Name: Klaudia Kudełko
Occupation: Pianist
Nationality: Polish
Current release: Klaudia Kudełko's debut album Time is out now.
Fashion Recommendations: Bottega Veneta Mini Jodie - timeless piece. The reason why I love Bottega is because it does not “scream” with any logos, it only has its signature style that is recognizable by people who really love fashion.
But there are also pieces with logos that I love like Fendi Baguette. I recommend their vintage baguettes, I like them even more than new collections.  

If you enjoyed this interview with Klaudia Kudełko, visit her official website. She is also on Instagram, and Facebook.

Fashion and music are often closely related to one's identity. Can you please tell us a bit about your own sense of identity – and how it motivated you to take an artistic path?
Music is an integral part of my identity. It always has been, even before I started playing piano. My parents noticed that as a 3-year-old child, I cried while listening to sad songs. I didn’t initially choose piano as my profession, I started playing piano because I love it, and I simply realized with time that I couldn’t live without it. Making it my artistic path was natural.

Yet, music is not the only part of my identity. The person I am outside of music boils down to my personality, what I feed my soul with, my need to explore and see the world, and my need to express myself authentically. That’s where my love for fashion comes from.

Fashion means freedom and staying true to myself. I think anybody should be able to wear what they want without being judged and criticized for it. My identity is directly tied to my choices in fashion.

In which way do you feel your identity concretely influences your creativity?

Staying creative is also part of my identity, so to me, it is one and the same.

Creativity is a way I see the world and interact with it. When I am not creative (and let’s be honest, everyone feels this way sometimes), it is peculiar to me, and I always try to quickly find more inspiration to be back to “normal” somehow. :)
Describe your personal style, please, and how your choice of fashion allows you to express it. Which fashion brands or style icons do you personally find inspiring - and why?

My style is a combination of different influences and styles from locations around the world.

When I lived in Europe, I leaned toward more chic fashion choices. I still lean this way, but now with a little bit of a Los Angeles twist of simplicity. I love following current trends but only if it’s authentic to my style. Sometimes I can put on something that I know is a great fashion choice, but it just doesn’t feel like “me,” and I can’t wear it.

My style also changes depending on the city I’m in. One of my favorite things is to observe street fashion in New York, Paris, Los Angeles, and London and feel inspired to implement some of that into my style. When I’m in LA, I lean towards a more relaxed summer style, but I also can’t wait to go to New York in the fall and wear a statement jacket, turtleneck, and nice boots.
Fashion can embody ideals that extend far beyond aesthetics, reaching into ecology, politics and social issues. Does this apply to you as well, and if so, in which way?  

As long as we are on this planet, we will be part of politics, social issues, and ecology. Fashion is not different in this regard.

As a consumer, I am very concerned with fast fashion brands contributing to the environmental crisis. Not only that but fast fashion has historically been linked to extremely unsafe working conditions and exploiting its workers. There have been designers whose work I liked and wore, but after learning about stealing of designs from small businesses I didn‘t want to be part of the problem.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to follow everything that’s going on but I strongly believe that taking time to understand who we’re buying from is our contribution to change.
What was the relationship between music and fashion for you like personally? When was the first time that you became aware of the connection between fashion and music?
Music is life, therefore everything can be an inspiration. Fashion is one of the best forms of self-expression and I feel like that’s what fashion has in common with music.

Personally, I love fashion for always moving forward while honoring traditions or breaking from them. There is no other form of art that moves so rapidly with innovation. That’s how I’d love music and performers to be - not afraid to move forward and express themselves, but also staying authentic.

What I don’t like is just “moving forward” for the sake of moving forward and it not being authentic to oneself.

What do fashion and design add to your perception of music?

Here’s a great example: the colors I choose for my concert dresses or any other clothes are never a coincidence.

I feel every composer and their pieces have their own color palette and its choice can support or ruin the perception of music. While playing recitals that consist of impressionists, I love to choose more pastel and gentle colors, but when I play a Rachmaninov concerto, I think of red and a more passionate choice of colors. On the other hand, late opuses by Chopin remind me of emeralds and deeper, darker colors. They touch on the existential meaning of life, and sequins don’t look good with those kinds of pieces.

