It’s fair to say that Oliva changed the face of her local scene, and she’s now making her mark around Europe. The Kraków native came up at a time when drum & bass was the predominant sound of the city, but years of her own hard work as a DJ and promoter mean it is now about so much more. Olivia first went to legendary local club Kanty with her older brother and “had to bribe bodyguards” and “sneak in through the fence”.
It was the first place she heard techno and was “immediately captured” and started digging deeper. Electro, Detroit, EBM, acid, wave and industrial really took her heart, not least because she spent so much time listening to The Hague’s cult Intergalactic FM radio station. With her brother, she began making regular pilgrimages to Side One records in Warsaw, where she still loves to go and dig.“Old pearls bring me the most joy,” she says, before explaining that once their collection grew, the siblings began DJing in their bedrooms. “It was like therapy,” she adds. “It calmed me down and helped me to concentrate and deal with my emotional problems.” This was around 15 years ago, pre-social media explosion, so to try and get gigs the pair recorded mix CDs and handed them out in all the local clubs.
They soon started getting booked and ended up playing in Kraków three or four times a month. She describes the city’s scene as compact, with an “open but demanding public” and a freedom of sound that has made her the diverse selector she is: “Playing so often at home is why I feel that I had never got stuck with one genre and I perceive my taste in music as quite wide.” A landmark gig came at Unsound Festival in 2013. She worked in the office on logistics, but her skill on the decks impressed so much she was installed as a resident and remains to this day. “I never play safe, this is boring for me,” she says — and rightly so!
Her rugged, mutant sets draw on weird and sludgy strains of techno and electro, dip into stark industrial and jerking body rhythms, all with a real sense of progression. “My general conviction is to share special sounds, not easy tracks or hits,” says the uncompromising DJ. She prefers dark and intimate clubs so she can “explore weirder, more complicated tracks” and challenge crowds whenever she can.
Her reputation means her own We Are Radar party with Artur Oles, aka Chino, and Kinzo Chrome has, for seven years, been the hottest ticket in town. “We don’t have to invite fashionable big names because our crowd doesn’t expect this,” Olivia says of the party, while her role as booking manager at Szpitalna 1 (up until December 2018) taught her how to create an open-minded safe space with its own musical community. Last year, she debuted her first productions on K-Hole Trax after her treatment for depression had ended. “I decided to put all this into music, to liberate myself from the dark side of me.” As a result the tracks are heavy on drums, but with twisted and brightly-lit synths, molten bass and playful rhythms that pump up the party. She promises more are on the way, as is a live show with Chino. Kraków is lucky to have Olivia, then, but now it’s our turn to succumb to her singular skills.
Photo Credit: Kachna Baraniewicz