Month: September 2015

5 people in Prague that you should know

Horek

horek

How would you describe Prague in only a few words?

Although I was born in Washington D.C., I have spent 14 years of my life living in Prague. It’s the longest I have lived anywhere on the planet. I would have to describe Prague as being my compass of growth as a person.

Where would you like to hang out in Prague?

I would like to hang out on the other side of the river but it is too hard to cross the bridge. So basically since I live, work and breath in Žižkov, you can just find me in Žižkovšiška in the day, Palác Akroplolis at night to be truthful.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you choose to see?

I’m kind of a simple person in a lot of ways. I would like to just go back to when music was good because of creativity, rather than because it sounds like what everyone else is recreating.

What’s your favorite word in English and in Czech?

I am not sure I have only one word in English but favorite phrase is “Ya know What Om Sayin?” but my favorite word in Czech is “určitě”… So I guess they kind of go hand in hand.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

So I think it would have to be Marlon or Shawn Wayans but I wouldn’t mind if Vince Vaughn, Matthew McConaughey or Andy Samberg could pull it off and handle the role.

Miquel

miquel

How would you describe Prague in only a few words?

Small but big city, where you can do everything you want.

Where do you like to hang out in Prague?

Any place that has good beer and where you can meet people… also I love the Komiks party!

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you choose to see?

I am fascinated by the buildings of Modernism. Maybe I would travel back in time at the time of their construction. in the nineteenth century.

What is your favourite word in English and in Czech?

‘Ano’ is for me very very funny, because if I translate it into Spanish it seems that people are saying ass all the time. And in English, ‘AMBITCHOUS’ (striving to be more of a bitch than the average bitch).

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

I’m an actor, very difficult casting! Maybe James Franco.

Tom

Tom

How would you describe Prague in only a few words?

Pleasant – I’ve never heard anyone, who has visited Prague, saying that (s)he didn’t like it.

Where do you like to hang out in Prague?

Žižkov and Vinohrady – you can find all you need for a great night out, be it culture, romantic dinner or godless drinking.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you choose to see?

I would love to see the invention of the printing press and the facial expressions of people holding a book for the first time.

What is your favourite word in English and in Czech?

EN – “breathtaking” CZ – “ba” (archaic conjunction or dialectical yes in some parts of Moravia)

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Steve Carell.

April

April

How would you describe Prague in only a few words?

Mesmerizing. Breathtaking. Home.

Where do you like to hang out in Prague?

I really like to go to Naplavka and sit near the river. Something about having the backdrop of the city around you as the sun sets is one of the most beautiful sights you can see. It just makes your heart feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you choose to see?

I would most definitely go back to the High Renaissance period to Italy and sneak into the Apostolic Palace to watch Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

What’s your favorite word in English and in Czech?

My favorite word in English is “onomatopoeia” because it’s hilarious, and my favorite word in Czech is probably “šiška,” because my favorite letter in the Czech language is the “š,” because it sounds so cute and sweet! You can’t help but feel happy when you say “šiška.”

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord, but not because we look so much alike (we DON’T at all.) When she raps, we have the same high-pitched squeaky voice like mine when I get overly excited, so its nice to know someone with that same trait about them. Plus, she’s probably the only person I can think of who’s as weird as I am and doesn’t mind it.

Megan

Megan

How would you describe Prague in only a few words?

The place that will kick you square in the ass if you are not looking but in the end will gently bring you up to a place where you want to be.

Where would you like to hang out in Prague?

Any park with a view and a beer garden! The Letna park view is the one that provoked me to move here!

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you choose to see?

Woodstock.

What’s your favorite word in English and in Czech?

English: “Yes” Czech: “No”.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Kelli Garner.

Interviewed by Ryan Keating-Lambert.

