The suggestive, dark music of Daniel Spaleniak has inspired the producers of American TV series, who are queueing up for his tracks. He is a singer, songwriter and, guitarist known for his talent for blues and folk, as well as his signature deep voice and easy-going attitude. Born on 30th January 1993 in Kalisz, he currently lives in Łódź.
This is how Spaleniak introduces himself on Twitter: ‘I’m a musician, composer, singer and songwriter. Hopefully I will be here for a while.’ On YouTube he supplements it with: ‘I'm just a guy who likes to play guitar, that's all. Hope you enjoy my music. Cheers!’. His father taught him how to play musical instruments and helped him develop his passion for music, and Spaleniak started to write and record his own music at the age of 16. During the interview with Polish cultural portal Miej Miejsce, Spaleniak talked about his education:
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Firstly, I did a bachelor’s in journalism, then, for a while, I studied computer science. I was completely lost and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Later on, I studied music for a year, but I realised that it made no sense to learn all the notes and other strange stuff. It was useless and I didn’t have enough time for my projects. Finally, for half a year, I studied Film And TV Production at Łódź Film School. In the meantime, I finally realised what I am really interested in – this year, I will graduate from the sound production programme in Wrocław.
Before Spaleniak’s first recordings were issued to the public in physical form, his songs were released online as EPs albums by a small label – Soul Asylum records. Two EPs were issued: Twenty Minutes Break (5 tracks; April 2011) and Memories (7 tracks; June 2012). Both can be found on Bandcamp. During that time, the majority of his songs were instrumental. Only later did he start singing. From the beginning, Spaleniak’s long-play albums have been released by Antena Krzyku – the oldest independent Polish record label. All of Spaleniak’s videos and album covers have been designed by his partner Weronika Izdebska, whose work perfectly fits Spaleniak’s music. On the first cover, the musician stands with his back turned to the camera, a forest path ahead of him. The colours are bright and vivid. Other covers are minimalistic: grey sky, grey water, and a rocky peninsula that cuts through them. On the patch of land, a white house stands alone. The third cover alludes to darkness and the subconsciousness, featuring a blurred photo of a naked woman with a black background; the girl’s eyes are closed, she holds her head back.
Daniel Spaleniak is the sole author of his entire repertoire. His first album, Dreamers, produced by Józef Buchnajzer, was released in March 2014. The artist had been working on the record for two years. He said that he chose 12 compositions from ‘hundreds he had made during the period’ and that he recorded them with friends. He collaborated with bassist Filip Figiel, drummer Karol Buchnajzer, and guitarist and vocalist Hailo (Kuba Figiel). The record label Soul Asylum is run by the Figiel brothers.
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My Name Is Wind and House On Fire were the lead singles of Dreamers. In March 2014, the publisher released also the 7-inch vinyl Full Package Of Cigarettes / My Name Is Wind, available only upon subscription. It was apparent that, broadly speaking, Spaleniak’s music was inspired by American pop culture – by the figure of a mysterious boy with a guitar, smoking a cigarette. Perhaps it was due to self-consciousness that, on Dreamers, he added extra tracks to the guitar songs. It seems that for a while he didn’t believe in his vocal and guitar skills.
In March 2016, his second, landmark album Back Home was released. Its lead single featured Katarzyna Kowalczyk, a vocalist from the Coals duo. After the premiere of this particular album, people responsible for selecting songs for American TV series started to contact Spaleniak. The album was a huge success in comparison to Dreamers. The musician produced Back Home in cooperation with Bartosz Szczęsny, a musician from the Polish synth pop duo Rebeka, hence the electronic sound. This time, the vocal is more clear and music arrangements are more simplistic. In March 2017, the record label Antena Krzyku released the reissue of Back Home on black vinyl.
In 2018, Spaleniak debuted as producer on his third album – Life Is Somewhere Else. He sang two songs with Kowalczyk and invited the duo Poor Saint Lazarus from Berlin and producer Miro Rabier to collaborate as well. Drummers Piotr Gwadera and Michał Kowalczyk also played on the album. Music critics emphasised the truly mysterious mood of Spaleniak's new songs and production process of the album. The acoustic guitar remained Spaleniak’s main instrument, but, in some songs, he used also synthesisers and triphop rhythms.
On 31st October 2018, with the release of the eponymous song Burning Sea, the artist announced the release of his next album in January 2019. Daniel Spaleniak described the album in the Programme Three of Polish Radio:
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Burning Sea will be composed of records I made during the four years I was creating music for films, commercials, etc. I love this material, everything was recorded so long ago. Life Is Somewhere Else was supposed to be a double album, but I wasn’t entirely convinced that it was a good idea. In the end, Life Is Somewhere Else contained only songs and this material was left out. Recently, I composed some new pieces for the album and it is now ready to be released.
The music of Daniel Spaleniak are very popular with TV producers from the United States. His song Back Home can be heard in a few series: Elementary (an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes), in Shooter, The Royals, and UnREAL. What’s more, the service Netflix used the song Dear Love Of Mine in Ozark, The Path, and Shut Eye. In The Path we can also hear Why, Liar’s Blues, Night, and Nothing To Do. Spaleniak’s streak of luck with American series started with Black Home appearing in Elementary and it seems that his popularity is on the rise
In an interview, Spaleniak said that he gave his first concert in the Pod Muzami club in Kalisz, then at a place called Żywa. After few years of his music career, he has performed at Open’er Festival in Gdynia, Off Festival in Katowice, Soundrive Festival in Gdańsk, and Halfway Festival in Białystok, amongst others.
In August 2016, he played a session for the famous Seattle radio station KEXP. As of autumn 2018, Spaleniak’s backing band was composed of drummer Michał Kowalczyk, bassist Krzysztof Drewniak and violinist Tomasz Mreńca.
Author: Jacek Świąder, November 2018
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- 2011 – Twenty Minutes Break EP
- 2012 – Memories EP
- 2014 – Dreamers
- 2016 – Back Home
- 2018 – Life Is Somewhere Else
- 2019 – Burning Sea