Click Joe is a seasoned DJ (he’s supported the likes of Rick Wade) with an affinity for deephouse, disco, Detroit, an avid fiend of vinyl records and most recently, a co-owner of a newly opened record store MUAH!, as well as a co-organizer of an eponymous festival. Based in the country’s second biggest city Brno, Click Joe is a firm part of the city’s music scene centered around the cosy club Sklenick.
How was 2011 for you and what are your expectations from this year?
It was a great year – we danced and had lots of fun. If 2012 could follow in a similar vein, I would be very glad.
Can you tell us something about your project MUAH?
Me and some other people got a space in the first floor above Café Sklenick and right before Christmas, we managed to open it officially. It’s our base, sometimes storage, but most importantly a location that we hope will gradually gain its own genius loci. I love vinyl records, record shops with their special atmoshpere. Our guests, who come and play at our parties, bring their latest releases with them and thus we have plenty of items from labels such as Workshop, Smallville, Kann, Uncanny Valley Ortloff and others. We also sell the Playbag bags created by Czech designers, label Tshirts and tees by young local graphic designers. Aside from the shop, we also organize a festival and other activities.
What is the idea and motivations behind MUAH!?
To have fun! I don’t want to criticize anybody but I think that our values and concepts regarding parties are a little different to the others. We don’t give in to the cheapskate tricks of the majority of Czech clubs. We want good coffee, decent sound, DJs, vinyl records and people who behave as humans not as animals.
Do you think it is possible to promote the tradition of the vinyl record in our country? It is symptomatic, that you opened the shop in Brno and not in Prague. What is the problem with Prague when it comes to records shops?
Record shops can tell you something about the scene of a particular city. Prague lacks an area such as Kreuzberg, that people wouldn’t have to leave, have their jobs there, cafés, bars, secondhand shops or clubs and meet up every day. I’ve observed this in Brno for a while, to the north from the city centre. Starting with Sklenick, an area is spreading with plenty of cafés, where you can check your emails, meet friends, move to a different place and suddenly it’s the evening and usually someone will be behind the decks at Sklenick, even off the official programme. After a day like this, you go to bed with a good feeling. I only go to the centre to the post office, otherwise it’s simply not worth it.
Last year, you started organizing the MUAH! Festival. How was it? Are you planning to continue?
We started in July with Sevensol&Bender, had another party in the following month with Julius Steinhoff and topped it off with DJ Polo in autumn. Thanks to MUAH! we have realized that there are people outthere who appreciate if you are doing something with passion and we cannot do it any other way. We are already planning this year’s installment.
The Brno scene used to be quite active. How is it nowadays?
Not sure. I practically live in Sklenick and I’ve stopped keeping in touch with what’s happening elsewhere. I’m on Facebook and get invites from people who interest me. We are a small country, it’s enough to follow three or four crews and you won’t miss much.
Could you specify, which are those crews?
In Brno these are the concerts organised by Prokop Holoubek, the events by the 142bpm crew or the nights at the Boro club. I’d actually rather go out of the country to have fun to Bratislava or Vienna which are very close to Brno, or even Leipzig.
What about your DJing?
I party at Sklenick, several times a week 🙂 It’s hard to play this type of music somewhere else. There’re only a few deephouse events in the country and we occasionally invite each other and that’s enough, at least for me.
Which Czech producers do you like?
Popper-C, Elektrabel, Forma, Subject Lost, Mythematica, Floex. What pertains house music, it’s not so great yet, but it might change with Tom Holic from Brno. I also like Quazidelict and the listening scene.
What do you like most about your job?
I can be my own boss. If I had to sit in an office for eight hours a day, I’d be very disappointed with myself.
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.