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Iva on Cafedu – Prague’s popular study café

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As someone who both works and studies, I find it extremely hard at the end of the day to actually open up a textbook, let alone even think about studying at all. A friend of mine who was a med student kept talking about this café next to Muzeum metro station that I had to try out. So one day I finally bit the bullet and checked out Cafedu, as well as the studyroom upstairs. Low and behold, I actually got some work done. The coffee is good, the decor nice, and there are so many windows to let in natural light and keep you sane while you’re furiously cramming before an exam. But I think the best thing for me is the diversity. So many different languages, and so many different students – but we all have one thing in common, we’re all freaking out about that work we’ve left until the last minute.. It sounds bad, but it makes me more comfortable when other people are stressing about this stuff rather than just myself 😉 The studyroom is open 24 hours and is extremely affordable, as is the café downstairs. Cafedu recently celebrated their first birthday with an awesome party hosted by owner and founder Iva Pejsarová. Check out our interview with Iva on her inspiration and journey of opening the café.

Are you from Prague originally?

Yes, I am. Born and bred.

Tell us a bit about your childhood..

I grew up with my mom and twin brother in the southern suburbs of Prague. I think I had a great childhood, I had many cool friends, there was no Facebook yet so I think growing up was a bit easier. I spent a lot of time outside and also did quite well at school. Just a normal happy childhood.

What did you want to be when you were young?

As far as I remember I wanted to be a psychologist. When I grew up a bit and was choosing my major at university, I really wanted to work for the United Nations.

Very nice, and you have a twin brother, I’ve always wanted a twin. Tell us about it..

It’s just a “normal thing” for me to have a twin… I’ve never not had a twin brother, so it’s hard to say how different it is. We were very close until we turned 11 – until then we spent 99% of our time together. We went to the same kindergarden, the same school, the same class… So being twins allowed us to spend A LOT of time together which definitely makes people close (but of course we fought like crazy a lot too!). I went to a different school at the age of 11 and that seperated us a little bit. But all in all, I think we are quite close – and Cafedu has actually forced us back together a little bit and I am really quite grateful for that :).

How did you get the idea to open this cafe? Tell us a bit about the process.

When I studied abroad, I was really inspired by my classmates. I thought how important it is to have such interesting and inspiring people around oneself, people who represent good values. We spent quite a lot of time at the university library that was open nonstop, and since I’m not a morning person, I spent a lot of nights there. I missed this motivating environment when I returned to Prague and felt that Czech students were starting to change their approach to studying and were becoming more active. So the main idea was to open a nonstop studyroom that would be alive with students; the coffee bar was just a necessary thing to cover the expenses. On the other hand, a coffee place can provide another cozy place to study/work in that it is more lively and “louder”, so it took up its own role and became an indispensable part of the whole project. Having had absolutely zero experience with business or coffee, you can imagine that the whole process was quite overwhelming.

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Well, you certainly did a good job. What different kinds of students are in there?

Mostly human. A couple of puppies visit us as well from time to time 🙂 There are lots of medical students, law students, economics and natural science students. Mostly studying at university – we don’t have that many high school students showing up. There are people who come in groups, but there are also “loners”. I think about half of them are foreign and half are Czech.

Why is it better than or different to other study places?

The studyroom is open nonstop. You can bring coffee, drinks or food up there (but we really prefer if people buy those things downstairs at the coffee bar, as that’s a way to support us – the rent and all the service around the studyroom are quite expensive). You can meet a bunch of really cool people there and make new friends. There are power points at every table and the tables are large enough for all your notebooks/laptops etc. (even in the coffee room). It’s a just a youthful, lively and inspirational place.

What did you study?

I studied economics. In fact, I’m still a student.

Do you think certain students have a certain look? For example do you ever laugh and think “he’s definitely a med student, or she’s definitely studying law”?

Of course! But you cannot always tell and I misjudge people a lot. But yes, mathematicians, computer-scientists and lawyers may give themselves away ;).

Will you open another cafe?

Seeing how nicely Cafedu was accepted and how people are really using it, I think it may be a good idea to expand.

Where do you like to hang out in Prague?

That’s a good question! In fact, I don’t hang out that much anywhere. I do meet with my girlfriends in one of the places in the southern suburbs where we all come from. Nonetheless, we keep telling ourselves we need to explore much more! When the weather is nice, I like to stay out, so I’m usually looking for outside seating in Prague’s parks.

How would you describe Prague?

A beautiful, historical, cozy and open-minded home.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you choose to see?

Wow, that’s a very difficult question! Maybe one of these “unfortunately-we-will-never-find-outs”. Maybe the Big Bang… if there was any…from a safe “distance”.

