Hanako by Agata Hudomięt, @agata.hd @undrtn
Hanako by Agata Hudomięt, @agata.hd @undrtn
New Music

Śluza: tracing HANAKO’s vibrant path in the alternative post hardcore scene of Poland

11 mins read

Seated within the storied heart of Warsaw, a city punctuated by narratives of both magnificence and lament, is Hanako. This band has found a voice amidst these diverse chronicles, translating the city’s vibrant tales into a distinct tapestry of sound that reverberates through the avenues of the alternative rock and post-hardcore scene.

Named after an elephant whose life was reduced to 60 years in a claustrophobic, concrete cage at Tokyo Zoo, the band has carved a niche in the post-hardcore scene, complete with the emotional intensity of screamo and the confrontational rawness of noise rock. It is this poignant juxtaposition of suffering and resilience that the band embeds within their music, weaving narratives that encapsulate global tragedies and intimate struggles alike.

Unorthodox Beginnings, Expansive Journey

The band released its debut LP “Powiedz mi, że to przetrwasz” (“Tell me that you’ll survive this”) in 2019, under the Warsaw-based label Trzy Szóstki. The album’s title hinted at perseverance through trials, a consistent theme in Hanako’s work. The album was met with enthusiasm across Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The band shared stages with a multitude of renowned artists, further establishing its presence in the scene.

It was in early 2023, when the band took the reigns of their own creative journey by moving to their self-founded label, Peleton Records. This brought forth their second album, “Śluza” (“Floodgate“). Unlike their debut, which was imbued with a sense of navigating crises, “Śluza” is a testament to the awareness of one’s situation and a reflection on the past, resembling the transitional phase between past anguish and promised future peace.

A Spacecraft in a Sheepfold: The Making of “Śluza”

The creation of “Śluza” was no less unique than its concept. The album was birthed in the solitude of Studio Cierpienie, located in an erstwhile sheepfold building in the remote village of Smarzykowo. This isolation fueled the band’s creative engines, fostering a deeper exploration of their sound. Four long years of meticulous crafting resulted in a cohesive record, not lacking in emotional depth nor experimentation.

Śluza” exhibits a notable shift in Hanako’s sound. While maintaining some familiar threads from their debut LP, the band delves into more accessible production and listener-friendly genres such as pop-punk. The band’s growth is palpable in their refined approach to compositions, emphasizing the strength of the whole over individual parts. The new album is seen as a more compact, yet transparent effort by Hanako, resulting in highly enthusiastic initial reviews.

A band member’s reflection on the album: “Śluza” is from the position of a person who knows why and where he is and aware of what he left along the way…The different stages of grief all rolled into one.”

Hanako by Agata Hudomięt, @agata.hd @undrtn
Hanako by Agata Hudomięt, @agata.hd @undrtn

A Synthesis of Music and Meaning

Hanako’s members demonstrate a keen understanding of the interplay between music and its associated narratives, as evident in their track by track commentary. Songs like “Palimpsest” grapple with the inescapability of unwanted experiences, while “Małe szczęścia” discusses the struggle of self-stigmatization surrounding the use of medication for mental health. Tracks such as “Abulia” offer a raw insight into the consequences of overextending oneself, and “Kamienie” bravely confronts hatred towards LGBTQ+ communities, with a guest feature from an artist fondly known as Rutka.

The most significant testimony to Hanako’s evolution lies in “Przerwiesz,” the oldest track that serves as a bridge between the two albums. It encapsulates the band’s ethos, addressing the struggles of individuals and societies alike, and committing to stay beside them, regardless of the outcome. It’s a poignant reminder that the band’s empathy isn’t confined to their music, but extends to real-world issues and individuals.

Noteworthy quote from the track commentary: “Przerwiesz” is about accompanying a person in crisis, but also about the awareness that you will not make certain, the most dramatic decisions for them.”

Hanako by Agata Hudomięt, @agata.hd @undrtn
Hanako by Agata Hudomięt, @agata.hd @undrtn

Hanako’s voyage has only just begun.

With the band’s relentless commitment to creating music that empathizes with the suffering and amplifies the voices of the marginalized, Hanako’s future promises a continuum of emotional exploration and impactful storytelling. Examine the comprehensive track-by-track commentary below, offering an intimate glimpse into the rich depth and detail of each piece.


