Nebeztebe: You Don’t Build a Porsche with Pliers

24 July 2019, 1:00

Nebeztebe: You Don’t Build a Porsche with Pliers

The group Nebeztebe (a pun containing both "Not without You" and "Heaven from You) literally shone in the Brno scene a few years ago. The five-member line-up, with its marked rhythms, seemingly above styles, celebrated victory at Porta and headed for the giant multi-genre festivals. Under bandleader Štěpán Hulc seemingly the band went to sleep and only returned this year with a brand new, three-member line-up. The new Nebeztebe is made up of guitar, violin and mandolin and has not given up on taking a multi-genre approach. Once more they are giving concerts and are coming out with the concept album Zásobování duše (which might be translated as Supplying the Soul).

Štěpán, the band Nebeztebe was founded in 2008. What was the main reason for setting the band up? And did you perhaps have some kind of example that inspired you?

I could not manage without a band and a stage. You just cannot help it. I did not have any specific examples in this situation of deeply-rooted amateurism. I had a certain image of an original sound and I think that we managed it in our kitchen where at the start we tried somehow to cook something up.

A few years back you enjoyed significant success. You won the South Moravian round of the Porta contest, and nationwide you won at Porta for original works. For you personally what has been your greatest success so far?

You mean in musical terms? These competition prizes are important to me but more so was this year’s concert on 21 March in Brno at Morseart, a comeback with well-tuned sound, projections and lighting. That is a direction that makes sense for us to go forward with.

hulc_stepan_foto_jiri_slama_01

In a moment we will get to the detail. However, I am interested in why, at a time when things were going well, you decided to take a break, and eventually you returned with a slimmer line-up?

That was from despair. Too much management and running things as well as constant changes in the line-up almost drowned the poet in me. I realised that I was not going about things the right way. We were a group active in giving concerts, successful in competitions with "yet again" one member leaving, another probably joining and with great festival opportunities, which we were actually too tired to take up. We did everything at a run, never had enough time, together with a fluctuating line-up of more than twenty people, the group rustled up material for two albums and the resulting unsettled "neurotic-revival" of my own group really did me in. I needed to get off this merry-go-round, which no longer had much to do with music. To begin to create, get music once again  under my skin, to wed it again.

How did your former bandmates react when you told them that you would no longer need them?

Actually it was the result of things going on. The last permanent bass guitar player also had his own group and he decided to leave and we just agreed on that normally. The percussionist did not get on with the other two, with the fall-off in concert-giving he began to give up on rehearsals, and when we finished with him he came up with the memorable line: "Why so sudden?" Nowadays I know that either everything works from the start, including mutual preparation, or it will not.

From the successful five-member line-up in the end only you are remaining, but Honza "Yetty" Vrtěna, a current member of Nebeztebe, is actually not completely new.

Yes, Yetty, my right hand, who enjoys creating from some sort of cunning cheerful interior is often quite different from the one who by agreement left me for a year and a half. And when I needed a classic stand-in for a competition, calmly and without difficulty our co-founder had no problem fitting in.

nebeztebe_2019_foto_jiri_slama_02

And how did Tereza come to join Nebeztebe? You took her on originally as a singer, or as a vocalist?

As a singer. My left hand, who to my infinite horror always knows exactly my right hand is doing improvisation-wise, in 2012 recorded the violin for two songs for us in the studio. Two years later we split up with our singer and Terry said something along the lines of if we need it, even though she is not trained, she could handle it. She came very well prepared and her feel appealed to me. Later, we took a number of arrangements of the violin part from the previous line-up and a few stanzas later I realised what a treasure we had actually gained for the future.

The result is the far from typical line-up for your genre of guitar, mandolin and violin …

The genre classification of Nebeztebe is for me an increasingly distant question, but if you have a feel for it and give it some time, you can play gentle symphonic music on two forks. And in Honza and Tereza I found the two forks.

All of you alongside acoustic instruments use various effects. Was this a clear choice from the start?

Yes. And one clever book states that you can’t build a Porsche with only pliers in your hands. I enjoy modelling the group’s sound so that the listener can enjoy the enchanting moment when it cannot be automatically pigeonholed as "guitar" or "drums".

What is your repertoire like today? In the new line-up do you also play the songs that you did with the original more rock-like Nebeztebe?

We use two songs from the earlier repertoire as encores. They work well in the atmosphere after the finale of the new set – they are old pieces that for a long time we did not know what to do with.

In what stage of development were these older songs? And how do you work with this material in the group?

