The European Union has opened many opportunities in a variety of professional fields. Miguel Manzo wanted to find out from Polish singer/songwriter Ania Brzozowska if this included commercial musicians and of the challenges she faces as an artist emerging from a European country not known for breaking into the commercial music world.
Miguel Manzo: You’re an indie pop vocalist now, but that wasn’t always the case. How did your time playing violin in the Norwegian Symphony Youth Orchestra shape the music you make today?
Ana Brzozowska: Even though I have other influences, I think that on an unconscious level I always come back to my classical music roots, due to the fact that I played in the orchestra and both my parents are classical musicians. I incorporate string instruments into my music today.
MM: What inspired you to pursue a career as a vocalist instead of as an instrumentalist?
AB: I wanted more than being just a single part of an orchestra, and at one point I realised that I feel more fulfilled as a vocalist and songwriter.
MM: How has your Polish ancestry and Norwegian residency shaped your music?
AB: I love the dreamy fairytale sounds that are associated with Norway (there are plenty of those on my album): the fjords and the beautiful landscape, the Scandinavian calmness, etc. But I have been living in Poland for the past 10 years now. I feel that I’m influenced by both cultures, but it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly how.
MM: Are you faced with any challenges unique to artists in Poland?
AB: Comparing Poland to, for example, the U.S., it seems the American music industry is much more open to independent artists. In my experience, if you’re not backed by a big record label it’s very hard to get your music aired on radio stations and all other traditional media in Poland. So for me the key challenge is promotion. Apart from being a musician, it’s good to try and become a specialist in online marketing.
MM: Do you work on your vocal technique?
AB: I have vocal lessons as often as I can and I practice consistently to work on my skills. I also think it’s important for vocalists to exercise physically, to help their endurance, breath and voice control. The entire body is an instrument, vocal cords and otherwise, and I feel it’s important to take care of it all. Good technique makes it easier to express yourself without being inhibited, that’s why in order to create good habits, it’s important to think about it while you practice. On stage I don’t think about it, though. I trust that my body will remember what it has learned so far and just concentrate on feeling it, so that my audience can feel it too.
MM: In your opinion, how important is it to work with a good vocal coach?
AB: I think it’s very important no matter what level you’ve reached. A good coach can hear the smallest nuances and help you improve much faster than you would be able to on your own. Working on a regular basis with a good coach also helps make sure you cultivate good habits when you practice on your own. I think it’s important to try different teachers, as they might give you a different perspective, but at the end of the day, various factors influence who the best coach is for you. For me, a certain understanding on a psychological level is important; I like it when a teacher can give me feedback that goes beyond pure technique.
MM: “Give it Up” is a beautiful song that has a gorgeous corresponding video. Can you tell us about the decision to make a video for that song and the concept behind its production?
AB: Thank you, I’m glad you like it! I chose it because I felt it gave a good impression about who I am musically and that’s how I wanted to let people to get to know me. The song is very sensual and I wanted to make a video that tells a story, not just one that shows different footage of a girl singing. The director totally understood me and the song, so I was very pleased with the end result. I would love for my next videos to reach the same standards, but of course financing matters make high quality videos like that one challenging for an indie artist.
MM: Tell us about your favorite musical accomplishment to date.
AB: I’m happy to have won the Indie Music Channel’s award for ”Best Pop Female Artist” earlier this year with my song, “Give It Up”. That song was also #1 for eleven weeks on the Top 10 chart of The Radio Cafe show in Hollywood, and was aired on several other radio stations in the U.S. Also making it to the semi finals of The UK Songwriting Contest with a song called Erase & Rewind, which I co-wrote with Marek Błaszczyk.
I was thrilled it got noticed at all.
MM: What do you consider to be the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your career thus far?
AB: I’ve learned that you really need to be brave and believe in yourself, even when things aren’t going your way. Maybe especially then. If you give up too easily, then maybe music is not your path. Another big thing is staying true to yourself so you can remain believable to others.
MM: What’s on the horizon for Ania Brzozowska?
AB: Right now I’m concentrating on promoting my first album. I’m also learning Spanish as I’ve just moved to Barcelona. Soon I will do a tour around Spain before starting work on my second album.
Give It Up – Ania Brzozowska