Post #200: a tribute to Novika

It’s been quite a break, hasn’t it? I was tempted to write several times in this period, but I wanted to keep post #200 for something special. In the meantime, I travelled back home for the summer, had a (happy) birthday and thought of some ideas for music videos I plan to make with my friends. But today, I want to tell you about an artist very special to me.

She influenced choices of musical paths I follow in a significant way. So, with the attention she deserves (I owe her that!), I’m gonna tell you about some stages that strengtened my admiration for her as an artist over, oh my, about 9 years.

Meet Novika.

Novika

First time I experienced her charm was when I saw Smolik’s ‘T.Time’ music video where she appeared as a guest vocalist. There’s much more to this song that made me love it so much – lyrics and mood most importantly – but without Novika it wouldn’t be that good. The way she speaks out every word makes it an urban poem to me. What’s more, little imperfections in her singing skills (that she’s greatly improved over the years) creates this amazing, mysterious mood that I’ve fallen in love with. Back in 2001, when I heard ‘T.Time’, I was listening to quite a different range of music – including most of the stuff that was played on MTV back then (yes, there was music on MTV back then! That is what this station was once all about), because that was still a pre-Internet era for me – and I believe that this very song was a seed of love for electronica that turned into a strong tree (Listening Tree I shall say).

In 2002, there was another music video I came across on MTV that featured Novika. It was ‘Wyspy’ (‘Islands’) – a song by Futro (Fur) project that Novika was a part of, and an acclaimed guest rapper Fisz. I’ve always found the song cold and unfriendly, and the lyrics are kinda disturbing. At the same time, there was something hypnotisingly appealing about it. I believe it’s Novika’s strange charm. Why strange? Well, her singing wasn’t cute or perfect or anything else that people would connotate with ‘charming’. She wasn’t just another singer. She more than that… She was genuine and she was truly interested in music  – that’s what I already knew back then.

Over next few years, I learned much more about Novika. She had radio auditions called ‘Radio Leniwa Niedziela’ (‘Lazy Sunday Radio’) where she played, well, basically the music she was into. Combo of electronica and laziness. I have to admit that I’m not a big radio listener, but I got the picture when she released a compilation Polskie Leniwe Seruje Novika (well, this one is tricky to translate… ‘leniwe’ is a name of a Polish dish but it means ‘lazy’ as well; so the title would be: Polish ‘leniwe’ served by Novika) in 2005.

Polish 'Leniwe' Served by Novika

On this two-disc compilation I’ve found plenty of amazing tracks. I had no idea there was such a good music in Poland! This release was a milestone in a development of my musical identity. Novika opened the door to the world of independent artists that was not so easy to come across unless you knew where to look for them. Thanks to this album I became aware of artists such as my favourite Loco Star or Husky. It was a blast. Novika became a symbol of new quality to me. I have followed all her projects ever since.

A year before, Novika released an album that featured her collaborations with various artists – I missed it somehow as it was in pre-Polish ‘Leniwe’ era, but I did my homework. This album was called simply feat. Novika, because that was what you should put in the title of each song. On the album you could find songs with Smolik, Futro, Fisz – all of whom I’ve mentioned before in this post, as well as some other artists such as Tim Flavio, Mafia Mike, Adamus or 15 Minut Projekt (think: Fox). Quite an eclectic release, but general label ‘electronica’ could be put on it.

feat. Novika

This album wasn’t that revolutionary to me, but it had quite a few good club tunes on it. Novika was involved with the Polish club scene a lot – she was DJ-ing and performing alongside other DJs as an improvising vocalist (and she is absolutely brilliant – I’ve seen her a few times in this role, I know what I’m talking about).
I can remember that there was a TV show ‘Two faces’ on TVN station back then. The idea of it was that they were taking a person on it and over a couple of weeks or so teaching him/her a new profession with help of successful professionals; afterwards they were taking part in a competition in an area of their new profession to see how good they turned out to be. So, there was one episode where they took a classical musician and tried to make her a DJ with Novika – amongst the others – as her mentor. All I can remember is Novika being all genuine and enthusiastic about what she was doing. My admiration grew even stronger.

I can’t remember when it happened exactly, but it was some time in 2005 I guess… Novika created a DJ-collective called Beats Friendly. It consists of Lexus, Rawski, Lipstick, Bartek Winczewski, Harper, Gama, and Novika herself. They tour around and play the freshest tunes out there. I have seen them in action a few times and trust me – it’s highly dangerous: once you go to the dancefloor, you stay there until they stop playing (or you drop dead)… I can remember when they were performing as the very last act on Open’er in 2006 – me and my best friend were absolutely wrecked after all days of the festival and we had just finished a dance marathon with Roger Sanchez but we went to see them. Their energy took over my body somehow and I have found some more power to dance, dance wildly, until they finished – and the DJ behind the deck was not that willing to end the party! Good times…
In 2006 they released a double disc compilation called Friendly Beats. It was a real deal as you could find there some tracks that had never been released in a form other than vinyl. There are gems all over. It was the first time I came across M.I.A.! Obviously, when I look at the tracklist these days, all the artists all well-known to me now… But it was this release that showed me some interesting paths to follow.

