When and where were you born?
I was born in Warsaw, Poland, not long before Solidarity appeared on the map of European social movements… What?! You don’t ask a lady how old she is ;-)
When did you start to play?
I started taking piano lessons at six, but would always wait for the bit of the lesson where we would sing. Needless to say, arpeggios and Burgmüller didn’t really stick with me; the songs did. After high school I’ve trained at the Frederic Chopin Music School in Warsaw with the Polish First Lady of Jazz, Ewa Bem. Afterwards I’ve studied at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.
Tell us about some of your previous projects.
First, let me tell you what’s happening now. Currently, I am putting finishing touches on my first solo album, which is due for release in the summer of 2012. I’ve written all of the songs on the record and collaborated with two of the best Polish producers Krzysztof Herdzin and Bogdan Kondracki, as well as a bunch of truly amazing musicians. I’ve also completed a successful Pledge Music campaign to raise money towards filming four live unplugged performances of my songs, which you can see on my YouTube channel. For latest news check out my website www.olabienkowska.com - the information on there is always up to date.
As for previous projects, since graduating from LIPA I was fortunate to work a lot as a session musician alongside the crème de la crème of the Polish music scene. I sang in house bands for live TV shows and concerts (Polish Pop Idol, Poland Eurovision Finals, several festivals) and sang BV’s for a long list of Polish pop stars, both on tour and in the studio – lately with Universal artist Ellie or on Seweryn Krajewski’s (the Polish Paul McCartney) film music project, released by Sony/BMG.
I’ve also starred in a few theatre shows; among others, I’ve played the lead female role of Sarah in Roman Polanski’s “Dance of the Vampires". I was also the first Polish member of the British National Student Theatre Company in a production of Six Women with Braindeath at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. When not on tour with Brit Floyd, I do a lot of dubbing and voice-overs, record TV adverts and jingles for radio stations.
If you had to take one album to your desert island, what would it be and why?
Hmmm… If I absolutely had to it would be a choice between Joni Mitchell – Both Sides Now, Billie Holiday – Lady in Satin, John Mayer – Continuum, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World", Bedřich Smetana’s – Vltava or any recording of Polish Highland music – guaranteed to make my day.
What gear do you tour with?
My MacBook is my third arm! I also travel with a spare Shure 58B, a bunch of Vocalzone tablets and Throat Coat. Does that count as “gear”?
One obscure interesting fact about yourself.
I’m a trained conference interpreter in English and German and have a Masters in Applied Linguistics from the University Of Warsaw. I’ve spent four years at MTV Networks as a Polish Versioning Producer at MTV and VH1.
One of the toughest jobs I have ever done was interpreting the MTV Europe Music Awards live for Polish MTV viewers – a whole of four hours in one go! I’ve only made one mistake – apparently Kylie Minogue drank shampoo instead of champagne... It was one small slip of the tongue, but the internet folk had a field day!
Other interesting facts? I can spend hours looking at graphic artist’s portfolios online! I am also obsessed with flowers and paper. When I grow up, I will open a stationary shop or will become florist.