Most of the lyrics were ready or even there was too much, so after these years I was happy to make cuts, until I had virtually cut them back to the essential core. Their musical accompaniment and melodies were not particularly coherent. Which is fine because now we work in a way that as the group’s main creative guardian stroke provocateur I play these motifs for myself and for my two hands as I already referred to Terka and Yetty, and we try out the improvisation that they need. During this period of primal and almost boringly beautiful chaos I make sure that ideas get space without pressure on the result. I help the voices and rhythms to come alive, waiting for them to leave behind the common framework and begin to form their own, waiting for them to delight me. The following attempts at larger units I put aside for a couple of weeks and then take them up pell-mell with some distance. When finally the piece comes to life the jewels it contains are visible.

Are completely new songs coming out?

In this line-up we have a new playlist that we have created together, but in the long term it is a misleading term, because, for example, records of ideas, which over eleven years I have carefully catalogued as "Yetty’s trance motifs", are patiently awaiting their chance. In extent they could easily be enough for a separate project or album. And when we get to them, they will also be like new.

When you write a new song, do you think in specific terms of an actual line-up, or does an idea that can be used with any grouping come first?

I think the initial idea is not completely independent of the line-up. This is something I hear ahead of me, and is sometimes a kind of a rock-orchestral-trance-ethno-beat type. And I seek it in the blended sound world of effect-laden mandolin and the classical splendour of violin over nylon or electric guitar and a stompbox replacing drums or percussion.

Your new concert programme and also the album you are bringing out is called Zásobování duše. Why this name?

I saw a photo of a metal door on which was spray-painted by stencil "Zetor – zásobování duše" (Which might translate as "Zetor - supplying the soul" but also "Zetor – tyre supplies"). It was taken by my friend the photographer, Jitka Daňková and for a long time I thought it was taken at Zetor (a renowned manufacturer of tractors). Only recently, I accidentally discovered that it is on a container that I have been looking at for years in the Dolní Kounice garden across the valley. The inscription was waiting for me, and it includes everything I need from music. Supplying the Soul is a net that I take and test whether the composition will pass through it, or not.

nebeztebe_booklet_zasobovani_touhy

In your view does a disc have to have a concept?

Mine, yes, but I didn’t realise it earlier. The band is a living thing, and as long as I cared for her, she quietly required for each change in line-up different material. For this reason it was not possible to grasp the long-term repertoire. I myself had to figure out that I needed a clear concept that would lead me.

You write songs with lyrics as well as instrumental pieces. What is there about a piece that says you will not need lyrics?

You simply feel it during the work that you will not need lyrics. Strong musical motifs do not need it as long as you make use of the opportunities that it opens up for you. Even if here and there words and phrases occur to me.

When can we expect the album Zásobování duše? And what can you tell us about it?

Personal matters with introspective content. Whenever we play the songs I feel is supplying my soul. If that is what the listener feels then I will be beside myself with happiness. On the practical side we are finishing the last song, sometimes even fine tuning arrangements of other pieces. The recording method, the place and the people we already have, so we go rather for authentic sound, vibrancy and atmosphere than long studio work. I am looking forward to it so much. If possible, the disc will be out by the end of the year.

Will there be any guests on the album?

Possibly yes. Now my two colleagues have the working recordings in their hands and we’ll see what they make of them. Either their approach will support the pieces or there will just be the three of us.

You want to work more with visual components and specifically with projections in concerts. Why?

Within the lines of Vítáme jaro 2019 [We Welcome Spring 2019] we already carry projections where we can, and the results clearly convinced us and our audience that it works great. I see it as a musician as enhancing the opportunity for expression. It can amplify the musical message. At first it was just a reminder from my friend Shanny that Zásobování duše would benefit a lot from a simple projection. We realised it and just moved on thanks to de facto new member of the band Michal Minárik, who although he did not play anything, but embarked enthusiastically on the basis of my ideas on the video editing and projection. He does the promotion of the band with me and solves everything I can no longer manage. We plan clips ourselves – already just talking about ideas and possibilities. It's simply a super component of activities that Nebeztebe was lacking. We have our own sound, light and projection equipment, giving us independence.

Will you continue to enter various competitions, whether Porta again or elsewhere? And is it important for you?

It is possible that we will enter somewhere, this year we have already done so once and everything around that particular competition was incredibly beneficial for me. But it is important to say that in this case as the group’s manager and not as a musician.

You are a Brno group. How do you see the contemporary scene in Brno? Do you have any related groups or musicians? Who do you feel close to?

