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.


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.


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.


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



No comment added yet..

Several years ago, a miracle happened to Jura Hradil. This devotee of the electronic nu jazz alternative came to the hilly Carpathian landscape somewhere on the border between Moravia and Slovakia and heard a song, firstly one, then two, then hundreds. It wasn't a blurry echo of old times, but the bright tone of a Horňácko song.  more

Originally, it was supposed to be the third part of the YM project, in which the individual members of the group Květy make records of their solo albums of different genres, and their colleagues from the band accompany them. After Lorenzovi hoši [Lorenzo´s Boys] by Martin Kyšperský in country style and after the electronic Japonec [The Japanese Guy] by Aleš Pilgr, Ondřej Kyas´s Solárium [The Sunbed] was hard to classify concerning its genre category. As a solo record, with only an episode contribution by Aleš Pilgr and without any playing participation of Martin Kyšperský.  more

The small Ponava music club has been renowned in Brno last several years for its very high quality music production. Here and there, its diverse programme also features folklore projects. On Thursday, a duo of the well-known multi-instrumentalist Marian Friedl and the Lachian vocalist Sabrina Pasičnyk performed on this stage.  more

While trumpeter Jiří Kotača is known to the Brno jazz audience mainly as the bandmaster of the progressive big band Cotatcha Orchestra, on his first CD he presents himself with a different formation. He had met the Swedish guitarist Alf Carlsson during his studies in the Netherlands, and then they met up again and founded their band during Alf's tourist trip to the Czech Republic. Then they invited two very talented Slovak players to a joint trip for music, drummer Kristián Kuruc and double bass player Peter Korman, who is a member of Kotača's big band. This international formation plays Kotača's and Carlsson's original compositions and gets more or less inspired by Moravian, Slovak and above all Scandinavian folklore. The album was given the name Journeys, because journeys – to music, to knowledge and to the heart of souls – are what the life of not only this band revolves around.  more

With the return to the Janáček Theatre after three years and with the first foreshadowing of the upcoming celebrations of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth, the Brno Philharmonic entered the new year with its traditional, already the 65th New Year concert in history. For this occasion, it chose a programme truly magnificent and appropriate, crowned by the European-famous Ode to Joy. The whole gala evening took place under the baton of Chief Conductor Dennis Russell Davies.  more

Two sold-out concerts launched on Saturday filled-up the hall of the Koruna cinema in Břeclav, where the Národopisný soubor Břeclavan [Břeclavan Ethnographic Ensemble] celebrated its 65th anniversary and joined thus the series of jubilee folklore ensembles this year. The afternoon concert had to be eventually added because of the huge audience acclaim, which only confirms that in South Moravia folklore is still widely known and enjoys unremitting popularity.  more

The Prophet and the Wind is a multi-genre performance by flute player Martina Komínková. She created it in Italy and after its Italian premiere it will be presented in Brno for the first time. The Czech premiere will take place at Brno's Divadlo na Orlí Theatre on Sunday 3 November. The evening show starting at 7:00 pm is already sold out, but you can still buy tickets for the afternoon performance scheduled at 2:00 pm.  more

In the premises of the neo-Gothic Czech Brethren Evangelical Church of J. A. Comenius, on the fifth evening of the Moravian Autumn festival, a performance of sacred music for choir and organ took place. In addition to the choir of the same name, Martinů Voices was also dominated by the organist Linda Sítková and a four-member ensemble of French horns. All this under the direction of choirmaster Lukáš Vasilek.  more

The third event of this year's Moravian Autumn festival was transferred to a theatre stage. The event was made happen by Terén, which is a platform acting as a third stage of the Centre of Experimental Theatre, right after the Goose on a String and HaDivadlo theatres. And it was on this particular stage of the Goose on a String where the world premiere of a stage production of Oedipus by André Gide took place yesterday. Composer Bohuslav Martinů stands behind its equally important incidental music.  more

The jubilee 50th Moravian Autumn music festival started yesterday at Bobycentrum in Brno with a concert performance of the minimalist opera Einstein on the Beach by composer Philip Glass and director Robert Wilson. The concert version was created by collaboration of visual artist Germaine Kruip, Suzanne Vega and Ictus Ensemble and Collegium Vocale Gent. Although only the music remained from the previously stage show, the length of the concert itself was comparable with the opera work. Hence, the evening lasted almost four hours.  more

Doctor Fligg talked to us about one of the most talented composers and musicians of the first half of the twentieth century – Gideon Klein. He is at the same time one of the organizers of the project Gido‘s coming home, which commemorates a flat one hundred years from the composer’s birth.  more

