Hi SIKSA! Since I’ve seen a snippet of a live performance of you two on YouTube, you have been on my mind. You both have a lot of charisma and presence and infectious chemistry going on musically, but also energy wise. I know it must be a bit weird as I can’t understand the Polish language, but through the universal language of music you are coming over loudly and clearly. I wanted to ask you a few questions if you don’t mind.
You told me that there are people out there finding you two difficult to place, but I think you two are doing a great job! I personally love the voice and bass combination; I think it’s very effective, powerful and fun. Strangely I can’t think of any group that is doing what you are doing, perhaps that’s why some people don’t get it; as it’s refreshingly different. How did you come together and went with this idea?
SIKSA: We met at a strange and kind of banal moment in our lives. I was writing a thesis on the work of Xavier Dolan, well, actually just starting to write it. My thesis supervisor was a little unhappy with my topic, because how the hell can you write a thesis about some 25-year-old?! I went to Piotrek, because I had heard he owns quite a collection of French books on contemporary French cinema that will probably be very useful for my thesis. So that’s the way we met. Later we bumped into each other at an art exhibition, actually, we often saw each other at the same events, but we didn’t know each other. Then, later in the day after the exhibition we saw each other yet again, this time at a concert. And right there and then we knew that we just have to fall in love, there was no other way. Shortly after that SIKSA came to be. We started our band out of love to what we hold dearest: freedom. In our previous relationships with our supposed “loved ones” we had no way to express ourselves the way we wanted, like we do now with SIKSA.
One day I said to Piotrek: let’s start a band! He replied that he could only play bass. Well yes, so what?! So the whole summer we sat on a balcony and smoked a lot of cigarettes. I wrote lyrics for what he was playing acoustically. I couldn’t really scream and shout because of the neighbors, so one day we went by the river to try our first two songs, also acoustically, but there I could scream my lungs out without being embarrassed and just go wild.
We got a text from our friend: “Smoke on Ukraine. Plane was shot down. 300 people dead.” That’s also the beginning of one of our songs, third one in order of its creation. I wrote that despite what is happening in Ukraine, I’m still gaining weight. Further it goes that I don’t want all the carefree people eating cookies, chips and ice cream to be shot; I’d rather if the assassin shot me instead: for my fat ass, huge belly and my shovel-face. It’s a song about bulimia and how horrible it was that in that very moment I cared more about gaining weight that deaths of all these people. When I heard about the tragedy I thought to myself: they’re dead, so there’s no more weight gain for them. Yes, I know it’s despicable, but I’m trying to fight it. Just like my own self-centeredness and problems with nutrition. That’s why we created SIKSA. We want to show ourselves and other people in the worst possible way, with all the disgusting flaws. And it’s pissing people off. Even more because I’m a woman, and a very brash one as well. If I were a dude I’d simply get the living shit beaten out of me. But it’s not so easy for the wannabe gentlemen, who beat their women only behind closed doors or in some back alley at most. Piotrek had managed to keep his face intact probably only because people think I have him wrapped around my finger and he doesn’t really know what he’s doing.
It’s obvious to me that you are not just performing songs but you are expressing opinions, warning people – waking them up… Could you perhaps reveal for the English speaking and hearing crowds at home what you are musically and wordily revolting about?
SIKSA: Siksa writes about hate speech. About hatred. And intolerance. Exclusion. But it’s not simple as that. I’ll try to briefly describe at least a little from each of the texts, which are closely linked with my life.
Well, I was living in Turkey for some time, where rape is generally not punishable, usually when it happens it’s because “the girl was too drunk” or classic “had a short provocative skirt”. I wanted to write about that. But I couldn’t, I thought that rape is not a domain of only Turkey, it happens everywhere and it shouldn’t be equated with Turkish culture, even though I wanted to write about one case that really touched me.
Back in Poland, rape is supposed to be punishable, right? Well, what about rape where the girl is often not fully aware of it or is afraid to think of it as rape? I’m talking here about the situation when you’re in a relationship (marriage counts as well) and the other person thinks that consent is no longer needed. That it’s something you’re required to give them. You have to believe me that such situations should be called at once. I bet situations where a guy tells his girl that she’s crazy, because she won’t put out are more common than we realize. It happened to me, to you and to you and many others. Siksa is traumatized by that, and that’s why she wrote a song about it. In this song she’s more serious and mature, like a prosecutor if you will. And in the verse she explains to a man, that he shouldn’t be surprised that he’s now at court facing rape charges. The fact that the victim was his wife doesn’t explain it, doesn’t make it better, even if some people say otherwise. During the chorus Siksa stands up, runs around and yells over and over “IT”S NOT SEX!” and it goes into the next verse. In the last part of the song Siksa is trying to look every person at the concert in the eye and say “it’s not sex” once again, followed by single, quiet and vulnerable “it’s rape”.
