2011 has been a breakout year for Scala & Kolacny Brothers as they conquered the United States and Canada with a major tour, in support of their first North American CD release, including dates in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago as well as the SXSW and Coachella festivals. This success was immediately followed by a first record release in the U.K., a sold out show at London's Union Chapel and a triumphant performance at England's Latitude Festival where they played the prestigious and exclusive Sunday noon slot. 2011 has brought Scala & Kolacny Brothers the status of international phenomenon and it all seemed to start with a simple email.
When the email arrived in May 2010, the Kolacny brothers thought it was some kind of joke. It purported to be from Hollywood, an inquiry about their music. There was a particular song theyd done that would perfectly suit the trailer of a forthcoming movie, it said. Yeah, the brothers thought, right. It wasnt the sort of email that two classically trained musicians from a small Belgian town were used to receiving. But the request was genuine and the film turned out to be The Social Network. It transpired that the director, David Fincher, is a huge fan.
The song in question is a hauntingly beautiful acoustic reworking of Radioheads Creep sung by a female choir accompanied by a single piano. In July 2010, two months after the brothers received the email, the trailer for The Social Network was released featuring more than two minutes of Creep. The powerful music was center stage, heightening a growing sense of unease like a chorus of fallen angels. Like the film itself, the trailer has been a huge global hit more than 250 million people have seen it in theatres, on TV, or online. Thanks in part to the subsequent buzz on social media, traffic to the brothers website went through the roof: their interpretation of Creep became an internet happening, watched in various forms around 25 million times.
The Social Network trailer shone a spotlight on the unique musical project that is Scala & Kolacny Brothers they are an indie-rock choir, comprised of the two Kolacny brothers, Steven and Stijn, and Scala, their all-girl choir. Steven plays the piano, Stijn conducts the choir. The brothers usually work with 30-40 singers aged 16-26 at a time, but these days have more than 200 girls on their books, insuring plenty of cover for their increasingly busy schedule.
Scala & Kolacny Brothers take classic rock and indie songs and reinvent them as elegiac hymns to breathtaking effect with the piano often the sole accompaniment to the voices. On occasion they also use drum machines, sequencers and synthesizers, and also often perform with a full rock band. The new album includes versions of Use Somebody (Kings of Leon), Everlong (Foo Fighters), Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana), Champagne Supernova (Oasis), With or Without You (U2), Nothing Else Matters (Metallica), and more. Creep is also featured, as are three original compositions Seashell, Masquerade, and Our Last Fight.
It is Steven who picks the songs and re-imagines them for the choir, sometimes altering the key, the tempo, doubling the choruses, but we always keep exactly the same lyrics, he says, that is very important but the mood of a song can change quite dramatically. Its very strange, because if you hear Radiohead singing Creep and you compare it with our version, its exactly the same length, same words, same notes, same key. But its completely different.
The inspiration to do rock songs came to Steven in 2001 after a friend in London sent him a Radiohead CD with some recordings the band had done for the radio station XFM, including a live version of Creep. There was something so touching and emotional in his performance. Scala & Kolacny Brothers had already been going for a number of years the brothers had formed the choir in 1996 and it became successful in their native Belgium, where it was voted Choir of the Year for 1999-2000. But it was a traditional, classical choir, performing for older audiences says Steven, which was very nice, but you always play the same old music again and again. Its like cover versions there are a trillion cover versions of Beethovens Fifth Symphony. And I didnt like the feeling much, so thats why I started making my own music.
In its new indie-rock incarnation, Scala & Kolacny Brothers found fame in France and Germany, releasing albums in French (Respire in 2004) and German (Grenzenlos in 2005). In 2006, they signed to EMI and launched their own record label and production company, Fratelli. They have released two albums on Fratelli, including Paper Planes, a 2008 Belgium-only release of original songs written by Steven. Steven even had a club hit with the dance music track I Fail that he recorded with the Belgian DJ Regi. Scala & Kolacny Brothers tracks have become an unlikely club phenomenon, with DJs playing their songs as end-of-night anthems. To date they have released eight albums but their new album is their first US and UK release.
Before Hollywood came calling, Scala & Kolacny Brothers music had already begun to infiltrate British and American TV. Their version of The Polices Every Breath You Take has been used by ITV in a promotional clip for the UK show Downton Abbey; while in the States one of their original compositions, Our Last Flight, was featured in the FX biker drama series Sons of Anarchy.
Meanwhile, their live act has evolved into a formidable multimedia experience featuring custom-made video projections, animation, light shows, electronic sampling. The girls headset mics allow them to move freely onstage or even mingle among the standing audiences, and thats really powerful, says Stijn. They attract a far more varied audience than they did in their classical days now classical fans young and old mix with rock fans and indie kids.
Source: Artist Site