Feb 052014
 

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I’ve been positively impressed with the original Satie interpretation by Polish sound artist and actor Sebastian Banaszczyk, a.k.a. Bionulor, on his album “Erik”.
His two new releases further cement the link with the theatrical world with two new scores: one for a contemporary version of the Shakesperian tragedy “Coriolanus” by Gabriel Gietzky and the other for the biographical drama “SKAZAna” by Sylwia Oksiuta (which deals with the delicate subject of a child that was abused by her step father).
These two releases mark the start of the catalogue of the newly born label Oniron and are both successful in their intent of combining the necessities of the theatrical presentation with the creative process adopted by Bionulor.
We’ve had a chat about all this with Sebastian.
interview picture 1

courtesy of Piotr Dlubak

Chain D.L.K.: Hi Sebastian. How are you?

Bionulor: Hi Vito. I’ve had a hard and busy autumn but now I’m going to have some rest, take a few-days off and, with the beginning of the New Year, when I will have more free time again, devote myself to my passions – especially music…

 

Chain D.L.K.: Could you introduce Bionulor in your own words?

BionulorBionulor is my own musical project, which was founded in 2006. I’ve been interested in music since I was a child, it was always very important to me, I was collecting records… Finally, came the moment when I decided to create something of my own, to express myself as an individual and make my own sounds… The inspiration was of course experimental music, but also classical music. I began to work on creating music in the summer of 2006 and in less than three years my debut album Bionulor was released.

 

Chain D.L.K.: We introduced you on the occasion of the release of “Erik”… is there something that reviewers who spoke about the album didn’t really catch of that album?

Bionulor: I try not to worry about reviewers analyzing my records. When the album is released, I as a creator stop having control over it. An album is like a child who grows up and leaves the parents’ house – it starts to live single-handedly. It is always very interesting how others, strangers, are interpreting sounds that I make. Sometimes their reception is a bit surprising to me but it also helps me to look from a slightly different perspective. I only dislike when the reviewers focus too much on the technical side of the production of the recordings, or describe my music as ambient [laughter]. I prefer them to concentrate on the spirit of my music, on what is the most  salient in it. In the case of “Erik” people discovered the ideas of this album in a very pertinent way, the reviews were very favorable.

 

Chain D.L.K.: If you could have the possibility to ask something to Monsieur Satie, what would you ask to him?

Bionulor: I would ask him about the mystery hidden in his music, though I guess he would want to (or wouldn’t be able to) answer this question [laughs]. Because in Erik Satie’s music there is some mystery hiding – something elusive, secret, spiritual, a bit mystical. At least I perceive it this way. Although Satie is not particularly recognized as a composer, he composed some of the most unusual pieces: Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes. To me those compositions are like the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich – beneath the visible / audible there hides a completely different world, an attracting mystery whereas we can only see / hear merely its delicate glimmer. Besides, Satie lived in a very artistically interesting time, I would have many questions regarding his friends and artistic life of the fin de siècle epoch…

 

Chain D.L.K.: You’re both an electronic musician and an actor. How does the first activity influence the second one and vice versa?

Bionulor: It seems to me that in my case those two activities do not influence each other directly. Of course, I’m human and whatever I do has some interrelated impact. But in the artistic sense, those are two separate worlds. As an actor I am dependent on a director, an author of a play and other people with whom I work, this is team work. As Bionulor I am totally independent, this is my individual work. The theatre is a more conventional environment, while music is a wholly abstract world. I am a professional actor, I have received a complete education in this field, I have graduated from a drama school, where apart from acting I was learning dance basics, pantomime, singing, music, history of theatre and philosophy – and all this has certainly enriched me as a person, the person who after a few years started to make music as Bionulor. Yet this is not direct dependence. On the other hand, the fact that I rub shoulders with theatre people resulted in me being invited to make soundtracks for theatrical plays.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Are you trying to follow the path of people like Maurice Bejart, who tried to combine different but complementary forms of art?

Bionulor: I think that the world is so complex and interesting that the only creative and  inspiring solution is to search its different spheres, combine even the seemingly opposing elements and aspects. To develop ourselves we must be like the people of the Renaissance. Not only in art but also in life.

