UNMUTE: ‘We decided to use this platform to send the message that the Deaf can!’

UNMUTE is a band from Poland who have entered Tu bije serce Europy! in hopes of representing their country at Eurovision this May in Turin. The band is comprised of Kuba Stanisławczyk, Zuza Szymańska, Alina Jagodzińska, Magda Wdowiarz, and Julia Kramek. What sets them apart is their music has no audible lyrics – their song for Eurovision is done entirely using sign language! Those who do not understand sign language need subtitles to follow their song Głośniej niż decybele (Louder Than Decibels).

Recently, Kuba took some time from the band’s busy schedule to answer our questions on his band’s behalf about UNMUTE and their preparations for the Polish national final.

 

Cześć! Thank you so much for finding time in your busy schedule to talk to us! Congratulations on being chosen for Krajowe Eliminacje! What made you decide to participate in Eurovision this year?

Cześć, and thanks! After we saw how positive was the response from the public to our music video, and how the timeframe was perfectly aligned with Eurovision country eliminations, we decided to give it a shot and try to use this global platform to send the message that “the Deaf can!”, to all Deaf communities in Europe and maybe beyond.

Who are your biggest influences in music?

Well, I have been listening to music since I was 5-6 years old. My mom is deaf, but she made sure I had hearing aids from an early age. I have fond memories of watching music video after music video on TV, signing songs from Disney and other shows, and participating in school plays. As I got older, my music palette also got more diverse, and today there is no genre, really, that I don’t have a few songs/pieces that I like. From pop, through heavy metal, to even classical pieces. But I think I still have a special place in my heart for more heavy tunes – rock, metal, alternative etc.

How was the group Unmute born? Did you know each other before? And where did the does the name Unmute come from?

Yes, we did know each other before – the deaf world is small after all. 🙂 We got together after one of us proposed to try and participate in this project. The name was given to us, but we actually liked it, so no one had any objections.

Your song is called “Głośniej niż decybele”. Could you walk us through how the did the songwriting process work?

Unfortunately, we didn’t write this song. It was written by deaf songwriter named Michał Pakuła. He first signed this song, which was then typed in something that I call Deaf-lingo, which is a direct translation of signs to words. Then the sign language interpreter translated it into Polish language.

Your Instagram page says, “Help us make some noise about deaf people in pop culture.” How can fans do that? And what impact do you hope to have on pop culture?

First of all, for sure sharing the song is a great step. It is probably the first Polish music video entirely made by Deaf for Deaf, and hearing people have to rely on subtitles to understand anything. Other than that, spreading the word is always nice, but great success for us is that if this song made you become more aware of deaf people living around you everyday, that’s a win. For pop culture, it is the same. We want them to recognise that we do have a need of participating in culture, listening to music (albeit translated to sign language, but we do feel the beat), watching theatre, musicals, or even going to cinema. We, polish deaf people never go to polish movies in cinema, because these are almost never subtitled. Because why, right? But we do need this.

Have you rehearsed your song live yet? If so, how have rehearsals been? If not, can you share anything about what you’d like to do on stage?

We have rehearsed before, but the rehearsals for Eurovision are about to begin. It is for sure a new experience for us, working with choreography and dance moves, becoming aware of how we move while we sing, to make it as dancey as we can. We have plans for the show, but for now unfortunately we can’t share them – still a sweet secret.

Do any of the band members have any previous experience participating in music festivals like this one, or will this be a first for everyone?

Few of us have been previously in another project, Młodzi Migają Muzykę (Youngs Signs  Music), and we had the opportunity to perform sign language live, but nothing on the scale of  Eurovision yet, so that’s the first for us.

Are you Eurovision fans? If so, do you have a favourite song or a memory about the Contest?

For me personally, I do follow Eurovision but not as closely as I could. I watch the sign interpreted songs, because Eurovision for a while has been releasing the stream with sign language interpreters translating songs live, which always has been a special experience for me. My favourite memory is the 2015 Swedish song, which went viral thanks to the INCREDIBLE sign language translation of the interpreter. 

What are your plans after Tu bije serce Europy!? Can fans expect any new music or shows?

Well, since we have such an overwhelming positive feedback, it wouldn’t be cool to leave it as it is, right? 😉 We do have few plans and hopes, but it all depends on things we don’t really have an impact on. But personally, thanks to Unmute, I’ll continue my work of translating the songs and perhaps I’ll go public with it. Maybe on YouTube, who knows! Stay tuned. 😉

Thank you so much for your time! We wish you the best of luck! Do you want to share anything else or you maybe you have a message for your fans and the followers of ESCBubble?

Thank you for your time and please keep your fingers crossed for us, perhaps you will see us at the main Eurovision event then?

 

Check out Unmute’s video for Tu bije serce Europy! below, and give them a follow on Instagram!

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