Mateusz: The last song we worked on and the first song on the album. I composed the text, the vocal part and the keyboard part after recording most of the tracks in the Cierpienie studio. Like most of the album’s tracks, it’s about the impossibility of avoiding intrusive, unwanted experiences. The instrumental layer, before additional tracks were added in the Wieloślad studio in Warsaw, seemed so classically rock to me that I wanted to spoil it as much as possible. Krzysztof Sarosiek, who was with me and Bibi in the Wieloślad Studio, added a lot of ideas for interesting solutions and vocal harmonies. When it comes to pop culture references, Robert Janson appears here for the first time and his song “Little Happiness”, which will return in the next track. A lot of my follow-up to music from that period is simply because I was growing up during that period. I like all sorts of subversive practices in art that make you see cultural texts in a context you wouldn’t normally expect them to be. I don’t think about it much, but often quite by accident it turns out that subconsciously I managed to build some kind of meta-narrative around the album. A photo session of Agata Hudomięt (ig: @agata.hd / @undrtn.pl) and artwork of Maciek Misiewicz (ig: @ezomaciek) is also a part of it. In fact, all the lyrics on the album to some extent concern the fight for oneself in the context of maintaining autonomy and mental health. I associated it with invoking ghosts, and as part of the composition has a strong sentiment for “The X-Files”, we decided to refer to this aesthetics.

Hanako by Agata Hudomięt, @agata.hd @undrtn
Hanako by Agata Hudomięt, @agata.hd @undrtn

Małe szczęścia

Mateusz: While this track has a pop-punk vibe to many people, its working title is Perfect Pussy. I love this band and apart from the pop-punk lead, the ecstatic emotions that I associate with their music are audible to me in this track. “Say Yes To Love” is an album that is really worth listening to at least once in your life! Returning to the “Małe Szczęścia” itself, the title refers to the above-mentioned work by Robert Janson. It is used in the context of SSRI drugs. I wrote this song a bit for myself because at some point in my life I felt I needed medication to stay afloat. Despite the substantive knowledge of drugs, resulting from the fact that I study psychology, part of me felt some kind of self-stigmatization because of it. I wrote the text a bit to cheer myself up, but as it turned out, both the text and the song itself turned out to be important not only to me. Already at the first concert where we played it, at the Soundrive festival, part of the audience sang its second and third chorus with us, hearing it for the first time in their lives.


Mateusz: I love the first albums of the band And You Will Know Us By A Trail Of Dead, that’s why I’m happy about the last part of this song.

Bibi: When working on “Śluza”, most of the time I was having a writer’s block, because of a lot of changes in my work and private life. The story behind the lyrics is nothing new – if you’re trying to help too many people at once, you end up hyperventilating and calling a therapist. Then you simply have to take some time to take care of yourself. I was so occupied with my own dramas, that I wrote these lyrics minutes before recording the vocals. I remember thinking, how weird it was, that I somehow managed to put something so important to me as music, in the background, but eventually it felt very cathartic.

Hanako by Piątaesencja
Hanako by Piątaesencja


Mateusz: I often edit the lyrics right before entering the studio. So it was this time too. The first one was very dark. People may not believe it, but I’m working hard to finally release a record that is relatively optimistic. Therefore, this new version of lyric is about returning to the present through contact with the body. The part of the song, in which I exchange vocal parts with Bibi, in turn, concerns how we mutually interact with the environment in which we live. Paweł Kowalewicz did a lot of arrangement work in this piece. I really like how the section works here and how after the intensity of the verses it takes a breath in the choruses.


Mateusz: Another track that we finished right before entering the studio. It’s gone through a very funny evolution from a Deftones track to nu-metal with breakdowns to something relatively acceptable and more in my comfort zone. In the latter version, the working title was Weezer, although I can hardly hear anything associated with this band there. Although we’ve been working on this song for a long time, my favorite part is the part that we finally finished right before we went into the studio.

This is also another track where I enjoy the long final part with the wall of sound and the dreamy melody. This sonic dimension of “releasing something held too long” is also reflected in Bibi’s lyrics.

Bibi: Lyrically it’s a sister of ‘Abulia’, but with a bit more faith in self and willpower to make changes. It’s about realizing that if something’s not working for you, you don’t have to try fixing it for old times sake. It’s ok to say stop’ to things that are draining you.

Hanako live
Hanako live


Mateusz: One of the oldest tracks on the album. It is the only one that touches to a greater extent a specific social problem, which is hatred towards LGBTQ+ people. On August 7, 2020, in connection with protests against the detention of one of the activists, the police detained 47 people, often using violence. The part of the song sung by me and Bibi relates to these events. In the second part of the song, a very important person for Hanako, Rutka, gives vocals.

