Iga is a Polish singer, songwriter, and composer whose achievements include the semi-final of the fifth edition of The Voice of Poland, the final of Szansa na Głosy, and participation in the Battle of Voices. The last project is a concert at the NOSPR during the Festival Prawykonań and the “Polish Top of All Time” concerts with Adam Sztaba at the Szczecin Philharmonic. Collaborating with many artists on the domestic market, she now presents her material stylistically touching on soul, R’n’B, and funky music. This year, Iga published two of her singles – “Fala” and “Plan A”, and soon we can wait for the third fruit of her musical work. The singer shared more about her musical past, plans, and her private creative process in the interview below:
You released your first two singles this year, and another one will be released soon.
I think I just got out of my comfort zone. I decided now to try to do something with my original singles. I often started collecting material for an LP, but it bothered me that I didn’t feel ready yet. It made me sit with my songs too long. It happened that I was at a songwriting camp in 2018, before the pandemic. We made the first issue of “Wave”, which also waited four years or even more for me to publish it. As I say, nothing will happen on its own, because I had to decide. The pandemic also delayed it all a bit, because I had the impression that there was no point in releasing it because everything had stopped then. My fruitful singles this year were contributed to by the fact that I attended the “Tak Sounds of City” incubator in Krakow, which aims to get to know the music industry. When I released the first song “Fala”, the whole process just started. This is where the small-steps method worked. Now I’m preparing the third issue and I would like to close this topic with at least an EP or a shorter LP.
Could you reveal more about your plans?
In my creative process, I think I think about one song. I don’t think conceptually or holistically about the entire material, for me it’s just songs. Each song is probably a little bit different, but at the same time, it is embedded in soul, r&b, and funk. I never stop drawing from my musical inspirations. There will be strings, I can tell you that (laugh) because I went especially to Katowice to record parts with a string quartet. It will also be a little sadder. I can’t wait to see the effect. I think there won’t be a premiere this year because it’s almost November and December, so it’s like a holiday season. Realistically, I’d rather start the New Year with a new single. A mini concert tour is planned for spring to promote my material live. This is my wish for the New Year.
Do you remember your musical beginnings, when it all started?
Music was in my life from the very beginning. I remember that the first competition I won was for preschoolers aged 4.5. We listened to a lot of music at home. My parents bought me a piano when I was 5 years old and signed me up for lessons, so this music accompanied me all the time. There was nothing like that at some point I decided to pursue music professionally. She was an organic part of my life and was more about fun. I liked singing with my family. There was a lot of music in my house, so it was natural for me to want to sing. Somewhere subconsciously, I always associated myself with something musical. This is very important because you have played this kind of music and it is somewhat inseparable. I would feel unhappy if I couldn’t do this. It was just always very much my own and always from the heart. You could say that music chose me more than I consciously chose it, and I can’t imagine it could be otherwise.
You are lucky if music is a natural part of you.
I think so, in a way, although I had my doubts, abandoning all these doubts, I just naturally followed my flow. In such moments one feels happy and fulfilled. Recently I told my friend, who is also a singer: “We are lucky that we can do such things – sing, play, invent songs. Many people do not have this and let’s just be happy that we are a smaller percentage of society.”
How did you come to the point that you wanted to write your own lyrics and when did it start?
It all came out when I started listening to various solo artists and, first of all, composing my melodies at the piano, because first of all, I found harmonies. I was a bit inspired by Alicia Keys, who had great songs, and I started to figure out how she did it. For me, first I create a melody, a harmonic progression, and only then I add the words to the outline of the chorus. Sometimes the chorus is very long and after some time I add verses to it, so for me it lasts. In fact, for me it’s easier and more natural to sit at the piano and come up with melodies than to think about the words – this is the more difficult part. I just have to think about what I would like to say in this song, and what its story is. However, for me, it’s not that easy with these texts, but when I actually sit down, decide, and get the flow that I’m going to play with these texts, then the process is definitely faster. However, I often suffer from procrastination. I remember that the lyrics for my single “Plan A” were written only because I was supposed to have a Spring Break concert in Poznań (it was probably the last edition of this showcase) and I had to write one more number to cover 30 minutes of my performance. Two weeks before the concert, I finally sat down and thought that I had a good chorus and it could be turned into a song, so the only thing that motivated me was the fact that I was going to have a concert. I have to think about this text a bit. I think that it might be a little easier in English because it is a simpler language when it comes to the way words are arranged, but in Polish, you have to think about the rich vocabulary. I don’t want my songs to sound too simple, because that’s never very well received. I always had a bit of trouble with these texts, but when I had a deadline, it was created very quickly. I had an internal brainstorm and this text was born.
