The Oramics member leans into her darker side.
Monster grew up listening to hours-long VHS recordings of English music videos on German MTV. Raised on the iconic pop of Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and Kylie Minogue, she said, "I feel like that kind of dancey late '80s rhythm did form my musical taste and the love for cheesy melodies." Though the Poland DJ has since veered into the euphoric, ravey realms of dance music, this first love for vintage sounds grounds her sets.
Monster's influence expands beyond her DJ contributions. She's also a staunch activist with political beginnings at an anarchist squat called Rozbrat, where she would later learn to DJ and organize parties. In the wake of anti-gay propaganda and the alt-right control of Poland's Law And Justice party, Monster's career has been defined by her ability to thoughtfully merge dance music and political activism. She is a member of the Polish Oramics platform, which helps run parties centering women and non-binary people, and recently has released compilations in solidarity with the LGBTQAI+ Polish community, as well as the Kurdish movement in Rojava. Her approach to DJing also proves the resounding impact an artist can have on a scene by staying local. As an outspoken advocate for the Eastern European scene, she's adamant about not making the (seemingly inevitable) DJ move to Berlin.
Her RA Podcast shows the rising artist in her prime, floating past '80s-tinged acid, electro and trance. She leans into her darker side here, but without forgoing the cosmic grooves that have distinguished her in Poznan's scene. Recorded on CDJs and Reloop turntables, this mix is blissfully nostalgic, with a focus on Polish and Ukrainian artists.
What have you been up to recently?
The usual, DJing, going to work, running workshops, taking part in discussion panels and trying to stay sane. 2019 was a very intense year for me, I played almost every weekend, took part in some major Polish festivals, became a resident DJ of Projekt LAB club in Poznan, started running Oramics club nights, continued with Oramics workshops and actually started believing that maybe there is a chance of building a scene that is more welcoming and inclusive, less headliner and more community-based. It's a long way to go, but there are a lot of great people working on it.
How and where was the mix recorded?
I recorded the mix at home using my Pioneer CDJ-350s, Reloop turntables and a Xone:23 mixer.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
My main goal was to showcase tracks made by Polish and Ukrainian artists, so a third of this mix is made up of their productions and they kind of set the tone of the whole set, which is a little bit more nostalgic than what I would normally play during parties. I feel like the Polish scene is still overlooked and underestimated and we really have a lot of interesting artists putting out amazing music, and because the international scene is heavily centralized around Berlin, London and Amsterdam, people from Eastern Europe don't get enough attention. I am really grateful for the support I've been getting from my friends in the Polish scene, so I feel like I owe them and they do deserve more recognition. I also wanted to mix a lot of different genres, which I always do, so there's some acid house, electro, breaks, a CJ Bolland classic, some breaky trance and yes, it starts with Madonna.
Poland's current administration has been characterized by anti-gay propaganda, with things coming to a more visible head following Bialystok Pride. How is the queer music scene in Poland responding to the country's political environment?
What you need to understand about Poland is that there's currently a huge divide between the largest Polish cities and smaller towns (usually in a worse economic situation, with less access to good education) and while there are Pride Marches attended by thousands of people in Warsaw, Poznan (where I live), Kraków, Wroclaw and Gdansk, there are a lot of places where the conversation about LGBTQIA+ rights has just started and those are the towns, where we’ve seen some troubling reactions to Pride Marches, some of them have declared themselves "LGBT-free zones" and the government propaganda is only making it worse. We've been hearing heartbreaking stories about a spike in queer youth suicide rates, which is a non-issue for the current government. And while the queer scene is organizing against the government's outrageous policies, we've still mostly based in bigger cities. Oramics' Total Solidarity VA compilation has raised thousands of euros which are supposed to help the queer communities in smaller towns. As Oramics we've also been trying to get funds to organize workshops in those places, as one of our main goals is education and if we could strengthen the queer scenes in small towns in any way, that would be really helpful.
Oramics was initially founded to provide a platform for women, non-binary and queer people in Poland's dance music scene. Now that the party has evolved into an integral component of the country's queer nightlife, have you witnessed any cultural shifts in Poland's clubbing scene?
I definitely have. After the events in Bialystok it was really heart-warming to see the reactions of the majority of the club scene who supported the LGBTQIA+ community in many different ways, something that I wouldn't have thought of even two years ago. Clubs have started talking about safer space policies, Projekt LAB, where I'm a resident DJ, has implemented many changes, it's also one of very few clubs where the manager actually pays attention to the presence of women in party lineups. In general, the position of women in the Polish scene is not questioned anymore, homophobia is vocally unacceptable, more and more promoters are thinking about more equal gender representation and these are all quite recent developments.
What are you up to next?
Already thinking about the next round of Oramics workshops at Projekt LAB, hoping that we will be able to do it in smaller towns as well. Next Oramics party, also at Projekt LAB, is happening on April 17th and I'm really excited about this one, as we've invited one of my favorite DJs, Mama Snake. We will also be celebrating our birthday later this spring and doing an artist residency in the summer. I've got some shows planned in Poland and Germany, I'm trying to figure out how to live a more balanced life while staying involved and active as a DJ, I've got some good people around me so I should be fine.