fot. Anna Lewańska
Sound vernissage – independent festival
Young, talented people will appear here
They are 20 years old. She plays guitar, he composes. She is studying cognitive science, he is planning to start music and art studies. They both come from Hajnówka. Music is their passion. Many people could envy their passion, energy and professional approach. Meet Natalia Prokopiuk and Maksymilian Chyra, organizers of the Sound Vernissage. This is an event that will take place soon thanks to funds from the “Hajnówka ReNewal – Green Transformation” project.
That’s for sure. Your festival will take place on August 20 next to the Belarusian Museum and Cultural Center. Will there be Zenek?
Natalia Prokopiuk: It won’t be.
So what can we expect?
N.P.: First of all, I wanted to organize an event so that young talented people from Hajnówka could show themselves. I care about quality. Sometimes when you go to an event like a family picnic, not that I have anything against it, you can see primary school children singing very nicely. However, we know that young people from Hajnówka will not go to see them…
Because it’s embarrassing?
N.P.: A bit like that.
Maksymilian Chyra: The point is that there are certain permanent events resulting from the calendar, e.g. the anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of May 3. Then we know that people are supposed to come and the orchestra is supposed to play. Students from schools come to perform and as a reward they do not have to go to classes. And it’s a bit forced.
N.P.: We wanted freedom.
M.Ch.: About creating an event that people will want to come to.
N.P.: I was inspired by festivals where people pay several hundred zlotys and have a whole day of music. And it’s the music they listen to, so they want to go there. I thought about moving it to Hajnówka as much as possible.
Since we’re talking about music and we’ve agreed that our Podlasie bard won’t be there, who will perform?
N.P.: Our friends. After all, we all know each other in Hajnówka. I think that people will say about some of the people who will perform on stage: “I know him, I went to school with him” or “I know where he works.” Moreover, we wanted to organize not only an event at which young artists from Hajnówka could perform, but also one that they would be happy to go to. So we also invited several bands, including from Białystok, which have achieved a little more, but they are still young people.
N.P.: Rusted Teeth. They gave me a big boost and a lot to think about, even though they are younger than me. When they go on stage, they have incredible energy. They are still a little-known band, but they can still hypnotize people. Concert participants behave as if they were visited by some stars from America…
N.P.: Yes, exactly. And I like the fact that even though they are very young and haven’t achieved much yet, they have so much passion, charisma and unique stage presence. And I would like to show such people to the youth of Hajnówka. Although not only them. Because there will probably also be people from outside Hajnówka and not only young people.
So what kind of music can we expect?
N.P.: This is rock music.
So you are referring to the good old Hajnówka tradition, strong sounds.
N.P.: Yes. Generally speaking, it will be guitar music.
M.Ch.: But there will also be techno. My friend Mikołaj Małmyszko will play, the “techno samurai”, the conqueror of silence.
N.P.: This is at the very end, to “finish off” people who will still feel like they have energy.
M.Ch.: We are also planning jam sessions, i.e. people bring their instruments, get on stage and we play together. There is no plan, no repertoire, full improvisation. We decided that since we have so many talented musicians in Hajnówka, we can afford jam sessions between concerts to give people from the audience the opportunity to play. I think it’s a good way to integrate the community.
N.P.: We deliberately didn’t plan it at the beginning of the event to give people, especially young people who are shy, time to get used to it. So that they can see that it’s nice and worth showing up.
What time do you start?
N.P.: At 4 p.m. We start with a theater play. It will be the opening of the festival and will last a maximum of half an hour.
M.Ch.: Four actors will play in it, including me, and I will also be the director. The topic is school.
And when the play is over, the music will still be heard from the stage?
N.P.: For example, Kasia Drużba, famous in Hajnówka, will perform, she is a vocalist but does not have her own band. Of course, we could turn it on and that’s it. However, I thought it would be nice if we put together a whole band to accompany her. Just like hiring session musicians. Thanks to this, there will be more happening on stage. Kasia will be one of the first artists to perform. Our goal from the very beginning was to ensure that everyone who would like to perform had the opportunity to do so. The festival schedule is as follows: first there is a concert, then a break so that another band can join in. At this time, we shift our attention to the place where art exhibitions will be held. The microphone will be given to a willing person, and during each break, a different person who would like to talk about their exhibition.
M.Ch.: It would be a mistake if we did not give them a voice, because then people would treat exhibitions as part of the decor.
Now that we’ve left the stage, tell us a little more about what’s going to happen around her. How many exhibitors will there be and who will they be?
N.P.: Everyone is already discussed on our FB profile. These will be artists from Hajnówka and Supraśl. There will be a total of six visual arts presentations.
You won’t be able to buy their works, but how do you want to help them?
M.Ch.: All works will probably have a label with the author’s photo, information about him and the Internet address where he can be found. In this way, interested parties will be able to contact the creator and, if they so wish, buy something for themselves. No sales can be made at the festival, but we can promote artists there. This is especially important for young artists who are not yet known and find it difficult to earn money from their art. Or even show up; they don’t know where to go, who to ask: “Am I doing good or bad?” Lots of people create “in the drawer”; even though they are doing great things but they are nowhere to be seen.
