We Will Fail is a project by Aleksandra Grünholz. In 2014 she debuted with a two part album called Verstörung (MonotypeRec.) to positive reviews. We Will Fail’s music is hard to classify. The main focus is on rhythm, bringing associations with techno and club music, however the artist claims that hers is listening rather than dance music. Her new album Hand That Heals / Hand That Bites is out on 7 March. She was nominated for SHAPE by Unsound Festival.
Can you talk about your artist name and the dichotomy of success vs failure in your creative work?
I am often afraid that my activities won’t bring any effect. I’ m thinking a lot about what I do with my energy and time, both of which are limited. The fear of not making the right choices can make one wonder about the point of making an effort. Well, a lot of choices we’ll make will be wrong, some activities won’t bring the desired result, but should it be a reason for avoiding activity?
We Will Fail is exactly about not being afraid to take risks and doing something. In my creative work, I’ve always added a question: “So what? What then?”. And the worst answer that may come is just: “Nothing.” I know I’m making mistakes, I know I could do things better. But mistakes don’t erase the other good things that may come and lead you further to try different approaches.
Do you have a concrete example when such a “mistake” lead to some discovery or epiphany in your musical and creative work?
In the beginning of my first album, for example, I had many sounds which I found online, some of them were in horrible quality. Still, there was something seductive about them. I searched for a way how to change them and use them. So I learned a lot about the composition and transformation of particular sounds.
Your music is characterised by an emphasis on rhythm. Can you talk about the importance of rhythm and how you work with it?
There was a time when I got really fascinated by techno culture – going to dance parties just to let go and immerse myself in rhythm. I really like the energy that rhythm can evoke and the movement that it triggers. The pulse can put you in trance. I like to use that in my music – to build tension but not to let go nor provide a rhythmical relief. Rhythm gives an order – when you distract it, you distract comfort. It’s interesting.
But you don’t work with rhythms in a traditional 4×4 way. It’s more a deconstruction of rhythm in a way.
Yes. I like the changes in rhythm. I often start with a pattern and then modify it a lot. For example: change the loop every time it appears in a composition so that the rhythm morphs in time.
You are about to release your new album Hand That Heals / Hand That Bites. Could you talk about it? How does it differ from your previous LP Verstörung?
The concept of the new album emerged after I finished the first album – I wanted to make two mirrored parts, with the same length and sounds, but just put together differently. Time passed and I found it too conceptual and contrived, but I got stuck with that idea anyway. It just evolved. I knew how I wanted the new album to be like before I started working on the sounds – that is the main difference. Verstörung was mostly about impressions, experiments and wandering.
The new album is divided into two parts – which are each other’s opposites – what was your motivation behind this concept and how did you do it practically?
At some point I was fascinated by John Cage and the Fluxus way of thinking. It influenced my thoughts about the creative process: simultaneously going into different directions and thinking in an abstract way. My motivation to divide the album into two parts was to show that nothing is simple and that you can take different approaches and show a more broader viewpoint. Each part affects and contrasts the other one.
One part is about being boring, about not being loud, about not talking, about not saying what you think, about seeing things, about hearing the world. This part is more subtle, filled with a lot of field recordings, scraps of melodies, pads and rhythms with a lower tempo. The second is about being angry and about the kick that anger gives you – the adrenaline rush when someone makes you really mad and the anger that makes you high. This part is more noisy, rhythmical, louder and rude.
You are also a graphic designer. In contrast to your previous work, this time you also created the visual identity for the new record (video, cover art, etc). What lead you to incorporate your own visuals into your musical work?
I made the covers and some of the promo images for Verstörung – I couldn’t avoid that – I’m working with visuals all the time, it’s my job, so it just came naturally. But my priority was to focus on the sound and pure listening. During the last two years I’ve been touring a bit, observing live performances of many artists and my reactions to those sounds and images, what attracts me the most. I learned a lot.
With this album I wanted to present a more coherent vision and create some kind of micro-world that you want to soak in for a moment. I was thinking of an idea of two opposite states and how to visualise it, but not in literal way.
I started with two cover artworks, then I made a website with some moving elements of the cover illustration. It looked mesmerising to me, the movement gave life to this illustration so I thought: let’s go further. Then I made an animated video for one track. I think it works well with the sound. Right now I’m working on the visuals for the live act. I’m curious how it will work together during the live performance.
You have a small creative hub in Warsaw, centered around the MonotypeRec label, which also releases your records. Can you talk about it?
Yes, I work at the MonotypeRec. office every day. Jakub [Mikołajczyk] and Dominik [Kowalczyk] do their daily record label work while I work on my graphic design projects. We listen to a lot of new music, talk and have many guests. In the second room of the office we have a little studio where we work on our musical projects. As of last year we also have a duo with Jakub – Refined Pleasures – and we meet in the studio three times a week. Soon, we’ll be ready with a lot of good material.
Interview Lucia Udvardyova
Photo: Olga Ozieranska