Wywiad z Oysterboy

Interview with Piotr Kołodyński (Oysterboy)

The post-pandemic return of OFF-Festival after two years was accompanied by a greater emphasis on indigenous Polish artists – from debutants to artists with experience on large festivals’ stages. Among the latter of those was Piotr Kołodyński’s solo act Oysterboy. The artist performed on the first day of the festival with his dedicated band (Artur Chołoniewski, Sebastian Polus, Antoni Zajączkowski). Despite the concert unfortunately coinciding with the most hellish weather conditions of that day and a few minor resulting problems (human- and equipment-caused), the band managed to give us a highly-rated performance demonstrating their craft, as well as numerous reasons to keep an eye on Oysterboy’s future – including announcement of his first album, coming soon.

Below is the edit and translation of the interview that Piotr Kołodyński gave FunInPoland’s representatives after the concert:


Weather vs Artist: 3-0?

At first we were actually happy with this weather. The kind of music we play feels like of a chilled-out and calm variety when played as recordings, but when we perform it live, we sometimes go all-out with guitars and drums. Such a way of spending our energy is quite a fitness routine. But with 50 degrees of Celsius inside the tent, we ended up completely drenched in sweat. It’s difficult to sing in these conditions, but on the other hand it’s actually satisfying to put in such an effort – like after a soccer game or triathlon.

Have you ever played in such conditions?

This was my debut on such a big stage inside an enormous tent – on such a major festival at that. This was quite a high bar to jump, to continue with sports analogies. As a minor sidenote – actually I am not a soccer fan.

Oysterboy is quite an unusual name for your music act. How did you come up with it?

Back when I studied in London, I used to carry a subway ticket card called Oyster Card. When visiting the city a few years later, I went to Tate Modern art gallery and bought a random book from a souvenir shop. It was a book about works of Tim Burton, who I knew little about past the common knowledge like him directing Batman movies from three decades ago. When I opened it, the first words my eyes landed on were Oyster Boy. At that time, I was already planning to found my solo music project. When I read that name, it instantly clicked in my head – this is the perfect name for me. Many people have told me that my eyes are like bivalves – like seashells with pearls in the middle. An oyster can be ugly on the outside, but beautiful on the inside. I empathize myself with this a bit – I also like to retreat into my shell from time to time. And the aforementioned London Oyster card, what with London being one of the cities I feel particularly associated with, possibly the most. So I simply decided that from then onward I am Oysterboy.

Until recently you were known mostly as the lead vocalist of Polish rock band Terrific Sunday, but now there’s Oysterboy, which is a primarily pop project. What led to your decision to take this direction solo?

I would emphasize that this is indie pop – there is a lot of independence in this sound. Furthermore, on stage we tend to lean towards rock music to spice our performances up. There’s definitely a lot of Terrific Sunday’s influence in this project – I write and sing the lyrics in both, after all. As Oysterboy I am also assisted by Terrific Sunday’s drummer Artur Chołoniewski. But I still went in this direction because I wanted to finally express myself through the softer music, of the kind that is currently on the rise in the West. This is a kind of bedroom pop – one a producer or musician can create in his own bedroom, still in pyjamas. It is also partially based on dreampop, of style similar to Slowdive or DIIV, the latter of whom is actually about to play today.

We took a partiular note of a specific change – as vocalist and lyrics writer of Terrific Sunday you were singing mostly in English, but your Oysterboy songs have – so far – all been sung in Polish.

Indeed. To give you a backstory, I did want to start this project with English songs, but when I consulted this with a few people, line of reasoning was basically: „Look, where do you want to create and promote your music?” – „In Poland, of course.” – „Then sing it in Polish.”. So I said okay, this would actually be challenging for me, and I ended up writing Polish songs only. But I cannot rule out releasing something sung in English in the future. Even now, whenever I post a guitar on social media, people from all over the world ask in comments when am I releasing this. And I’d feel a bit stupid answering that soon, but in Polish only. So I think that in the future I will end up making a few English compositions. In fact, whenever I make demos of Polish songs, they always start with English lyrics that are then translated into Polish.

