Why be one of the many average bands when we can be a unique band? The ten-year history of the Brno group Kupodivu could be squeezed into this motto. In 2009, saxophonist Jaroslav Pilný and keyboard player Petr Šašinka first talked about forming a band. In 2019, the band Kupodivu [Surprisingly Enough] is releasing its first full-length album. Exactly in the middle of this ten-year period, in 2014, an important change took place when the original folk band was transformed into an interesting shape with keyboards, saxophone and bass, but without a guitar. The line-up, which resembles rather jazz bands in recent years, has scored at a lot of folk festivals in recent years. Kupodivu won the Porta award for authors, the Rada Notování [Council of Notation] award, won the Moravský vrabec [Moravian Sparrow], and won second place at the Mohelnický dostavník [Mohelnice Stagecoach]. At all these venues they performed music that rather than campfires fits into city clubs, and by far not only folk ones. The album Živočišné pudy [Animal Instincts] summarizes the band's work so far in a dignified way, underlined by the quality sound from the Zlín Studio V.
Kupodivu like to emphasize that each of the four current band members came out of a different musical environment. One of folk, one of jazz, one of alternative and the singer Marta Břeňová of pop. This is especially important because Martin's voice and speech can be envied to this Brno quartet by most folk groups. Rich vocals, work with dynamics, mastered phrasing, even when the background stumbles slightly – these are the prerequisites that make the band look self-confident and professional. While in the first line, the singer's sound partner is most often Jarda Pilný's saxophone, the keyboard of Petr Šašinka and bass guitar of Šimon A. Řeřucha are "accompanying". The quotation marks are therefore in place because there are no single rules over the whole album space. The bass guitar pulsates in a funky way, the keyboard is dancing capriciously, just to accompany only balladically elsewhere. Of course, all of these schemes are well known from popular and jazz music, Kupodivu does not pretend to be any kind of musically original band, but the connection of colourful funk-pop-rock music with folk lyrics (understand: stories) and well-mastered Czech (a number of bands of this genre resort the schematic texts in English) is not quite usual on our scene.
Kupodivu expanded its basic four-piece line-up and invited drummer Pospe (Tranzan among others) to the album, with whom, however, they also tried out playing live. Drums naturally belong to this music and they have their place on the album. An episode role in one song was also given to Martina Trchová.
The texts of Petr Šašinka are captivating both in terms of form and content. The name of the album "Animal Instincts" is to summarize the basic theme, consisting of relationships between man and woman in their various forms – from erotic (but not vulgar) to youthfully aggressive to mature, overripe as well as hardly sustainable. The author nonetheless manages to avoid clichés. And not only that – he offers interesting pictures and original phrases – for example in the song Pavučina [Spiderweb] (which the band already recorded in the third version): "My spiderweb is a love, which / Little children draw with a tube / Small fish strain with their mouths / Birds sow it with scattered sand / And crayfish squeeze it to laugh". Marta Břeňová is able to credibly present both the micro-stories in the song Mladí a divocí [Young and Wild] ("Pája's screaming at the piano / Screaming while lying on it"), and an emotional but brief text of Není nutno [No Need To] with a decent innuendo to the well-know song ("You sit and you are sad, you sit and there is no need to rejoice"). And when Šašinka uses a slightly frayed pun ("Ve při jsme…- meaning in Czech both "We argue…" and "We are hogs"), the singer will save it with her lovely phrasing that will make us even forgive the band for its rhymes such as láska/praská/páska/mlaská.
Certain rumours go claiming that in 2018, some orthodox folk musicians were not able to breathe out the "jazz" of Kupodivu at the finale of Porta in Řevnice. Other witnesses (including the author of this article) perceived an enthusiastic crowd at another traditional folk festival (Mohelnický dostavník), which enjoyed this band without a guitar. In any case, in the folk field, Kupodivu collected their laurels, and now fans of other genres might have noticed them. Their colourful music works in spite of styles, and Šašinka's lyrics, although with minor imperfections, are proof that one can also sing in Czech in the rhythm of funk. And that new original songs about relationships can still be written.
Kupodivu – Živočišné pudy, self-published 2019. 13 tracks. Total time: 47:43