That meeting was definitely too short. It left me unsatisfied. Well, in journalism, it is still better than satiety. Yes, but… From the perspective of an ordinary listener or viewer, even if our meeting with Mela Koteluk had been divided into five varied meals, spread out across the day, it still would not have been enough. Subtle like spring, but only from the outside, because her beautiful and strong personality shows during the conversation and in her music, which she has been giving us for seven years. We met in Eden and, like it usually is in heaven (paradise?), every moment spent in her company was priceless.
Our today’s guest is Mela Koteluk – an artist attentive to life, animals, and nature, but – most of all – very mature in recent times. Hello.
Hello. Let’s not exaggerate my maturity; I feel quite immature but I’m constantly growing. It’s a long process. But indeed, the character of my latest album might evoke such associations.
That’s what I mean, because I associate you with music, of course, but also with sensing good people and good places. Besides, we’re in a beautiful garden in the District of Saska Kępa, in Eden. Is it a good place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life?
Yes, I like this place, this area very much. I never thought I’d be so fond of a park, but now we’re near the Skaryszewski Park, and it’s a lovely relaxation spot. Communing with nature allows me to maintain balance; just knowing that we’re a part of nature does wonders. When you live in a city, it’s easy to get confused and forget about certain values. I think that walking barefoot, staring at the sky or the water is excellent medicine; it can replace pills.
A great idea. Is there a place where one can walk barefoot in Saska Kępa? Apart from Eden.
You can walk barefoot anywhere you want to; in defiance of the established rules, we can introduce new quality and inspire others to live life their own way.
I’ve recently heard about camps for adults, where you can totally relax and chill out. Forget about your problems – just go to a camp organised by someone else. How cool is that?
Oh yes, that must be great for our inner children, who have a vivid imagination and want to play, grow, and create. The so-called maturity involves a lot of limitations, and I feel this longing for childhood, too. At the same time, I see adulthood as a process in which we consciously reject the limitations, patterns, and systems imposed from the outside and use our imagination to recover things we associate with childhood, such as an ability to smell a flower or a freshly-baked cake. The amazement of it. Perhaps the camps which you’re referring to are so popular because they help people take back such experiences and remind themselves what is important.
In 2013, at the beginning of your career, you said you wanted to save the world and you would never change. Do you still feel that way?
To save the world… What was the context? It sounds a little pompous and utopian, but perhaps what I meant was that to save the world, we should save ourselves first?
You said you were open and you would like to shake hands with everyone.
Oh yes, I like people; that hasn’t changed. It’s natural that I sometimes need a break from them, because I can be alone and I like it. As you get older and more experienced, you learn a lot of new things. For example, self-care; it’s a very important matter, because I believe that only when we can take care of ourselves properly, we can take care of other people. I’m still learning to take care of my well-being and health so that I’m able to share the good stuff with others. Life teaches me some valuable lessons which verify these abilities. In short, I’m learning.
Now I understand the interval between your albums. As soon as an artist releases an album, we start to wait for the next one. You’ve released three albums – there was a two-year gap between Spadochron and Migracje. We were waiting four years for Migawka, but your concert tour alone took two years. Naturally, you needed rest after such an effort. On your social media, it’s clear that each member of your band simply loves music. But one needs to take time to back off a little and collect some material.
The point is not to get trapped under pressure and take your time. In this case, we shouldn’t give in to external influences and the pressure that you have to do something. You don’t; these four years sound serious to me and now, in retrospect, I’m like, ‘Wow, four years!’ But Migracje came out in November 2014, and after its premiere, we went on a concert tour for almost two years, playing that material until December 2016, just like you said. Then, I had a break which lasted until the end of 2017, and in January 2018, we started working on the new album, so I actually took only one year off. And it was enough.
But, you know, it was so long for your fans…
I realise that; I’m constantly striving for patency. I sometimes wonder why it’s so that I don’t record songs or release albums regularly and I think, who came up with such a system? The mode where I record an album, go on a concert tour, record another album after two years, and so on. I think it’s very important to find your rhythm and follow it. Now, I’m at a point in my life where I think, I’ll do it my own way, by my own rules, if I record something valuable, which I’ll want to show the world, I’ll just show it and I won’t think whether it’s a good or bad moment. I think this is my maturity – the complete trust to myself. And I’ll keep on going in this direction.