Siksa interested in current events, the last song we wrote is about refugees. Refugees Welcome, obviously. The song is a bit funny (at least I think it is, because people are laughing), but the punch line, or the feeling remaining after we finish playing is supposed to be uneasy and creepy. I take on the role of a mother, whose daughter is in a relationship with a “Negro”, or so the mother calls him.
This is how fear of the unknown is born. Whether it’s someone from Syria or Turkey, a black man or an Arab. People don’t try to understand others, they just shut everything down with a simple “we don’t need multiculti here”.
I like how people laugh at the freakishness and awkwardness of SIKSA. Her view of the world is both simple, a bit naïve even, and very complicated and twisted.
Someone said once that my lyrics are too fast, that I change subjects way too often and it’s impossible for the listener to focus on on subject, because couple seconds later I’m talking about something completely different. I don’t think it was a complaint, at least I’m not seeing it as such. I’m glad that SIKSA causes such a emotional and ideological roller-coaster that the brain can’t handle it all at once.
And last but not least I scream that I want to be skinny, that I’m fat. Well, after taking one look at me someone would most likely say “what the fuck is she on about? She’s not fat, the opposite to be honest!” However, in the eyes of someone from the fashion industry I’m way too fat.
Siksa on the one hand assumes the canons of beauty imposed by magazines, television, modeling, and on the other the way she does, it is so bizarre and grotesque that it becomes ugly. Just like in Harmony Korine movies, you know what I mean? There’s also a model playing in his movies, but something is off. You could even call it repulsing. And it’s the same with Siksa.
What is it what makes you the angriest?
Right now: I’m angry because I read some unnecessary hateful comment on the internet, on the wall of an facebook event created by some friends and us against hate speech directed at immigrants.
Every day: sexist remarks directed at women.
Most of all: animal abuse, because somehow for me people deserve less compassion.
And what does make you the most happiest?
Endorphins, emotional roller-coasters etc. And when I’m involved in something that’s important for someone more than just me. Eg. organization of an event of some sort.
It seems to me that next to having a serious word, you are also using a great deal of humor in your performance. Is humor your way to break the ice between you and your audience? Do you have some joke that always cracks people up?
We have a fairly funny ending to our song “Berlin”. I mean, I didn’t see it as “funny” at first, but people laugh at it a lot at our shows. I sing about different priorities for my generation. We are no longer druggies or alcohol-infused poets. Young people now are more likely to be vegans going to Kreutzberg. Before that I call out this one “artist” who made fun of all the Kreutzberg-going hipsters. I sing that dude with a nickname like Dr. Misio (Dr. Teddy – wtf?) can’t possible understand it all. Even my off the chain jacket made especially for me by Rainbow Dash (you know, the one from My Little Pony) is beyond him.
I say that in general, ponies have a greater knowledge and understanding to the world than some people and they know better that “when going to Berlin for a LGBT festival, you’re not supposed to be slaughtering animals.” That’s a true-life story. Siksa went to a LGBT festival in Berlin a couple months ago, and we were surprised, that all the food we could find there was meat. How can you be a minority and eat animals?! We need to support one another, so it’s obvious that when Siksa comes all the way to Berlin to support gays, she requires that they won’t eat meat! (It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek statement, obviously). That they should be eating vegan burgers and drink coffee instead of grilled meat and chicken soup. And people laugh at the way I say it.
People laugh a lot when I take on the role of Kasia Cichopek – our Polish celebrity. What else… I don’t know, someone once told me that I have no sense of humor so maybe I should shut up right about now.
Seeing your life performance is intensive, but also very inviting and up lifting. I found myself smiling many times and wobbling along on the bass-line. If you had to describe yourself as animals, what would you be?
SIKSA: Somebody called me a lion once (as you did too), but since I were a kid i wanted to be a horse. No, not a unicorn, a horse. And that’s because horseback riding runs in my family for generations. I was the one who broke the tradition, it’s too cruel a sport, if that’s what you can call it. Horses should be wild and free. Besides, I often dream about them; they see ghosts and they are sort of martyrs on this world. And I could totally switch places with a horse and suffer a bit instead of him. If anyone knows a way to do it I’m totally up for it.
And Piotrek, our bassist, simply wants to be a capybara.
What would happen if a bare chested bear rider named Putin would accidentally knock on your door to ask for directions?
Well, I probably shouldn’t say it, but here it goes anyway. I think that some people are not capable of change and I know that it would be best if they simply weren’t here on this world. So I’d ask him to commit suicide. Sorry not sorry.
A couple of years ago in London (+_ 8 years?) I had a conversation with some gay Polish friends who told me that they moved there because in Poland they had a hard time being themselves. Do you think your country has gone through some cultural evolution that makes it easier for the LGBT, or do you think Poland still has a lot of work to do?