What’s your favourite word in Czech and in English?

Never thought about it… but the first things that come to mind are: koblížek (donut) and fun.

For more info on Cafedu check out their Facebook

Written and photographed by Ryan Keating-Lambert.

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Protests in Prague: Anti-racism and xenophobia rally photo report

Things are certainly heating up with the current refugee or migrant “crisis”, depending on how you look at the situation in the Czech Republic… Chances are you have seen something in the news because it is quite difficult to avoid at the moment. Here is a photo report of the rally today in Václavské náměstí today. Both sides of the spectrum are represented. What is your opinion on the situation? The anti-Islam protesters definitely outnumbered everyone else. Please comment and share your thoughts and ideas.

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Photos and text by Ryan Keating-Lambert.

Václav Havelka of Please the Trees

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Written by Ryan Keating – Lambert

I recently caught up with Please the Trees frontman and singer-songwriter Václav Havelka at the exclusive listening premiere of the band’s new album ‘( /\ r |>’ (Carp) and chatted about life, Prague, music, and of course trees. Stalin Skate Plaza  was the perfect venue for such an event. With the beating melodic melancholia from beginning to end, the trees surrounding Stalin in Letná Park were certainly pleased, not to mention the sea of onlookers and myself.

Having heard some of the band’s previous music I was sure the album would be good, but it blew me away. The thumping beat of the track ‘Suite F’ reminded me somewhat of a darker and moodier Queens of the Stone Age, while the music video for it reminded me somewhat of Scandinavian group Fever Ray – a gorgeous assault on the senses. This entire interview was done while Havelka was spinning tracks on a turntable, so in some way I think the music itself shapes this interview a lot too.

So, obvious question first.. I’m sure you’re asked this a lot. How many people talk about your name being similar to Vaclav Havel’s.

There is no connection but I’m happy I had a chance to meet him in person. Years ago on one of Lou Reed’s last visits here, I was told he was coming and that they’re looking for his personal driver and asked if I was available. I ended up doing it. One of the meetings was with Vaclav Havel. When they came out of the restaurant where the meeting took place Vaclav was cheering to everybody around, shaking hands. When he came to me he introduced himself saying “Hi, I’m Vaclav Havel,” and I said “Hi, I’m Vaclav Havelka” and he burst out laughing. This was my only chance to meet him before he died, and it was amazing. Love the man. Am proud that I experienced an artist leading this country.

You’re originally from East Bohemia, tell us a bit about your childhood..

I was born in Pardubice and when I was 7 we moved to the Krkonoše mountains where my parents started to work as hotel caretakers. From then up until I was twenty years old we were living a nomad life, moving around, changing schools. This gave me strength to grow as an individual and define my personality, love of travelling and love of meeting different people.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

I think I wanted to be a pirate or a villain or something. I still feel the same. Then I discovered rock and roll, found out that in art basically anything is possible when you work hard and know what you want.. and that was it for me.

I’ve heard your name means that you literally play music to “please the trees”. Have you always been in touch with nature and the environment?

For me, everything I do is kind of unconsciously done with nature, I don’t even think about it. It’s in my roots. My family from my mother’s side were farmers, guess that’s where my love for folk music came from. It used to be for the music of ordinary people back then – workers, farmers. Then it changed to the music of intellectuals. When I was starting this band with guitar player Zdeněk Kadlec we were joking that since we don’t have fans we will play to please the trees…

Tell us a little bit about the Please the Trees project..

We started that in 2010, a friend of ours, John Reynolds – a gardener in Manhattan, secretly plants trees in different gardens he takes care of, and he suggested that we should do the same.. And we thought, wow that’s an interesting idea. So when I’m booking a show now I ask the promoter if we can plant a tree somewhere, with someone who’s gonna take care of it. We have a map of them on our Facebook profile. At the moment it’s 267 trees. We wrote a tribute song to John called ‘Paint This City Green’ and released it on the A Forest Affair record.

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Photo: Julie Hrnčířová

You’ve toured Europe, the United States and the UK, and also Israel. How does the audience differ abroad to here?

