It would be fair to say that Tomáš Dvo?ák, aka Floex, is one of a doyens of the Czech electronic scene. He started playing and composing 15 years ago combining his love for music with an affinity for visual arts and multimedia performance. A graduate of the Academy of Arts in Prague, Tomáš Dvo?ák has created a wide array of soundtracks and installations. His sophomore album Zorya – ten years since his debut LP Pocustone – was released this September.
You have a new album out. Can you describe the idea behind it?
Actually it’s a pretty long story since my previous album Pocustone was released ten years ago. In the meantime I mostly worked on some of my multimedia art performances and two soundtracks. When I’m going through the album it is a very special feeling because of the memories and emotions associated with it. I like to tell stories trough my tunes. Not surprisingly these often come from my life.
Could you tell us more about some of these stories/songs?
For example ‘Veronika’s Dream’ is about the dreams of my friend Veronika who is also the person behind the album’s artwork. She has an incredible imagination and always tells me about her dreams. This one is about very dark, kind of subconscious forest where the main character is chased by dogs. Eventually she flies away to a silver meadow where she hopes to have some rest but the dogs find her again. Maybe she will be able to tame them?
‘Forget-me-not’ draws from the time when I lived in Hungary. I remember the gray streets and old houses of Budapest, the very specific atmosphere of the city and the people. The song is melancholic but ends rather ecstatically.
‘Casanova’ on the other hand alludes to the time when I fell in love with a girl and was trying to seduce her. I’m not very good with these things. I went to a library and accidentally found Casanova’s biography there.
The album’s title Zorya is inspired by old Slavic mythology.
I found the character Zorya Polunochnaya in Neil Gaiman’s book American Gods about gods who live among us. I named one short song after her on the album.
In particular, there is a story of two sisters who come to speak to the main character but you never see them together. Only later I realized that the whole thing comes from Slavic mythology. This god changes her identity through day and night. I believe the album has a melancholic, deep atmosphere. Something what I feel when I look at stars or the moon. Also I think it is quite “Slavic” in terms of emotions. So the name is particularly inspired by the night metamorphosis of Zorya – Zorya Polunochnaya.
In terms of sound – how did you integrate electronics and acoustics and how did you record it?
I think microphone is one of my most used tools in the studio. I like to combine both elements – the acoustic and electronic together whose borders are often not apparent.
You have been around for many years on the Czech music scene. How do you perceive its development in time and your place in it?
I think there was a kind of empty space four or five years ago, but now interesting things are happening again. Often the new projects originate in the visual art scene. It’s a shame that there is not more recognition from the cultural centers like Berlin or London for the Central and Eastern European scenes. That’s what I find good about the EB initiative as it is trying to give some space to these places. I guess we are still fighting with the syndromes of cultural periphery with all its pros and cons. The scene is small, it is more of a domain of “solitairs” which has a tradition in our cultural history but you may be surprised by how interesting the music being made is here at the moment. Check out acts like DVA, Dikolson, Juanita Juarez, Fiordmoss, Table, EOST to name a few.
What about the development of electronic scene in general over the last decade?
This has been a really exciting period, hasn’t it? I haven’t ever really looked for certain styles and general tendencies in music. I’ve always rather looked for individualities or people who work with certain styles and current trends but turn things upside down, like Burial or Vladislav Delay. However I can see an important movement towards performance and musicality – the technology is just viewed more as an instrument than something that should bring salvation on its own.
Can you say something about your art and multimedia activities?
I like to experiment with other possibilities of how music can be made and performed. Especially during the time that I studied at the Academy Of Visual Arts here in Prague I made several multimedia performances and installations. In spite of the fact that the context was quite different, for me it was always about music in the first place.
One of the works “Crossroad” used colours of cars on the crossroad to generate music in real time. In the other I used special flashlights, which could emit basic colours of the spectrum – red, green, blue – to let people shine on the stage screen, mix the colours and create new ones. In this way they could create music together with us.
Right now I’m focusing more on the music in its “classical” form, however I’m planning some new shows in the beginning of next year – a performance called Live Score – a cooperation with Czech artist Tomáš Van?k. We basically use big pieces of paper, sprays and stencils or even bubbles to work with live electronics. ?
What about your imminent and long-term plans?
At the moment I’m working on the concert version of my new album and I formed a small band. Our first concert is on October 27th at the Akropolis in Prague. The show will be based around possibilities of monophonic instruments in live performance.
I’m also working on a remix for the Scottish band Hidden Orchestra which will be released on 7th of November on Tru-Thoughts, and a special EP with the aforementioned Prague-based project Dikolson as well as a collaboration with Amanita Design.