As a father and husband in the normal course of family life I save the maximum time for Nebeztebe. In real terms, I experience some results of the work of people who are definitely addicted to music, and I'm happy to see their growth. Fortunately, over a few years eventually we all figuratively meet in Tesco when not on stage. Immediately after my wife Magdalena, with whom I started Nebeztebe and for whom I am now her musical co-pilot in her own work, the one I see most is the bandleader of Funkychicken, Shanny, who does funk in a way I enjoy and we show each other our creations... Martin Kyšperský got to me with his Miláček slunce [The Sweetheart of the Sun], the punk Kruhy and the hipster-alternative Makak, I the rock approach of Safe Escape, Dan Vertígo caressed my soul with his latest creation, so much that I had to call him, I enjoy AIVN's Naked Trio and Tom Jégr and his albums 2015 and Souznění [Harmony], I appreciate and I respect Nevermore & Kosmonaut, I'm curious about the new album ... Strangely enough, I'm sure I have forgotten many people, and missed out half of Brno. Jazoo were great, while they were around, and now for me the most interesting are the prog-rock Pool (a joyful conjunction of the magicians Elshish, Ondra Malina, Ondra Kaprál and Petr Bartoněk, who would each be worth a separate mention) and Kudla with his band in the box.

Photo by Jiří Sláma

Comments

Reply

No comment added yet..

For the opening concert of the 20th anniversary season of the Špilberk Festival yesterday, the Brno Philharmonic chose a dramaturgy consisting of proven as well as lesser-known pieces. The subtitle Romantic Carnival immersed all evening in the carnival spirit associated with celebrations before the carnival opening. The aim of the programme was to characterize the period of merriment, celebrations and masks by compositions that tell with their mood about this period of the year. The almost full-up castle courtyard had the opportunity to enjoy an unpretentious and appealing programme, which also with its lower temperature more easily approached that cold carnival period.       more

As a UNESCO-listed city of music, Brno has had four festival days full of music and dance. Tens of concerts and performances with hundreds of performers took place at twenty-two music venues. Music in the streets sounded on every corner, but most attention this year was attracted by four rooms by the artist Kateřina Šedá, in which artists of different genres and nationalities took turns. Another attraction was the performances of the British Motionhouse and No Fit State Circus, who repeatedly enchanted the Náměstí Svobody Square with their acrobatic pieces and breathtaking performances. Two large stages were also set up – Dominik Stage on Dominikánské Square and Django Stage on Malinovského Square, on which appeared artists such as Jana Kirschner, Monika Bagárová, minus123minutes or Jan P. Muchow & The Antagonists. Traditionally, the festival was accompanied by the sound of barrel organs whose players met in Brno as part of their 10th international meeting. This year, singer and multi-instrumentalist Tinatin Tsereteli (Hannover) and violinist Nicola Manzan (Bologna) as artists from UNESCO partner cities of music also premiered at the Brno Music Marathon. The atmosphere of the festival is captured in the video below.  more

Folkové prázdniny [Folk Holidays] in Náměšť nad Oslavou is a festival standing out with its dramaturgy, structure and atmosphere. Every season has its own theme, every evening has its own theme, and even some individual performances have their own themes. The long-time programme director Michal Schmidt managed this year to excellently balance Czech premiéres and truly extraordinary projects with reappearances and sure bets. This year's theme of Folkové prázdniny was About the Soul; however, this week-long event has its soul every year.  more

The group Nebeztebe (a pun containing both "Not without You" and "Heaven from You) literally shone in the Brno scene a few years ago. The five-member line-up, with its marked rhythms, seemingly above styles, celebrated victory at Porta and headed for the giant multi-genre festivals. Under bandleader Štěpán Hulc seemingly the band went to sleep and only returned this year with a brand new, three-member line-up. The new Nebeztebe is made up of guitar, violin and mandolin and has not given up on taking a multi-genre approach. Once more they are giving concerts and are coming out with the concept album Zásobování duše (which might be translated as Supplying the Soul).  more

One of the musicians who will appear at Folkové prázdniny [Folk Holidays] in Náměšť nad Oslavou as part of a special programme called Harfy nad Oslavou [Harps upon Oslava], is the Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda. In Náměšť, he will also give a solo recital as part of an evening called O duši s lehkostí i naléhavostí [About Soul with Lightness and Urgency]. In our telephone conversation – we called him to New York where he lives – we talked to Edmar Castañeda, for example, about a harp specially constructed according to his requirements, or about his cooperation with the Czech singer Marta Töpferová.  more