In reference to this, can our international readers expect your concerts outside Poland in the future?

I really wish, but that would require Polish language to gain a foothold in international music scene, like Ukrainian and Russian did. For example tomorrow Molchat Doma from Belarus are going to play here on OFF. In the past they had a gig in Poznań – I was helping with promoting it and we ended up gathering an audience of a few dozen. It’s amazing that they managed to jump all the way to playing on festivals of OFF’s caliber. This is a kind of music that’s very close to my heart and has a lot in common with what I’m doing as Oysterboy. This shows that this approach to music has spread all over the world. Even though their language – unlike English – seems to disfavor singing at first glance, they’ve managed to succeed internationally. Who knows, perhaps Polish language will join this league some day. If this were to happen, I’m immediately doing a tour across Europe and USA.

How do we promote it? With our famous tongue-twister “Chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie w Szczebrzeszynie”?

Even I have a hard time saying that one. (laugh) But my lyrics in Oysterboy are sufficiently soft that I believe even someone non-Polish might be able to sing it. At least to some degree. I don’t know if an average German could sing „miłość chcę, miłość chcę”. But I have my hopes.

When recording your Youtube music videos you’re using cameras from the 60s, reflecting the cinematographic aesthetics of that time. What convinced you to do this?

I really like the 60s overall. The Beatles are one of my all-time favorites, and they had a lot of stuff recorded with 8mm and 16mm cameras. There’s also something about analog movies that we no longer have in our smartphone and digital camera-recorded movies. That’s a completely different vibe – the imperfections, casettes with only 3 minute total length, the uncertainty how the recording will turn out before it’s processed, the relief and joy when it turns out everything went fine. That’s the essence of this vibe and a superb fit with my project, as the latter is also done in partially analog way, with a large dose of nostalgy and longing for the past.

What do you think are the odds that this vibe will become the mainstream of Polish music scene?

I think this is already becoming mainstream. For example we have artists such as Michał Anioł, who hails from total mainstream, yet features some neat guitars in addition to a nostalgic, melancholic playing style similar to Mac DeMarco. On the other hand we have Kacperczyk brothers with origins in trap – a genre that retained high popularity in Poland for a long time – that also use live instruments, guitars and percussion. It’s great that this is making a comeback, that this isn’t all about computers and production from samples anymore – that people play their music live. It’s a sign that this is making a comeback in Poland, and I believe it will enter the mainstream. This has been going on in the West for a decade. Maybe Poland is now going through the same thing – I would be very happy if this turns out to be the case.

What music do you listen to nowadays? Does it have an impact on your own compositions?

These days I’ve been passionately enjoying DIIV and it 100% has an impact. They are my #1 inspiration now. They’re soon starting their concert on the main stage and I’m running to the first row to sing and scream along to them. There’s also Beach Fossils, who are also friends with DIIV, as well as Wild Nothing – so projects in mostly indie pop style, just like me. But this differs among the artists – for example I heard that DIIV enjoy heavy hip hop despite making dreampop/shoegaze music. So there’s no rule that you need to create the kind of music you enjoy casually, though this is the case with me. I frequently return to The Beatles and other classics, but also enjoy some indie rock stars and harder sounds – Foals, for example. On occasions I may also enjoy a song by Rihanna, Rosalie or Beyonce – though I’m not a fan of Beyonce’s newer releases.

Your recent single „Mediolan” made together with Niemoc band is your first collaboration as Oysterboy. What was your experience with this teamup?

In the past Terrific Sunday did very few collaborations. One time we played with Mela Koteluk (Polish pop singer) on Fryderyk festival, which was an incredible experience. But I think that this will be a much more frequent occurrence as Oysterboy. Anytime an artist asks for a collaboration and I have time for it, I will simply answer “yes”. Collaboration is a great adventure that allows us to completely leave the bounds of what we usually do and take on a different role in a band. For example Niemoc did music that captivated me right off the bat and I thought „this is it”. I immediately proceeded to record some improvised lyrics while still in my pyjamas, most of which ended up in the final product. I got so hooked that I would absolutely love to have more collaborations like this.

