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"I needed time to understand that my real voice is fine and that I don't have to pretend that I can sing like this or that, but I can just sing like me," says Daria ze Śląska. | Photo: Kama Czudowska
"I needed time to understand that my real voice is fine and that I don't have to pretend that I can sing like this or that, but I can just sing like me," says Daria ze Śląska. | Photo: Kama Czudowska
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Daria ze Śląska: Writing Lyrics Has Become My Passion

In 2023, a new indie pop star appeared on the Polish music scene – Daria ze Śląska (English: from Silesia). Her debut album Tu była won the prestigious Fryderyk Music Award in two categories and conquered the hearts of many listeners. She impressed with her strong, personal lyrics and hypnotic, minimalist vocals. And probably also with her "ordinariness", which in her case has an extraordinary charisma. Together with the band, the singer played a busy tour of clubs and festivals. Daria seems to have appeared out of the blue. However, her success is not an accident, but the result of three years of hard work. It all started with a meeting with mentor and songwriter Agata Trafalska in the Incubator programme. Agata recognised Daria's talent and together with Jazzboy Records helped bring her music to life. The year 2024 marked the release of her second album, Na południu bez zmian, which confirmed Daria's artistic maturity and well-deserved position on the music scene.

Congratulations on your new album, it sounds great! How come you released it a year after the first one? Back in December, you announced that you would release an EP.

I get questions like that a lot. Whether it was label pressure, money or the need to keep the wave going. I already had enough material for the first album and we even thought it could be a double album. Some of the songs like "Taras" or "Duch" had already been mastered and finished. "Pamięć do złych słów", which closes the second album, was the first song I wrote as Daria from Śląsk.

But I wasn't happy with any of its versions, so we waited for the right moment to record it. And "on the way", other songs were created. It just sort of happened between gigs. Of course, it was difficult, with the success of the first album there was a question in the air about whether it would succeed, and with so many gigs there was little time. But in the end, it all worked out pretty well.

On the first album, you wrote a lot about yourself, growing up, life, love and disappointment. Is the second album also this personal?

I think so. But as time went by, my perspective changed, as did my self-perception. The first album was heavily imbued with sad emotions, disillusionment with things that happened to me, with relationships and with my childhood. Now, on the second album, it's still about my relationships from the last few years and I write about how I'm trying to do everything I can to have the best possible relationship with my current partner. I don't always succeed, I still struggle with it. It's a bit about my struggles, observing myself and my immediate surroundings.

I met you five years ago in the Incubator programme in Katowice. I remember you as a mysterious girl in stylish black outfits, playing electronic music, singing in English. And suddenly you appear as Daria ze Śląska – in sweatpants, with a cap, singing Polish lyrics, with a completely different musical style. It surprised me, and at the same time, I felt like maybe you found your authentic self in Daria from Silesia.

On the way (the conversation took place over the phone during Daria's bus journey, AN) I started to remember when we met. I guess it was the time when we started to write a new album with The Party Is Over for the first time in Polish. And you're probably right that it's kind of a soul-searching thing. At the same time I wanted to do something solo, my bandmate started to produce as well. I felt that I would really like to do something of my own, I was looking for my sounds, working with different producers.

And that's when I entered Incubator – basically with The Party Is Over as a musician and manager, but at the same time I thought it would be cool to enter solo, even though I didn't have anything of my own yet. So I wrote it all down on the application form: that I really wanted to do this and that. And I was accepted. There was a Summercamp as part of Incubator, where I tried singing at one of the jam sessions, and that's how I met Agata Trafalska.

They say that fortune favours the prepared mind. Were you prepared when you met Agatha?

Yes, I was. Sometimes the whole process has to take a long time to filter out what's least useful, and you have to be patient. At the beginning of the first year, I sent Agata my demos of lyrics and voice recordings. I didn't know how to use Logic or any other recording program yet. So I sent her the recordings from the voice recorder and when she listened to them she said that it was interesting, but not enough to take it any further. I used that as motivation and one day she just said: "Buy a computer, try it and learn."

I didn't know who to learn from, so I looked up tutorials on YouTube and slowly taught myself how to record guitar on the keys. I didn't know I could connect it to the computer via a jack, so I just recorded it through a microphone and made samples that way. I just tried to do it the way it felt right. That's how I made the demos that I sent to Agata along with the lyrics.

How did Agata help you with the lyrics?

She commented on them, for example, on a particular idea. And she said to me: "Here, do it a little bit differently, here maybe try to be more honest and write it in a more normal way..." Agata was the first editor. She is an expert in writing, I know the lyrics that she wrote for Kortez, and I know that she writes in a very emotional and visual way. We exchanged emails like that for over a year. Sometimes I waited a month for a reply because Agata also had her own artistic life and was more involved with someone else. But she must have seen some potential in me to decide that I was worthy of her attention and creative exchange.

Of course, we also disagreed about certain things. But I think that after a while we got closer and besides, we have similar tastes. During that time, I guess my characteristic writing style manifested itself somewhere. Plus, I really started to love writing! I used to write for The Party Is Over, which I also really liked, but there was a point where writing became a passion of mine, a mystery to be solved. I'm really enjoying it, looking for the punchline, spending hours with the texts.

I think that with the second record, I was even more obsessed with writing, I spent more time on it. Now I'm trying to capture different things from relationships, conversations, sometimes I get inspired by something on Netflix, little tidbits, and then I can work with it later.

What are the guidelines you follow when writing lyrics?

For me, one of the important points is not to write in a too poetic way. I try to aim for storytelling, a kind of description of reality like in Polish rap or rap in general. Of course, I also try to make sure that the whole text is logical, so that, for example, I don't end up with a verse and a chorus that have nothing in common. I also focus a lot on keeping the lyrics economical in the sense that, for example, I don't say something in one verse and the same thing in the next, just using different words. I try not to do that. If I have something to say, I try to make the best use of it and not repeat myself. Those are probably the first things I pay attention to.

