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Mazut: Circling around violence

Published April, 2016
by Easterndaze

Mazut is a new duo that emerged from the thriving Polish underground music scene. Centred around the wonderful (and prolific) imprint BDTA, Mazut (waste oil in English) is an experimental platform for venting rage with doses of tranquility. Mazut are Paweł Starzec and Michał Turowski.  

What is Mazut?

[M] Basically, mazut is very low quality fuel oil, often called “waste oil”, used sometimes for heating, mostly in Eastern Europe as far as I know. It looks and smells absolutely disgusting and is absolutely unique in it’s awfulness. With Paweł we sometimes used this name as a term for some dirty noise tunes we enjoyed, such as music by Skullflower or Bodychoke. Mazut was our perfect byword for music that punches you in the face, and long before we had our first rehearsal as a band we knew that if one day we will start a band together, this will be a name for it. In fact, we were talking about founding this project for two years or so before we finally met to play together.

Can you talk about your music and how you make and perform it?

[M] I personally see our music as a result of our interest in the techno culture with our background in punk/noise/industrial scene, which has a big influence on us. During few months of constant and regular rehearsals we elaborated some kind of structure for our work, but the final result is always improvised. Some pieces and scraps are recurring in our every session, but when we start connecting the whole equipment on stage or our in our basement we never know what will be the final outcome of that day. And we are almost laptop-free in our work. I’ve just recently bought a proper sampler, and until now I was using a computer to play samples and make some very low-in-the-mix noise soundscapes, but everything else is made with analogue equipment: some drum machines and very simple synths, a very childish model of the Casio keyboard, tape players and recorders, cassettes with audiobooks or language courses found at dumpsters, microphone feedbacks, shortwave radios and shitloads of various guitar pedals.

Split by Mazut / Emma Zunz

Can you talk about your track Warszawa?

[M] This track is a recording of a 40-minute long live set of our gig in – surprise, surprise – Warsaw. There was a huge issue around abortion in Poland a few weeks ago, as the new conservative government was trying to exacerbate the law to make abortion illegal in every stance, even if the current law is rather severe and radical already. At the beginning of our set you can hear a three- minute long excerpt of a lecture by our friend who works at university in Wroclaw, Przemysław Witkowski, talking about the abortion problem. We didn’t really plan to make a political statement with this gig, but Przemek is a long time friend of ours and came from Wroclaw to see our gig, so I thought that as a very inside joke we would somehow interlude our set with some sample of his voice. And when I was searching for some samples, I found this piece on abortion from a lecture that happened a few years ago. And instantly I thought that it is powerful enough to start with it.

Warszawa by Mazut

Do the political changes influence the scene you are operating in? If so, how?

[M] If we talk about our work and the whole “life of a scene” I don’t really sense it on everyday basis, as we are rooted in movement that is very DIY. For me – as a label owner and so-called musician – nothing changed in terms of my work. I always treated publishing and playing as a hobby, funded mostly with my personal wallet and day job, so the current geopolitical situation in Poland or Europe does not really affect this. I think that for people more dependent on various grants etc. it might be different or harder since the last election, but the DIY scene will always probably work, no matter what, where or when. As long as we will have our own belief in this concept and will to struggle with this 😉 I don’t want to speak for Paweł on this subject, but I don’t really see myself as a proper musician and Mazut is a way out for a lot of the accumulated aggression and frustration that often flows through my veins. So this is the only influence of the current politics in Poland – that sometimes it brings more of those personal negative feelings.

[P] I can mostly agree with Michal’s stance, however I always tend to see my music work – with Mazut, or with my other outlets – as a matter that could be used for possible transportation of some ideas. Not purely political and more universal and broader, but still. Techno, or electronic music in general, is pretty antiseptic, but through utilising samples, or titles, we can try to convey some other messages. In case of Mazut, it mostly means circling around violence, both symbolically and physically manifested. If anybody googled who the fuck was Marvin Heemayer after listening to our LP, this goal was achieved.