She only debuted in late March, 2015, after she'd spent a long time working on her self-titled album, recorded in the Berlin LowSwing analogue studio. The songs were composed by her husband Antoni Łazarkiewicz. They are played by him and German musicians, including the bassist Slowey Thomsen, well-known for his work with Julia Marcell.
The music which Łazarkiewicz wrote could be used to ‘illustrate’ a film. Mary Komasa has often explained in interviews that she treats songs visually; she thinks in terms of film scenes and chooses songs that would be appropriate for them. The music gives the impression of a sentimental exaggeration reminiscent of Lana Del Rey's Angel Tears. The single City of My Dreams is exactly in the style of the American artist – slow, sung without emotion, in an almost sulky manner.
At the same time, Komasa sings more powerful and dark songs, like the sensual Smiling Moon, which bears a similarity to the works of to Angelo Badalamenti, the author of music for films by David Lynch, or the electronic Come close to Depeche Mode. There are also cool Scandinavian elements. This is a world-class production and there is no doubt that the album could as well appear in New York, Helsinki or Bratislava. Mary Komasa talks about relationships, intimacy, being with someone or thinking intensely about being with someone. But with whom?
"Polish is my intimacy, I want to keep it for those closest to me" – this sentence, said by Komasa in an interview with Wysoki Obcasy, has passed into legend. It was meant to explain why Mary sings in English, but it also suggested that her songs are just a game of disguise. Indeed, the lyrics are full of empty clichés like, ‘I’m waiting down on my knees / to feed your desire’ (Come), ‘As I try again to open up my eyes / I see you left behind’ (Lost Me) or ‘In every corner of your soul / I put my traps long ago’ (Smiling Moon).
These specific sentences, flat as a pancake, cease to be annoying if one treats Mary Komasa’s debut songs like film ‘postcards’, consciously playing with conventions, or like a stylistic exercise. Her very original concerts favour such an interpretation. One does not need to look far to understand Mary’s fascination with film. She was born in 1985 in Poznań, Poland. She comes from an artistic family – her father Wiesław Komasa is a well-known actor and teacher at the Warsaw Academy of Dramatic Arts. Her mother Gina managed entertainment programmes on public TV and sang gospel, and her older brother Jan Komasa is among the most important directors of the generation of 30-year-olds. Szymon, Mary’s twin brother, is an opera singer, and studied at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York. Their younger sister Zofia designs clothes, and collaborated with Jan in Warsaw 44. In turn, Antoni Łazarkiewicz composed the music for The Offsiders, In Darkness and Warsaw 44.
Mary Komasa has a musical education – she played the organ and the harpsichord in the Warsaw Lyceum of Music. She settled in Paris before she was even 20, where she worked as a model and studied opera singing. Since 2009 she has been living in Berlin where she went to a jazz school.
In an interview with the Onet portal Komasa listed her sources of inspiration, which are rather surprising given her level of education: TLC, the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys. She explained:
After all I listened to them as a child and I remember them with fondness. (...) In order to delve into classical music, I had to detach myself from it.
Mary Komasa’s strength is precisely her connection with popular music, on the one hand, and jazz and opera, on the other. Thanks to this flexibility she is able to combine a great number of ideas. She changes pop culture roles with ease.
Author: Jacek Świąder, Gazeta Wyborcza, transl. Bozhana Nikolova, April 2015