The New York Times once referred to popular TD Sunfest alumnus The Warsaw Village Band as one of the most important groups on the world music stage, comprising “the sound of globalization!”. The iconic Iggy Pop is a big fan too, praising their song LuluLabby as “the freshest and best thing that’s hit my ears in a long while”. In addition, The WVB’s music has been recorded for the cult video game Myst 4 and the Japanese manga film Moondrive, and the band even appeared on Broadway, in the play A Blessing on the Moon.
When The WVB formed in 1997, they went in search of their Polish roots by exploring the folklore and archaic sounds of their ancestors. The musicians travelled from village to village, seeking out the old people and trying to preserve their music and stories before they disappeared out of neglect and an ingrained disdain for ‘rurality’. The result was the band’s signature hardcore folk style, which was created by updating uncompromising traditionalism with a guttural punk rock aesthetic. Enchanted by the energy, the crazy dances and the wild melodies played on acoustic instruments, this three-woman, three-man ensemble used violins, dulcimer, cello, Polish frame drum, marching band-style baraban drum and high-pitched vocals (the so-called white voice, a traditional vocal technique originating from shepherds ‘shouts) to showcase the unique, raw style dubbed Polish roots music from the ancient to the future.
In a 2017 interview for CULTURE.PL, WVB band members Maciej Szajkowski and Sylwia Światkowska reflected on their 20 years on the stage. “Music knows no boundaries…We sought inspiration in everything we considered interesting, and we tried to invite people we found fascinating to work with us. It’s perfectly understandable we’d incorporate elements of modern music (for example, scratching and techno rhythms) …What’s interesting is that we carry some sort of music with us, a manifestation of something very ancient but expressed in our own, modern language.”
In 2020, The Warsaw Village Band released Uwodzenie / Waterduction, an album inspired by the river Vistula and its tributaries. The lineup included Magdalena Sobczak-Kotnarowska on vocals and cymbały (dulcimer); Sylwia Świątkowska on vocals, violin, octave violin, Polish fiddle and suka; Ewa Wałecka on vocals and violin; Miłosz Gawryłkiewicz on trumpet and flugelhorn; Piotr Gliński on baraban drum and percussion; Paweł Mazurczak on double bass; Maciej Szajkowski on frame drum, percussion and udu drum; and Mariusz Dziurawiec, the dub master.