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“It’s just wild that all of this exists, that we are here to experience it.”

Published April, 2024
by Easterndaze

Lukasz Polowczyk is a Berlin-based sound artist, poet, and educator. His artistic practice is based around the protocols of translating the poetic intentionality of an idea across a variety of expressions and media. In his world, a poem can be expressed as a sound-art piece, a spoken word composition backed by an experimental jazz ensemble, a site-specific audiovisual installation, a book or a series of grainy, abstract photos. As a musician he appears on the latest release from Lefto Early Bird, his solo album is entitled Motherless Father.

On the 30th of March, his video art piece about music and spirituality titled “Prayer” debuted at BOZAR, the centre for fine arts in Brussels, Belgium. The piece is a meditation on music’s inherent power to shape reality and modulate human consciousness. It features Angel Bat Dawid, Idris Ackamoor of the Pyramids, Will Brooks of Dälek, Jan Wagner, and Waclaw Zimpel.

Lukasz Polowczyk was so nice to answer some kaput questions.

Lukas, you chose the title “A Prayer” for your short film, which could be seen as the obvious choice, as the opening statement of the piece features Angel Bat Dawid talking about the Blues, Gospel, and HipHop as musical/spiritual approaches to mitigating the trials of daily life that black people in the United States are forced to endure.

What I was wondering: Are you religious yourself?

Lukasz Polowczyk: No, not really religious. Spiritual is the word I tend to use to describe my relationship to reality/life, but even that I find too loaded – full of ideas that I cannot relate to or subscribe to. The thing is, I find existence absolutely mind-blowing! I try to meditate regularly to get more out of it, to be more present for it. No matter how I frame it, it’s just wild that all of this exists, that we are here to experience it. Look at nature: all of this manifest beauty, the endless variety of forms, everything perpetually shapeshifting. It’s humbling! You don’t need any holy book to tell you that this is something special. I mean, the fact that we are all traveling around this gigantic ball of fire suspended somewhere out in space, on what is essentially a conscious, self-regenerating spaceship – come on, now!

Your alias as an artist is “Aint About Me,” which is why I am very much interested in your take on the relationship between religious belief systems and music?

I find religions as such problematic. In most cases, they’re mainly concerned with control, systems, hierarchies – all the things I want nothing to do with. In Zen Buddhism, there is this saying: If you are looking at the finger pointing at the moon, you will never see the moon. All of these doctrines and holy books are this proverbial finger. Which, arguably, is why there is so much conflict in the world! Because people are literally spending their time fighting over signposts and maps, which is just ridiculous.

To your question, though, I would say that music and spirituality have always been intertwined. Music comes from a shamanistic lineage. It is a technology that allows you to manipulate consciousness, be it to tune your emotions or enter into a state of trance. It’s also a liberation technology – just look at the influence that black music has had on the world over the last one hundred plus years!

Why did you choose these specific artists for the film: Angel Bat Dawid, Waclaw Zimpel, Will Brooks (of Dälek), Idris Ackamoor (of The Pyramids), and Jan Wagner?

When I started to work on this project, I made a list of artists whom I wanted to interview, folks that I knew would have interesting things to say on the topic of music and spirituality, and it just so happened that these particular artists were available at the time and down to share their insights with me. The full list is hella long and it includes the likes of Björk, Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, Chief Atunde Adjuah, Elian Radigue, Herbie Hancock, Rick Rubin, Saul Williams… One day I’ll work through it in some other format. (laughter) I would love to make a documentary on the subject.

The idea for the film came from a podcast that you started during the pandemic, correct?

That’s right. All of these interviews were originally conducted as a part of what was going to be the pilot season of a podcast on music and spirituality. I modeled the podcast on Song Exploder, where you don’t hear the interviewer, only the artist. I like how short and accessible this format is. But it didn’t translate in this context. I should’ve gone for full conversations, like what you get on Rick Rubin’s Tetragrammaton. But then the pandemic hit, and life happened, lots of it – and I just didn’t have the time nor the energy to have another go at it. Last summer, though, I had this impulse to revisit the material, I thought that it would be a waste if it never got put to use. This piece literally came together in a matter of days. It came as a full download.

In a way, the pictures are only loosely connected to the words that the viewer is hearing. I’m not saying that they don’t fit, I just mean that this is not the typical talking heads format that you see in most music documentaries. How easy, or hard, was it for you to create pictures that reflect the thoughts of the artists on screen?