Who would you like to collaborate with, for example?

Molchat Doma and DIIV are my dreams, but truthfully I would settle for any producer I respect. But I would even agree for any unknown producer, artist or musician if only he/she sends me some material and can feel a quality vibe.

The most interesting events in Poland on summer. Concerts, Festivals and outdoor events. Jazz, Rock, Reagge, Rap, Hip-Hop, Beer and traditional polish food.

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Yellow Umbrella

Interview with Yellow Umbrela

During this edition of Ostroda Reggae Festival (9-11 July 2011) a FunInPoland representative interviewed Jens Strohschnieder (vocal, keyboard) and Thomas Hellmich (trombone) from Yellow Umbrella – reggae/ska veterans from Dresden (east Germany). Here is an edited version of the conversation.

How do you feel after the concert?

Thomas. I always feel good after concerts because of all the adrenaline.

Jens. Before the concert we were feeling pretty nervous because Ostroda is a big festival. We haven’t been playing here for fifteen years. But we had a good welcome and we enjoyed the show, dancing, singing and laughing.

Do you remember anything from fifteen years ago when you were here?

Jens. It’s actually easy to remember because it’s a long trip from Germany to northeastern Poland. I remember the distinctive location near old military barracks. We were friends with a lot of Polish bands and musicians such as Paprika Korps and Vavamuffin. We’re like one big family.

How many concerts have you given so far this year?

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Thomas. It is only our fifth concert this year – we had two in Germany last month and Ostroda finished our tour in Poland consisting of three concerts.

Our festivals in Poland have been through tough times recently due to coronavirus. How were things in Germany?

Thomas. In Germany we had rules about safety in concerts. For example, people were not allowed to dance, they had to sit. Now the rules are more lax, like here in Ostroda. On some concerts you have to bring proof of being tested for coronavirus. Furthermore, there are almost no international bands on tour in Germany these days.

Jens. We were thinking about doing concerts about listening to music, but our music is for dancing, so we are happy that people are allowed to dance and smile again. We’ve also had problems with repeatedly canceled festivals. For example our concerts in Czech Republic got canceled two years in a row. Hopefully we will be able to play there next year and the dark times will be over.

Thomas. At least it’s good for the local bands, being able to get more spots on line-ups of bigger events. Maybe festivals like Ostroda can get a more even mixture of local and international bands next year.

What about your band? Has the pandemic affected you negatively?

Thomas. It was also difficult for us because our saxophonist Bernard Lanis is from France and we had a lot of worries if he could get to our concerts in Germany and Poland. There was a time when he was not allowed to enter Germany and we couldn’t even rehearse. Even fairly recently around February we still had this law. Thankfully it has gotten better and now we’re allowed to travel.

What is the history of reggae and ska in East Germany?

Thomas. Ska took off in East Germany after Messer Banzani was formed in 1989 in Leipzig, even before reunification of Germany. They gave a concert in West Berlin a few months before the wall came down, it was then that people realized that there’s a scene – and demand – for ska in the communist half of Germany. The early 90s after reunification of Germany was a good time for ska, there were a lot of new bands and ska quartets popping up in East Germany. Ska was decently popular among people and a lot of new musicians wanted to play it.

Where does your band fit into this, how did you form?

Jens. Most of our band came to Dresden from West Germany. Only Thomas and Jurgen (bass) are from East Germany. We met there sort of by accident and decided to form a band. The 90s were a crazy time like that.

It’s been 27 years since Yellow Umbrella was formed. How did ska and reggae scenes change in Germany in that time?

Thomas. A lot happened in that time, it went through highs and lows. There was a time when reggae was commercially big, with artists like Seeed, Gentleman and Dr. Ring-Ding.

Jens. A lot of them also played here in Ostroda. The German and Polish reggae scenes have been very interconnected practically since the 90s. For example, our band has visited every major Polish city during our career, some during long tours across Poland. We’ve seen almost all of Poland by now, which is very cool.

