DPRP's Menno von Brucken Fock speaks with
Osada Vida during April/May 2010
Osada Vida are a four piece band from Poland. Founder members Lukasz Lisiak (bass/vocals) and Adam Podzimski (drums) started out with a third friend, Blasej Kubica, to make music together. With Rafal Paluszek on the keyboards things started to become serious and when Magda Hajda (vocals) and Luca Juraszek, a lead guitarist joined the band, Osada Vida was ready to record their debut ~ Moment Krytyczny (Critical Moment) in 2000. After W Drodze Na Ksiezyc (Heading For The Moon) from 2002 and Osada Vida in 2004 both Magda and Luica decided to leave. After a short break and a moment of reflection the three remaining members of the band decided to go on and they found a new, young and very talented guitarist: Bartek Bereska. They signed to Metal Mind Productions (MMP) and with Lisiak taking over the vocal duties, (in English), they continued their musical journey with three more albums, the last of them being Uninvited Dreams. Here's the story from Lukasz Lisiak....
MENNO: Osada Vida has existed for more than 10 years now... how come the Western European countries didn't discover the band (much) earlier?
LUKASZ: Thatís right, we play together since 1997. Why the band wasnít discovered earlier? Well, probably because we didnít have a contract with any label and all the things related to our albums release we had to do ourselves. There were no opportunities to break through to the Western media. Or at least it was very difficult (smiling): we sang in Polish, which certainly did not encourage the show in countries outside Poland. The situation changed with the release of the album Three Seats Behind A Triangle and signing a contract with Metal Mind Productions. This was in 2007 and Metal Mind has provided us with the distribution across Europe and the USA. So, now you can find our three albums everywhere, including the latest one Uninvited Dreams: (laughing) better late than never!
MENNO: Did you actually set out to be successful in Poland (in 1997) and if possible in the rest of Europe/US etcetera, or were you intentionally just trying to make some good music together and have some and fun?
LUKASZ: I think that people who form a band and are going to play prog rock usually do not assume that the main idea behind forming this band is popularity, not at all ! Making music as good as we can and at the same time having as much fun as it is possible has been and still is our intention. Being completely in love with music is probably the only reason why we still hold our instruments. We love playing together, going on tour, composing and all that stuff; weíre just friends who enjoy being together on one stage andÖ behind that stage as well (grinning).
MENNO: OV's website was/is not in English and since most Western Europeans can't read Polish the information on the band seems limited. Do you consider changing your website to bilingual?
LUKASZ: Every time when we released an album, we always changed the look of our website. And it always was bilingual. On the occasion of the last changes, associated with the new album, we had some little technical problems with English version of OVís website. But now everything is ok again Ė the website is bilingual again (laughs). In case of any problems in the future: there's always OVís MySpace too!
MENNO: Osada Vida originally had a different line up with a female singer. Why did that line up change? How was it decided that you were to be the frontman and not your former singer, another singer or that OV would continue as an 'instrumental group'?
LUKASZ: In 2000 it seemed that OVís line up had stabilized. Magda Hajda became our singer and we started to play with guitarist Luca Juraszek. As a quintet we recorded three albums: ďCritical MomentĒ (2000), ďHeading For The MoonĒ (2002) and ďOsada VidaĒ (2004). We played a lot of concerts in Poland (with Riverside, for example) and we started to think about a new album. But at the beginning of 2005 Magda and Luca decided to leave Osada Vida Ė they wanted to do something together completely different, musically miles away from OV. The rest of the band decided to engage Bartek Bereska Ė a young and very talented guitarist Ė and I temporarily took over the role of the vocalist. As a quartet we started to arrange new songs for our album "Three Seats Behind A Triangle", all the time searching for a new singer. We didnít want to play as an instrumental group, we were not interested in this option at all. In the middle of 2006 we decided to record these compositions. Unfortunately, we did not find any singer. So as you can see, it was not my decision that I was to be the frontman - it was just coincidence (smiles).
MENNO: Looking back, do you think there's a dramatic change in style comparing the first three albums and the last three albums? In other words, for those European fans who are not afraid of vocals in Polish: could these first three albums be a nice addition to their collection and if so, why (and if maybe not, why not?)
