Mikael Szafirowski is a Finnish guitar and cavaquinho player residing around the west of Europe, mainly in Amsterdam and Köln. He is markedly working on expanding the vocabulary of amplified string instruments by way of extended playing techniques, as well as exploring new forms of structure and sound in music. Having lived his formative years in the realm of jazz music, he is now looking at other avenues of expression, such as noise, free improvised music, contemporary classical music, and a mix of popular and world music.
Born in the summer of 1980 in Helsinki to a Finnish-Polish family, Mikael Szafirowski became well versed in culture clash at a young age. His insatiable ear for music from different cultures led him to travelling the world round on his LP-player. Having gone through a lot of instruments, landing on the electric guitar finally transformed this voyage from internal to the external. After intense years of studying jazz music with Neff Irizarry in the Pop&Jazz-Conservatory of Helsinki, it was time to pack up and move to Holland.Enrolling to the Royal Conservatory in the Hague, Mikael Szafirowski continued his jazz formation diving into the session scene in the Hague. Cutting his teeth on the competitive stage was all good and well, but there was yet more to discover, and after a year it felt a good time to leave the guitar for a while and delve into contemporary classical music. With a pen. During the following years studying with Gilius van Bergeijk and Calliope Tsoupaki, a whole new world opened. At that time he got heavily influenced by the likes of Morton Feldman, Iannis Xenakis, Edgar Varese, but also the music of Sonic Youth, Otomo Yoshide, Sonny Sharrock and Captain Beefheart.This whole gamut of experiences started to emerge again through the guitar and his newer second instrument, the cavaquinho. Mikael Szafirowski is one of the few musicians using this small brazilian string instrument in such a peculiar way. Detuned, feedbacking, this innocent looking thing turns from a howling beast to a whispering banshee. His guitar technique is highly personal, using harmonic feedback and various preparations to feed his musical curiosity.Moving to Amsterdam in 2007, and with a short stint in Paris in between, Mikael has become a permanent active member of the Amsterdam improvisation scene, having played and collaborated amongst others with Han Bennink, Ab Baars, Luc Ex, Wilbert De Joode, Oscar-Jan Hoogland, Yedo Gibson, Gerri Jaeger. His bands the Royal Improvisers Orchestra, Naked Wolf, Rooie Waas and NHC are a common sight at dutch venues as well as abroad from Serbia to Brazil.