'I don’t see how I could compromise'
Ben Miles
12:54 27th May 2021

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Few artists are currently operating with the same confidence and assurance as Berry Galazka. The Polish-American musician may only be gearing up for the release of her debut EP, Man Can’t Hang, Ain't Part of the Gang, but the vision that guides the whole project has given her a clarity that not many can lay claim to. 

Debut single, ‘Man Can’t Hang’, was a bold and uncompromising introduction to Galazka’s musical style as well as the unstoppable force that drives her music. Calling out the male patriarchy and the inequality it has wreaked on society, Galazka made it clear that politics and issues of social justice would be at the forefront of her work. Her second single, ‘Marisa’, was far gentler in arrangement, but was no less resolute in its lyrical content. Galazka recounts a time she was bullied at school by the eponymous Marisa, whom she then confronted the next day on advice from her mum. This is where our conversation starts, as I ask her about her second single and more specifically the influence her family has had on her life. 

“Well, she’s definitely my biggest influence,” Galazka admits freely about her mum. “I’m an only child, single mum, very close connection, kind of one of those sisterly bonds.” This close bond extends to her wider family, as she explains: “Mum’s from Warsaw, my grandma is from Poland as well - and I just remember so much fire and love. My and mum and grandma and my uncle all lived in the same house. And so it was a very close bond and a very unconventional family.”

it is this tight-knit connection that Galazka claims has helped build her forthright personality, despite occasional conflicts within her family. “My grandma was very Catholic - like traditional - but my mum was very anti-establishment, she wrote for all these underground anti-Communist newspapers in Poland,” she explains. “So the way she taught me and raised me was not with a lot of rules, despite my grandma thinking it would turn me into some heathen when I got older. But my mum was like ‘no: Berry is very empathetic and intuitive, so there are some things she needs to learn and she can learn those lessons herself’...so from a very young age, I had a lot of agency and got to make my own choices.”

This personal freedom has since translated into her work as she remains firmly in control of the overall creative process. “With my team...they’re all very supportive of what I want, what art I want to make, what do I want to present,” she states. “But I definitely take their advice and I process it all. I’m open to everything, but it all comes through my filter...and I don’t see how I could compromise.” 

But despite this determination to remain in the driving seat of her career, she has been open to collaboration. Her latest release, a reissue of ‘Man Can’t Hang’, saw Suzi Wu and GIRLI make an appearance, with all three artists revelling in their feminine power and authority.

Resistance to the patriarchy has always been a central tenet to Galazka’s music, a guiding force through which she vocalises her identity as both an artist and a person. But it is in her own creative process that she also exorcises her opposition, refusing to let male-defined artistic standards play a role in her music. In the build-up to her debut single, Galazka went on record saying, “I don’t believe in struggling over art, that is a dated patriarchy masculine energy trope.” “If you look at how the artist has been defined,” she expands, “It has been defined by men.” This, she claims, has meant that concepts such as “push”, “ambition” and “hustle culture” have become integral to the way art is perceived, a development she believes has excluded women who still live under expectations of passivity. For Galazka, artistry doesn’t have to be a struggle. “If you just let go, sit down and start writing, it all comes to you. Art is not a struggle. Art and creativity are life-giving.”

Despite the positive moves Galazka is making in the early stages of her career, her music stands as a reminder of the necessary work still to be done. Female artists enjoyed huge success at this year’s recent Grammy and BRIT Awards with the Album of the Year category won by a woman at both ceremonies. Yet Galazka feels like material prizes aren’t near good enough. “I think the Grammys and a lot of institutions...do things when they feel this public pressure, but then it kind of fizzles out. How much of it is actually genuine?” she asks. 

Regardless of the evident need for change, Berry Galazka remains an artist on a clear and steady rise. So assured have her initial releases been that it is clear this is not an artist finding her feet. Instead, her music has become a platform for not just her talents, but also her social conscience. As such, the Man Can’t Hang, Ain't Part of the Gang EP, out today, begins her movement into a career that will be about much more than her music.  

Man Can’t Hang, Ain't Part of the Gang EP is out now.

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Photo: Emily Stein