LUKASZ: These three ďoldĒ albums that you mentioned are completely different. Itís not only a difference in language or singer and not only a different guitarist; itís a different approach to writing and playing music. Previously OVís music was more in the direction of an old art and prog rock bands like Marillion, King Crimson, Yes, etc. Now we play heavier at one side, but on the other side, we mix more different genres than previously, we blend jazz with funky with metal and ambient, itís a new flavor. I think that what weíve done in the beginning might be of interest somehow but know we are different and we are not going to re-release those ďoldĒ albums!
MENNO: You mentioned Metal Minds as a (very) positive event in OV's career. There are bands who prefer to use distributors and thus remain in control of everything else. This means a lot of work however. What was the reason for OV to look for a record label instead of exploiting the internet to the full?
LUKASZ: Reasons for such decisions are simple. MMP offered a great deal to us, concerning recording and releasing our albums. We couldnít afford this, because as you probably know, itís really expensive to record, produce, and release an album and additionally start promoting it the right way. Whatís even more important, we donít have enough time to do these things, so thanks to MMP we can fully concentrate on making music.
MENNO: Do you get any money in return for all your work on the previous albums and does the current situation with the 'crisis' and the fact that the youth of today are able to download their favourite music for free, worry you as artists? What would be your answer to handle this situation?
LUKASZ: Yeah, we earn money in return, but the crisis can be felt easily, unfortunatelyÖ To be honest with you, downloading music for free is not making us richer guys, that's for sure (laughs) and it certainly is not a pleasant situation. But on the other side, we are just happy that some people show interest in our music. What worries us much more is that too few people come to shows in general, and I mean not only to our shows! Thatís even worse than downloading music for free, because a gig is the only situation where we can meet our fans and play for them; if they are not interested anymore, it's no use doing shows any longer! Playing music on stage is the best thing in being a musician, but we do need an audience.....
MENNO: Who are the members of Osada Vida, how did they get their musical training and what do they do for a living (probably not full time musicians)?
LUKASZ: Well, we didnít have any special musical education. Each of us had been taking some private musical lessons, but mainly we consider ourselves to be self-taught musicians (grins). Letís say that music is our main occupation. We dedicate a lot of our free time to it, but unfortunately we must do something completely different for a living. Adam Podzimski is working in an orphanage as an educator, Bartek Bereska is a chemist and writes a doctorate in this field, Rafal Paluszek is an application programmer and Iím working as the manager in a logistics corporation. We try as hard as we can to find time for playing together and sometimes itís not easy at all. But music is our greatest passion and we cannot imagine to live without it and we definitely spend more time playing or own music than listening to other's!
MENNO: You all have decent jobs. Do the four of you only go to work to have an income or do you like your work as well? Can you afford (given the 'crisis') to give up (part of) your jobs to promote OV and its music?
LUKASZ: Despite the fact that music is our greatest passion, we all enjoy our jobs. Of course sometimes they are boring, but this gives us even more energy to play music (laughs). It would be really difficult to resign or starting working less hours in our regular jobs, OV doesnít bring too much money and weíve got families we have take care of, so itís impossible to take that risk at the moment.
MENNO: Among your 'heroes' I see names like Rush, King Crimson, Porcupine Tree and Talk Talk... are there more like for instance Happy The Man, Pain of Salvation or Kraan?
LUKASZ: Of course, there are many more, but there are too many to mention them all (laughs). I love Pain Of Salvation, The Flower Kings, Genesis and of course the whole classic prog stuff. But thereís a whole lot of bands which are just more or less perfect copies of the big names in prog rock, like Pink Floyd or Dream Theater Ė these 'copy cats' donít get to me. As a band weíve got lots of influences Ė we listen to rock, pop, all kinds of metal, jazz, fusion, R&B and classical music. There is no reason to limit ourselves. Perhaps I should be ashamed, but I've never heard the music of Happy The Man nor Kraan (sighs).
MENNO: There are definitely also some influences of jazz music. Where do they come from? Any artist in particular?
LUKASZ: Well, it is hard to disagree with you (grins). Our music is usually a mixture of all musical styles, that we love to listen to: mostly rock, metal and jazz. We donít follow one style only, but we donít calculate or combine our music artificially Ė all we create is coming out of our hearts. Thatís why sometimes we feel the need to play some more jazzier or funkier stuff. As for artist we listen to, I should mention Yellow Jackets, John Coltrane, Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Marek Napiůrkowski, Leszek Możdżer and Anna Maria Jopek.
