Bajka—her name means "fairy tale" in Polish.
Bajka (“Bai-kah”) Plu-watsch was born in 1978 in India and raised in South Africa and Portugal. She attended music school in Prague before becoming an international jazz-soul singer. Currently, she lives in Berlin, where she sometimes sings in English with a German band (Radio Citizen) that plays dub-step Jamaican reggae-jazz electronica. With such a traveled heritage, Bajka should be the poster girl for the world music genre.
Bajka’s voice emotes a blend of contemporary singer Erykah Badu and Eartha Kitt, who was known for her distinctive jazz and cabaret singing style. Yet Bajka brings to her performances a hip, modern interpretation that casts a spell upon the listener. Her poetic lyrics glide with flair and nuance.
Although Bajka has released a few of her own jazz-oriented albums, I prefer the chill-electronica collaborations with Radio Citizen and DJ Eastenders as well as the UK’s Simon Green (a.k.a. Bonobo).
My favorite all-time Bajka track is “The Hop” on Radio Citizen’s CD Berlin Serengeti (2006). In his review of this album, Joe Tangari (pitchfork.com), describes Radio Citizen as makers of music “poured straight from the melting pot” under the creative mastermind of Niko Schabel, whose bass clarinet and Rhodes piano provide a music signature that shines especially bright on this track. Tangari describes “The Hop” as falling “into the cracks between rock, hip-hop, and funk, riding a thumping beat with distorted Rhodes licks and Bajka’s filtered vocal … a certain jazzy tinge to it, low and crisp.” Her delivery is rapped over swirling instrumental textures as she delivers the goods as if describing the backseat drive to a party:
Growing in my liking in a twisted cap
And in the G’s back
Climbing up the coast like that
Tanqueray on ice in the backseat P
Just do it rolling top down,
Ready to fly on the streets,
Ready to fly on the streets.
Other fine tracks with Radio Citizen include “El Cielo” (2006) and “Summer Days” (2014). Next, dive into “Capitalism” sung by Bajka and released by Stefan Müller (a.k.a. DJ Eastenders). Besides the regular version of this song, you may enjoy “Capitalism (Buscemi’s Jungalistic Dub Mix)” with its jungle beats, echoing background vocals, and subtle electronic whisp effects. And finally, take a “Walk in the Sky” from Bonobo’s Days to Come CD (2006).
With these five songs, you’ll better understand the future of world music, in which beats, poetry, rap, and electronic elements intersect magically to move us into rhythm and dance. In a few decades, I imagine we’ll look back at the contribution of Bajka Pluwatsch as a significant stroke in the evolution of world music.