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PREVIEW: Poland's Enea Spring Break
Julian Marszalek , April 18th, 2017 14:27

We spoke to the man behind what some see as Poland's answer to SXSW

Long-term readers of The Quietus will be well aware of this website’s support of music from all around the world, specifically from Poland. Be it the OFF Festival or Unsound, tQ has long been attending the best of what Poland has to offer and 2017 should prove to be no different.

But before we sample the best of the summer and autumn festivals, we're taking advantage of the change in seasons and will be heading to Poznan in Poland for the fourth annual Enea Spring Break festival which takes place from April 20-22. Spread over three days and 15 venues, and featuring some 135 bands, the Enea Spring Break festival is, in many ways, like Poland’s answer to SXSW. With many of the bands unsigned, this is a chance for industry figures and fans alike to check out what might well be the next wave of Polish talent to not only impress domestically but also on an international stage.

Pretty much all genres will be covered but we’re especially excited to be catching tQ favourite Wacław Zimpel whose Polish-Indian fusion album 2 has been a regular turntable fixture round these parts. Factor in a series of workshops and conferences, we’re pretty confident of catching the next Polish wave at the Enea Spring Break festival.

To give a better idea of what it’s all about and what to expect, we had a chat with the festival’s organiser, Tomasz Waśko.

For the uninitiated, could you please explain what the Spring Break festival is all about and how it started?

Tomasz Waśko: You can say that it's another showcase festival. Nowadays every where you look you have another showcase festival, and each country has its own showcase festival. However Enea Spring Break is much different. I guess that among others festivals like Ment Ljubljana, Tallin Music Week, Waves Vienna (not to mention Eurosonic, Reeperbahn or The Great Escape) Spring Break stands out as the one that concentrates mainly on domestic acts. Ninety per cent of the lineup is Polish. We support Polish acts and we believe that Poland is such an interesting market with many great bands that we want to showcase mainly domestic talents.

How do you choose which acts and bands play Spring Break?

TW: We try to be as varied and eclectic as possible, we book almost all genres trying to show the wealth of Polish music. We are lucky because we have a great support from Polish music industry - labels, festivals, concert agencies. We receive many recommendations from industry people, but we also search for bands on our own.

This is now the fourth edition of the festival. What major changes have you seen within it?

TW: The first thing worth mentioning is the fact that the festival has grown bigger every year - from six venues, 50 bands and 900 tickets (sold out) in 2014 to thirteen venues, over 100 bands and over 4000 tickets (sold out) in 2016. This year Enea Spring Break takes place in fifteen venues and we have 135 bands playing.

The great thing about the festival is the fact that each and every year bands are more willing to come and they understand the showcase formula better. When we started Spring Break in 2014 not many artists knew what a showcase festival was and how to use it to promote their music. This has changed greatly - bands are more conscious nowadays and they know that they need to invite professionals to their gig if they want to succeed. It wasn't that obvious when we started doing the festival back in 2014.

As exemplified by the wide variety of Polish music covered in tQ and booked to play at Spring Break, to what do you attribute such a depth in musical creativity?

TW: It's a tough question and it's hard to answer it being an insider in Polish music. I guess that it might be easier for someone with a fresh eye to have a better reply. However I believe that we have to take into account that we always had great musicians here - like Krzysztof Komeda, Czesław Niemen or Marek Grechuta in the past.

What young musicians do is not something happening in a void. The Polish music tradition is a great one and young talents try to work with this tradition offering a fresh approach. Check out EABS (Electro Acoustic Beat Sessions) - they take Krzysztof Komeda's music and they add their hip-hop background to it creating something very new and unique. Take Wacław Zimpel who is also a great successor to the Polish jazz giants.

What would you say are Spring Break's greatest success stories?

TW: One of greatest success stories in Polish music lately has been a story of Kortez, a singer-songwriter who used to work in a kindergarten. He played one of his first shows at Spring Break two years ago when honestly almost no one knew him. We added him to the line-up at the last minute but we only had a venue where he could perform solo, while usually he plays with a band. He blew everyone off. Now he's preparing his second album and his shows are usually sold out.

Which bands are you most looking forward to seeing or would recommend to anyone coming? And why?

TW: As the booker of the festival I am happy about all the acts that will play Spring Break, but I obviously have my favourites as well. I am looking forward to seeing Wacław Zimpel’s solo show.

I can't wait to hear Anita Lipnicka, one of the biggest pop stars of the 90s in Poland that chose to go her own way and is now performing more intimate and demanding music (but I hope she will play her hits as well!).

Definitely worth checking out is a great punk act from Warsaw called Bastard Disco. I would also recommend indie acts like Eric Shoves Them In His Pockets (must see for Modest Mouse fans) or New People. I can't wait to see Lucy Rose again, I saw her at Reeperbahn Festival few years back and I loved her instantly. I will try to check out Małgola, No - newcomer from Poznan whose debut album was chosen by Gruff Rhys from Super Furry Animas as his favourite album of 2016. The list goes on and on...

What do you recommend doing in Poznan?

TW: Well, if you still have enough time and energy to do something besides immersing yourself in music there are plenty of nice things you can do in Poznan. I would recommend going for a great walk in Cytadela park where you can find a British Military Cemetery or alternatively choosing Sołacz Park, one of the nicest places in our city.

Check out nice bars and cafes at Taczaka Street and around the Old Square. It's also worth taking a trip to newly revitalized Śródka district and checking out the beautiful tenement houses of Jeżyce district. Poznań won't disappoint anyone. I'm sure.

The Enea Spring Break Festival takes place in Poznan, Poland, April 20-22. Full details can be found on their website

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