Friendly Beats

I guess in the meantime (or maybe even before Friendly Beats release) I came across a mini set they made for Smirnoff and again – lots of excitement. They just pick and mix great songs creating this vibe I love. A couple years later, they released another compilation called Grooves & Moves where you could find more inspiring sounds. I bet seeing the tracklists of both Beats Friendly releases and Polskie Lenive will give you a better idea than my wordy descriptions – just go here to see them. One of the tracks on Grooves & Moves was ‘Every problem’ made by Novika & Rawski:

Tricks of Life

Let’s go back to autumn 2006 when Novika released her first proper solo album called Tricks of Life. On that record she revealed more of herself. She stepped back from club-oriented electronica and experimented with more cosy sounds. She co-produced all tracks together with an eclectic guest producers: Tomek Ziętek (Loco Star) who produced two of the best tracks from Tricks of Life (‘Depend on You’ and ‘California Dreaming’ cover), Artur Rojek (Myslovitz) who together with Novika and Marsija (Loco Star) created beautifully airy and moving song ‘So Full’ (my #1 on this album; unfortunatelly there is no original version in the web that I could post), Envee, Smolik, and even Jaskułke – a jazz composer. It was something special, something different. Versatility of this record is quite impressive: next to warm electronica there are also dramatic acoustic songs. I would say that this record strengtened Novika’s credibility as an artist and showed that she is not only music trends savvy but also able to use this awareness and inspirations to create something genuinely hers. Below – ‘Tricks’, the leading single, and ‘Depend on You’:

Over the years, Novika collaborated with Smolik on his next two albums. Every time she brings this very special quality that I am so sensitive to. Example below:

Lovefinder

This year, Novika released her second solo album Lovefinder where you can find, well, I guess you can actually find love – I ‘hearted’ two tracks on my last.fm profile. In my case, it is ‘Perfect Beach’ and ‘Żabka’ that got my heart. ‘Perfect Beach’ is produced by Tomek Ziętek who has grown to be one of the best producers in Poland these days, or to be perfectly honest –  THE best one to me. The song is quite raw, but it has so much depth to it, so much space… It could be a moving listen just as an instrumental version, let alone with Novika’s vocals and a children ‘choir’… A masterpiece.
‘Żabka’ is a mix of jazzy grooves and improvisations, electronica with a deep beat, fairytale-like lyrics, mysterious vocals (is it Polish? is it Japanese? is it improvised? I never know), and even a guest appearance of her daughter Nina – no matter how random it sounds, it creates a thrilling complete space that you want to visit again and again. Amazing.
The rest of the album is an up-/mid-tempo electronica with catchy melodies, like for example  lovely lighthearted ‘Lovefinder’:

It is hard to describe the content of this album more precisely on a general level as there is a lot of variety. One can say that so many producers (amongst the others: Bogdan Kondracki, Tomek Ziętek, Emade, Fox, Maximilian Skiba) make it hard for the album to be coherent – and I can agree with that to a certain extent – but it is 100% Novika to me. Maybe it is because of my experience with her: great compilations, guest appearances, gigs with Beats Friendly, differentiatied first solo album… She has always had a lot of flavours to offer and this eclectictism is what I love about her.
What I noticed on this album is that her singing is way better than ever. I have always liked her vocal, even if it was imperfect, but improved skills allow her to show more character and she makes the most of it. Maybe it is the reason why she sounds so comfortable on this record.

You can listen to a few tracks, including ‘Perfect Beach’, on her official MySpace. Below, you can watch a music video for ‘Miss Mood’ which is the leading single from ‘Lovefinder’ (I have to honestly say that I don’t like this video… but the song rocks!):

This year, she also appeared on two tracks from Fox Box (I wrote about this project a few times, so I hope it rings a bell), and even though they may be overshadowed by stunning performances by Marsija, Bunio and Maria Peszek, they are good – especially ‘Overload’ that closes the album. This Sunday I am going to see Fox Box team and Tim Exile (!), so I am looking forward to see Novika (and all the others too!) after quite a long break. I plan to see her on another event in June (Cudawianki) and at the Open’er Festival as well… Novika sings ‘When it’s all too much’, but on this occasion I would rather quote Roisin Murphy’s song title – ‘Never enough’!

So this is my big inspiring adventure with Novika – by now! I believe it will last for many more years and who knows – maybe I will make a music video for her one day…

Thank you, Novika!

Advertisements
    • Kuba
    • June 12th, 2010

    Well written article bout Novika. “Lovefinder” was chosen as the song of a month in August (there is a special contest every month at ukmix.org where members are choosing songs from particular countries around and in August Poland has won for the 1st time).

  1. Thanks! in August?! I don’t think the song was out back then… Unless you had a flashforward 😉

    • Kuba
    • June 23rd, 2010

    LOL, I meant April :]

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: