Olivia: ‘Parties are not only about music, we should also act more’


Olivia has been a key player on the Polish electronic music scene for 12 years, both solo and performing as Chrono Bross with her brother Kinzo Chrome. The originator of the fabled Kraków club night, Radar, Olivia, together with her confrère Chino, remains fully committed to pushing the local scene. As an Unsound Festival regular, she co-hosts their monthly radio show on Radio Kraków. She draws inspiration from both music and the world around her. Her approach to sound and search for music are informed by a wide range of influences, from the future shock of Detroit techno (Mad Mike, Jeff Mills, Robert Hood, Juan Atkins, Scan 7), the distinctive Dutch sound (Clone, Creme, Bunker, Viewlexx and Rush Hour), through to the images and ideals of 70s science fiction and technological progression, the infiniteness of space, the unfulfilled promises of robot designs, and the unexplained mysteries of paranormal phenomena.

How was the scene in Kraków when you started?

It was difficult, because there were not so many underground clubs. I didn’t know many people from the club scene, so it was about going there and asking to play. When I started to play in Kraków, drum’n’bass was the most popular genre and we had great DJs who played it. I was more into electro and techno at that time, so my brother and I would just go to different bars and ask if we could play and throw our own parties.

Warsaw, for instance, had a really active techno scene in the 90s with Jacek Sienkiewicz, etc.

Yes. At that time Warsaw had a lot of great DJs such as Jacek, Mic Ostap, Motyl, etc. Jacek also started his own label, Recognition, and then, with Motyl, opened a club with great music. DJs from Łódź were also were active. There was even something like a Love Parade in Łódź in the 90s.

You started DJing together with your brother.

Yes, we started collecting records. He’s more into italo and disco these days, but we also play Acid House, and Techno together. We have a party series called Radar, which is made by myself, my brother, and Chino, a producer from Silesia.

Does interest in music run in your family?

My parents are not into music, it’s only me and my brother.

You are interested in the context of Detroit techno, futurism and science fiction.

I’ve been into Detroit techno from the very beginning. I’m a big fan of Underground Resistance, and they influenced my DJing a lot. I started listening to and playing electro because of Drexciya. And if I think of science fiction, I realise that I really like to observe the cosmos. It inspires me.

You also mention that you are inspired by “unexplained mysteries and paranormal phenomena”.

I believe in ghosts and UFOs; all the things “normal” people don’t believe in. If you have an open mind, you are more open to music. I believe in the power of the universe.

Does UR’s activist/political side inspire you as well?

Yes, in the way that you as a musician should always observe what’s happening around you. It’s not enough to play music; as an artist you should be active and speak out when you see something is going in the wrong direction in your country. I follow what’s happening in the world. I often get angry, for instance, about what’s happening in Poland with our government at the moment. I go to all the different protests, I can’t just sit at home. Some people say I play very raw and brutal music nowadays, but I think it’s because I’m so angry about what’s happening around me. For instance, on May 3rd (2017) we’re organising a picnic with music and tree planting because our government has changed the law and now it’s easier to cut trees down. We don’t agree with that, so we’ll play some music and plant trees here in Krak
ów. The environment is really important to me.

You collaborate with Unsound festival, which is also based in Kraków.

I’m a resident DJ at Unsound Festival and I also do logistical work for them – organising travel, and accommodations for the artists.

Since you are both involved in the scene actively as an artist and also involved in production, how do you view these two sides?

It makes me realise how much work is involved in running a festival. When you’re an artist, you don’t think of how much work promoters do for you. I think artists should respect promoters more. Working with Lukasz [Warna-Wiesławski] and Mat [Schulz] from Unsound has developed my music world. We talk a lot about music at the office, which is great.

Could you talk about your music selection in your DJ sets?

It depends on where and at what time I’m playing. My warm-up sets are completely different to my peak-time slots. I’m also often looking at who I’m playing with, as well as the context of the party. I prepare my DJ bag for each and every party. I can play acid, house, techno, electro, disco, italo, wave, industrial. It completely depends on the night.

Do you also make your own music?

I started producing two years ago. I’ve been a DJ for more than 12 years and I see myself as a selector in the first place, not a producer. Initially, I was a little bit scared, but now I’ve started to feel more comfortable with making music.

Will your DJing influence your production?

Yes, of course. I love acid house, so you can hear the sound of Roland synths in my music, especially the 303. I’m also into the music vibe of the 80s, with all its melodic synths.