SIKSA: A few days ago we were on a Pride Parade in Poznan. There were lots of people, and thankfully there were no hateful attacks, but in other cities people weren’t so lucky. It depends. We have some openly homosexual celebrities, but for them is probably easier because they have some kind of status and more money than some internet hater spewing their frustrations on gays and Lesbians on the Internet. They can choose to pity them or simply not to give a single fuck. Here, money is still power. If you’re working minimum wage on a shitty contract it’s better to keep your head down and stay in the closet, sadly. Most people wouldn’t be thrilled to find out their employee is gay. And it will probably stay that way for a while.
Recently, I met some great people who are not gay, but wear very extravagant clothes (Oh! More about what makes me happy: when people use their imagination and get creative with their clothes and looks) want to move abroad soon. Why? Because of the way they dress they are called ‘faggots’, they get beaten up, have their pictures taken and spread around without consent and so on. Buri, bassist, is not gay, but also takes a lot of such verbal abuse because he’s extremely thin and dresses unconventionally.
Poland can be too small for people that don’t fit in, I wanted to leave some time ago as well. When I was younger I moved abroad for a bit, but ended up in a terrible place full of Poles, just like the ones I wanted to leave behind. That rubbed me the wrong way. From that day I’m going only where I want, when I want, and when I get there I stick only with anarchists, vegans, leftists and misfits. We are still a minority in Poland – homosexuals, anarchists, vegans and the “culturally conscious and involved”. There’s too little of us. Something probably changed, but the fight against the rest of the world is tiring. Those who are fighting after some time leaving, just to breathe easier. Will it be better in the future? Probably not with the Internet around. It makes being a bully so easy. You don’t even have to leave the house to hurt someone. Or to get hurt.
In general It’s really strange but for people outside Poland the country seems to be a bit of a mystery. Is there anything happening (besides you) that the outside world should know about what is going on in Poland but doesn’t get any foreign news coverage?
SIKSA: There’s a lot happening! Oh, should I start with the good or the bad? Let’s start with the bad stuff, like true Poles do. We, as a country in general are very conservative, Catholic and right-wing. We are intolerant.
Good things? Powerful hardcore-punk scene, interesting avant-garde, we’re open to experimentation. Modern approach to music, so that its function is not to be listened to. SIKSA is actually a great example of a band not made strictly for listening, we’re not a band to be let in a studio with a producer or something. People from abroad sometimes see our country as a home to intellectuals, and perhaps they’re right. Even though, in our opinion, we discredit it with the lack of elementary sense of humor. There are many great artists who defy it, but they don’t have it easy and sometimes they remain unknown. So, to sum up, we think that Poland is a country where when it comes to art, there’s a constant fight between a sense of humor and a lack thereof.
I’m very excited to see that you have a release out on Floppy Noise Records with some wicked looking artwork, and also that you have a DVD out with the following live show , what can we expect to see and hear more of SIKSA in the nearby future?
SIKSA: Almost at the exact moment we started burning our DVDs with “Berek”, a few people from friendly labels began to tempt us with a VHS release. The idea seems so tempting and ridiculous, that I think with a little help we can do it. We are planning a number of different attractions in the fall, such as releasing two cassettes or screening “Berek” at film festivals. Other than that we are working on the so-called. “Turkish material” which is and electroacuousic music set about Alex’s 6-month-stay in Turkey and her insights about the country. This set will be played entirely on a 2-stringed fretless bass made out of a cigarbox by the company CZORT.
Are there any possible plans for you two going on a tour outside of Poland?
Every time when someone from outside Poland sees our performance, we meet with understanding and only positive reactions. Despite language barriers, people from countries such as Brazil, Germany or Turkey appreciate what we’re doing by saying that we’d fit right in in São Paulo or Berlin. We know that there are places out there made for SIKSA, where there is freedom of thought and authentic, unfettered desire to play. Unfortunately, they’re not necessarily in Poland. We go to Berlin whenever we can and there watching numerous performances by bands, we feel that SIKSA could be performing there next to them. That we are in no way worse and most importantly – we are no better than them.
In June, at Kastanienallee squat in Berlin we saw the debut performance of noise-punk female trio from Japan. Out of tune guitars, crumbling drums, wailing vocals, minimal sense of rhythm. It was refreshing, full of authentic, joyful and informative experience. Although we speak and think in Polish and SIKSAs seem to be closely related to the vividness of the language, we think it’s worth a try. During our show at the Queer Fest, we had numerous guests from all over Europe in the audience. So we quickly hung handwritten translations of our lyrics on the walls. It turned out great, so we are planning on making some sort of zine with the translations of our lyrics just for the future shows abroad. So at the moment we are preparing for our international expansion, we are polishing the translations of our lyrics and preparing a ‘portfolio’ in English.
Thank you for your time to answer these questions, I really think you two are great and deserve to be heard and known about. Keep on kicking ass! And for the viewers at home, here is a full live show which is totally worth your attention! Don’t be scared for the language barrier as if you are; you’ll definitely miss out on one of the most exciting punk flavored duos out there!
translation from polish: Dorota Jachimczyk
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