“The Czech Republic has lacked a representative music prize, which would reflect and reward important creations in Czech music, for a long time”, state the organizers of the newly established music award with the rather peculiar name ‘Vinyla’.
Eschewing the local “music business”, Vinyla aims to praise the few local quality independent creators who inject some originality and ideas into their music. Nevertheless, another similar prize – Apollo – was awarded in January, which might signify an increasing effort to highlight and nurture musicians who are not affiliated with major labels here. Among the nominees for the first Vinyla Awards are alt rapper Bonus, ironic/iconic duo Cokovoko, Floex, newcomers Fiordmoss as well as events like Creepy Teepee.
The winners of each category – Record of the Year, Discovery of the Year, Event of the Year – will be announced this Saturday, 10 March at the Fléda club in Brno with a live show by WWW, Gurun Gurun or Kittchen.
FAMU/Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, the best European film school (according to Hollywood Reporter), is 65 years old. Despite its venerable age, the institution still continues to produce interesting alumni, and the undergrads don’t stay behind either. Graffitiger by Libor Pixa scooped an Oscar nomination at the Student Academy Awards while Cagey Tigers by the mysterious Aramisova was screened at Cannes.
The best way to spot a talent or a flop, to see what actually is happening at the school right now in terms of documentaries, feature films, animations, etc is at the annual student film festival FamuFest. Renowened for buoyant parties and accompanied by a diverse musical programme, this year the fest includes gigs by Austrian freaks Fuckhead, Berlin’s Puppetmasta Candie Hank and the cream of the crop of local talent including witch housers Tempelhof, electro decadents I Love 69 Popgeju, house live act Popper-C, Bonus – whom we interviewed recently – or the emo-klezmer slash 8-bit krautrock To žluté, co máte na kalhotkách (which I’d rather not translate here, ahem).
The three-day audiovisual extravaganza starts on Friday 25 and continues until 27 November on Sunday.
tempelhof by TEMPELHOF
Martin H?la, member of the now defunct band Ememvoodoopöká, and subsequently the popular indie-electronic outfit Sporto, is a staple in the Czech independent music scene. His latest solo endeavour Bonus sees him weave observations from society into his music. On Bonus’ debut release ‘Konec civilizace’ he was branded as alt-hip hop artist using samples and rapping. His sophomore offering ‘Nám?stí míru’ might be his most approachable to date, and has been just released by Deadred/Starcastic.
Could you describe the story behind making your new record?
It was more of an accident than a concept. I brought a guitar and microphone to my workplace and recorded some ideas whenever I had some spare time. I tried to minimize the use of synths and samples. Most of the sounds I created and used, including percussion, were acoustic. After a few months I realized that I had more songs than I had expected, so I picked out eleven demos and asked my friend Gaex (who runs the fabulous label Surreal Madrid) to make the footage into a record and mix it. He added some beats and electronics and extracted a beautiful sound from my lo-fi recordings.
Why is it called Namesti miru? (The Peace Square in Czech)
The title is not related to any specific location. Every bigger city in the Czech Republic has a place called Namesti miru. It is more like a state of mind for me – I don’t want to fight in senseless wars, but I also don’t want to hide from public space, since activism and politics are an important part of my art. You could hear me kidding about street zen, too. Whatever that is.
Could you say something about the sonic structure of the album?
Most of the sounds originate from acoustic sources, instruments (acoustic guitar, piano, double bass, violin, pedal steel guitar…) or field recordings (you can hear a “percussion” loop made by a xerox copy machine on that record), but the structures are more familiar with electronic or hip-hop music – even the acoustic instruments I have recorded are combined and layered as loops rather than in the style of traditional songwriting. I’ve tried to formulate new genres to fit the record and I think some of them are so cool you could even start a whole new scene: urban sickfolk, hip-pop, flow-fi or offscene beats.
And what about the lyrics/texts? What sort of topics/life observations did you deal with? You are known as an avid sonic observer of contemporary times.
I think the new record is a lot of about passion, both on the level of personal intimacy and public space. It might sound simple, but I try to describe what it means to be 32 years old in post-soviet capitalism. Living in absurd hope, without passion. In my songs I look for something real and strong – love or life.
How is the album different to your previous release Konec civilizace (End of Civilization)?
Konec civilizace was a conceptual and very political manifesto, and also much more closer to alternative hip hop. The music was built from hundreds of samples taken from various records, like a huge supermarket robbery. The new record is not that straight, although the activism is not absent. It is much more projected on a personal level – and I think it is somehow more intense here – “the personal is political”.
Do you consider yourself a rapper, singer or a spoken-word sonic poet?
What about a musician in a subway station? Except that my instrument is not an old guitar, but a portable recording studio.
What is it in music that you like the best?
Emotions. Whether the music makes me freeze or raise both hands in the air, I am always fascinated by its power.