FolkWorld Issue 32 12/2006; Article by Walkin' T:-)M

One Blank Area Removed
Indies Records & Roots Music from the Czech Republic

With the Easter European countries joining the EU, FolkWorld promised to feature its ethnic music more often. Still, it is quite a blank area on the folk and world music map. T:-)M talked to Premysl Stepanek of Indies Records, the premier record label in the Czech Republic.


According to Premysl Stepanek, Indies Records was formed in Brno in 1990. Indies started out as a small music shop, but soon it received promising master tapes. "We waited for a long time, but nobody released it", says Premysl, "that was the start of Indies Records." The shop and the record label split into two different companies in1994, when Indies Records released its 10th album.

At first, the record label featured alternative rock. Today traditional, folk and roots artists form 50 percent of the catalogue. Indies Records' biggest success is the female songwriter Raduza: Raduza, "As a singer, composer and instrumentalist, she began her career with a sort of blues repertoire playing on the street. Her music is partly derived from chanson, but Raduza is mostly inspired by folk music and the mood of city flash songs, which in her raw presentation offer unexpected musical and text phrases."

"Raduza is the number one among Czech customers. Of course, Iva Bittova is very successful. Also Traband, Hradistan, Jablkon and Zuzana Navarova." Unfortunately, Zuzana Navarova died two years ago.

The violinist and singer Iva Bittova is one of the "most outstanding and most original personalities in the present-day Czech music." In 1999, she set up the association of musicians Cikori. "This resulted in fresh, expressive and original music which combines the alternative elements of jazz and world music." Iva Bittova rejects to be pigeon-holed, she created an original and quite individual music style which she describes as "my private folk music".

Hradistan belongs to the best-known Moravian cimbalon bands. Jablkon is a very successful group, both home and abroad. The band from Prague has its particular style, drifting from folk and folkrock via slightly jazzy and alternative rock to classical music. For 10 years, Traband has been journeying the European stages: "Traband has not used only the time-tested Balkan and Jewish klezmer music, Iva Bittova, but it has been also inspired by folk music from Moravia, Ireland, Brittany, Mexico and Peru. There is nothing else than ordinary, solid song. For some people, embellished by unusual instruments: tuba, trumpet, bass flugelhorn, clarinet, banjo, accordion, etc."

Premysl Stepanek says that Indies Records has many plans. It will release more than 30 CDs in 2006. Jablkon and Iva Bittova will have DVDs. Traband is going to have a break for a year or so, feeling that "it’s the time to take just another way." The result of this should be a new sound. Indies Records is also supporting young artists and will release some debut albums.

When questioned about the Czech folk and world music scene, Premysl is quite confident. "World music is very strong now in the Czech Republic." There are still old and established musicians around, but also many young and talented artists.

As we at FolkWorld always say: czeck it out!

Address: Indies Records, Stefanikova 8, Brno 602 00, Czech Republic,

Ahmed ma hlad, Bardentreffen Nuernberg 2005, photo by Walkin' Tom Selected CD releases (more up and coming):
Indies Records - Original Czech Music - PF 2005
Best of Indies Records 2000/2003
Al-Yaman "Hurriya"
Benedikta "Punky Dumky"
Irish Dew "Sance"
Konaboj "Ja sa kona bojim", "Ja sa kona bojim"
Maraca - Zimbova "Krvave Balady"
Noi "Noi"
Radosov "Laska a vojna"
Terne Chave "Kaj Dzas"

Folk in Tschechien - Eine Einführung in die Szene (Article in German, FW#29)

Photo Credit: (1) Traband (taken from website); (2) Raduza (by Richard Procházka, taken from website); (3) Iva Bittova (taken from website); (4) Ahmed ma hlad (by Walkin' Tom, Bardentreffen Nuremberg 2005).

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 12/2006

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