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Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.

Hania Rani

Hania RaniHania Rani, born in 1990 in Gdańsk, Poland is a Pianist, composer and musician who splits her life between Warsaw, where she makes her home, and Berlin where she studied and often works.

She has written for strings, piano, voice and electronics and has collaborated with other musicians like Christian Löffler, Dobrawa Czocher and Hior Chronik.

She released an album with her Polish group Tęskno last year and has performed at some of the most prestigious venues in Europe – from the National Philharmony in Warsaw, to Funkhaus in Berlin, to The Roundhouse in London.

It was there where she made her debut at the Gondwana 10th anniversary festival last October. She has also taken the stage at festivals such as Open’er, Scope Festival and Eurosonic.

Her compositions for solo piano were born out of a fascination with the piano as an instrument, and her desire to interpret its sound and harmonic possibilities in their entirety and in her own way.

In a recent feature, Hania Rani’s music was described as “sensitive music for insensitive times,” - a perfect reflection of what Rani gives the world of music. Ideally, she might not just provide that sensitivity, but also contribute a little to it.

Hania is a classically educated pianist, composer, and vocalist. Her growing skills and experiences, however, do not limit her inate curiosity about other genres outside of modern classical music.

She regularly shares the huge inspiration she finds in hip-hop or techno. No matter what she is currently listening to, her music always feels like a trip to the world of tenderness.

Hania RaniHer sound has been described as "melancholic pop based on sensitivity, calm vocals and dreamy piano sounds.

Back in 2015, Rani released a critically acclaimed album with violinist Dobrawa Czocher. Their record, entitled ‘Biała Flaga’, was a tribute to the achievements of Republika, one of the most influential Polish bands.

With its charismatic and prematurely deceased leader Grzegorz Ciechowski, Republika had a big impact throughout the Polish scene. The Rani-Czocher album is a stirring act of commemoration of the genius of Ciechowski and his bandmates.

In 2017, Rani joined forces with another talented artist, Joanna Longić. They created Tęskno, one of the most successful projects in modern Polish music. Melancholic pop, in which delicate voices and piano music takes the lead, has gained wide appreciation.

After a great debut album and numerous concerts, Rani decided to go solo. She signed a contract with a prestigious British label, Gondwana Records.

In 2019, she released a debut solo album entitled ‘Esja’. a record that was widely successful outside of Poland.

On this album, Rani presents her own vision of contemporary classical music, inspired by the work of figures such as Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, or Agnes Obel.

Soon after the premiere, she began to play concerts all over the world. However, traveling does not dissuade her from recording songs. A new album from Rani will be released later this year, entitled Home - it was due on the 15th of May on Gondwana Records.

Unlike the previous album, in addition to instrumental songs, there are also tracks on which Rani sings, as was the case with the Tęskno duo.

Hania RaniWhat’s more, Rani went outside piano-only structures and sneaked some intimate, soft electronics into her sound. The album was another huge success for this Polish artist.

On this record, Rani showed her wide arranging and technical capacity. It’s become clear she’s not only a great pianist, but is also the real deal as a composer.

Further proof of that came through later releases, like her remix of well-known Polish electronic duo Skalpel - Rani reinterpreted their song ‘Escape’.

In some interviews, she even talked about her fascination with rap and electronic music and even the rougher edges, like techno.

Hania Rani might just be one of the most novel and exciting additions in the future of European music. Her seemingly limitless skill and inspiration seem to take her into the most undiscovered and enthralling corners of the world of music.

Last year was an intensive time for Polish artists. Many of them worked hard in the studios. Some of them tried to cooperate inside and outside the country. Hania Rani is the perfect example of the latter type.

Rani hasn’t stopped making new music. Just a few months after the premiere of her last record, she started to present other releases. One of them was a remix.

This might surprise listeners because many only know Hania Rani as a masterclass pianist and composer. But in interviews, the Polish artist often speaks about her growing fascination with electronic music.

In the past year, she made several remixes of songs recorded by Polish and international bands. Portico Quartet was one of them.

The British jazz musicians are proteges at Gondwana Records, the same label as Rani, so in that sense collaboration is a natural fit.

Hania RaniOn the other hand, it’s quite a unique situation when non-electronic artists make remixes of songs by each other.

The outcome of this project is two stunning remixes. Both of them are a perfect balance of the musical roots of the original authors and the style of the remixers. In these two songs, it seems three worlds collide - British jazz, neoclassic piano music, and subtle, ambient electronic music.

When asked about when she worked with Portico Quartet and about the feelings and emotions that this cooperation gave her she replied:

"Both projects were interesting and very demanding work for me, for various reasons. We are very different from Fejka – first of all, in our musical tastes, so composing a piece together took many months, and we hesitated until the last minute in choosing the right version."

"The remix for Portico was a huge challenge for me. The idea of creating remixes of each other’s songs came about in the spring of last year, but it took a long time - and a lot of thought - before I decided on one particular song and the way I would approach it."

"Personally, the remix for Portico is closer to my heart, for very private reasons – for many years I have been a huge fan of this band, so the opportunity to cooperate and discuss work with musicians whom I have admired for a long time was a dream come true."

"The idea for the remix came from the Gondwana Records label, the same record label which releases both my albums and Portico’s."

"I was not really surprised that they wanted to implement such an idea. Gondwana is more of a family than a company, where everyone strongly supports their actions, successes, and is very motivating of each other."

"There are few musicians and employees to maintain direct contact and close relationships with. Nevertheless, I realized that Portico Quartet were a very picky team, analyzing every detail for possible cooperations and projects."

