Kitsch in moderation will not hurt anyone – Onet Muzyka, interview – 14.09.2018

Kitsch in moderation will not hurt anyone – Onet Muzyka, interview – 14.09.2018.


The fans have been waiting impatiently for this moment – and finally Michał Szpak’s new album is on the market. Before you buy “Dreamer”, read our interview with the singer. Not only about his premiering songs, but also about his dreams, fans, public image and coaching on “The Voice of Poland”.

Your new album is called “Dreamer”. Is it about you?

Yes. I’m a dreamer. I had imagined everything that is currently happening in my life. I am glad that this new material saw the light of day after three years. I am extremely curious about how it will be received. Right now, however, I am proud that I could show a different side of me on this CD. A side of my personality which no one has seen before.

Looking at all your successes, someone might think that you are a dreamer whose dreams have already come true and there is nothing new left to dream about.

I am certainty happy because everything that is happening around me is conducive to my personal and musical development. It is fantastic that fate allowed me to fulfil my dreams. There are many more of these dreams and they aim higher than the ones I am fulfilling now. But let’s stay calm: there is still time for everything. I am still young, and I believe that I will be able to fulfil all my dreams.

The subtitle of the song “Dreamer” is “Thanks To You My Friends”. Who are these friends who you thank in this way?

I don’t really have that many friends. However, I believe you shouldn’t have too many because then they are not real friends. Those that I do have, I thank for changing me as a human being. I don’t always have time for them in all this craziness, but they understand it. They allow me to grow. And when there is a situation that does not bode well for the future, they pull me down and say, “You can’t go this way.” (laughing)

Those friends you are talking about; are they people from your youth or those you’ve met in show business?

It varies. There are people I know from my childhood, but there are also those I’ve met throughout later stages of my life. There are not many of them: it’s about four or five people I can trust fully and in whose company I can really feel free.

Nineteen musicians worked with you on “Dreamer”. Have you also established a closer relationship with them?

Some of these people play at the concerts with me, so we’re heavily involved in music. I mean, for example, a string quartet that accompanies me from the previous album. And the rest – are session musicians, engaged by the producer. It’s a natural process when creating material. The producer selects instruments and musicians to achieve his goal. I think that in this case my producer rose to the challenge.

Exactly: “Dreamer” has a very rich sound. There are rock songs on it, but also more modern, electronic sounds. Did you want to record such an eclectic album from the start?

I am a man who feels free. So I try not to fit into a particular category. Also with music. That’s why this record is eclectic. And I’m glad that it is, because everyone can find something for themselves. First of all, this is an album that allows the listener to take a deep breath. There are songs on it that allow you to relax and rethink things. This is because now I feel comfortable and it feels I don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore.

Most of the tracks on “Dreamer” are ballads. Why is that?

Indeed, most of the material is kept in a calming tone. Why? I can’t answer that question. I think this CD is a good record of my life in recent years. There is a lot of murkiness there that needs calming. (laughing)

You are one of the few Polish artists who, singing in English, end up on the charts and radio stations. Is that why all the songs on the “Dreamer” album are in that language?

This is something that I am most afraid of: that there are no songs on this album in Polish. I am also a supporter of singing in my native language. But these numbers were written in English from the very beginning. In order not to lose the magic they had, we decided not to translate them into Polish. We’ll see how the fans will accept it.

Your previous album went platinum. Working on this new one, did you feel that you had to reach the same level or even surpass it?

No. The stress associated with this album is only due to my curiosity about how it will be received by the fans. I wonder if people prefer me in a more rock or electronic version. However, I feel no pressure to get platinum again. For me, the most important thing is that the listener who buys this record is happy. That they like what they hear. And this is the determinant of success for me in this case. And not the number of copies sold.

You have over two hundred thousand fans on Facebook. When you recorded “Dreamer”, did you feel the weight of their expectations?