The Olomouc Baroque Festival has begun. In the local Jesuit Convent the seventh year of the festival opened with the modern premiere of the serenata Il tribunale di Giove by the Austrian composer Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf. The work was first performed at the birthday celebrations for the Prussian King Frederick the Great on 27 January 1775 and after a repeat in Wroclaw in 1777 it fell into oblivion. The Ensemble Damian decided to reverse this unfortunate fate, and led by the ensemble’s artistic director and director Tomáš Hanzlík they attempted to revive the work. Appearing in the solo roles were Leandro Lafont (Fate and Apollo), Kristýna Vylíčilová (the Genius of Europe and Minerva), Lucie Kaňková (Time and Fortune), Monika Jägerová (Jupiter) and Jakub Rousek (Mars). The costumes and backdrops were designed by the director Hanzlík.  more

The Slunce [Sun] Festival in Strážnice will be held for the twentieth time this year. Especially lovers of folk music and classical big beat have  marked the dates of 12th and 13th July in their calendars. We talked to the director of the Slunce Festival Pavel Kopřiva about the history of the festival, its top moments and hardships, as well as what this year's festival season will be like.  more

The end of the first school-holiday week was carried in the spirit of celebrations. The 7th of July in fact falls on the birthday of Alena Veselá, a prominent Brno organist and a professor at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU), who celebrated an impressive age of 96 years on that day. The concert, organised particularly for this jubilee, was also the final event of the 39th Brno Organ Festival and as a celebration of the birthday of its founder (and now patron of the whole show), it already has a strong position in the festival programme.  more

We live in a free democratic society, in which the role of the state is to create the environment and conditions for the development of creativity and creative potential, being aware that today's living art creates cultural heritage for the future.  more

Last weekend, the 74th Strážnice International Folklore Festival 2019 as well as the 37th Strážnice Children's Folklore Festival were held in the South Moravian Mecca of folklore. The biggest folklore festival in the Czech Republic enjoys great interest and it wasn't  any different this year either, despite tropical temperatures, with tens of thousands of people coming back to Strážnice again.  more

On the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet Jiří Orten, the company ProArt prepared a multi-genre project called Ohnice – Where the Wind Is Dancing in the former Brno penitentiary on Cejl Street. The poetic production with verses of the young poet, which reflected his hard and short life, was premiered on 25 June.  more

The twenty-fourth season  of the Concentus Moraviae international music festival came to an end after almost a month of rich musical experiences. Musical works, thematically labelled as the Concert of Nations, guided the festival visitors around thirteen picturesque Moravian towns and gave them a taste of key musical works of (not only) European nations. All this was moreover served in the interpretation of more than twenty world-famous ensembles. With the conscious transnational, cross-border concept overreaching the Czech border, the festival organizers chose the Golden Hall of the renowned Musikverein Concert House as a suitable venue for the closing evening. The extraordinary finals of the 24th season opened thus a series of Concerts of Czech-Austrian Partnership and at the same time announced  the celebration of the festival's quarter of a century to be celebrated next year. In accordance with this symbolic overture of the concert, the main star of the festival was the patron of the festival and famous singer Magdalena Kožená, accompanied by the no less famous Collegium 1704 orchestra led by Václav Luks.  more

One of the biggest promises of the 24th Concentus Moraviae international festival was yesterday’s concert of the legendary Borodin Quartet, whose unique sound is the result not only of hard work but also collaboration with the composer Dmitri Shostakovich. This personal and interpretive trail still influences the group and is passed on to each new member. The programme took place in the library of the castle in Náměšť nad Oslavou , where in the 18th and 19th centuries it was the residence music-loving Haugwitz family. The music of Sergei Prokofiev, Joseph Haydn and Dmitri Shostakovich could be heard by the audience in a venue that was more than merely dignified.  more

In the summer months Špilberk Castle’s courtyard often resounds to the sound of music. Until September it is possible to combine a tour of the castle with a cultural experience. The organizers have tried to prepare a programme across genres that has something for everyone. Yesterday it was the turn of folk music. Despite the adverse weather the stage was dominated by the Military Art Ensemble Ondráš.  more

The last premiere of the Brno opera season for the first time ever and rather unusually combined two works. The Janáček Theatre presented the surrealist opera Three Fragments of Juliette by Bohuslav Martinů along with the small opera work The Human Voice by Francis Poulenc. The composed evening, with direction and stage design by David Radok, brought together two almost absurd worlds. And this connection was indeed remarkable dramaturgically, visually but also interpretatively.  more