"With that in mind, their willingness to cooperate with me surprised me and made me very happy. Each of us worked on our remixes. It took several months for me, mainly because of the difficulty I had in choosing the right track that I could interpret."

Hania Rani"In the end, we sent each other ready-made demos for the audition, and fortunately, both sides were very satisfied."

"Far more discussion arose when choosing the right cover. Duncan Bellamy - Portico’s drummer, is also an excellent graphic artist, responsible for most of the album covers of the quartet as well as for other bands."

"It was decided that the cover should also be a cooperation, so we decided to combine my passion for analog photography and the modern graphic prints associated with the Portico Quartet."

"The selected photo is one from 2017 that I took in Iceland with a borrowed camera. I like the photos a lot, so I was glad when it turned out this photography will have a new life on the cover of our album."

"Portico Quartet has been one of my favorite bands for years - they are a great inspiration and authority in the field of music. It’s hard not to hear my references to their work, for example on my latest album in ‘Tennen’ or ‘Zero Hour’."

"In 2019, I had the opportunity to participate in their live concerts several times and I must say that I often return to the emotions and sounds that I can convey on stage in my own work."

"I appreciate them the most for their music, the style of which I would describe as modern, but full of feelings. I have the impression that Portico have great class, but also magnetism - an energy that captivates – both on their albums and at their concerts. It is a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me."

"Our collaboration was based on such good, shared energy that it is certain that there will be something else done in the future."

Hania Rani"Initially my parents never expected me to stay with music for a long time. They thought, after primary school, I’d want to go to regular school."

"But, I really found my passion for music in those first few years of learning as a child. Even practicing was fun for me. I also found many friends in music school who shared that same passion. I knew wanted to stay and, even back then, was already sure that I also wanted to go to music university."

"In the beginning my parents were surprised and also a bit worried about my future. They worried about how I would financially support myself in the future. But they always supported me a lot."

"It is something I really appreciate now, looking back. Music always brought me a lot of freedom. I didn’t feel too much pressure. The core, the essence of music brought me joy, peace, and freedom."

"Whereas the pure nature of music made it easy for me to follow my way, it wasn’t always an easy way. Altogether, from my first piano lessons, to finishing university in Berlin, I studied classical music for twenty years."

"These were very specific studies. Classical music is a subject that is, by its nature, quite traditional and strict. This was fascinating, but also difficult and hard."

"You study the classical world of music and learn how to perform other people’s compositions."

"To be honest, I was very good, but I wasn’t the best. I was very ambitious and frustrated. The fact that I couldn’t be perfect, that I wasn’t good enough or skilled enough, made me sad."

"I felt profoundly confused because, on the one hand, I really loved music, but this way of performing it and this strict education didn’t really match my personality."

Hania Rani"So, I found myself in a rather difficult position as well. However, throughout my studies I came across coincidences, opportunities, and ideas to to be creative and stretch the limits."

"To not just interpret someone else’s compositions but to also try to create something of my own - I always jumped at these coincidences and took these opportunities."

"As time progressed, I found myself to be more of a composer than a performing artist. Finding success through my own compositions began after my bachelor degree."

"My friend, Dobrawa Czocher who is a cellist, asked me if I wanted to rearrange the songs of Grzegorz Ciechowski, a very famous, deceased Polish rock star. I loved the idea and wanted to create an instrumental version for piano and cello."

"We rearranged his music and performed it at a festival. A journalist from a popular Polish radio station was at the festival. He liked what we did and offered us to play a full concert at the radio station and to broadcast it live."

"We did the concert and an overwhelming number of people listened. The reactions were so positive that we decided to record our first album."

"The wheels started turning quickly because I was very encouraged with our success. Plus, I greatly enjoyed playing our own arrangements and tunes."

"I immediately began to look for more opportunities. We did several projects together. Of course, it all took its time and sounds easier than it was, but it was a wonderful, life-changing process."

Hania Rani"Then I went to do my masters in Berlin, still studying classical piano. Moving to Berlin was difficult for me and at the same time another life-changing moment."

"In a way it was quite ironic, because I made it through the entry exams and moved to a foreign country with a specific aim in my mind, only to then quickly realize that this aim no longer interested me."

"Berlin was the place where I finally realized without a doubt that I did not want to play traditional, classical music anymore. It was there I knew I wanted to make my own music."

"I think it was the culture and mentality in Berlin which augmented this thought process in me. Berlin is a very welcoming city and it is amazing how natural and free people can feel in this place."

"I observed many people on the streets and in the metro. And had the feeling that in Berlin you can be whatever you want. You can have a regular job, or be a crazy DJ, or an artist, or a free spirit. This vibe I found gave me the sign to follow my own heart as well."

"Sharing in Berlin’s culture for a while was such a freeing experience. Just to see how people live their life. It changed my way of thinking. Which would never have happened to this extent had I stayed in Poland."

"The multi-cultural and free place of Berlin really affected my dreams - it was there I allowed myself to dream big."

"I feel I am the lucky one. There are many talented people. I have a lot of luck in my life in meeting the right people and finding all these amazing opportunities."

Hania Rani"It really isn’t just about your talent. All the elements must come together. So, in a way, the twenty years I spent practicing classical piano are essential as well."

"I spent all my life developing a skill. And now I am using this knowledge, these tools, to develop my own music."

"It is a lot of work. I am also working under pressure. But, I am immensely grateful for this fulfilling life and work."

"Every day, I am amazed that this is my job, my career. And, looking back, it seems that somehow I did the right thing from the very beginning."

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