Most of these people probably care more about what picture I am going to post the next day rather than what album I recorded. (laughing) I often look at the viewer on the other side of the monitor (laughing). They are interesting and curious beings. I like to surprise them. That’s why we’ve used a lot of tricks and decoys on my social media lately. This is an additional element of artistic expression for me.

Undoubtedly you are an idol to many young people in Poland today. How do you feel in this role?

I can’t answer that. I definitely wanted to be in the place I am now. And I still want to reach for new dreams. But is very nice if I am able to inspire someone. I just want to give people good energy – and that’s the most important thing for me.

Do you feel responsible for what your fans think and how they behave to some degree?

I’m certainly very proud of them. I am glad that I was able to gather around me such a huge group of fans who are buying my CDs and follow me to my concerts. I constantly feel their enormous support. I even envy myself that I managed to reach so many people. (laughing)

Do any of your fans ever cross the line of privacy?

That is not possible, because I set it out clearly and strongly. Although sometimes I am surprised by the behaviour of some people online – entitled attitudes towards me or other people. This, however, is normal in this world. Today people sometimes can’t control their emotions. Which does not change the fact that I am grateful to my fans for their great commitment.

Do you ever get opportunities to get to know them closer?

Yes. My contact with fans is managed by my official fan club, which has legal entity as an Association. This means that together with the management, we visit children’s hospitals in oncology clinics. We support sick children that are in need. We try to make their difficult time easier for them. When I appear on shows such as “The Voice”, a larger group of my fans come to the recordings – about a hundred people. And I get to meet them too. We take pictures together, sign autographs, with every fan I try to exchange at least a handshake or a hug. They appreciate me, and I them.

You mentioned ‘The Voice’. Once again, you sit in the coach’s chair. Do you feel good in this role?

I definitely enjoy working on television. It starts in the morning and ends sometimes late at night. You have to stay focused all the time and know exactly what you want to communicate. I also like my coaching role – because thanks to it I can share my experience with others.

You’re only 27 years old and have two albums under your belt. Don’t you think you’re too young to be a coach?

I think I can do it on an emotional level. I come from a musical family, I have a sister who is a qualified opera singer, who helps me in all this. I also go to singing lessons. So when it comes to knowledge about voice emission, I feel confident. I sing almost every day, so I need to know how to take care of this “instrument”. I took part as a participant in a talent show – so I experienced this kind of emotions first hand. Therefore, I am able to serve these debutants with my comments and advice at the very beginning of their artistic path.

Do you ever get haunted by the memories of those you rejected?

It is true that we feel guilt after rejecting someone. That we did this and not the other. However, one must be aware of the fact that the show is full of real emotions and someone has to leave, so that someone else can go further. Some participants are not yet ready to enter the professional stage. And leaving them on the show would be harmful to them. Because they couldn’t bear the weight of fame.

When I recently spoke with Marta Gałuszewska, she very much praised you as a coach. Apparently, you had great relationships with your pupils. Is it the same now?

I try to put as much energy into my “coaching” as I can. This year, however, there is a lot more concerts. That’s why I have very little time. But if I can do something extra, I try to do it. Because I know how important direct contact with a coach is at the beginning of a career.

After Marta’s victory, last year it was said that her win was largely made possible by the disciplined army of your fans. Do the other coaches also have no chance this time?

People in my group can certainly count on my support and those who believe in what I do. However, I can’t tell how this will translate into the final results of the vote.

We now have new coaches on the show. How are your relationships going?

I think that we get along very well. This season is so far light and conflict-free. I am very happy about it. But I do miss Marysia Sadowska a bit. However, I do think the current coaches make a good team.

There is no rivalry amongst you?

I think there are already sings of that. After all, we are divided into teams, each presenting those talents that they managed to win over.  But this is not a ‘knife fight’.

In the “The Voice” trailer, you appeared in a new hairstyle – braids. Do you experiment with your hair more often now?

Yes. I have a thing about experimenting. There will certainly be a few looks that will capture your attention. (laughing)

You are one of the few Polish pop and rock artists who pay a lot of attention to their stage image. Do you like to stand out?