I guess you also needed a flash is some sense, and Nick Cave’s concert was such a flash for creating ‘Migawka’. It must have been incredible if it inspired you so much. You went out and recorded a piece which you’d come up with during the concert, and it started the whole album.
Yes, it was like you said; that concert was fantastic. After I left Torwar, I guess it was in October, I took my phone, turn on a recorder, and recorded a melody. I don’t remember if it was a verse or a chorus, but it initiated the song ‘Ja fala’. It opened that album, and then I realised that that moment inspired me to open a new album and start the creative process, and I really wanted that. I didn’t feel the need to do it before.
In my view, Migawka is a mature album but it’s recorded differently. 432 Hz, why?
This results from what we mentioned at the beginning, namely nature. I happened to find out that there is something like a natural musical pitch at 432 Hz. I discovered it was the frequency of the rustle of trees, birdsong, and the hum of the sea. I started to dig deeper, read, listen, explore. I felt it was a good idea to do such an experiment with Migawka and check it out myself, see how it works. The sound is a little lower and milder.
How did your band take it?
My band enjoy the spirit of experiment and they welcomed the idea, but it involved some acrobatics. We needed to retune some of the instruments, and it was tough at the beginning. This pitch tends to ‘flow’ a little; it’s not as razor-sharp as 440 Hz. Still, in a nutshell, it’s all possible, and I’m proud we pushed the idea forward together. We’re still consistent and we will be until the last concert played strictly with Migawka, and then we’ll see. I have this feeling myself that in this frequency, music is more relaxing, the sound isn’t sharp or aggressive. I can even fall asleep while listening to it.
With your music, you give us a breather, a chance to relax a little. And we don’t have to be in such a place as we’re today. Suffice to turn on your album. I believe that listening to it for the first time should be ultra-intimate. One should be alone with you, with your music.
I listen and like to listen to music alone; there are songs which I’d never like to listen with anyone.
I can’t tell, but there is such music as, for example, from Daughter’s album, which has sweet and bitter moments, sad, but also very intimate, and I really enjoy listening to it alone. It creates an atmosphere of withdrawal, and I can’t listen to this music in a company. I also like to go to the cinema on my own, preferably at night. There are moments when I like to be alone with myself and don’t want to get distracted.
What have you watched recently?
A great TV series on HBO – Euphoria – which is very strong and contains a lot of violence, but it’s incredibly good. It’s the so-called teen drama. It’s about a generation of young people who live in the US and face the world full of addictions and loneliness.
Which surrounds us.
Yes, the world is a complex place. This series perfectly shows why young people don’t have any protection mechanisms, which would work as a shield in the world full of dangers. I don’t like to look at the world through the lens of danger, because this locks us up, but when we’re aware of the danger out there, we may say, ‘No, thanks. I’m out. I don’t buy it.’
That’s the maturity we’re talking about between the lines. Mela, I must ask you about your plans for the nearest future. Męskie Granie is coming up, and I can see you feel great in men’s company.
Just like in the women’s team – we have Women’s Voices; it’s a great and strong crew.
That’s true, but I was wondering what we can expect. Will you come back to us with Migawka in the autumn spirit?
Exactly. In the last quarter of the year, we’re going on a small concert tour with Migawka, which is very promising, and I’d like to invite you to these concerts – we’re going to warm ourselves up with music and create a new atmosphere in winter.
The child has grown, we need to send it to the world and start working on a new one, without pressure?
That’s right. Now, we’re at a great point in life where the material is well-prepared, and we can play with it with pleasure. The pieces on Migawka are very malleable and show their new faces all the time. And that’s what it’s about, no boredom.
Music can be terrific fun if you have musical awareness. You do, that’s why it’s so good to listen to you.
Music is an amazing medium.
Mela, it’s a great pleasure to talk to you over coffee. I hope we can do it again some time.
Cheers. We’ll talk about music some more.
Feel invited to Saska Kępa.
Fantastic Mela Koteluk in Anywhere.pl. Check out our interview and the beautiful photoshoot.
Thank you very much.