The National Theatre Brno started its new season yesterday by staging The Tales of Hoffmann, an opéra fantastique by French composer Jacques Offenbach with French libretto written by poet Jules Barbier. Directing was undertaken by the recognized artistic tandem SKUTR, consisting of Martin Kukučka and Lukáš Trpišovský. The title role was presented by Luciano Mastro, his faithful companion Nicklausse (and also the figure of the Muse at the end of the show) was performed by Markéta Cukrová. The roles of Hoffmann's sweethearts Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta and Stella have were performed by Martina Masaryková, Pavla Vykopalová, Daniela Straková-Šedrlová and Andrea Široká. The character of Hoffmann's eternal rival (Lindorf/Coppélius/Miracle/ Dappertutto) was interpreted by Ondrej Mráz. The orchestra was led by Ondrej Olos, the choir by Klára Složilová Roztočilová.  more

The Brno Philharmonic launched its 64th season yesterday, which is also the second season of its current Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Dennis Russell Davies. Beside him, the leading Russian pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja also stood on the stage of the Brno Stadium. Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major and the Czech premiere of the composition DA.MA.SHI.E by the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi's, connected with animated films of director Hayao Miyazaki, were chosen for the ceremonial start.  more

The fourteenth season of the Subscription Concert Cycle was launched yesterday evening by the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno with captivating music. A jubilant, almost festive programme was played in the Besední dům, following a performance at the St. Wenceslas Music Festival in Ostrava the previous evening. However, there were faithful and long-time spectators in Brno without whom the entire cycle would lose its meaning.  more

Yesterday evening at the piazzetta of the Janáček Theatre was marked by a concert to commence the 2019/2020 season of the National Theatre Brno (NdB). Promotion of the event ensured the most important thing for this music evening – hundreds of spectators who filled up the whole place. We should not forget the really wide age range, which is so much needed for future culture, especially at its lower limit (still in strollers).     more


The acclaimed soprano Naděžda Kniplová died at the age of 87. Former soloist of the National Theatre and the State Opera in Prague, she also performed in the Brno Opera between 1959 and 1964.  more

The Ondráš Military Art Ensemble announces a selection procedure for the professional part of the ensemble, for the position of soloist in the music and singing group (violin) in the Orchestra of Folk Instruments.  more

In 2020, the Janáček Quartet launches a brand new cycle of chamber concerts, in which it also welcomes guests from the ranks of  chamber ensembles and soloists. Four concerts of this cycle are planned to take place in the newly reconstructed Janáček Hall of the Brno Conservatory. The opening concert of the cycle is dedicated to the founding member of the quartet Jiří Kratochvíl, who died on 3 January 2020.  more

The ballet ensemble of the National Theatre Brno celebrates 100 years since its foundation this season. On the occasion of this anniversary, the ensemble is preparing a gala concert at the Janáček Theatre, featuring dancers from major European ballet companies, as well as soloists of national theatres from Prague, Bratislava and Brno. Among the guest artists there are stars such as Diana Kosyreva, Natascha Mair, Philipp Stepin, Cesar Corrales and many others.  more

The New Year's Concert of the Brno Philharmonic is coming back to the Janáček Theatre after almost three years, and for the first time it will be led by the Chief Conductor Dennis Russell Davies. In 2020, the ensemble will richly celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of composer Ludwig van Beethoven, whose 9th symphony will be heard at the concert. The solo parts will be accompanied by soprano Kateřina Kněžíková, alto Jana Hrochová, tenor Richard Samek and bass Roman Janál, accompanied by the Brno Philharmonic and the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno.  more

The ballet company of the National Theatre Brno announces audition for dancers, both male and female (soloists and chorus) to be cast in the season 2020/21. The audition is announced to take place in April 2020.  more

Janáček Quartet announced today that Jiří Kratochvíl,  founder and long-time member of the ensemble, died on 3 January 2020. He was 95 years old.  more

Leoš Janáček's teacher Pavel Křížkovský would celebrate his 200th birthday this year. The male choir Láska opravdivá [Truthful Love] will commemorate his anniversary by a concert at the composer's statue at the foot of the Špilberk hill. We will hear male choral pieces by P. Křížkovský and L. Janáček.   more

A concert called Valná hromada [General Meeting] will commemorate the legendary shows of music groups of the 1980s, when Brno's alternative scene was shaped. The joint concert will take place in ArtBar.  more

David Radok's opera production Three fragments from Juliette / The Human Voice is in for its last performance. You can see it only two more times at the Janáček Theatre.    more