SCALA Featured On NPR: “Rock’s Heavenly Choir”

November 2, 2011

by NPR STAFF (Original Article here)

Some young female musicians in Belgium experienced a small career change one day, when their classical choir morphed into a rock cover band. Conducted by Stijn Kolacny and accompanied on piano by his brother Steven, the group collectively known as Scala & Kolacny Brothers has built a career on transforming rock radio hits into otherworldly choral pieces.

Scala & Kolacny Brothers had its breakout moment in the U.S. this past year, when its cover of Radiohead‘s “Creep” was featured in the trailer for the film The Social Network. The choir’s reinterpretation transforms the song’s self-loathing lyrics into something sweeter, but as Steven Kolacny tells Morning Edition guest host Linda Wertheimer, lyrics weren’t the group’s main focus.

“The most important thing is the mood. We tried to find another mood, another feeling … something completely different,” Kolacny says. He adds that the group’s philosophy when choosing songs is all about finding styles that contrast with its own. “If you go to the more popular songs likeMadonna or Michael Jackson, I don’t think that will work for Scala. But if you go to Metallica, Muse, Radiohead, maybe even more alternative rock sounds like Marilyn Manson, that works very well.”

Kolacny says Radiohead was a key part of the once-classical ensemble’s transition to rock covers, which came about after a friend gave him a CD with some of the band’s live recordings.

“My question was, how is it possible that a choir these days is not able to sing rock music?” he asks. The answer, Kolacny says, was easy: “There are no scores — that’s it. You need somebody making the right scores of the right songs for the right choir.”

The group does have a few originals in its catalog. One standout track from its new self-titled album is “Seashell,” whose organ riffs and bouncy rhythms recall another European group: ABBA. Stijn Kolacny says it’s all part of Scala’s mission to entertain above all else. “I think there is [enough misery] in the world,” he says. “When people come to a show and listen to Scala, it’s great that they’re moved or that they smile and step out of a venue and are happy. Maybe only for a moment — but we did our job.”



October 3, 2011

SCALA AND KOLACNY BROTHERS: The Bones Of Sophistication

June 29, 2011


(original article:

June 21, 2011

Belgium’s Scala and musical directors Steven and Stejn Kolacny have proven that often, the best way to subvert a pop song is to have sweet-voiced teenage girls sing it en masse. Scala interpretations of songs like Nirvana‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Radiohead‘s “Creep” show that those songs hold up to spare choral arrangements, and that hearing their lyrics vocalized by their target audience lends them a special poignancy.

The group’s take on the British electronic duo Lamb’s 1994 chillout ballad “Gorecki” is no exception. The original’s lush, sophisticated groove gets stripped down to its sleek bones and reinterpreted with spare piano, strings and shadowy percussion. In the process, the sophisticated jubilance of “Gorecki” is transformed into something more cautious and introspective.

Lyrically, it’s one thing for older-and-wiser Lamb vocalist Lou Rhodes to sing, “If I should die this very moment / I shouldn’t fear / Because I’ve known completeness / Like being here,” and another for two dozen adolescents to quietly proclaim it. It’s not that the realization of finding true love is terrible — far from it — but that it’s far more challenging to do so at 18 than at 28. It’s a realization that helps make Scala’s performance absolutely haunting.

SCALA, the “Massive All-Female Belgian Indie Rock Choir” featured on MTV

November 23, 2010

First: if you haven’t seen the trailer for the movie, Social Network, watch it now. The Radiohead song “Creep” covered by a 60-girl Belgian choir named, Scala? Yes indeed. Scala has performed imaginatively reworked covers of a variety of indie rock songs, as well as their beautiful original compositions. Performing these songs before sold-out audiences throughout the world has turned them into what they call an “international phenomenon.” (read / watch more)