PODPORA/KOHYT is a duo of two distinct personalities. After seeing how we interact when playing on stage, it is actually quite uncanny when one learns that we do come from two completely different backgrounds: the world of traditionally understood, performed, composed music (Max Kohyt – musicologist, professional bass guitar player, session musician, composer making music for theatre, fascinated with contemporary, experimental, electroacoustic music and problems of composition); and the world of visual arts – sculpture, multi-media, where sound as well as language is capable of [trans]forming space (Katarzyna Podpora – PhD in sculpture and intermedia art, independent artist and translator, focused on sound and language/words functioning in space, biographies of things and places, and the phenomenon of record).
We met like many people meet – on a job at a cultural institution (in fact, I was there on a job for a few months substituting a person at the impresario’s office to support myself in the course of my doctoral studies at the Academy of Fine Arts – Faculty of Sculpture and Intermedia Art; Max was working there full time as the head of stage, and then head producer, making his own music or commissioned compositions when off-work) in … 2011. No one knows, at least we are unable to say, how it happened or how on earth we got the idea that we just might reach an understanding when it came to music (maybe a sense of shared perceptiveness when it came to sound) and began listening together. Since it all started from listening. Loads and loads of albums, trips to live performances, streaming sessions on trains, etc.; and talking, describing, showing one another what we meant by ‘music’ – one huge conversation panel it was, believe me; and then after listening to something else, just sitting in the silence of shared opinions and emotions. And those different worlds of our origin, mentioned at the beginning, worked only to expand (slowly but steadily) the new common world we were building for the duet – made it richer, more complex. You can imagine how at the beginning our notions of making/understanding music, composition, improvisation, etc. could be like chalk and cheese (some of that is actually still there – adding a sort of spicy element to our process when creating). Though, through experiencing sounds together and discussing different concepts of how and to what end they may be produced, finding silence and the moment of breaking it simply crucial in, well, everything, seeing why space is also the actor along with incidental sounds, finally agreeing on my ever weirder ideas concerning playable objects (aka ‘small objects’) and the meaning of their biographies, on Max’s concepts on composition, etc. our listening time gained a new dimension – it became creative; and we reached the point when it was natural to start making music/ sounds/ silence together in… 2015.
What we play and how we do it is often complex and delicate. Our music tackles issues revolving around different approaches to composition and improvisation embracing the notion of dialogue. In everything we do before uttering a note we listen – to each other mainly when in a studio or a closed concert, but also to the surrounding soundscape, frequently performing experiments concerning ourselves in other positions than the ‘leading voice’ among other sound actors – we interact in real time so that the resulting composition, harboring a certain concept, would leave space for every possible sound building the atmosphere of the place [Chapel Music 2017]. Our performances/recordings tend to present a range of unusual instruments-objects, all of which bare meaning as there are stories (biographies) behind them, many of organic origin [yt Friction Dialogue]; we also play traditional instruments in various manners – often paired with the objects, prepared; as well as such instruments that are broken, but still emit sounds – by learning to play a broken instrument with respect to its new character we give it a second life and get a chance produce very unique sounds [musica di strada 2019]. We do also use various electronic instruments, analogue sound emitting appliances, field recordings on tape – played and manipulated on both reel-to-reel tape recorder as well as simple cassettes in walkmans. Human voice, often transformed, can also be heard as a delicate, meaningful, airy matter coming from within a person and recalling questions of our condition as humans [yt ZLO]. In 2019 we recorded a studio album [Nights are Numbered LP, published in 2020] for Bocian Records.