The Czech Republic is probably not the first place that comes to mind when talking about modern off-kilter music. Yet the unassuming Central European country gave the world one of the most prominent indie labels of late, as well as a festival that attracts the crème of the crop of the Brooklyn-neo-psychedelic-post-witch-anything scenes. It must be said, however, that this is due to the collective efforts of a handful of individuals spearheaded by the brother-sister artist duo Jakub and Anežka Hošek and their fiercely independent AM180 Collective. Their activities span the whole decade and encompass concerts (with gigs by anyone who’s anyone in the contemporary underground indie scene – from Liars through Fucked Up, Xiu Xiu, Xeno & Oaklander and HEALTH), a respected record label AMDiscs with a roster that features Teams, Railcars and Tearist on their roster, curation of the annual Creepy Teepee festival, and running the Prague art gallery Utopia. A less visible but equally important consequence of their tireless activities in the realm of underground music and art is buttressing the local scene and subsequently encouraging others to follow suit.
One such example is the recently established Prague-based imprint alice mange son coeur, run from the bedroom of student Sara Cross. Similarly to AMDiscs, most of its artists hail from the more established hubs of current sonic avant-garde such as the US, thus unwittingly proving that the Cold War divisions between the East and the West no longer matter – at least in music. “I’ve been always interested in music. Last year I spent many hours listening to bands on Last.fm and Soundcloud that had just few followers; and I felt sad about the fact that nobody really cares about their sometimes breathtaking talents,” says Sara in a recent interview. “With some of them I started to talk and we became friends, and the more I knew how much they love making art the more I wished they were appreciated. And one day it just came to my mind – when nobody else does it, then I can do as much as I can to show the music I love to the rest of the world.”
Following the mantra of the current revivalists of post-punk/new-wave/synthwave/acid house and their DIY ethos, the current generation doesn’t waste time pondering and instead pursues their dreams in an instant. Sara’s A&R scouting, faithful to the zeitgeist, heavily relies on social media. The soundclouds, last.fms and myspaces (of yore) constantly provide an ample supply of musicians many of whose ouvre never sees the light of the day apart from a few fortuitous listeners. And what about amsc’s sonic signature? A quick glance at their last.fm page might give a hint of what to expect, with Pictureplane, Xiu Xiu and Former Ghosts ranking high on the list. “I mainly want bands to have some sort of punk attitude. It is hard for me to specifically say the “type” of music, but I mainly have asked and will ask to join performers connected to the experimental noise scene, riot grrrls or witch house,” explains the label boss.
At the moment, the imprint has five projects on its portfolio. Among them is Estonian songstress Spice Mouse, a sort of Baltic Kria Brekkan; noiresque witch-house-inspired project Doe Eyes from Canada; UK lo-fi princess keelher or the haunting noise/wave experimentalists cyndies and Feel Flesh from the US. In spite of the fact that the label launch party only took place in the dingy but divine Final Club on July 2nd in Sara Cross’ home town of Prague, she’s already carved out the visual aesthetics of the imprint as well, commissioning the Boston-based artist Stephanie Piccirilli.
Only time will tell whether alice mange son coeur can make it in the label game. Ultimately, however, they’ve remained faithful to the DIY maxim and gave it a try, and that’s what matters.
Cyndies – I-Scream
Keelher – Cutie Baby
Spice Mouse – Tunde tiivul