Editorial

The travelling opera company Opera on the Road, which has been producing opera performances since 2012 and travelling with them around cultural "suburbs", is preparing a new premiere of a comic opera called Les Amours De Ragonde or Every Woman Wants   Love. It will be presented at the castle theatre in Valtice and in the garden of the Jurkovič Villa in Brno. The title roles feature Andrea Široká, Roman Hoza and Josef Škarka. The ensemble Concerto Aventino will take care of the music accompaniment.  more

Summer courses of the Guitar Institute are coming up soon – a five-day series of lessons, workshops and outdoor concerts in Brno cafés and clubs. This year's lecturers include Klára Hemplová, David Pšenčík and Gabriel Červeňák. During the courses, participants can choose among genres such as rock & heavy, jazz-blues, pop-folk (acoustic guitar), flamenco or classical music.  more

For four days, the centre of Brno turned into a vibrant metropolis full of music of many genres that were heard virtually everywhere. Brno reaffirmed during this extended weekend that it deserves to be a UNESCO City of Music. Most of the productions were free of charge, the paid ones were sold out and even the shows were added. The attendance estimated by the organizer is 35 thousand people. It was played in the squares, in the streets, on the balconies, but also in the underground, in the town hall, in the arcade or in the churches. This year's specials were concerts in four street rooms by the artist Kateřina Šedá.  more

Janáček Opera invites its audience backstage. The premiere meeting with the directors' duo SKUTR, conductor Ondrej Olos and soloists from the upcoming production of The Tales of Hoffmann will take place in September.  more

Four days of August, twenty-two music stages, dozens of concerts and performances, hundreds of performers and thousands of spectators. All this is promised by the Brno Music Marathon 2019 international festival, which will burst out in just a week, on 8 August 2019. Concerts in the streets and squares will be accessible for free, featuring among others Jana Kirschner, Khoiba, Motionhouse and NoFit State Circus, Monika Bagárová, Jan P. Muchow & The Antagonists, Progres 2, Žamboši or Pacora Trio with Denisa Kopačková. Buskers will play in dwelling rooms on the streets, barrel organ players will appear as part of their 10th international meeting. DJ Jon Hopkins, known for his cooperation with Coldplay, will also come to Brno. Cirk La Putyka and Pokáč are coming, and Lázně Rašínova [Rašínova Spa] will be occupied by opera singers and synchronised swimming. Music will sound also in the underground, in a mall, in churches, in a hotel or in the Town Hall.  more

From the second half of August the grand courtyard of Špilberk Castle will once more host an open-air music festival with an international line-up. The Špilberk Festival traditionally offers four concerts and two ‘cine-concerts’. The guests for this year’s 20th festival include among others the overall winner of Talentmania Patricia Janečková and the Grammy award winners The Klezmatics.   more

On Saturday, the opening of the Folk Holidays international festival in Náměšť nad Oslavou will take place. This year, the festival enters its 34th season with names such as Edmar Castañeda, Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita, Félix Lajkó & VOŁOSI, Rura, Lenka Dusilová, Hana and Petr Ulrych or Spiritual Quintet.  more

The 27th annual session of the Beseda u Bigbítu [Debate over Bigbeat] will take place traditionally in Tasov near Veselí nad Moravou. The festival represents the independent music scene and hosts bands from all over the world. Among the most eagerly anticipated groups this year are International Teachers of Pop from the UK, The Kill Devil Hills from Australia and Algiers from Atlanta.  more

Znojmo Music Festival enters its 15th season this year. The programme includes concerts, opera performances, gastronomy and a programme for children. The opening concert, performed by the patron of the festival Pavel Šporcl and the PKF - Prague Philharmonia under the baton of Derek Gleeson, is dedicated to the reminder of the fall of the Iron Curtain. The culmination of the festival is the premiere of the scenic oratorio Saul by G. F. Handel. The title roles will be performed by Andreas Scholl and Adam Plachetka. The show will be directed by Tomáš Pilař.  more

The 165th anniversary of the birth of Leoš Janáček falls on today, Wednesday 3 July 2019. Janáček is one of our opera composers most frequently played abroad. TIC Brno dedicated a tram to him for his birthday this year, with the main characters from his operas graphically rendered by Brno artist Vendulka Chalánková. Janáček also has his own website, an educational trail, a memorial and an opera festival.  more