When you had finished the lyrics, Agata introduced you to Jazzboy Records, where you started working on the music. You worked with several producers at once. How did you manage to keep your own vision?

I approached the new people I met with an open mind. I didn't know Jazzboy Records existed. So I just went in there and tried to keep my eyes and ears open. My input was that I would bring along demos of songs and lyrics and then we would meet in different configurations, mostly at Jazzboy Records, to discuss arrangements.

The first colleague who listened to my stuff was mostly Żenia Szadziul. The person who coordinated all this work was Agata Trafalska. She took care of various aspects of the whole process from the "executive" point of view – such as the format of the album and its direction. We tried to keep the character of my musical sketches.

But the most important thing for me was to preserve the story, that is, what I want to tell the audience. I didn't want the music to overpower the content. And then Paweł Jóźwicki (Daria's manager, AN) stepped in. He liked the demos and started sending them to people he trusted musically, and just gathered a great team of musicians: Hubert Zemler, Bartek Tyciński, Paweł Krawczyk, Olek Świerkot, Kuba Dąbrowski, Kamil Pater, Pat Stawiński, Kuba Staruszkiewicz, Żenia Szadziul, Magdalena Laskowska, Michał Jastrzębski, Tomasz Kasiukiewicz, Michał Ulanowski. And on the other album Hubert Zemler and Bartek Tyciński, Czarny Hifi, Kuba Galiński, Olek Świerkot, Żenia Szadziul, Kortez, Maks Kucharski, Szymon Domański, Michał Jastrzębski, Tomasz Kasiukiewicz.

It seems to me that your strength as Daria ze Śląska consists in what you don't show. In your previous recordings or collaborations, you reveal the diverse possibilities of your singing. From a great, powerful voice to quite expressive rap to covers of Ray Charles or Adele, in which you remind something of Amy Winehouse. On stage, you're having fun, jumping, reciting. And suddenly, like Daria ze Śląska, you're standing almost motionless on stage, barely moving your mouth, singing minimalist lyrics, but there's still something magnetic about it. How did you come to this minimalism?

I think, among other things, I trusted the people who were observing me and filming me to find out what I looked like and how I sang, and whether it worked or not. It really worked much better when I "kept my mouth shut" and didn't move around too much and was focused than when I was spinning around my axis.  I think I needed to mature and maybe experience a lot of things and see myself.

When I saw myself on video, I was embarrassed at some parts. And there were a lot of moments like that in my life. When I saw myself like that, I thought, "God, how much redundancy and unnecessary showing off there is." Now I try to avoid it. I think I needed time to understand that my real voice is okay too and that I don't have to pretend I can sing like this or that, but I can just sing like me.

You were originally set on a career as a volleyball player, you competed for eleven years. You've also had a variety of career paths: from studying history to working as a dental assistant and later a bakery seller, moving to a corporate job, to name a few. I guess you're not afraid to learn new things?

I guess I'm crazy because my jobs have really been " from all over". Either it's a result of the fact that I like to "pull a few magpies by the tail", as they say in Poland, or I'm indecisive. But I've been doing music for ten years now, so I hope I won't change this field anymore. Volleyball lasted eleven, so we'll see what's next.

Do you have any thoughts of...?

Well, I've already got big plans to be a rapper! Let's see. I love to make people laugh, too. I know I come across as the sad type, but I'm always cracking jokes with people I'm close to. I like situational humour and dry jokes. I would cheer someone up all the time, I love it! Or making funny original gifts, t-shirts with things that only they will understand. Those are the best gifts. Maybe one day I'll be the saddest stand-up comedian.

You moved from Silesia to Warsaw. Do you think that if you want to succeed as a professional musician in Poland, you have to live in the capital?

Of course, they told me so. So I listened to that advice. When I first left, there was a pandemic and everyone at Jazzboy Records was dealing with another singer, namely Kaśka Sochacka. Because that's the way it goes in a small record company, they focus on one artist. So I waited and waited in a tiny apartment with a few strangers. I had my own room of seven square meters and that's where "Mainstream" was born. It came out of homesickness. That's what it was like for me.

Recently I met the actor Michał Żurawski, who plays in your music video for the new single "Skacz ze mną na bombę". We immediately found a common ground because we both come from Silesia and it turned out that he is very fond of his region. Did you choose him as a native on purpose?

The thing is, my manager Paweł Jóźwicki knows him well. And once he sent him my first record, which he really liked. And he said that if there was any chance, he would be happy to support me anytime because he supports Silesians in various artistic activities. His face suited that character very well, the emotions! I'm glad it worked out.

Daria ze Śląska | Photo: Kama Czudowska

What did Daria from Silesia dream about as a child, what did you want to be?

I had different phases. At one stage I wanted to be a volleyball player. And I really thought about it. But I think I was a little lacking in talent, height and health. Then for a long time, I did everything I could to become a lawyer. I failed the entrance exams by a few points at first, but I kept on pursuing my dream. Eventually, I went to study it remotely. And soon after I started, I dropped out because I realised it wasn't for me. Those were kind of my professional dreams.

And another, more mundane dream was that I really wanted to go to Portugal. I think Portuguese is a beautiful language, something that speaks to me very much. That was my dream. Now one of my dreams is to have a bathtub. But I think I'm going to get it eventually.

Are there no bathtubs in Warsaw?

There are, but I rent an apartment with a microscopic bathroom, so there's no chance of a bathtub. Occasionally there is one in hotels, but it's very, very rare. So my dream is to have a bathtub.

I guess you'll have to make that rap record.

Yeah, that's right!

Tagy Polish music scene

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