The band was launched in 2013 by three anonymous musicians with the intention of emphasizing their sound and marginalizing their own identities.
One may be tempted to suppose that the core of BOKKA consists of Karolina Kozak and Bogdan Kondracki (privately a married couple) – the name of the band could be formed of the first syllables of their names; in addition, the debut album features a track titled B&K, telling a story of a certain long-lasting relationship. Stylistically, BOKKA is actually far from Kozak’s solo endeavours, which are based on cozy, intimate sounds. Kondracki, on the other hand, is a producer, arranger and author acquainted with probably every existing music genre. At the end of the day, these guesses may be completely off, leaving one with the thought that the identities of the Bokka creators are truly irrelevant.
Their self-titled first album, released by Nextpop in 2013, gained much critical acclaim. Music journalists have defined the record as an exciting mixture of synth pop, dream pop, shoegaze and psychedelic electronica. The first single of Bokka's debut album was Town of Srangers. It was mastered in London by Many Parnell, who has been working regularly with artists such as Björk, Sigur Ros, Little Dragon, Depeche Mode, Paul McCartney, among others.
BOKKA’s self-titled debut album is the essence of their obscurity. The artwork features a female figure hiding her face behind a mirror. The opening track is called Found Something, while the last one – The Mirror. In the former, a female voice explains in a hypnotizing manner the idea behind the record: "All that you know/ fades away like the storm/ and the sun breaks through the clouds, you’re free”. The track also acts as a musical introduction, with acoustic drums, bass, distorted keyboard sounds. The band wants to send out a signal that it is worth approaching this album with a “clean ear”.
They have a point, as Bokka’s music is capable of awakening a wide variety of associations. As opposed to the intro, it is usually very synthetic, which is especially audible in Strange Spaces – the piece, dominated with keyboards, is taken over by powerful, aggressive rhythm. Such vigorous compositions earn them comparisons to the Scandinavian formations: Lykke Li, The Knife, Sigur Ros, although the critics also place Bokka near Autra, Warpaint, or Fever Ray.
At the end of the day, genre-wise, Bokka is essentially a pop band; their entertaining music is made for playing on the radio. They are not as dark as they introduce themselves to be, while the raw voice (occasionally bordering on archaic Polish folk singing) of the lead singer resembles the romantic and pathetic style of Lana Del Rey. The band skilfully merges electronic pulses with live instrumental sections (guitar, bass). Rhythm may play an important part, but the melodies are always the true leading element of these compositions. At times, they are overtaken by thick keys and bass, at others – soft as a mist dispersed in an open space. In their adoption of ancient sounds to modern rhythm, Bokka are similar to, for instance, Monika Brodka. The mysterious formation seems to group musicians who are very experienced, but who also find pleasure in simply creating new music and aiming to constantly surprise, even themselves.
BOKKA's second album Don’t Kiss and Tell, released in October 2015, was nominated to Poland's most prestigious music award, the Fryderyk 2016 in the category Alternative and Electronic Music.Three years later they released their third album Life on Planet B on which one can hear a retreat from rock sounds in favour of synth pop and electronics.
The group has performed at some of the biggest Polish festivals (including Open'er, Tauron Nowa Muzyka, Audioriver, and Orange Warsaw Festival) as well as popular music events throughout Europe: The Great Escape (UK), Reeperbahn (DE), Colours Of Ostrava (CZ), and Positivus (LT), just to name a few. BOKKA regularly plays in the biggest clubs in Poland as well as in European cities such as Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Prague and Bratislava.
2013 – Bokka
2015 – Don't Kiss and Tell
2018 – Life on Planet B
Jacek Świąder, Gazeta Wyborcza, May 2014
Transl. AM, May 2014. Update: Jan 2019, AG.