N.P.: They won’t show their works at school or community center because, for example, the topics don’t match and we want the festival to be as relaxed as possible. That is why we are very happy that the “Metamorphosis” Association has taken us under its wing.
We did not want to cooperate with any institution because we were afraid that they would impose their vision of this event on us. And this person would probably have a lot of experience and would want the best for us, but we want to be able to make our own mistakes and learn from them. Maybe this is too optimistic, but we would like to approach it with such youthful energy.
M.Ch.: I would also like to add that these young artists often want to say something from themselves, but they have no place where they could do it. That’s why we wanted autonomy, so that no institution would stand behind us.
How did the artists react?
N.P.: The reaction was something like this: “Me? But you’re talking to me?” “But what should I show? After all, I’m a nobody.”
M.Ch.: Many people gave up out of fear. Initially, there were supposed to be many more rappers at the festival. We wanted to be there because we know that young people like rap. I understand them a little bit, but when someone has been playing guitar for years and has a band, it’s easier for them to get on stage than for a person who makes rap music somewhere in the basement.
You are leading the way. Beginnings, as we know, are difficult. It’s also a matter of getting people to trust you…
N.P.: Not everyone knows who we are…
They didn’t have a chance to check your credibility…
M.Ch.: That’s true. That’s why we would really like it to be not a one-off festival, but a cyclical event. It all depends on how the premiere of this festival is received. If people are satisfied, we will be happy to start planning the next one. And this one will definitely be better than the first one. We will learn from the mistakes we have made now.
And where did you come from?
N.P.: I am from Hajnówka…
M.Ch.: That’s not true, you’re from the village…
N.P.: Okay, I come from Czyżyki.
M.Ch.: I was born in Białystok, but I live in Hajnówka.
And how did it happen that you submitted an application for funding under the “Hajnówka OdNowa – Green Transformation” project?
N.P.: I saw an announcement on Facebook about a competition for a neighborhood initiative.
M.Ch.: We were also a bit inspired by Day of Wierobieja Street. A good idea, well thought out, nicely organized. It turned out that you can organize a party in Hajnówka that is well received and people have fun.
And no institution is behind it…
N.P.: I didn’t know it was possible… There is one more thing. For about two years, we had been meeting with a group of friends with artistic interests in a small room on Wierobieja, in the Malabar Cafe. The owner was so nice and let us come in when it was closed, take our instruments and do jam sessions.
M.Ch.: The heart of this festival probably gathered there.
N.P.: It made me think that we are sitting in this cubicle and these people need to be shown. Interestingly, random people we didn’t know came to us and we had a great time.
M.Ch.: We realized that it was not true that nothing could be done in Hajnówka. Instead of complaining that nothing is happening, you just have to stand up and do it.
I guess it’s good that there were funds you could use?
M.Ch.: And to be honest, getting the money went very smoothly. It’s actually surprising how smoothly everything went – we quickly reached an agreement with the director of the Belarusian Museum, and Metamorphosis supported us all the time. To sum up: there will be music, art and theater, and food.
Tell us something about yourself.
M.Ch.: I like to identify myself as a composer, although that’s obviously saying a lot. I played in a brass band for six years, which is where I had my first contact with music and I loved it. After a year of playing in the orchestra, I started composing music on the computer. I’ve found my way around it, which is that I don’t care if people think she’s “pretty.” However, I would like to use it to convey some information, atmosphere, emotions. I went very hard into this kind of avant-garde experimental music, even the kind that evokes unpleasant feelings, anxiety and fear.
N.P.: When I listen to it, it lifts me up.
So you touch on difficult emotions, but the listener’s reaction is not to give up but to take action?
M.Ch.: I think that my music clearly expresses my worldview. I believe that we are all going to die anyway, so life doesn’t make much sense. But at the same time it is a liberating feeling, because you have to squeeze as much out of this life as you can. My biggest dream is to die with a smile on my face. I would like my music to say: “Yes, the world is hopeless, but we can still enjoy it.”
N.P.: And I lived life without any imagination and didn’t know who I was…
It’s a law of your age, not knowing who you are yet…
N.P.: But I was lucky to pick up a guitar when I was 13. A classmate showed me this instrument, and then I begged my parents to buy it for me and I realized that this was the meaning of my life and an extension of my soul. And I have the impression that everything good that is happening in my life is the result of me picking up this guitar. It has made me more open and it gives me a lot of happiness. Since it gives me so much happiness, I would like to share it with people, so that they can also find something that will be their passion and love. Life would be so much better then, no matter what it is now. Maybe this festival will stir it up.
M.Ch.: Finding this passion is half the success in life. It can only get better.
N.P.: Besides, I study cognitive science, which is quite interesting. I live in Białystok. In my free time, I carry out small graphic projects. Alternatively, this could be what I would like to do. I have been drawing since childhood, and I have always been interested in art – whether it is music or drawing. But generally speaking, I’m a guitarist and I would like to show people with this festival that life is very nice when you have something that you love as much as I love the guitar.