The other night it was raining that annoying little kind of coldish rain, prickling me on the face and blurring my glasses, as I made my way through Lindenau, looking for the spot where Leipzig Writer Jolanta Drywa invited me to watch her rehearse with her band. I was in a good mood, though, and kept an open mind when I realized the rehearsal would be in the apartment of someone I’d never met. I thought it might be some kind of cross-genre experimental thing I am a complete neophyte about, but I was ok with that. As the appointed time rolled around, I finished eating my express sushi box standing up under the protection of a bus stop and called Jolanta. She told me on the phone to ring the doorbell, go up with the host and wait for her there.
To the door came Ben Rouka, one of Jolanta’s band mates, with his pony tail, big smile and the look of someone who has seen and experienced many things in life, but without exuding an ounce of arrogance. Ben took me up to his apartment and immediately offered me house shoes, tea and interesting conversation, while flatmates of his walked in and out of the kitchen and living room. They were mostly from Brazil, a cool coincidence for me. One of them looked like a veritable in Berliner from the east side, complete with huge black-rimmed glasses, short hair and hat, shirt-and-panty-hose combo and killer boots, which I had never seen on a fellow Brazilian before (we are usually not that hip, especially indoors). Turns out Bavarian-bred Ben had climbed the corporate ladder for many years in Germany before he decided he’d had enough and would pursue music, coming to co-habit harmoniously in Leipzig with fellow artist (and what he referred to as “life artist”) types.
Jolanta, who herself came to develop her (highly diversified) artistic vein after coming to Leipzig, connected with Ben and other musicians and they launched this new band they call Die DAMÄN. A strings-piano-drums-voice quintet, I would come to find out as the musicians arrived one by one. Stylish Jenny Lübke caught my eye as soon as she came into the room and captured my ears as soon as she sat at the piano and played the first notes.
“Neo Cabaret” is their style. Come to think of it, they sort of call to mind The Dresden Dolls, which I have some music from on my iPod. And Queen also, if one digs deep down. So I guess I’m *only* semi-neophyte at this.
Jolanta was the first to arrive, so we had some time to talk. This Polish girl was so soft-spoken and transmitted such calm, through her voice as well as her friendly brown eyes, that you’d never imagine the dynamo she is while performing. Impressively, there was enough space in Ben’s living room for the whole band and for Jolanta to prance around during the rehearsal, her curly hair unruly, her arms expansive, her voice loud and passionate. I’m looking forward to seeing what they look like on stage. If you want to be ahead of the crowd, you can go and check out Die DAMÄN before they become the next big thing. Because they could. Their sound, with Slavic, classical, Burlesque and rock influences, could very well catch on in artistically open-minded Leipzig.
Die DAMÄN is performing this very Sunday, March 15, at Poniatowski, Kreuzstraße 15, 04103 Leipzig. It starts at 7 p.m., as part of the “Deutsch-Polnischer Literatursalon” at the arts venue and restaurant.