Her grandmother forbade her to play the drums, arguing that it isn’t an instrument for girls. Today Ola Rzepka is recording her first album with her own band Drekoty.
Ola Rzepka, photo - own materials
"There’s nothing worse than a girl group, which looks great, but once it starts to play, you want to leave", says Ola Rzepka with a smirk. She is the drummer and vocalist for Drekoty, a band that is gaining popularity on the alternative scene. And yes, the band is made up of three women - Ola, Magda Turłaj on the fiddle and keyboard and Zosz Chabiera on vocals.
Rzepka says she has nothing against men, but when the three women ended up in the studio, the chemistry proved ideal. She explains,
We complete one another perfectly and yet differ utterly. Magda has a delicate and poetic voice, Zosia’s timbre is wild and hoarse. All of us are nearly thirty, but each is in different stage of life. Magda lives in Gorzów, Zosia is torn between Warsaw and Oslo and I live in Katowice. We meet like witches at a gathering.
It’s difficult to actually determine what it is that they play - it's a mix of jazz, punk, folk and electro. Their strength lies in the fact that their compositions are far from being schematic pop songs. The poetical lyrics are full of free associations and wordplay. Ola has been writing and composing on her own for three years.
Together with Wojtek Kucharczyk (The Complainer) Drekoty recorded the EP Trafostacja. The release consists of such songs by Ola as Masłem (Butter) or Poddania (Surrenders), which were arranged quite austerely for the drums and keyboards. Presently the trio is finishing its debutant album under the watchful eye of Kuba Łuka. "In the new songs more acoustic instruments and vocal harmonies will appear and the compositions will have an easier form", says Ola.
Rzepka is a self-taught drummer and she has been practicing for five years. However her musical experience is vast. She grew up in a home, where Bach, Bartok, jazz and punk rock was listened to. She passed all of the stages of musical education – from primary school, through high school to the Academy of Music in Katowice. She obtained her diploma from the Department of Composition, Interpretation, Education and Jazz with the highest grade seven years ago.
Today she is a tutor herself and teaches piano improvisation and rhythmics at the Complex of State Music Schools in Katowice – she offers her students as much freedom in choosing their own path of development as possible. That is something she learned during a scholarship at the Rhythmic Music Consevatory in Copenhagen. She says,
Over there I encountered modern music education for the first time. In Poland students are led by the hand and are treated like pupils, professors want to be authorities. But today one can learn from anybody. In Copenhagen we had a flexible schedule of classes and many workshops with other musicians were organized spontaneously.
She has experimented with painting, acting and contemporary dancing. However she is most strongly engaged in practicing Emil Jaques-Dalcroze’s Method of Rhythmics as she enjoys the way the motion-spatial interpretation allows for variations in the direction of the melody, the rhythm and the emotion in the music.
She has performed renditions of contemporary works by György Ligeti and Gerard Grisey amongst others. Although she hasn’t been practicing this art for a long time, she feels that she owes it a lot. "I’m physically fit, because I dealt with motion professionally. I can play a two-hour long concert on the drums with the band Pogodno. I don’t care about technical shortcomings. As Pina Bausch put it: I’m not interested in how somebody moves, I’m interested by what animates him", she shares.
Apart from being a member of Drekoty Ola Rzepka also plays in the band Alte Zachen alongside Raphael Rogiński, Bartłomiej Tyciński and Macio Moretti. The group creates compositions in the eclectic style of Hasidic Surf Rock. Their songs are based on authentic, old-time Jewish music from Eastern Europe but are arranged in a modern, electric style. Alte Zachen’s recordings are rather austere as the musicians strive for a dirty and ragged sound. Ola Rzepka also plays with the group of the Argentinian vocalist Candelaria Valient. She is always thinking about a new song, especially when riding a bicycle or train. "I’m falling down like butter unable like tap water/ I’m falling down like butter clinging with my fingers/ I’m falling down like butter comprehensively untreated/ I’m falling down like butter circling squares".
Why is it that very few women seek their own path in music as persistently as Ola? "There is more women than men at music academies, but only a handful of the ladies later become artists. At a certain age, one has to start a family and there is no more time for music. My situation is perfect, because my partner supports me and I can play music".
Author: Jacek Skolimowski
For more information and to listen to Drekoty, see: www.drekoty.pl, soundcloud.com/drekoty