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Warsaw is Freezing: Folk Dreamer Coldair Speaks

Warsaw is Freezing: Folk Dreamer Coldair Speaks

MTV Iggy's Artist of the Week is Warmer Than He Sounds

By Halley Bondy
February 4, 2013

Armed with brisk tunes off his upcoming album Whose Blood, Kyst-bandmember-turned-solo-artist Coldair won our Artist of the Week spot this week, making him one of few Poles to do so (see D4D and Iza Lach).

The SXSW veteran and 22-year-old(!!!) Coldair, aka Tobiasz Biliński, is creating lush, dreamy nu-folk a la Beirut or Sufjan Stevens, playing all the instruments in his studio recordings and taking almighty control over his sound. With his falsetto, those shades, and his generally congenial attitude, Coldair is a name we’d love to hear again — and we’re certain we will. In the meantime, here he is.

Why the name Coldair?

To be completely honest, I never thought that project name was such an important thing. I knew I had to make music under some moniker (well I didn’t have to, but I wanted to), so I started thinking what my sounds remind me of. I remember that I was on a winter tour with my other band Kyst, it was super cold. And then I thought my songs reminded me of cold air, but I didn’t like how Cold Air looked like, so I made it kinda “frenchy”, haha. Monsieur Coldair.

Why did you initially want to embark on a solo career?

I played in some bands, Kyst was the only one that got some attention. But after some time my personality started to yell:

“ARGH, I WANT TO DO IT MY WAY. AND ONLY MY WAY”.

Well, maybe I sounded like a douche, but I can’t help it. I really want to have full control over the music I make. I’m not that good at working or being with people and thinking together. So I started doing solo stuff — I’m very satisfied. I have a huge band live, but I’m the master of disaster in this project and I like it a lot more that way.

Musicians I work with are obviously super-talented and brought a lot of fresh sounds to the project. I’m very thankful that they are okay with such a despotism in the band.

Is Kyst still happening?

Nope. I mean, it’s frozen. We don’t really play shows, only once in a huge while. I don’t feel like reviving it.

When you play in a band vs. playing in your own solo project, do you feel like you become someone else during the process? 

Totally! In Kyst I was screaming, shouting, beating the shitt out of the drums. It was fun. On the other hand, in Coldair I’m more focused on the feelings. I write songs about love and death (who doesn’t, eh?). Coldair is my way of discovering myself, I’m digging deep into the hyper-emotional part of myself.

What’s new in Warsaw music?

To be honest, I don’t really pay much attention to this stuff. I only know very, very few good Polish bands. I would say How How, Etamski, Kristen and Napszykłat are very cool. Not all of them are new, but worth checking out for sure!

Has your city inspired your music in any way?

Well, that’s tricky. Warsaw is like most capital cities: not many people here are actually from here. My city is Sopot, a town by the Baltic Sea. I moved to Warsaw about two years ago. So both of these cities inspired my music in every possible way. Sopot is a quiet place, very beautiful. That’s also where I grew up, so obviously this has the strongest influence on me. But Warsaw gave me this “big-city-vibe-whatever”. When I moved here, I was filled with energy, met new people who did a lot of stuff, met great musicians, everything was new and exciting. Yeah, it inspired me a lot! Now it’s getting boring, I should move… Haha.

What do you typically reference in your lyrics?

When I write lyrics I just usually sit, smoke and dig deep in my brain, looking for the deepest thoughts, hidden feelings. Almost every time I really focus on that, I find something new, discover something about myself. My private philosophy states that music should be the audio-image of my personality, experience and feelings. So it’s basically about love, death, end of the world and other funky things.

When did you know that you knew you were going to be a musician?

I think I was 13 or 14… Me and Adam (Kyst guitarist) started our first band. It was called Pocket Symphony (after Air’s album). It totally SUCKED. Hehe. But yeah, back then I was already sure what I wanted to do

Who are some of your early influences?

I used to be a huge fan of Massive Attack, Radiohead, Sigur Rós, Portishead and some other semi-cheesy bands when I was a kid. I don’t listen to that stuff anymore, but it probably affected my music somehow. Around high school I started listening to Tortoise, Sonic Youth, Jim O’Rourke, Swans, Angels of Light, Akron/Family, Sufjan Stevens, Elliott Smith… And so on, and so on. I still love these bands.

You’re such a young dude, but your music has a maturity of some of the greats. Are you an old soul?

Haha, I would say so. I feel old. Some of my friends joke that I act like a 60-year-old.

I’m not the one to decide whether my music is mature or not, but if you say so, then: thank you!

For now I’m fine with being 22 and making mature music.

What should we expect from Whose Blood? What makes it different from Far South?

In my opinion it’s a lot different than Far South, it’s far less “warm” and oneiric.

I would say Whose Blood more epic, dignified, filled with undefined anxiety, but still has some kind of warmth and safety. It focuses more on those “not-so-nice” parts of myself.

What’s next for you?

Whose Blood premieres on April 15th, I’m releasing one new single – “Holiness” – before that. A video for the first single “Sign” is being made at this very moment. In March I will visit Toronto for Canadian Music Week, April/May – shows, shows, shows! Check my Facebook for detailed info about these gigs.

Around April I will start recording an EP with my gorgeous girlfriend – that should be interesting.

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