Vocalist, bassist, lyricist and composer, Janerka was born in Wrocław in 1953.
Vocalist, bassist, lyricist and composer; he places himself out of the circle of current trends and has effectively kept himself out of the spotlight for much of his musical career.
Lech Janerka places himself out of the circle of current trends and has effectively kept himself out of the spotlight for much of his musical career. Yet after almost 30 years on the scene, he still remains one of the most creative and original individuals in Polish rock.
Drawing primal influences from new wave or post-punk, his music often incorporates elements of reggae, post-industrial electronic music or simply classic pop. Unpredictable and always hard to pigeonhole, this is deeply personal music, that reveals layers of new meanings camouflaged by catchy melodies. This originality also applies to the lyrics - Janerka's sharp commentaries are concise, both ironic and surreal as they make good use of neologisms and dadaist wordplay. Although he debuted as a songwriter in 1978 at the Student Song Festival, it was Klaus Mittfoch that started his career properly.
The group came to life in 1981, when Janerka joined forces with guitarists Wiesław Mrozik and Krzysztof Pociecha and the drummer Marek Puchała. In 1983 scoring one of the awards of annual rock band competition led to a recording contract, and soon two 7" singles appeared on the major Tonpress label. Outstandingly original and mature, were enthusiastically received by the music press - Klaus Mittfoch was voted best new talent of '83 by prestigious "Jazz Forum", while scoring best band of the year title according to "Non Stop". His debut album, which also appeared to be band's only record, appeared in the summer of 1984. Adding complex keyboard work by Wojciech Konikiewicz, self-titled LP to this day stands as one of the most significant recordings of Polish rock music and definitely the most important album of the 80s.
Klaus Mittfoch disbanded by the end of '84 and Janerka immediately began rehearsing new songs with a new group. Aside from earlier collaborators Pociecha and Konikiewicz, it featured drummer Janusz Rołt and Lech's wife Bożena playing amplified cello. New recordings appeared in 1986 as Historia podwodna LP. Trading new wave dynamics for moody, dense arrangements, the album is regarded as one of the most original and influential records in the history of Polish rock.
In 1987, during sessions for the second album, Janusz Rołt passed away. The decision was made not to hire a new drummer and instead most rhythm tracks were laid using drum machines. Unfortunately, when finished, the album was delayed by censorship objections, which forced changes in several songs. Finally released in 1989 as Piosenki without any support, either promotional on the part of the label or emotional on the part of the artist, the album failed to attract the press or fans.
Janerka assembled new band named Dinghy in spring 1990. Besides Bożena on cello, it featured Bartosz Strabużyński on guitar and Marek Majewski on the keyboard. After few months drummer Dariusz Bilyk joined in. Dinghy released only one album; Ur, bleak, neurotic and heavily based on electronics, was a confusing and experimental record and its merit to this day remains questionable.
With new drummer Artur Dominik and guitarist Wojciech Seweryn, Janerka recorded new material at the Polish Radio studios in Łódź. Despite problems with proper studio mastering and ongoing conflicts with publisher, Bruhaha appeared in 1994 and brought fresh, driving, dynamic music full of life and energy.
The rehearsal and recording of the next album also appeared long and troubled, resulting in changes, first to the studio location then to the producer. Meanwhile, Ryszard Guz stepped in as the new drummer. Releasing Dobranoc in 1997, Janerka declared it his last album and claimed to retire from the music business. He did return a year later with a few low-profile concerts.
Some new recordings were made by the end of 1999, but were scrapped as unsatisfactory. Some of them were revisited in the spring of 2001, with much bigger band and Janerka's trusted producer Bartosz Dziedzic. Fiu fiu, a rocking, bright record that brought guitars to the forefront appeared in February 2002 from BMG Poland. The first ever Polish album promoted by videos shot to all of its 10 songs scored Fryderyk awards for best alternative album and best songwriter of the year.
Longtime collaborator Wojciech Seweryn passed away in 2004. New band saw drummer Michał Mioduszewski and multi-instrumentalist Damian Pielka. Working again with producer and backing musician Dziedzic, Janerka decided to record his earliest compositions, some dated back to the 70s, writing new lyrics and building tracks around acoustic guitar chords. Titled Plagiaty, the album was promoted by Rower, surprisingly one of the most popular songs of 2005. The video for this song won both Grand Prix and the audience award at XIV Yach Film Festival of Polish music videos. And this time, three Fryderyk awards honored best song, best alternative album and best composer. As for today, Plagiaty is Janerka's last album of original material.
Besides songwriting, Lech Janerka wrote original scores for the movies Chce mi się wyć (1990) by Jacek Skalski, Obcy musi fruwać (1993) by Wiesław Saniewski and Czyż nie dobija się konia? (2000) by Maciej Żurawski. In 2001 he appeared playing Catholic priest in the film Głośniej od bomb by Przemysław Wojcieszek.
Author: Maciej Sienkiewicz, June 2010.
- Klaus Mittfoch:
- Klaus Mittfoch, Tonpress 1985
- Lech Janerka:
- Historia podwodna, Tonpress 1986
- Piosenki, Polskie Nagrania 1989
- Ur, Intermal 1991
- Bez prądu (live), Radio Łódź 1993
- Co lepsze kawałki (compilation), Sonic 1993
- Bruhaha, MJM 1994
- Dobranoc, Koch International 1997
- Gold (compilation), Koch International 1998
- The Best Of (compilation), Koch International 1999
- Fiu fiu, BMG 2002
- The Best, MTM 2005
- Plagiaty BMG 2005