They transform traditional Polish songs into Kujawski swing, and they mix folk songs, whispers, and shouts with sounds of…a grater, a knife being sharpened or a bathtub being filled with water. An original trio, Sutari, is gaining popularity on the folk scene with their modern interpretations of old songs.
A musical trio that specializes in Polish traditional songs.
Sutari is based on the strength of three female talents, temperaments, and voices. Zofia Barańska, Katarzyna Kapela, and Barbara Songin are vocalists, instrumentalists, actresses, and performers who have been active on the Polish artistic scene for many years now in various fields: from music to theatre through dance and film. Kasia collaborates with the Wrocław Song of the Goat Theatre, Basia deals with physical theatre, choreography and produces her own original shows along with the artistic collective FURU, and Zosia collaborates with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute on musical projects. They met a few years ago at the "Gardzienice" Centre for Theatre Practices and that is how their musical collaboration began: on violins, drums, wine glasses, bottles, knifes, graters and even using water. As Zosia Barańska explains:
We feel good on stage together. Playing together and giving concerts gives us great joy. We experiment with sound a lot. It’s enough to change the tempo, slow down, or speed up in order to find jazz, swing or blues in old songs. The idea of using unusual instruments helps us tell the stories of our great grandmothers, it reminds us all of the musical tradition of singing together while peeling potatoes or working in the fields, because singing was a part of everyday life. That is why we incorporated the rhythmization of sounds produced by kitchenware.
Culture.pl has had a peek inside Sutari's folk-jazz kitchen. Join us and listen to the sounds of Slavic soul!
SUTARI from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
‘Intoxicating and hypnotic’ Wiano
The ensemble made their debut in 2012 at the prestige New Tradition Polish Radio Folk Festival, where they immediately received second prize from the jury and a prize from the audience: a ‘a storm of cheers’. They didn’t have to wait long for subsequent distinctions and complements. Journalists announced the Warsaw trio the most interesting new band of 2012. The group's CV was then enriched by first prize at the 10th edition of Battle of the Bands, an international competition organized by one of the biggest labels in the world – World Music Network. The lively song Chłopacy gained 91% of online votes and got a chance to be internationally promoted by being included on the compilation album The Rough Guide to Undiscovered World.
In 2014, Wiano (Bride Price), Sutari’s debut album, found its way onto the shelves, an album consisting of 10 climatic songs dug up from the Polish Radio archive. "All of the material is a vivacious dialogue with traditional Polish music," the vocalists say, and the critics add that discovering and familiarizing yourself with the album is an extraordinary musical adventure:
The song order on the album dos not let the listener get bored, simultaneously giving him a chance to remain for a moment in the extreme mood, that music has a way of putting us in. Amazing intuition, girls!(…)
Techniques taken from sutartines (canons, polyphony) calm the audience and put them in a trance state of exaltation. Lithuanian tradition harmonizes perfectly with Polish lyrics. A special song for me is Niedźwiedź (Bear), that gives me goose bumps and Kuchenny (From the Kitchen) – probably the most esoteric of all the songs.
– commented Anna Sitko on the website etnosystem.pl
Wiano received the III Folk Recording of the Year Award. In the jury’s justification we can read:
This trio combines poetry, theatre and musicality into one fascinating and stunnigly original whole. They sing with such lightness, they swiftly manoeuvre around each other, exchange and meet with their voices, and create such intimacy and playfulness that reveal their virtuosity. Intoxicating and hypnotic. Pure genius.
With one voice
Do not be afraid Maniuchna, Maniuchna do not be afraid / The first night Jasio will let you be / But the second one he will not give way / So you can say he does not respect you / The third you will feel worse / Because he will raid you everywhere / Hands, legs, back / Saving the best for last(…)
Their voices intertwine in such a perfect way that it becomes impossible to recognize one from the others – and that is the idea, that the listener cannot decipher exactly whose voice is spinning this string of the song. "We are a tightly braided plait, like fabric", Basia Songin explains, who is fascinated with Lithuanian and Polish polyphonic songs sung mainly by women – sutartines. The inspiration for the name of their musical ensemble. It means to be in concordance, in agreement. The girls do not change the traditional songs, although each of them sings with their own sensitivity and understanding of the lyrics.
Music is something very close, very intimate for us. It is a dialogue with the past. Traditional songs were and still are a part of everyday life, kitchen life," said Kasia Kapela. "Because as people we have not changed all that much", adds Basia Songin adds.,"We talk about what was important for our ancestors 100, 200 years ago. About girls who would comply with their parents’ wishes, about sadness, the unfairness of one’s fate, about first love or heartbreak. Polish songs are all about what we seek in life, therefore we tell our own stories too. The audience at our concerts, understands these seemingly archaic lyrics, and catches the irony and humour infallibly.
Apart from songs, the musical trio has also performed the show Watermelon, which had its premiere at the 34th Review of Stage Songs in Wrocław. It is a concert made of original compositions inspired by traditional Kujawski and Mazovian swing, as well as, traditional Polish songs. They perform on the most important domestic stages – such as the Katowice OFF Festival. Sutari was one of the 10 groups selected during the festival by KEXP-FM, a cult radio station from Seattle, to play before its microphones. The recording session will be shared with KEXP-FM audiences worldwide.
Author: AL, July 2015, Translated by: Zuzanna Wiśniewska