I once found interesting underground ambient music on YouTube, which she did as Celeste Luksemburgowicz. Then I texted her. Then it turned out that she not only likes Hanako, but also regularly attended our gigs. Rutka also plays screamo in panic forest and post-punk in samokrytyka.


Mateusz: When I was little, one of the most important bands for me was Radiohead. Thom Yorke, their singer, once compared the album “Kid A” to looking at fire from a distance, and “Amnesiac” to being on fire. I think this metaphor is appropriate for our last and previous record. “Powiedz mi, że to przetrwasz” was written from the perspective of a person experiencing one of the most severe crises in life. “Śluza” from the position of a person who knows why and where he is and aware of what he left along the way. There may be something to experiencing the different stages of grief all rolled into one. That’s why I somehow liked this song’s reference to another musical titan of my childhood, Robert Gawliński. Cognitive closure of various kinds of hard experiences takes much more than the three nights he sang about in the song “Trzy noce z deszczem”. By the way, people interested in post-punk music should check out his old band Madame! This is also another song in which I especially like its last, slowcore part.

Hanako by Agata Hudomięt, @agata.hd @undrtn
Hanako by Agata Hudomięt, @agata.hd @undrtn


Mateusz: Working title: Hollywoodfun downstairs. One of the early songs on the list, which gained color over several years. started with a chaotic mathcore theme, but each person added something to the puzzle. I’d like to know what the song is about in terms of lyrics, but I think it’s about being tired of a relationship from which you feel like you have no way out.


Mateusz: The oldest track. We played it on tour in February 2020, when we already heard about Covid, but we never would have guessed that it would have such a powerful impact on our lives. This time the song is about accompanying a person in crisis, but also about the awareness that you will not make certain, the most dramatic decisions for them. It can be treated as a continuation of “Przetrwasz” from the previous album. In both of these works, I address the man directly, I notice what is happening to him and I decide to stick with him, regardless of the final effect of the support. I wrote the text thinking about the confluence of situations from my personal and professional life, I work every day with people experiencing various types of crises.

Bibi: My part of the lyrics was strongly influenced by the idea of people trying to erase other people from general consciousness. Ie. persons in crisis of homelessness constantly face the feeling of being avoided or ignored. So while Mateusz was addressing a person in his part of the lyric, I wanted to give them a voice, saying that no matter how hard you try erasing me, I will still be here, because I’m alive. It’s also one of my favorites on the album.

Hanako by Brakfocusu
Hanako by Brakfocusu

Poza sobą

Mateusz: Another song that has matured for a long time and took its final shape right before entering the studio. A gift for people who in the past could associate our achievements with screamo music. And the only lyric written from the position of absolute powerlessness, to which Bibi let in some light in the tunnel with her vocal part.

Bibi: This one is also a dialogue with Mateusz’s lyrics, which were written first. I felt a need to brighten them a little bit, because they were very relatable to me, but to me from my past. So while my fight ‘for me’ was over, I had to fight for close people that suddenly started disappearing from my life. I just wanted to believe that everything’s gonna be fine. Because you know, as they sing in ‘Sword in the stone’: ‘For every high there is a low, For every to, there is a fro’.


Mateusz: An amazing example of the magic of a team creative process. The demo version of this song sounded a bit like sonic youth, although it was called drab majesty. Only two motifs have survived from the whole structure, although they are emphasized in a completely different way and do not actually resemble the original material.

Bibi: The story that inspired these lyrics is too crazy to talk about it just like that. Let’s just say, it’s a song for all the kids, who were pointed out by others for being themselves and lost the willpower to stay themselves, choosing to give up on any social interactions in the fear of being pointed out again. Overtime, it will get better, so do whatever the fck you wanna do, it’s your life and no one will live it for you.

Ostatnia apteczka

Mateusz: Beyond Palimpsest and Poza Sobą, our youngest child. The working title is metz, and this band, like yo la tengo, who released a great album this year, is my musical comfort zone. And this is another track where I like the ending the most. It’s very funny that with such a musical background I ended up in a post-hardcore band. Maybe on the next album we can finally record something that only sounds like a typical indie rock album. We are on the right path. At the last rehearsal, we started working on a track whose working title is the smiths. I really like the lyrics that Bibi wrote for this song.

Bibi: This one gets more and more important to me every single day. At some point in our lives, we need to learn to say goodbye to people, who once were so close to us. But growing apart doesn’t have to mean, we grow totally distant, because we can still root for that person from a distance. And they will know that you will help them, when there’s nobody else to do it.

Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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