MENNO: you use fretless basses also... any specific reason? Do you use other instruments live than in the studio? Why five string instead of 4, 7 or more stringed basses?
LUKASZ: Itís quite simple: using a fretless bass, the sound becomes more soft and warm Ė thatís the main reason. I donít use any special equipment when I'm on the road. Usually I use one 5-string bass guitar, with another one in reserve. And why do I use 5-string? In 4-string guitar sometimes I miss the high notes, which may well interact with the guitar. Besides, when I compose music, I'm playing the guitar. Thatís why sometimes I'm not able to play the same thing on a 4-string bass. Playing live I use the standard bass only.
MENNO: As I mentioned in my reviews I'm deeply impressed by the instrumental parts of the last three albums (the only ones I know I regret to admit!). How are these parts composed: as a group or based on an idea of one member and arranged through jamming sessions or......
LUKASZ: Well thank you! The process of composing Uninvited Dreams was based on improvising mostly: I mean, each of us had some ideas, riffs or rhythmic structures, but on our rehearsals we developed them colloquially in order to shape them. The recording process of our latest album therefore had a little bit different approach compared to the previous albums Three Seats Behind A Triangle and The Body Parts Party; these tunes were in the great majority written by me and then finally arranged by the four of us.
MENNO: As you already mentioned, the process of composing for the last album has been different. What will be the next step: again a joint effort or go back to the situation where you come up with all the 'ingredients' and the band 'only' arranges and 'bake the cake'?
LUKASZ: I think that we will continue with this ďrecent approach to writing songsĒ (smiling). Working together on each song, especially through improvisation, gives us far more pleasure and satisfaction too. Each of us brings his ideas, but we treat all of them as a ďroughĒ material that has to be developed, and improvisation is the best thing to do so. We already have some ideas for the next album, so Iím really excited to start working on them!
MENNO: Do you use computers for composing purposes or only for recording and arranging? Does OV use extra musicians or vocalists on stage?
LUKASZ: We donít use any computers during composing. I cannot imagine such a solution. Also in the studio, we donít use some super-sophisticated gadgets, we do not move notes in an artificial copy/paste way, we donít make a million overdubs. Therefore, everything that can be heard on the album, we are able to play live for 99%! On our latest album we had a very special guest, Natalia Krakowiak, who sang on three songs. She agreed to go on road with us, as we are promoting a new CD.
MENNO: Do you think the statement that OV got more international attention after the line up change and the addition of Bartek Bereska is true?
LUKASZ: Yes, it's true. And this is mainly for two reasons I guess. First, because Bartek is an extraordinary guitarist. Secondly, since Bartek has appeared in the band, we started to sing in English (grins).
MENNO: Talking about English: how important are the lyrics for OV? Do they contribute to the message OV is trying to send to their (potential) fans?
LUKASZ: Lyrics are a very important part of our music, but we donít send any specific messages. We treat words as an additional instrument, necessary to create the music as a whole.
MENNO: Why are you so fond of concept albums? Is it more convenient for you as a lyricist to be able to focus on 'just' one theme instead of being forced to come up with 8 to 12 different topics?
LUKASZ: It seems, that writing concept albums is easier and more natural for us. We can simply focus on one, specific topic and then develop it Ė musically and literarily. This allows us to create and maintain the music, the lyrics and the artwork as a whole. As far as the lyrics are concerned, you should ask Adam (our drummer), who writes lyrics for our band. As far as I know itís easier to make the whole album more coherent, while writing a so called concept album. Secondly, everyone loves stories: so we bring them to the people (smiles).
MENNO: Do you consider Uninvited Dreams to have more jazz-rock influences than Body Parts Party?
LUKASZ: We havenít considered this. If you think so, Iím not going to argue with that (grins): it is a compliment for us. But I must admit that everything in our music is spontaneous. Itís important for us to record an album, that is natural and spontaneous in its character. I think that these jazz-rock parts, that you are talking about, just come from the sheer joy of playing.
MENNO: Do Polish bands ever try to promote themselves in other (formerly) East-European countries and if not why? Are the neighbours (Rumania, Slovakia, Hungary, Russian States) not of interest as a market?