If you allow me to get even more profound, I see colors for every key in my head. D major is always yellow, B major is dark orange, C major white, c minor dark blue, f minor dark green, and so on and so forth … It’s not always a rule when it comes to more complex pieces with plenty of modulations, but it just pops up in my head when I play.

What’s interesting is that I met pianists who see colors connected to harmonies, and they always see different ones than I do. It is amazing that everyone has a different perception of music and colors. I also use colors and fashion to express myself.
Fashion can project an image, just like music can. As such, it is part of the storytelling process. What kinds of stories are being told, would you say?

Fashion reflects our times in a more vivid way than anything else. Just like we seek innovation and simplicity in architecture, we do the same in fashion.

When I play a piece from 1830, I am so happy about it, and I find it very relevant, but when I think about fashion as recent as 1980, I don’t want to wear it. What can be relevant in music has already moved forward in fashion.

Fashion paints a picture and tells a story of who we are today.
What can fashion express what music can not?

Interesting question; I’m a firm believer in music being able to connect us with the world of transcendence. Therefore, there is nothing more profound and pure than that.

If there is one thing fashion can express that music takes time to express, it is the “first impression.” In fashion, you can make a statement within seconds while you enter the room. With music, it takes time to listen, understand, and dig deeper into the material.
It seems obvious that fashion and music are closely linked, but just how that influence works hasn't always been clear. Would you say that music leads fashion? Is it the other way round? Or are they inseparable in some ways?  

I think it’s a symbiotic process.

With fashion being an inevitable part of our lives, it helps us send a message to the world or sometimes our audiences. When I wear a nice dress on stage, I want my audience to know it’s an extraordinary moment for me - the opportunity to play for them.

What message would I send if I wore an old t-shirt? Probably that I don’t care about this event that much.

Fashion and music can be expressions or celebrations of identity, but they can also be an effort to establish new ones or break free from them. How would you describe your own approach in this regard?

As I mentioned in one of the other questions - fashion is a celebration of identity and authenticity. That’s why certain social constructs can be hurtful to people who feel like wearing something else than what society wants them to.

I love the fact that some pop culture artists like Harry Styles are breaking the stigma of what people “can” wear. In this regard, he is establishing a new celebration of his own identity by wearing dresses.
Does what you wear change your personality – and thus the music you create or the way you perform?

What I wear expresses my personality and who I really am, that’s the only way I’d like to approach fashion. I wouldn’t want to change my personality, but I have to admit that sometimes certain fashion pieces bring out certain parts of my personality like nice heels and confidence.

Confidence is already part of my personality, but a nice outfit helps me signify it.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though designing a fashion item or even putting together a great outfit for yourself is inherently different from something like composing a piece of music?
Music is an esthetically pleasing experience, with that being said esthetics is not only about hearing but also about other senses.

Fashion is a very important part of this aesthetic and any form of creativity like putting an outfit together can have something in common with creativity in music.

Fashion extends to the artwork of releases and promotional photography as well. Could you talk about your approach in this regard and what some considerations were for some of your most recent cover designs and images?

Working with amazing photographers, stylists, makeup artists is always such a pleasure because everyone is a part of the creation. I always create a mood board with color palette and inspiring images that remind me of the piece and based on that, we create covers and photoshoot themes.

For example, my cover to one my single “Schubert Musical Moments” was inspired by one of the most famous paintings by Friedrich - “Wanderer Above The Sea”.

With Schubert also being a giant of romanticism, it was a great combination. We found an incredible location in Malibu by the ocean with amazing rocks and created something new, but I was slightly inspired by this.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. This true both for music and fashion. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
Cultural appropriation by definition is adopting elements of a minority in a disrespectful way.

I think certain things are clear - any form of disrespect, exploitation and stereotypical approach is just wrong and there is nothing else I can say about it except for the fact that I try to constantly educate myself about it.