Mela Koteluk had one of the most interesting musical debuts of recent years.
When her first album Spadochron (Parachute, trans. MG) was released, Mela Koteluk was almost 27 years old. The long-prepared album won recognition from both fans and industry experts, who honoured it with a music industry award Fryderyk for the debut of the year. They also recognised Mela Koteluk as the artist of the year 2012.
Malwina (Mela) Koteluk was born on 3rd July 1985 in Sulechów (Lubusz Voivodeship). When she went to high school, she moved to Zielona Góra. Since 2002, she has been living in Warsaw. She started her career in 1996. First, she sang in choirs of Gaba Kulka and the German band The Scorpions. She performed both with a symphony orchestra in a concert hall and with a single piano in a small club.
Today, when many beginners in this profession try to win one of TV talent shows and release their first album for a big label, Koteluk is an exception. She managed to make her debut in EMI label, even though – as she said in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza daily:
I didn’t want to promote myself in a talent show. It wouldn’t fit my character, my psyche. If I went to such a programme, I would not be able to show what I wanted. There are top-down rules in such shows. What we’re doing is standing out from the cover trend that’s so popular on TV.
The title of the album Spadochron released in May 2012 refers to Coldplay’s Parachutes, probably the best pop rock album of the last dozen years. Koteluk and her band, just like Chris Martin’s group, mixes rock, gentle electronics, and pop in songs with graceful, clever lyrics in the foreground.
Straight after the release of Koteluk’s first songs, she was compared to Katarzyna Nosowska from Hey. The best example is the opening song from Spadochron – Dlaczego Drzewa Nic Nie Mówią (Why Trees Are Speechless, trans. MG). Similarities to the most important Polish rock poet of the last decades can be seen not only in Koteluk’s voice, lyrics, sentence structure, but also in the way of singing and even the musical part of the song. She’s simple and honest about what is most important to her, just like a young Nosowska. On the other hand, she is less interested in verbal acrobatics in Lech Janerka’s style than Hey’s vocalist.
The artist’s talent for writing texts organically combined with music is worth emphasising. It is rare for a debutant to achieve such a fullness – in recent years maybe Maria Peszek on her Miasto Manii (Mania City, trans. MG) managed to do it. However, younger artists, such as Brodka (to whom Koteluk has also been compared), needed more time to express themselves in such a strong way.
Another ‘sibling’ of Mela Koteluk is Julia Marcell, whose artistic path may resemble Koteluk’s song Niewidzialna (Invisible, trans. MG), arranged for piano and voice. The song seems safe until Koteluk (co-author of the whole music layer of the album) introduces the saxophone part – she ’spoils’ the mood, surprises, confuses the threads. She is not afraid to experiment.
The song Działać Bez Działania (To Act Without Action, trans. MG) from Koteluk’s debut album was used in one episode of TVN series True Law. The song Pieśń O Szczęściu (Song About Happiness) by Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński, sang in a duo with Czesław Mozil, promoting the film Baczyński directed by Kordian Piwowarski, also gained her many fans. She recorded a song with Internet star Cezik, and at concerts she also performed together with Rykarda Parasol, Misia Furtak, Stanisław Soyka. She has performed in Jarocin and at Open’er Festival, and in June 2013 – at the gala concert in Opole with a programme composed of songs by Wojciech Młynarski. In turn, in the autumn of 2013, Mela Koteluk recorded the song Święty Chaos (Saint Chaos, trans. MG) to the music written by Michał Lorenc promoting the audio series written by Cezary Harasimowicz.
She does not neglect her own work. In spring 2013, she released a single entitled Wielkie Nieba / To Trop (Good Heavens! / It’s a Trace, trans. MG), and took part in the Open Stage session in Łódź, where both songs from the single and song Stale Płynne (Constantly Fluid, trans. MG) were recorded. This was the shortest song from Spadochron, but here the artist has extended it by half, but the essential part of this work gained even more importance. Listening to Mela Koteluk’s singing accompanied only by ukulele, is probably the best way to hear the power of her voice and its characteristic, matt timbre.
Mela Koteluk’s second album entitled Migracje (Migrations, trans. MG) was released in November 2014. The album was promoted by singles Fastrygi (Bastings, trans. MG) and Żurawie Origami (Crane’s Origami, trans. MG). Migracje established the vocalist’s position, going double platinum in Poland and thus repeating the success of her debut album.
In 2015, during the sixth edition of Męskie Granie Festival, she performed the official single of the tour entitled Armaty (Cannons, trans. MG) together with Fisz, Tomasz Organek, Krzysztof Zalewski, and Smolik.
Released in 2018, Migawka (Shutter, trans. MG) is the third album of Mela Koteluk. The album consists of eleven tracks in a moderate tempo. There also are many sounds characteristic of nature, such as the sound of trees, waves, and the singing of birds. In this respect, the album is a kind of experiment – all tracks were recorded at a frequency of 432 hertz, a frequency characteristic of the sounds of nature. The lyrics were written by Mela Koteluk and the music was a joint work of the band. In the lyrics, the artist used metaphors to refer to such concepts as love, freedom, and death. In March 2019, Migawka was honoured with the Fryderyk Award in Album of the Year – Alternative Pop category.
- 2012 - Spadochron
- 2014 - Migracje
- 2018 - Migawka
- 2007 - 2nd prize in the 34th Let’s Sing Poetry National Castle Meetings competition
- 2012 - Grzegorz Ciechowski Artistic Award of the City of Toruń
- 2013 - Ale Sztuka! Award (prize awarded by Gazeta Wyborcza daily, Zachód Radio and TVP Gorzów)
- 2013 - Fryderyk Award (artist of the year)
- 2013 - Fryderyk Award (debut)
- 2015 - nomination for Fryderyk Award (pop album of the year – Migracje)
- 2015 - Fryderyk Award (music video of the year – Fastrygi)
- 2015 - nomination for SuperJedynka Award (SuperAlbum category – Migracje)
- 2015 - nomination for SuperJedynka Award (SuperArtist category)
- 2019 - Fryderyk (alternative pop album of the year – Migawka)
Originally written in Polish by Jacek Świąder. Translated and updated by Marcin Gozdanek, November 2019.