Their music is a mix of folk and jazz, inspired by traditional sounds, however both lyrics and music has been written by the artists themselves. As the band name itself suggests, the main characters are the double bass and the lead singer Basia Derlak – altogether the composition is rather minimalistic and sensual.
Their music is a mix of folk and jazz, inspired by traditional sounds, however both lyrics and music has been written by the artists themselves.
The musical ensemble formed in 2009 in Cracow, as a duo with Marcin Nenko on the double bass and Basia Derlak on the clarinet and Jew’s harp. In January 2010, Tomasz Waldowski, also a jazz lover, joined the band on the percussion, nowadays also the husband of the lead singer.
Basia Derlak was born in 1987 in Chełm. Waldowski comes from a city nearby and Basia came across Nenko during her studies at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. She began singing her first folk songs to her grandmother. Ever since her university years, Basia, as many other musicians and researchers, travels around villages with a tape recorder collecting data at the source – from elderly village musicians and singers. Apart from her own band she has also performed in Mateusz Niwiński’s band.
Despite having only a few songs, the trio debuted in April 2010 at the Nowa Tradycja Festival in Warsaw. They received the II prize. A year and a half later, they received the I prize at the Scena Otwarta Mikołajków Folkowe in Lublin. In the spring of 2012, Chłopcy Kontra Basia decided to take part in a television talent show ‘Must Be The Music’, in which they got to the final round.
The debut album entitled Oj tak! was released at the end of 2013. It consisted of 5 of the 6 tracks that were on their EP album (recorded and released in a homemade manner) along with 6 premiere tracks. They invited Mariusz Obijalski, an artist known from Fisz Emade Tworzywo to collaborate with them on this album. He is most recently known for being the co-author of the project ‘Albo inaczej’ (Or differently), in which veterans of the musical scene sing hip hop lyrics to big band arrangements.
The album borrows themes from Serbian, Ukrainian or Belarusian folklore, although they have been transformed into a more contemporary form and so created a sound universe, in which the everyday life is suffused with magic and destiny bears a great importance. Derlak introduced such themes as speaking with animals and nature, maturing and marriage, mythical creatures and God into her lyrics, yet sang in a modern, expressive, even theatrical form like a storyteller.
In one interview she explains:
A folk song is a natural way of expression, it encapsulates the power of magic and tames the danger hidden behind local mythology. Ceremonial songs had their deep rooted meaning – they brought on spring, they drove off water nymphs, they caused girls to become women. Songs are a natural extension of speech. People living on the countryside are capable of communicating with each other with the use of singing.
Chłopcy kontra Basia have also been recognized internationally - they won the World Music Network plebiscite for best song in the ‘A Battle of Bands’ world music theme. Due to this, the bands song Jerzy appeared on compilation The Rough Guide to Undiscovered World.
Apart from the debut album and compilation, the trio can be found on both the CD and DVD entitled Grzegorz Ciechowski – spotkanie z legendą (Grzegorz Ciechowski – a meeting with a legend) from April 2015. Along with The Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ciechowski’s song were performed by several artists – the boys and Basia played a folk song entitled A gdzież moje kare konie (Where are my dark horses), that the prematurely died lead singer of Repulika recorded on a solo album.
In November 2014, the trio had been praised for the music they composed for Morfina (Morphine), Szczepan Twardoch’s novel performed by the Silesian Theatre in Galeria Szyb Wilson in Katowice. In the spring of 2015, Chłopcy Kontra Basia with the addition of Agnieszka Derlak playing on the piano and flute, performed along to the show Portret damy (The portrait of a lady) at the Wybrzeże Theatre in Gdańsk. Once again, the musical ensemble wrote the music especially for the show and performed live. Both of the shows have been directed by Ewelina Marciniak, with whom the band had already previously collaborated with in the performance Dożywocie (A life sentence).
Author: Jacek Świąder, June 2015, Translated by: Zuzanna Wiśniewska