LUKASZ: I honestly have no idea; as far as I know, the great Polish band SBB is well known in Eastern Europe. I know that Riverside played some gigs in Russia, I hope that in future we will visit these countries too, but so far we didn't.
MENNO: What's OV's status in Poland compared to Satellite, Riverside, Believe or Strawberry Fields?
LUKASZ: Satellite, Believe and Strawberry Fields Ė these bands largely owe their popularity to Collage from which they come. In my opinion, their music is very much steeped in classic art-rock. Riverside refreshed progressive music in Poland very much. They have become the ambassadors of Polish prog rock in Europe and worldwide. They drew the attention of many listeners to Polish music. In Poland, we are still regarded as the great hope despite the fact that we released three official albums, issued all over the world. We just try our best and we will keep on doing so.
MENNO: In an interview Wojtek Szadkowski (2009) stated that the situation in Poland is such, that 'prog rock' hardly gets any airplay. Is it still the same and if so, how do bands like OV get any attention: only via the internet or are there magazines or webzines devoted to prog-rock/art-rock in Poland too?
LUKASZ: While promoting our latest album we had some great opportunities to get peopleís attention on the radio and on TV. We visited AntyRadio, and RebelTV where people could listen to our music and learn about our influences and other stuff. Besides that we had marvellous promotion in polish magazines, especially in Teraz Rock, Metal Hammer, Top Guitar, Top Drummer and others. But as you mentioned, internet is the most dynamic and active medium. Information concerning gigs, new albums, reviews and interviews, photos etc. show up really fast on the internet and the range of the internet is the best, because itís absolutely worldwide and for free!
MENNO: Any personal favourite song or songs in all of OV's catalogue?
LUKASZ: There are too many... (laughs) and my preference changes depending on mood and day. Moreover, it is very difficult for me to answer, because itís as if you would ask a parent: which of your children do you love the most?
MENNO: Surely the band must have some live favourites?
LUKASZ: I have to admit, that there are songs that we love to play live, but sometimes we are somehow tired of listening to them. For instance, playing Decision live from TSBAT album is a huge pleasure, but I never listen to it. Opposite, I love listening to Heart from TBPP, but we never play that song live. Itís strange, but hard to explain. Additionally as I mentioned already, it changes with mood.
MENNO: How long did it take OV to compose the music for Uninvited Dreams and how long did the recordings take?
LUKASZ: This album was created really fast, within a few months; it has been a quite painless process (laughs). The recording sessions were very similar, it only took a few weeks to record and then also just a couple of weeks to produce the final material, pure pleasure!
MENNO: What are your future plans, live performances or maybe recording a DVD? Considering to tour with Riverside for example?
LUKASZ: From April 24th, weíll start touring Poland and thatís our plan for the nearest future. We want to play many songs from previous albums, but we also want to present as many songs from Uninvited Dream as possible. We have completed a music video, which soon will have its premiere. For the moment, we do not expect, nor plan to record a DVD. As for the joint concerts with Riverside: we are certainly available to consider the possibility for such a project, but I'm afraid that everything depends on the Riverside guys and their schedule.
MENNO: What's the primary goal of Osada Vida in 2010? Making good music without limits or be successful as full time musicians or...
LUKASZ: That's a very difficult question. I think, the ideal solution as well as complete success would be the combination of these two aspects: playing rehearsals and gigs, working at studio and practicing at home, itís a big part of our lives. We just breathe music, so we try as hard as we can to find time for it, but itís worth it, definitely. Through our music we want to move the listenersí imaginations, give them some moments of relaxation and provide them with positive emotions.
MENNO: Anything you have to add for our readers?
LUKASZ: Dear Friends, first of all we would like to thank all the fans in and around the Netherlands, for being there, for listening to our music and for all your support: it gives us the power to work harder on each new album. Thanks to you we still believe that music doesnít have to be trivial to be liked, that there are people who want something more! Thanks once again, and see you with our gigs in the Netherlands! I believe it will happen, soon! All the best for U!
Interview for DPRP by Menno von Brucken Fock
Osada Vida - Official Website
Osada Vida - MySpace Page
Osada Vida - YouTube Page
Metal Mind Productions