Are there any highlights of your career that you are particularly proud of?

Jens. Being in Poland. Seriously. It’s really nice to travel with your music. This afternoon we were walking along the lake and it was such a nice feeling – it is pretty much a vacation for us. We wouldn’t have been here if we were not traveling with our music – bringing us to places that are very nice.

You are a group of seven. How do you organize your work when it comes to writing new songs?

Thomas. Jens writes the songs, writes down the ideas and sends them around. With the modern technology it’s relatively easy.

Jens. It’s fast and easy since I’m the main vocalist and I’m writing the lyrics for myself along with the chords. Then we work on the song together. Sometimes it’s very easy – we play a little and immediately get something we can play. Other times it can take years to finish a song. It took one of them eight years before it was ready. It’s the art of going from composing the song to arranging it and making it sound good.

What are your musical inspirations aside from reggae and ska? Got any favorite artists outside those genres?

Thomas. We are big fans of klezmer music and eastern european music, especially from Balkans and Russia. As for artists, I could name Fanfare Ciocarlia and Giora Feidman as some of our favorites.

Your band is also famous for publishing children’s books, featuring a reggae bunny. Where did this idea come from?

Thomas. We were thinking about doing something for kids for festival in Dresden. We started to play folk songs, kid songs, and reggae style songs. Then we started putting funny costumes on, making funny stuff on stage. Then an idea came to make a story and we needed a protagonist, who we named Boooo. We played like this for three years before someone said that we should write this down.

Jens. Lukasz Rusinek from Paprika Korps does the illustrations for these books. He’s a great friend of ours and one of the best illustrators and animators in reggae scene. Also all of us except Fritz have kids. Me, Thomas and Jurgen have three each.

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Talk about Soul Music

Interview with Durand Jones & The Indications

We had a great pleasure to interview Durand Jones (singer) and Aaron Frazer (drummer) of The Indications band before their concert on the first day of OFF-Festival Katowice.

How would you describe to the unaquainted where the term ‘soul music’ comes from and the relations between this music and its name?

DJ: I wondered for a very long time why did they call this music ‘soul music’, why did they relate it to the part within ourselves that is unexplainable, like spirit. What I came to think of is that black America during the time really didn’t have control over politics, they didn’t have wealth, so they didn’t have power nor education… they didn’t have control over a lot of things. But what they did have control of was their soul inside. And so you go to the States, you see soul food restaurants, you listen to the music like James Brown, who says ‘soul power’. And so I felt that the reason why they call this music ‘soul’ is because they felt an ownership to it, they felt that it was very deep and something really special inside. It’s something that can live with you when you’re sad, it can rejoice you when you are happy, you can go dancing on it, you can console a loved one… It brings about a feeling that comes from no other place than the soul. I feel like our music definietely taps into that space. We talk about love in different ways: platonic love, relationship love, love lost… We also talk about sociopolitical conciousness things – things that we want to change in America, things that we feel really deep inside, that are passionate to us. That’s why I feel they call it ‘soul music’.

Could you list your soul music icons from the 70s?

DJ: I really love what Stevie Wonder was doing in the 70s. I’ve been listening to a lot of his stuff lately, he is someone very impactful to me.

AF: I would also add Curtis Mayfield – a big influence, Smoky Robinson and Eddie Kendricks.

While you’re creating music do you focus more on adapting soul music to modern audiences or do you wish to preserve classic soul sound?

DJ: I think it’s our duty to push it forward. We stand on the shoulders of so many people that came before us. It’s our duty to not only embrace what they have done, but also to push it forward and bring it onto a new level. I feel like that’s what we are trying to do.

When it comes to coming up with new songs and their composition and production, how do you divide your work?

AF: We all bring ideas to the table. It’s primarly Durand, Blake and myself. We help each other shape the ideas. Maybe it starts with just a melody and somebody else has words. Durand may have a notebook with a hook in it, which might make me think of a verse to write. Sometimes somebody comes up with song that’s mostly finished. We do our own writing and we produce our own records – Blake and I produced our last album American Love Call.