This is how I express my respect for people who come to my concerts or watch me on TV. Everywhere in the world, the artist’s image is something that is extremely important, what they use every day. And I also try to introduce my audience to a different dimension with my appearance.

Once your image was more feminine, it has now become more masculine. What caused this change?

I think it is a natural progression. I once was 20 years old, now I am 27. Every day I am more and more mature, both as an artist and as a man. This was the biggest factor in my transformation. However, I still don’t like referring to that old image as “feminine”. Art has no gender. Even more so fashion. The world is changing. The change was kick-started by great artists such as Prince, Madonna and David Bowie long before me.

Your concert looks boldly bring a strong element of male erotica to the Polish stage. Unbuttoned shirt with rolled up sleeves and your hair let down. Once I saw you on stage stripped down to your waist – only wearing braces. You have no problem with reaching for such erotic gestures and looks?

I don’t think I’m anywhere near erotica. (laughing) The male body is so safe that even without a shirt it’s not obscene. So you can use it without a problem. Although … Perhaps this may appear erotic to some. I’ve never really thought about it. It all comes spontaneously. I just get carried away by energy when I’m on stage.

Another important element of your image is kitsch. Again, few Polish artists allow it. Aren’t you afraid that sometimes you cross the line between kitsch and art?

I don’t think so. Kitsch is very much needed. In the 80s and 90s it was ever present in the pop and rock scene. Look at Freddie Mercury or Guns N’Roses. And it didn’t bother anyone then. Therefore, I think that kitsch in moderation today will not hurt anyone. So I think I can afford to do it sometimes. We have hit a wall when it comes to visual arts – anyone can produce excellent quality sessions or music videos today. It’s time to start having fun.

Your concerts are very theatrical – even those from the joint tour with your sister. How much of what you show on stage is acting and how much is the real you?

I think you’ll always see the real Michal on stage. I’m just like that: it’s my imagination that is constantly working. Of course, I play different roles on stage, but it is compatible with my own personality. This is not a game to deceive anyone. One thing is certain: the visual value of my concerts will always be important, and even more important with the years gone by.

How do you remember your tour with Marlena?

It was wonderful! We were able to show a great spectacle which grew with every concert in front our eyes and the viewers’. Not only the repertoire itself changed, but also everything that appeared on stage. It was a fantastic time which culminated with a performance in Chicago, which was a huge success.

How were you received in the US?

My performance in Chicago was hailed as the best concert in fifteen years. It was a huge compliment for me.

Will you ever try working in the West?

I never say “never” or “always.” Anything is possible, and anything can happen. Yes, I dream about such great successes and I believe that they will be fulfilled one day.

Is your dad happy that you and Marlena chose a music career?

When I talk to him, he says he is proud of us. So I think that he is happy for us being successful. However, he is a critical person – that’s why I believe that if I go too far, he will tell me about it. He has not made any comments recently, so I think everything is fine.

Will your younger sister follow in your footsteps?

No. She wants to become a criminologist. (laughing) That does not stop her from singing and playing guitar. But only as a hobby.

Where does her passion for criminology come from?

That I don’t know. But she has a strong character, so she will definitely achieve what she wants.

And how does your older brother feel about your career?

Damian works as a paramedic. So he is a true Zen master in terms of empathy and giving support to another man.

Have you thought about starting your own family?

I am at that stage of my life where I am fulfilling myself professionally. At the moment I do not even have time to think about something like that. Fortunately, I have friends who give me support. However, my artistic pursuits do not allow me to slow down and meet someone new.

Would it be easy for you to trust someone like that?

I certainly have limited trust in someone I’m just getting to know. Later however, I approach them with optimism.

What can we expect from your autumn tour, during which you will be promoting “Dreamer”?

This will definitely be a unique tour due to new material, impressive stage design and  specific atmosphere. All concerts will take place in theatre halls. I hope that the performances will be spectacular – just like I imagine them.


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Oficjalny Fan Club Michała Szpaka | 2011 - 2018 - Wszystkie Prawa Zastrzeżone