As with most of my creative endeavors, I leaned into my obsessions. In this case, it was this hyper-abstraction and the extreme slow-mo video. If you meditate, or pray, for that matter, then you know that your perception of time is different in that state. It’s as if your experience of time is more continuous when you are not fragmented by a barrage of thought or sensory input. That’s what I hope that this footage transports – that it creates this moment of contemplation, perception/time unity. Illustrating what you hear was not the objective. You have to figure that the piece was designed to be screened in a large format in a gallery setting. When you see this at a gallery the experience is immersive.

You are a sound artist yourself, but also a poet and an educator – how do these things influence your “journalistic” work, like, say, on a project like “A Prayer”?

I don’t really make a distinction between the different modalities of expression, or even teaching, journalism. Pretty much everything that I do is rooted in the way I see the world, in my obsessions. It’s all a part of this long ongoing conversation with and about reality. Keith Haring once said something to the effect of: “If you have something to say, you can use just about any medium to express that.” I concur. Plus, I love the minor distortions that occur when you translate an idea from one medium into another. Every medium has its strong points and its limitations, right? And even when I’m teaching, ultimately, what I’m doing is drawing on my personal experiences, and sharing how I see the world. In other words, all of these things are a vehicle that allows me to explore the world and share what I find with others.

Do you see this project, at least in part, as something that has a journalistic dimension?

It was born from a podcast, so it is certainly rooted in journalistic practice. But what it had become in this final form, I think it’s too subjective to be seen as proper journalism. What I can say, though, is that I love the interview format! I love talking to people. I love the art of conversation – listening to someone, searching for cues buried in the subtext, and pulling on that thread and allowing the exchange to take us to some place that we haven’t been before. That’s a big theme for me – this need for discovery! Even with my artistic practice, I just want to go on a journey, and hopefully discover something about myself and the world along the way. I don’t want to assume or predetermine anything beforehand. I will, however, design a process that enables me to do the work, a framework – like an experiment. It’s hard to move forward when you are facing infinite possibilities. Limitations are good. Once the frame is defined, you have all the freedom in the world.

What do you search for in music? What is it that only music can offer?

That would have to be its ability to transport me into this “space,” this energy, whatever you want to call this thing. The internal architecture of music. The Coltranes or Ryuichi Sakamoto always take me there. Or Jay Electronica, Sunn O))), Pharaoh Sanders, Eliane Radigue, Kali Malone, Nina Simone, Yasiin Bey… I wouldn’t say that this is the only way for me to access this frequency, because meditation or plant medicine take me there as well, but as far as artistic expression is concerned, music is by far the most effective and immediate in that regard.

Last question, a complicated one: Some of the artists in the film talk about the socio-political issues, others about their instruments or about their inner emotional world… Do you feel that you’ve picked a signature field of emotion from each of the interviews and then collaged them into, let’s say, a generally valid artistic pattern that unites all of them and, with that, you as well?

That’s a good question. Well, first of all, for me, art is fundamentally rooted in the license to indulge in your hyper-subjectivity. It’s about how you choose to frame the world, how you see it. The only obligation that you have as an artist, as far as I’m concerned, is to stay true to your singular point of view. But, of course, working on your craft is also important because you have to be able to transport other people into your world. You have to give them access to it so that they can also partake in your experience. They have to understand what you are saying to them. As far as the underlying unity in this piece is concerned, I think the connections are pretty overt. Everyone is talking about the human condition, encoding a texture of an experience into sound, mindfulness, be it anchoring in the moment to experience it more fully or, what Idris Ackamoor speaks to, which is an extreme presence, what we call a trance state. Everyone whom I spoke to knew what the podcast was going to be about, so all of the conversations were about music and spirituality, but, of course, everyone has their own take on the subject. The piece was edited so that you have the feeling you are channel surfing, which implies that you are dropping in on a conversation that started before you tuned in, and will continue after you exit. I love forms which feel unfinished, abstracted, jagged, where a lot is left out through either the edit or the compositional frame. I don’t know if others also have this experience, but whenever I am forced to complete a form as a viewer or listener, it puts me in a more active position – I engage more. I do the work. And this process of reaching for that which is only implied by the artwork, that’s what stirs my emotional body. I hope that’s the case here.

Thank you for this wonderful conversation!

Text by Thomas Venker for Kaput Magazine.
Lukasz Polowczyk photo by Glover

This article is brought to you as part of the EM GUIDE project – an initiative dedicated to empowering independent music magazines and strengthen the underground music scene in Europe. Read more about the project at

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.