We Are The Night, Part IV: Body of Pain
Our series, “We are the night” presents artists, promoters, production managers, label owners and others who are bringing the music world of the Czech Republic, from the past to the present and the present to the future. This week we present an interview with Body of Pain. Photo credit: Jan Kuča.
Czech Republic, Jan 24 (BD) – A sound coming from ancient times in structure and substance, but with a clear desire to make you dance now and forever, until your bones crumble. That is how I felt when I heard the Vampire crew of Body of Pain for the first time.
The two-member band, Jan Vytiska and Tereza Ovcacikova, who have quickly grown essential to the alternative nightlife of Praha, activated my curiosity and developed my dance moves for the whole of last summer.
We arranged to meet in BIO OKO, one of the oldest independent movie theatres in Prague 7, to speak about the genesis of the project, the present times and all the things to come, for a band with analog wings, ready to fly onto all the dance floors of the country.
Hello, so where do you come from?
JAN : We are both from Prague, but although I was born in Prague, I grew up in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, where I got in contact with punk and alternative music in a club called Vrah (killer), which has unfortunately now disappeared.
It was a very good place, because it was also popular among Slovak and Polish people who went there, so it had a great energy. Then I studied in Ostrava for 5 years, in art school, before coming back to Prague.
Tereza: I was born and raised in Prague, and I have been living here my whole life. I have been studying here, first at fashion school, then I decided to change fields and I moved to graphic design which I am still studying now, which is funny because Arleta is at the same school studying motion design, and I am in graphic design, but I did not know that she was making music…
How did you decide to make music together?
Jan: I had a band before called Johnny the horse, it was a post punk band, only instrumental, guitars, drums. I was singing in English, but the band ended when the guitarist left…
When it ended, and as I liked EBM, I started to think about synthesizers in music, and as Tereza and I were together as partners, we started working, as we had a lot of time during the quarantine.
Tereza: Yes, during the first wave of Covid, we started working on it at home, we had a lot of time because everything was closed, his previous band was over, so we simply started like that.
How do you produce your music?
Jan: We don’t use any programs, only analogue music instruments, it is the sound we look for. For me computer music is not real music…
Tereza: For us it is better to have only live instruments and not a computer when playing live.
Jan: We are reproducing the same format as a rock and roll band, we have a drum machine, bass, polyphonics, etc.
Tereza: We follow the model of a normal band but with synthesizers. There’s one song (“Operate Your Heart”) which was originally a Jonny the horse song, but we wanted to include it with our new musical set up and with me singing it, to switch the meaning of the song (which was originally sang by a man) and the music followed.
How do you write the lyrics? And how do you decide how to divide the singing (on live and the album) between you?
Jan: Basically, I produce the music and write all the lyrics, I am somehow the heart of the band but Tereza and I discuss the whole process.
Tereza: We always discuss the lyrics together, to be sure of the direction we are taking. Jan and I are connected so he writes lyrics with his own view, about feelings I could have…
What kind of influences do you have for the vocals?
Jan: We want to do something very straightforward, direct and minimalist, impacting you directly.
Tereza: Personally, I sing as I can, I don’t do vocals, a lot of the lyrics are in a spoken style, like a speech. I don’t have any special and direct influences.
And as you sing only in English for now, are you thinking of singing in Czech in the future?
Tereza: We know our English is not perfect, but we don’t really mind. We think, for music, that we can express ourselves more easily in English.
Jan: For me, as my work as a painter is really in the Czech artistic circle, it is good to have a side with English. To sing in Czech we should feel it, and anyway all my favorite bands and artists sing in English…
What are your influences in general to create music?
Jan: I think it is a bit of everything, so many bands, and so many movies.
Tereza: I don’t think we can say that there is one thing influencing us, there is still some new stuff we consume and like, it is always changing…
About live music, when did you do your first live show?
Tereza: We did our first gig outside Strahov stadium, at a kind of small festival with Wrong and Rare, it was around June 2021.
Jan: From that time, we switched a bit the singing, meaning who is saying what, and we modified the playlist.
Tereza: We also bought a new drum machine, so we are slowly modifying that part as well.
Is it the live music which led to this modification?
Jan: Yes, because we wanted to make the live show more dynamic.
Tereza: Yes, and also it goes with my own singing. I started to feel more comfortable, and I did not really want to play the synth live, and the good thing about the singing is we both know the lyrics so if one of us is drunk for example, [laughing] the other can sing instead.
Jan: We like the option that we can switch all the time.
What do you think of the audience reaction during your gigs?
Tereza: It really depends on the time you are scheduled to play. If you are the first to play as a festival opener for example, people tend to be quiet, but if you are the last one then people are warmer and more energetic. With time we realized what songs move people more, so we adapt our playlist based on that.
Jan: Now I am very satisfied, people are really dancing a lot, like for example at Transforma in Tabor.
Tereza: At Transforma, the place was not so full of people, but people were moving a lot, dancing like crazy.
Jan: Light is also very important for us during live shows.
Tereza: Yes, recently we were playing at Caffe lese, and the lights were very good, because either the audience or us on stage were kind of semi-hidden and the atmosphere was great, it was dark but not too much, more people felt more comfortable dancing…
Jan: We were the first to play but it was a great crowd.
Tereza: But at Transforma we found our balance for the live playlist and so on.
What are your next projects?
Jan: We have 3 new songs we are playing live for now, and we have 3 others that we are preparing.
Tereza: We don’t know yet, but maybe we would like to do a shorter album.
Jan: We have 6, 7 songs almost ready now.
Do you have any label contacts at the moment?
Jan: For now, no.
Tereza: I think someone wrote us a message from a label but so far we have not proceeded further.
Jan: We sent our first album to some labels in Germany, to get in touch.
Tereza: Yes, and the guys from sanctuary.cz [the main Czech goth/EBM/industrial collective in the Czech Republic, who organize the Prague Gothic Treffen festival every year], when we played there in summer 2021, told us that they can help us find a label if necessary.
Jan: First, we want to finish the second album, and then we can look for it.
Tereza: We were actively looking, but did not find anything, so we prefer to focus on our music, and we will see. What is encouraging, is that we met the band Empathy Test at the Gothic Treffen festival, and they liked our music and invited us to Hanover to be their support for their gig. The plan was a bit too complicated, but we really appreciated that they were so nice and kind to us.
What do you think of the Czech music scene?
Jan: I think it is getting better and better honestly.
Tereza: It depends whether we are talking about alternative or mainstream music, but yes, I think it is getting better.
Jan: From my point of view, to make music, record music and release it, it’s now a very good scene.
What places do you like in Prague?
Tereza : Bike Jesus, I know the staff there as I work there sometimes, and I like the cosy atmosphere. And we all know each other somehow.
Jan : Underdogs, Fuchs…
What Body of Pain are listening to:
- A Place To Bury Strangers – Hold On Tight
- Panther Modern – Ask Yourself
- Kollaps – ‘Fleshflower’