ESNS will focus on artists from the Czech Republic and Slovakia for its 33rd edition. From January 16th to January 19th the festival and conference visitors will be able to see a total of 21 acts from both countries. This The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy of Czech and Slovak acts at ESNS 2019 is presented by Jiri Spicak and Jakub Kaifosz the Czech Radio_Wave and Viera Raczova of Radio_FM from Slovakia.
Artists from Czech Republic:
Every showcase festival has to face the reality that it’s impossible to represent every type of musician or band – logically, those deeply rooted in the underground, who prefer their own means of distribution and operate outside the mainstream will always be missing. Thus the Czech bands scheduled to perform at Eurosonic 2019 do not fully represent the music of the whole country but only a certain margin. Nonetheless, it is more than apparent how colorful the genre spectrum of the Czech music scene at the end of the new millennium’s second decade truly is. From avant-garde jazz featuring an accordion, dreamy shoegaze to uncompromising pop – this year’s Eurosonic will be filled with Czech music without genre borders.
Lenka Morávková from the Bohemian Cristal Instrument project released her debut EP only this year but has immediately become a talking point – her ethereal compositions are unmistakable especially to her unique glass instrument that gave her project its name. The same goes for Tomáš Dvořák who has been weaving together electronic music and modern classical music with the clarinet pushed to its limits under the moniker Floex. In his current project, he’s backed by British producer Tom Hodge. Floex shares a similar approach to innovative jazz together with another band in the annual line-up, Zabelov Group. Zabelov Group takes their characteristic sound even a step further adding the stylings of an accordion.
Manon Meurt have made quite the splash locally, introducing themselves to the scene by opening for shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine. They have been frantically polishing their dream poppy indie rock sound ever since. Circus Brothers present a very different cocktail, mixing disco with Balkan music, rap, techno and even Czech brass music. Thanks to such a rich sound they have become a staple of local summer festivals. A relentless touring schedule has made Lazer Viking a sensation and a well-known character on the Czech scene as his wildly entertaining live shows have been bringing the best from the history of American pop influences and righteous rock’n’roll to concert goers around the country. Pipes & Pints have been a part of the scene for more than ten years now and their combo of punk-rock and backwoods folk has been a guarantee of energetic shows.
Young songstress Lenny is one of the biggest Czech mainstream newcomers. Supporting Scottish R&B singer Emeli Sandé in Prague’s O2 Arena, she has the most experience with big stages of all the Czech Eurosonic participants. Thom Artway, a male counterpoint to the stylings of Lenny, has been taking inspiration for his mainstream pop sound from the folk-pop songs of Tom Odell or Jake Bugg. The endless list of genres Czech bands will be bringing to Eurosonic does not end there since Mydy Rabycad will be bringing their retro dance music to the table as well. Rooted in electroswing but currently much further in their sound, Mydy Rabycad aren’t afraid to experiment when it comes to electronica.
There aren’t many female rappers on the Czech scene. The dire situation is slowly changing though as rapper and singer Monika Evans aka Hellwana brings her fresh point of view onto the rap scene as one of the most notable newcomers of 2017. Appearing out of thin air with her EP Sunbeam influenced by grime, R&B, neo-soul, and trap, her voice is very distinct and confident. Not only a great rapper and singer, but her live show also proves her to be an exceptional performer as well. Her lyrics, as well as her Instagram, support a body positive attitude creating a voice for a new generation of girl power. Listing Jorja Smith or Skepta as her influences, Hellwana spent her childhood in Great Britain making English her second mother tongue. A member of Prague collective Trash Gang, Hellwana is currently working with producer and DJ Cyper Sound. Together they are putting together a new EP with Czech lyrics.
“I’ll always like Czech a bit more, although it might not seem like it from the number of songs I have in English. English is a language better suited for artistic purposes, but there’s just something about the Czech language that I love, although I might be a bit uncertain in it still. My family isn’t originally from the Czech Republic. Neither of my parents is. My mother has lived here long enough to have mastered the language. I grew up with my grandparents who, although they speak perfect Czech, have many of their own words and terms, which made their way into how I speak. I feel like my lyrics are better in English. I’m more comfortable in it because I talk to my sister in English and have many foreign friends,” adds Hellwana.
Jiri Spicak and Jakub Kaifosz (Radio_FM)
Artists from Slovakia:
If you'd like to know how sound waves deconstructing is like, Isama Zing’s music is the right way to find out. It’s one of the aliases of Jonatán Pastirčák who created Isama Zing as a platform for a clubbier part of his music production. Autumnist like to say they don’t have a frontman and so we can hear a lot of different vocalists. We got their album False Beacon (after waiting for 5 years) a couple of months ago. It's supposed to be a straightforward and raw sound with space rock and kraut-rock influences.
Katarína Máliková debuted with an album strongly influenced by Slovak folklore but now has even more to offer. Pustvopol is her first LP and the musician found inspiration in a region close to her hometown. Currently fascinated by synths she keeps the audience waiting for what's going to be her next release. Tittingur are two friends who would describe their music as maximal techno, i.e. opposite to minimal. They like to use and combine a live instrument or a sample like they did on their second release Beings. Nvmeri (formerly The Uniques) have been part of the scene for ten years now but that's not important cos their sound is timeless. Their latest LP I Don't Think So (released in 2017) might be exciting for synth, 80's, funk or simply pop fans.
The spectrum of labels that released B-Complex' music will give you a clue about her achievements, especially for a Slovak artist (Hospital Records, Spearhead, visitors, Dysfunktional Audio, UKF). She stood out from the drum'n'bass scene in 2009 after releasing track Beautiful Lies and got noticed literally everywhere.
Shoegaze and math-rock were never so attractive as with The Ills. They make you love long tones and varied guitar riffs even if you're into more upbeat music. Respected by a strong Slovak fanbase and also audiences from abroad (the band has played at Iceland Airwaves, Colours of Ostrava, MENT and also Eurosonic Noorderslag). Our Stories are like a younger brother of The Ills. The same drive and the same poetics might indicate more fans and gigs in the future. Post-rock, thrilling guitar passages and harsh drums might be something you want to experience.
Thisnis is a three-piece Slovak-Hungarian band who just like to experiment. Live improvisation is what you get when going to see them live, their gigs may vary in genres, but you're definitely going to find saxophone, accordion, viola, and drums at their shows.
Tension, savagery, and debauchery are the strengths of Möbius consisting of a drummer and a guitar player.
Viera Raczova (Radio_FM)