Being able to travel with the music and communicate across the world through different cultures is the main goal for me. It’s also very spiritual. Playing a show is a ritual for me. Seems like in our music there’s something that people from anywhere can identify with. We love playing small rooms, feeling the crowd. I like to challenge myself and the band. I’d rather play for crowds of strangers than people who love us. The best experience in this sense lately was opening for Robert Plant in July in Brno. We had a great time but some of the people couldn’t stand us. We were chosen by the man himself but were not announced, nor did we bother to introduce ourselves. I received e-mails after the show from people saying that we should simply stop performing, they couldn’t stand it.

I read recently that your band was described as being part Grizzly Bear and part Arcade Fire, would you agree?

Everyone has their own associations depending on what they like. I’ve heard a lot of them, sometimes strange, funny but interesting. We are influenced by many things, many bands, various musical styles. We do not think about what we play. It’s very intuitive. We haven’t even rehearsed in the past two years at all. The new record was written and rehearsed on the road. I’m happy that I have a rhythm section I can depend on (Míra Syrný on bass and Jan Svačina on drums), and that is able to serve the song.

Tell us about Carp, why “carp”?

Every record of ours has a story. This one started a few years ago when I bought this drawing of carps from the young artist Hubert Suchý. This drawing of his really appealed to me. I knew when I saw it that I was gonna use it for sure in the future. Using it for the cover art of the record and calling it Carp felt very natural then. Carp is some sort of a symbol for South Czech where the city of Tabor is, and also where the band has its roots. This record is about going back to the roots as well as a new chapter in our history.

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Album art: Hubert Suchý

Then came the idea for the first video for the song Suite F. Since calling the record Carp we had to use footage of carp fishing from a pond but we wanted to give it an even darker edge with the demon and create sort of our own mythology.

That’s very interesting. I understand you have some other music projects, what else are you working on at the moment?

I get so much inspiration from different places, but I can’t do everything with one band. Each project has it’s own concept and identity, they’re parallel lives. At the moment it’s Were Mute with multi instrumentalist Carl Warwick, noise experimental project Vac da Hawk or with the rapper Martin Tvrdy aka Bonus project Tvrdy/Havelka with which we reworked old Czech underground hits with electronic arrangements.

Busy guy. You’ve also written music for some theatre productions, are you a theatre goer?

My relationship with theatre started when I married an actress. I love working on music for plays. It’s a different kind of work when I’m in the service of the director. It’s very organic and you never know where it’s gonna take you until the opening. I did a couple things at the Prague Estates Theatre, Dejvicke Divadlo, Alfred ve dvore and Divadlo na zabradli. Last year I did screen music for the film Mista with David Boulter from Tindersticks.

What do you listen to when you’re chilling out at home?

I listen to music all the time. I feel like a music fan more than musician. There’s so much new music but at the same time I’m always filling in the gaps in my knowledge. I’ve been a MOJO magazine subscriber for a year and have read lots of musical blogs and other magazines like Wire, Uncut, Full Moon, loved Plan B when it came out, also Arthur magazine, Under The Radar etc.

What are your music guilty pleasures? Any mainstream pop in your record collection?

I always thought when growing up that values reside in underground stuff so that’s where I want to belong. Then when I got there I discovered that most of the people there were narrow-minded lazy posers. People say pop is evil but I don’t think so. Madonna grew up on the streets, she used to be a punk. She does what she loves and is super professional. The same for Justin Timberlake and others. I don’t judge anybody. I think it’s very important to do something, anything. Not just sit, drink and curse. That’s quite typical for the Czech underground music scene especially.

What’s your favorite kind of tree?

Probably the birch tree.

Nice choice. How would you describe Prague?

Hard to say. I’m not a city type but I don’t mind living here. It’s a village.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

Musically? Hank Williams, Miles Davis or John Coltrane playing live. Hendrix, The Doors too or early Bob Dylan.

What’s your favorite word in English and in Czech?

Humility.. pokora in Czech.

http://www.pleasethetrees.com
http://www.facebook.com/pleasethetrees
soundcloud.com/please-the-trees
bandcamp.pleasethetrees.com

Written by Ryan Keating-Lambert. Photography by Julie Hrnčířová.