 

Chain D.L.K.: “Theatre Music For Coriolanus” and “Theatre Music For SKAZAna” derive from the “interaction” of both arts… it would be interesting to understand the creative process of both releases… regarding the first one, were you  influenced more by Shakespeare’s original text or Gietzky’s mise-en-scene?

Bionulor: When working on music for a theatrical play I primarily base myself on the text, the script. I read it, I imagine the atmosphere of particular scenes and I try to figure out in which points and how my music might appear, in a way that it would help to create the appropriate setting for the play, to highlight the protagonists’ emotions, complement the staging… Then I start to compose. Of course I do talk to the director, sometimes he is the one who shows me the exact moments where the music should appear. But usually I am almost totally free, indeed I am the co-creator of the play, not a slave… [laughs] My own experience as an actor does certainly help here as well. Working at the theatre is specific – the rehearsals last two or three months and I can’t wait for that moment in which the show is ready and I’m able to see the whole thing. I have to make the music before hand, relying on my intuition. In fact the show materializes during the last week of the rehearsals, when the stage design has already been constructed, the costumes and lights are ready – that’s when you can finally see what the audience sees later on. With Coriolanus for obvious reasons I was relying on Gabriel Gietzky’s adaptation, although I have read Shakespeare’s original as well.

 

Chain D.L.K.: I’ve not seen Gietzky’s version, but I could imagine it’s a contemporary “adaptation” of that tragedy. What are the distinctive features of a contemporary “Coriolanus”? What’s his most tragic aspect in your viewpoint?

Bionulor: Our contemporary version of Coriolanus was fully based on the Shakespeare’s drama regarding its textuality. However, the original text was significantly pared in order to form a more coherent integrity, it was also devoid of some archaisms and unnecessary plots. But still it was true Shakespeare! What brought it closer to contemporary times was the staging. The stories of Shakespeare’s characters were placed into the surrounding of modern media – political press conferences, television coverage of war hostilities, the world of video cameras and news… Coriolanus is a political tragedy. Servicemen and politicians from the Shakespearean drama shown in media realities of our times make us realize one thing – nothing has changed: politics and war are still dirty business, yet nowadays it’s even more dangerous than in the old times, with the use of mass media it’s easier to manipulate people now, mess with their minds. This is, I guess, the most tragic aspect in Coriolanus – the fact that both the society and the protagonist (brave, honest, though maybe too impetuous and proud Coriolanus) fall victim to the manipulation of the more cunning and intrigue-experienced politicians.

 

interview picture 2

courtesy of Piotr Dlubak

Chain D.L.K.: How did you try to highlight them with music and sounds?

Bionulor: I was relying completely on my own intuition and sensitivity. I just tried to insert the music that had previously appeared in my imagination while reading the script into the right moments of the play. That wasn’t a purely intellectual process, it was rather intuitive. However, the composed music did not always fit what I had  previously imagined and what I had intended to make, thus I had to work on some parts longer, I made a few different versions from which I could choose the one that was the most compatible with my earlier concepts…

 

Chain D.L.K.: Gietzky’s version had its premiere on the 10th June 2011 in Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw… have you already performed it somewhere else? Any plans to bringing it to foreign stages in the future?

Bionulor: Gietzky’s Coriolanus was presented at Teatr Powszechny during two playing seasons and, as far as I know, it wasn’t performed anywhere outside the theatre. Its life as a play has ended and you won’t be able to see it on stage anymore. That’s just how it is with theatrical performances, unlike a film for instance – they’re gone from the repertoire, slowly sink into oblivion when they stop being played…

 

Chain D.L.K.: The second release has been connected to Sylwia Oksiuta’s “SKAZAna”, whose plot focuses on a girl who was sexually abused by her stepfather… how did you and Sylwia develop this delicate subject?

Bionulor: We were working independently. Sylwia wrote the script, took care of the staging and stage design, she played the leading role. She created her own monodrama from the bottom up. I was only responsible for the music. I had complete artistic liberty. Just like in the case of Coriolanus, the starting point for me was the script and the impressions evoked in my mind, visions – where and what kind of music should arise there. Me and Sylwia didn’t discuss the music. Sometimes I attended the rehearsals but it happened at the end of work, when the play was almost ready. We are both also pedagogues by education, we work with young people. Sylwia also deals with therapy through art – she works with children living in orphanages, blind children, women who have cancer… When she was creating her monodrama, she decided to raise the touchy issue of sexual abuse of children – even the poster, which I added inside the record cover, was actually based on the drawing made by a girl who had been abused…

 

Chain D.L.K.: What are the most difficult aspects of the scoring of a tragedy? Do you let director interfere with such activity?

