Kortez has a rough appearance but, at the same time, is outstandingly sensitive. His honesty seems to be genuine, not a commercial practice. Not so long ago, he did hard physical labour for a living, now he plays the guitar and sings. His emotional songs have very poetic lyrics which are, as Kortez readily admits, only sometimes authored by him.
On stage, he is not overly talkative and he seems to be very modest but in conversation he turns out to be very direct. He thinks that one of the best things about being a musician is the possibility of speaking with his fans on the street or after a gig. This is correct – sometimes, after he leaves the stage, he spends two or three hours talking with his listeners.
His real name is Łukasz Federkiewicz and he was born on 24th June 1989 in Krosno. He grew up in Iwonicz. His father played the guitar, his mother was an amateur painter. Kortez listened to a lot of classical music and started composing miniatures for the piano as early as in junior high school. Before he had regrets that he did not manage to start his musical education sooner – he learned to play the trombone and piano in a musical school in Krosno but eventually he stopped.
In an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza, Kortez said:
My parents could not afford to buy me a monthly bus pass or drive me to a music school when I was seven years old. My dad didn’t have a car, mum didn’t work. My parents helped me a lot anyway.
Before he started to play, he worked as a security guard in a shop and as a lumberjack, as well as in a kindergarten. In autumn 2013, music publisher Paweł Joźwicki noticed him during the qualification round of Must Be The Music TV show (in which he did not succeed). Łukasz’s sister talked him into performing on it.
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He performed live for the first time at the Opole Songwriters Festival in Autumn 2014. He spoke about it in an interview:
Nobody knew me. My first EP Zostań hadn’t been released yet. However, the café in which I performed was full of a huge amount of people. I didn’t have lyrics ready, I sang in Pidgin English for the whole gig. I sang a little bit in English, a little bit in, I don’t know, Finnish or something. I felt stupid because I didn’t get this mixed language myself and there were people sitting in front of me. Terrifying.
At the time, he already had a contract with Jóźwicki’s label – Jazzboy. At the beginning of 2015, he has published his first EP titled Jazzboy Session, featuring the song Zostań (‘Stay’) among others. The titular request could be easily deciphered as a fragment of a conversation between lovers who meet in secret and do not have a lot of time for each other. However, in an interview, the artist explained that the lyrics hit him when, one time, he was getting ready for work in Warsaw and his young son woke up and said ‘Tato, zostań’ (‘Stay, dad’). ‘I couldn’t sleep’, Kortez said. His son, born in 2012, is the most important person in the world for Kortez. The artist calls him Joe.
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In late August 2015, the artist’s debut feature album was released – Bumerang. It was produced by Olek Świartkot while Kortez wrote the music. The lyrics were written by Kortez with Agata Trafalska (and the rapper Ten Typ Mes in two songs). In the spring of 2016, the artist received the Fryderyk award for the Debut of the Year. The record achieved Double Platinum status.
In March 2016, Kortez released Minialbum with six songs and in autumn, he released a live album and a DVD – 02.04.2016 / Kraków / Klub Studio / Oficjalny Bootleg.
In autumn 2017, his second album was published – Mój Dom (‘My Home’). Since his debut, Kortez composed several dozen new songs but the selection process was rough – only nine made it to the final release. Świerkot became the producer once again and most of the lyrics were written by Agata Trafalska – Kortez’s friend who works for Jazzboy (only a few of the songs were co-written by Kortez). Dobry Moment (‘Good Moment’) was the album’s hit single, in which Kortez sings about a breakup which is better than staying together to a cheerful melody. In the spring of the next year, he received the Fryderyk award for Song of the Year – Mój Dom. The album’s sales secured it Double Platinum status.
In the following months, on the EPs Dobry Moment and Dobrze, Że Cię Mam (‘It’s Good That I Have You’), five new songs were released (the song Coffee Paste by Polish rapper Pjus, featuring Kortez and another rapper, Spinache, was also published). These and some other songs are going to be released on the album Mini Dom (‘Mini Home’) planned for September 2018.
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Kortez was featured in a song by Martyna Jakubowicz from her 2016 album Prosta Piosenka. He wrote music for a song from the album Ała by Ten Typ Mes (2016) and sang for Pjus on his album Słowotwory (2017). His single titled Początek (‘Beginning’) promoting the Męskie Granie concert tour, created with Dawid Podsiadło and Krzysztof Zalewski, was also a big hit.
In September 2017, Kortez, together with German guitarist Masha Qrella, who composes songs which are similarly intimate and melodic to his, performed a premiere programme for the Łódź Czterech Kultur festival. The audience was very satisfied with thier performance. For now, the only available fruit of this collaboration is the live version of the song Like Father Like Son published in February 2018.
Kortez has performed at Poland’s most important music festivals such as Open’er in Gdynia and Off in Katowice, and even on the National Festival of Polish Song in Opole. For autumn 2018, he planned a tour of several dozen cities during which he is supposed to perform in big, comfortable venues with seats – mostly concert halls and theatres.
Originally written in Polish by Jacek Świąder, July 2018, translated by PG
Top 10 Polish Indie Bands
- 2015 – Bumerang
- 2016 – Minialbum
- 2017 – Mój dom
- 2018 – Mini dom
- 2015 – Jazzboy Session
- 2015 – Od dawna już wiem
- 2017 – Dobry moment
- 2018 – Dobrze, że cię mam