Warsaw-based neo-folk band established in 2009 by Candadian-born Paula Bialska and Polish-born Karol Strzemieczny.
Paula & Karol's rise to become musicians recognised by the world music press and blogs started out as a modest folk duo whose sound was swiftly recognised by Poland's iconic Lado ABC label. They made their first LP Goodnight Warsaw in early 2010 and later that year they released their first studio album Overshare with Lado ABC, which was hailed by fans and the media as a great discovery on the Polish music scene. The Guardian included Paula & Karol on their World Sound recommendations in early 2011, reiterating critic Lukasz Kamiński's (of Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza) appraisal of the group as "superheroes" that are leading the alternative scene in Poland. Louis Pattison writes,
Last decade, the whimsical acoustic sound of antifolk slowly colonised the soundtracks of indie cinema. Now, it's off to eastern Europe. Boy from North Bay, Ontario meets a girl from Warsaw, they fall in love – but what began with the pair messing around on guitar and violin in their kitchen gradually gave life to fragile but uplifting ruminations on love and life.
Paula spent her childhood in Canada and moved to Poland as an adult, where she dabbled in various hobbies, such as music. She met Karol through mutual friends and they began making music together - and they insist their relationship is strictly professional, in spite of rumours of romance. Karol grew up mainly in Poland, with a stint in the United States tagging along with his artist mother. They pair sing in English, which greatly contributes to the universal appeal of their music, entertaining audiences all over the world. They've performed in Iceland, Germany, Holland, Ukraine, France, Great Britain, United States and Canada, invited to Holland's Eurosonic, France's Europavox, Culture Collide in Los Angeles, New York Sound City Showcase and the breakthrough SXSW Festival in Texas. As their sound grew from a simple post-modernist prose folk to a deeper, richer sound, the band expanded to include new members Christoph Graf Von Thun Und Hohenstein on keyboard and percussion, Stasiek Wróbel on percussion, Krzysiek Pożarowski on bass and Szymon Najder on the electric guitar. In 2011, the band recorded their second album with Lado ABC, produced by Jacek Antosik and released in April 2012.
The 2012 promotional tour for Whole Again spanned 10 concerts across Poland and further across Europe, giving shows at the Great Escape Festival in Brighton and Liverpool Sound in May, Germany's Juicy Beats in July and Vienna Waves in October. Their world tour was supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Insitute as part of its Don't Panic We're from Poland showcase.
Their next album was released two years later. Heartwash (2014) was recorded in cooperation with Grammy-nominated Washington producer Ryan Hadlock. The album consisted of ten compositions, 40 minutes of material altogether. The premiere of Paula and Karol’s last album, Our Town, took place at the end of May 2017. It was released by Kurpisz Impresariat/Agora label. The band’s original drummer Igor Nikiforow (known from the band Jerz Igor) produced this material and Staszek Wróbel played the bass. TheBurningEar.com calls Paula & Karol's sound:
Boy/girl vocals about love, nostalgia, and keeping your chin up are all wrapped in deceptively simple production that gets your head bobbing without you even knowing it... I’ve just seen one of the most enjoyable concerts in my life, and perhaps the new torchbearers of the Polish music scene.
- Goodnight Warsaw EP (2009, Paula i Karol self-release)
- Overshare (2010, Lado ABC)
- Whole Again (2012, Lado ABC)
- Someday EP (2014, Delikatess Tonträger)
- Heartwash (2014, Delikatess Tonträger)
- Our Town (2017, Dynamite Platten/Agora)
For more music from Paula & Karol on Facebook, www.paulaikarol.com,
Discover more Polish bands on wearefrompoland.blogspot.com
Author: Agnieszka Le Nart; update: MG, November 2019. Source: press materials, The Guardian