Bionulor: Of course, it is the director who always has the last word because he or she is responsible for the whole thing. Fortunately, in both cases I had complete freedom as the music author, as both with Gabriel and Sylwia I had been well acquainted long before and our meetings during the work weren’t accidental. Tragedy is a very good and inspiring literary material. It touches substantial human problems, passions, sense of life. The only difficulty, however being the driving force at the same time, is that a theatrical play is produced quite quickly – the rehearsals take 2-3 months and from the beginning the project ’till the moment when the music must be ready, I don’t have much time… In case of SKAZAna, which wasn’t presented on stage but in basement-like rooms, I wanted to achieve a dark, claustrophobic atmosphere that would also reflect the feelings of the main character, her sense of being beleaguered. Whereas in the music for Coriolanus you can feel awe of war, but also emotional tearing of man…

 

Chain D.L.K.: Each album has been released as a very limited edition of just 99 numbered copies. Why this choice?

Bionulor: I decided to publish these releases in a limited collector’s edition because they are not quite “real” albums by Bionulor, but rather soundtracks which followed theatrical plays. Surely it is still my own music, which I’m happy with, yet the reasons for creating it were situations beyond normal actions by Bionulor – someone asked me to make this music, it was made to complement someone else’s artistic work. My records are usually made in consequence of a certain idea that is born first in my head, then it ripens over the years. With those soundtracks it was different. Still the fact is I wanted to document them in some way and somehow make them available. I’m convinced that these are not my last works for theatre or film and some day in the future I dream of publishing a box set with this kind of material. But first I must gather some more [laughs]. The current editions are of temporary character.

 

Chain D.L.K.: The sonorities you explore are often eerie and manage to keep listener in suspense… it perfectly fits  tragedy… have you ever imagined to score a comedy instead?

Bionulor: Even though my music is often dreamy, melancholic and it favours introspection, as a private person I have a great sense of  humour and I keep a healthy distance from reality. I like to laugh! I’m a fan of dadaists, surrealists, Monty Python films or the craziest albums by Nurse With Wound. I would eagerly like to maximally use the grotesque while making music. A comedy would be a perfect pretext to do so! Well but that would have to be some unconventional comedy…

 

Chain D.L.K.: You applied your own “100% sound recycling” method to both albums. Could you explain it to our readers?

Bionulor: When I was at the beginning of my adventure with music as Bionulor, I thought it would be good to devise my own method of work, which would keep me from doing what all the others do, which would make my way of creating music interesting – especially for myself. That’s how I made up the “100% sound recycling” method. In fact, it was the method itself that made me start to create music and each of my albums was recorded on the base of it, no exceptions. It consists in not playing anything while making a piece, I don’t use any instruments – neither real ones nor virtual, I don’t use any ready-made samples, synthesizers, nothing ready-made, which enables to create music. All the sounds I need to compose a track are made by myself from the bottom up, using only this one short sample which is the source material, the starting point. The whole rest is made on the groundwork of its processing. It can be a fragment  of some recorded instrument, human voice or any non-musical sound. Sometimes people don’t believe me when I say that the piece, and even the whole record, can be made with preparing just one sample which is the starting point for the whole thing! They think I am a cheater! [laughs] It boggles their minds. But really the only limitation in such work is the imagination of the creator. Nothing else. And the “100% sound recycling” method and the limitations that it imposes are stimulating for my imagination and my creativity! I love working this way.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Any forthcoming releases or projects?

Bionulor: Since the beginning of the New Year I started to work on the next “real” album by Bionulor. I’m so looking forward to it! Perhaps with an eye to the Festiwal Dekonstrukcji Słowa “Czytaj!” (“Read!” Festival of Word Deconstruction), which takes place in Czestochowa, special live material will be made on the basis of using literary text and preparation of my own voice…

 

Thanks to Kamila Misiak for the translation from Polish.

visit Bionulor on the web at: bionulor.com