish electronic music in years, and not just in electronic music – there were serious reviews of 2014 in which We Will Fail claimed the top spot.
Musician and visual artist.
Its starting point seems to be IDM and techno, although We Will Fail (the name would suggest a band but it's actually a solo artist) makes music to listen to, rather than to dance to, so the artist herself states. Its regular rhythms are sources of trance, yet disrupting the rhythm opens up new possibilities. The samples are used as building blocks, however, it is how they have been altered that is crucial. They can be compressed to the point where you cannot hear the original sound anymore but rather a transformed and steamrolled shred of it.
We Will Fail bases her tracks on samples and field recordings. Along with the use of synthesizers they create quite dark and creepy music – from ambient to intense techno, sometimes made up of some sort of screeching or chirping melodies and other times with an industrial context.
Journalists have compared the work of We Will Fail to Lustmord or Lee Gamble. However, her possibilities are much greater. The inexplicable source of some of the sounds she uses is particularly interesting. In one interview, the artist confessed to using snippets of Diana Ross or John Cage. In another interview she explained:
Avant garde inspirations are just as important to me as pop or techno inspirations. I don’t start from null. (…) the familiarity of the work of avant garde artists is relevant because it extends your playing field, it lets you notice that every controversial move is accessible and allowed.
The musician's real name is Aleksandra Grünholz. She was born in 1988 in Wejcherowo, and she earned a degree in graphic design at the University of Fine Arts in Poznań, under Professor Leszek Knaflewski. Nowadays, she's in charge of Studio Chaotyczne (Chaotic Studio) and she does the graphic design for her publications herself. She also designs the graphic layout for the musical magazine M/I, published since 2014. When she was still at university, she was a member of the group OKO, where she could combine her graphic work with performance and audio-performance, during the process of creating films. The group took part in a few displays.
UN TUNE: CTM and Unsound
For some time now Aleksandra’s main area of interest has been music. In February 2014, We Will Fail released its debut album. The title Verstörung may very well be inspired by Thomas Bernhard’s novel released in 1967, released under the title Gargoyles. It can also be associated with the theme of the Unsound Festival in 2013 ('Interference'), at which We Will Fail performed a year later. The artist explained in the media:
We Will Fail is a project focused on the pleasure of wandering, being lost. Field research, sample tapes, noise, synthesizers, and electronic percussion are intertwined into an eerie whole that shows attributes of techno aesthetics.
In September, half a year after the debut album came out, the vinyl Verstörung 2.0 was released. Every attempt to name it is a judgement at the same time: an alternative, a continuation, a concentration, an expansion? The artists herself says:
A continuation, a second approach to the same material, taking it on from another side.
The album consists of 9 tracks, some of which come from the debut album; however, they have been altered and adjusted due to the multiple live performances. There are also a few premiere tracks that were produced after the release of the first album.
The author of the article in magazine Kilof believes that:
(…) despite the two interpretations of Verstörung, it is a whole that is disrupted by new mechanisms and rhythms.
PrefixMag.com on the other hand wrote:
The techno that Grunholz fashions is dance music in a confused, disrupted state, equivalent to a high that goes terribly wrong: the ambient drones in the album’s background cloud the view with impenetrable darkness, and the random samples of bangs and clicks will make you flinch with desperation.
Both albums have been reviewed by international music portals such as Tiny Mix Tapes and The Quietus. In the PrefixMag.com year review, We Will Fail was at second place in Poland. Meanwhile in the Beehy.pl classification of Polish albums, Verstörung received first place. That’s quite an achievement, as the website functions as a form of recommendation/suggestion of Polish songs and albums to foreigners (and foreign songs and albums to Poles).
The unpublished track by We Will Fail can be found on the album Stefek added to the third edition of M/I magazine (spring 2015). This compilation is the soundtrack to a… comic book.
Don't Panic! We're Making Electronic Music
On 7th March 2016, We Will Fail’s double album Hand That Heals/Hand That Bites was released. The two sides of the album are mirror reflections of each other. Grünholz’s intention was to create a coherent whole from two parts, which present a similar theme but with completely different sounds. Hand That Bites is a collection of raw, dirty pieces. As the artist herself explained, roughness and anxiety were to play the main role, at the same time presenting power as something attractive and mesmerising. Hand That Heals is the opposite of Hand That Bites – an alternative version of the same story, brighter and more atmospheric, with rich sounds, as well as fragments of field recordings and conversations.
Recently, Aleksandra Grünholz and Jakub Mikołajczyk ounded the Refined Productions label. It started in January 2018 with the release of two We Will Fail’s EPs, featuring guests such as Ziúr, Eomac, and Peder Mannerfelt.
The first is entitled Schadenfreunde EP. It consists mainly of two tracks: Night and Schadenfreude. The first one is characterised by its fast pace and intricate construction. The second track is much slower and darker, and its structure consists of a wide range of sounds, including fragments of classical music. The release ends with two remixes of the first track. Just two months after the premiere of Schadenfreunde EP another EP by We Will Fail was released. Very Urgent consisted of one new song and three remixes, including one created by Swedish musician Peder Mannerfelt.
More than two years after the premiere of Hand That Heals / Hand That Bites another album of We Will Fail was released. Dancing is a result of natural development of music performed by the artist at concerts. The title of the album largely reflects the more danceable character of the music in comparison with its predecessors.
In 2018, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in cooperation with Ableton developed a free library of samples based on recordings from the Polish Radio Experimental Studio. We Will Fail joined the project, creating the song DESCENDING K NEW from the samples provided.
We Will Fail has performed at the Unsound Festival in Krakow and Toronto, Intonal in Swedish Malmo, and CTM in Berlin, as well as Tauron Nowa Muzyka in Katowice. They have also played in the infamous Café OTO in London.
2014 - "Verstörung" (Monotype Records)
2014 - "Verstörung 2.0" (Monotype Records)
2016 - "Hand That Heals / Hand That Bites" (Monotype Records)
2018 - "Schadenfreunde" EP (refined.productions)
2018 - "Very Urgent" EP (refined.productions)
2018 - "Dancing" (refined.productions)
Contact with the artist:
Author: Jacek Świąder, June 2015. Translated by: Zuzanna Wiśniewska. Updated by MG, November 2019.