What inspires you?
Such inspiring elements are constant for me, such as Alicia Keys and styles such as soul, neo-soul, rhythm, and blues. Initially, Alicia inspired me a lot in terms of songwriting. I also love Stevie Wonder and I know that he is also a musical inspiration for many singers – beautiful melodies beautiful harmonies, wonderful voice. I have this Western muse. Although also a bit Polish. I recently went to a Poluzjan concert. Kuba Badach simply phrases beautifully, has great articulation and this experience was a bath in music for me. It’s after such concerts that I get a kick that motivates me to create my music. I like such broad and expressive voices as, for example, Whitney Houston or Aretha Franklin, where you can show a lot.
In 2014, you became a semi-finalist of The Voice of Poland. How do you remember those times?
In hindsight, it is a nice experience for each participant, which later makes you know what such a music show is all about. It also made me very nervous and emotional. Before this, I thought that I had already done a lot of festivals and competitions, so it certainly wouldn’t scare me anymore and there would only be waves. However, such stressful emotions crept in because you know that you are on a fork with the jurors, the live audience, and those sitting in front of the TV screen, plus social media. There is so much pressure to perform at your best. I also had a time when my voice was simply speechless because I was weak, tired, and sick.
I feel like when I go on stage, my stage fright and stress disappear. I will never forget singing songs by Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. The music appeared and all doubts disappeared and pure joy began.
This is a very intense musical test.
A bit like that. No one can predict their reactions to such stress. In hindsight, it toughens you up. This format is also a very nice promotion and people still know me from this program. Recently, a student who wanted to start singing came to me and said she remembered me from The Voice. This inspired her to work on her voice.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in your musical career so far?
It’s hard to say what such turning points would be. I think The Voice was a little bit because it was such a big event. Certainly Battle of the Voices, which was my first contact with the show and the wider world heard about me. This was probably the first turning point when I came out of the shadows. Later, I started studying at the Academy of Music in Katowice and it was during my studies that I got on The Voice. These were probably the points that guided me musically. The Battle of Voices was a very inspiring adventure for me, which gave me confidence in myself. It gave me a boost for future activities. For me, the most important turns in life are those that give me the impulse to create plans and the desire to carry out my own work. At the end of the day, I don’t make music just for myself, but for someone else. Those moments when I sit alone at the piano and come up with something are pleasant, but then I want to share it with others. Being a singer is about being on stage and singing for people, although you are always your own first listener. While studying in Katowice, I started taking my songs out of the drawer, arranging them, and presenting my original songs during my first exams. The positive feedback I received also added wind to my sails. I’ve been waiting for a long time to publish my original texts so that they can finally go out into the world, but I think it was a good step. I definitely know that I want to continue doing this, but I have to set deadlines. I’m now taking small steps, single-handedly for now, but it gives me the motivation to keep going. It’s hard for me to say which moment is the most important for me because it’s simply a process.
Well, these small steps lead to something bigger.
It is also important what people we meet along the way because I have different experiences. Sometimes you encounter critics who don’t want to suppress you, but you also have to become immune to it. For me, I think this process is still ongoing. First of all, you have to wish to find good people who want to cooperate with you. I think this process continues, and above all, it is your wish to find good people who want to cooperate with you, and who feel your sensitivity. Part of it is that we want to please everyone, but no one will accept you completely, so the most important thing is to surround yourself with people who feel you. Then we can calmly move forward in our passion and career.
How did you deal with criticism in the beginning?
I think I couldn’t cope at first. If you are a very sensitive person, it is difficult to cope. I think that as you get older, you become more distant from it and you just move on. Previously, I was worried that someone might have written or said something negative. However, I think that with time, one becomes more distant. We always encounter positive and or negative criticism. We also have to be sensitive to it and take what is constructive. As I have already mentioned, it is important to surround yourself with people who wish you well and support you. With time comes greater self-confidence and self-esteem. I admire people who have strong self-confidence from the very beginning and tolerate criticism more easily. I had to learn this.