Assuming that the five of you need to „pass the ball”, so to speak, between each other, in order to polish a song that you’re working on, have you ever faced the problem where the result was no longer true to the original vision you had?

DJ: I don’t think so. There’s definetely been songs that we worked on that we weren’t feeling at the time, but for me as a songwriter – I don’t throw anything away. I feel like if it’s not useful here and there, then maybe I can just put it in my bag and wait for the right time for it to come back.

AF: We’ve also had songs that start in one place and end up feeling very differently. Maybe the rhythm changes, maybe we try a different tempo…

DJ: Like What I Know About You.

AF: Totally, or Long Way Home. But that’s never been a problem. It’s that sort of fun of working in a group. You wind up arriving at a conclusion that you wouldn’t if you were by yourself.

Soul music can be both blisfull and bitter. As you said, on American Love Call you make forward refrences to current socioeconomic issues in United States. What made you raise your voice on this album?

AF: It’s time to say what you believe. It’s not time for subtelty in the United States right now. There is a real crisis, politically. We are facing crisis globally, environmentally. It feels like if you have any sort of platform, whether you are writing songs and people like them, or maybe you have a lot of Instagram followers – it’s time for all of us to say what we believe and fight for what we can. Time is of the essence.

DJ: There is a total legacy to it – people like Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway. They’ve always been so proactive, speaking their truth, what’s going on in the climate, in the environment. It’s our duty to keep it going forward.

The current crisis is also a crisis of division within the American society. Do you think music could help mend differences?

DJ: It’s one of the things, but what I feel America has to do is really look at the root of their problems and why it’s so divided, why we’re so torn apart. Once we can really sit down and talk about that like civil human beings, maybe we can get someplace. I do believe that music can be a key to help us get there, though.

Considering that you have much more experience now, was production of American Love Call different from your first album?

AF: Definitely. There were a couple of big factors. We finally had a budget to work with, so there were things that we could accomplish, like having a string section, that we never even dreamed about while doing our first record. But we have also learned a lot from doing that first record on our own. Whether it was arranging harmonies or coming up with string melodies or just overall orchestration of parts, we were able to put those experiences to use and translate what was in our head to what we’re actually listening back to. It is a very special feeling to be able to do that.

We are very happy to be the first country in Eastern Europe to welcome you. Do you wish to carry on spreading soul music further on the east?

DJ: We would love to go all over the world with it, it would be amazing. It’s been very fun. Poland is cool, I dig it.

The most interesting events in Poland on summer. Concerts, Festivals and outdoor events. Jazz, Rock, Reagge, Rap, Hip-Hop, Beer and traditional polish food.

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Interview with Ana Moura

Ana Moura after concert

A few moments after the concert which Ana performed during the Siesta Festival, the singer gave us a short interview.

Fun in Poland: Did you enjoy the show? Because we loved it.
Ana: Oh, thank you so much, I really had a good time. The audience was amazing.

Last year you gave two concerts in Poland. Do you like performing here and why?
– I love it because I can feel that people really feel related with our music. Every time we come here
people are so sweet to us, like you saw. That’s why I always love to come back to Poland.

– In the past you were invited to sing together with Rolling Stones and Prince. Did those
concerts have any impact on your identity or style of music?
– They influenced my music and obviously the musical experiences that I had with both of them inspired
me to do different things with my music.

– Is there any other musician you have not performed together with, but would really love to?
– Many, but I don’t know… Stevie Wonder? It’s one of the artists I’d love to.

– In recent times Lisbon has become a capital city of music. It became home of not just young
and ambitious artists from Portugese-speaking countries, but even world-famous superstars
such as Madonna. How did this come to be?
– I think people like the beauty of Lisbon and also the fact that it is a very safe city. Nowadays safeness
is very difficult to have in this crazy world. Lisbon also has good food and nice people.

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– Which personalities (musicians, organizers, etc.) do you think contributed the most to
Lisbon’s musical growth?
I think it’s mostly the artists, but also Luis Montez, for instance. He’s a very big agent in Portugal. He loves
even the youngest singers and musicians, he’s always looking for new things and he has a lot of festivals
in Lisbon.

– Similarly, fado along with other genres hailing from Lusophone world has enjoyed growing
popularity across Europe and the world. What do you think are the most attractive points of this
kind of music?
– I think it’s because it’s a music that comes from the soul and even people who don’t understand the
lyrics can feel related to it. I think it’s the most important characteristic that makes people love it so much,
because the soul can transform people’s feelings.

– What are your favorite free time activities?
– I love to be with my family because it’s very rare, especially my two kids. Besides I love to swim and

– In that case we wish you a very safe trip back to Portugal so you can see your family.
– Thank you so much!

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Interview with Dino D’Santiago

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A few moments after his concert, which took place on February 7th in Warsaw Palladium theatre, the editors of “Fun in Poland” had a pleasure to have an interview with Dino D’Santiago.

Interview with Dino D’Santiago

This is your second visit in Poland. We had a great pleasure seeing you two years ago in Gdańsk during Siesta Festival. Do you have any exceptional memories from that event?

Yes, because for me it was a big surprise going to northern Poland and then seeing the reaction of the people. Everyone told me it will be a venue where everyone will be sitting down and chilling, and my mind was like “I can’t do a concert where people sit down”. Then, people just stand up and start dancing along and it was amazing. The experience was really good and I made great friends there. I know that it was because of there that I’m here again.

Can you give us a little bit of background on how you ended up in Poland for the first time?

It was because of Piotrowi Łyszkiewicz, a great friend and the main producer of the festival, and Marcin Kydryński – he used to play a few of my songs in the Siesta radio, and then I started receiving messages on Facebook from people from Poland – “When are you coming?”. Then Piotr sent me an official e-mail telling “I will bring you to Poland because people want to feel you”. And it was through.

What was the largest breakthrough in your musical career? One where people finally learned who you are.

It was when I played in Central Park in New York. I went to play there in 2015, and then a lot of people just started to follow my music, and it took me to South Korea, Brazil, Angola… So 2015 was really the most important year. That moment in Central Park really made the open thing.
Of course, now more people know me because I met Madonna in Lisbon. We started creating music together and a lot of people started following me because of her. She did a lot of great things for me. So the United States have a lot of importance for my career.

What are the most important musical inspirations?

My most important definitely is Bob Marley, the way that he writes his songs. I know a lot of people think about Marley “oh, rasta, and smoke weed”. Bob Marley is much more than that. He’s a symbol of freedom to do, freedom of mind and soul. Other great musicians I’ve been inspired by are Marvin Gaye and Tito Paris, among others.

Everyone knows how much good Tito Paris did for you. Who else helped you in your musical career that you wish to give shoutouts to?

Definitely the band Buli Mundu, Jorge Fernando – fado singer from Portugal, Expensive Soul – the band I’ve been in when I was 11 years old. Also exceptional for me was and still is Paulo Flores, a great friend, musician and person.

Music aside – what shaped you as the man you currently are? Have you had any particular idols or inspirations in your life?

Yes, the vision and the soul of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela – those big leaders that made a revolution within. Those are my biggest life standards – how a human being should see other human beings.

We saw you in T-Shirt where it was written „Funana is the new Funk”. What is Funana for you?

When I was in South Korea, France, Germany and even here in Gdańsk, people enjoyed the Funana, but then they want to know “Where it comes from?” and such. This music has its roots in labor of farmers – escapees from cities and former slaves. Their work was so frenetic that they started putting conductors to give others a rhythm to work by. One could say that that as Funana was being formed back then, Funana now reflects and shapes minds of people of Cape Verde.

The most interesting events in Poland on summer. Concerts, Festivals and outdoor events. Jazz, Rock, Reagge, Rap, Hip-Hop, Beer and traditional polish food.

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