Jamaican Music Music Interviews

Reggae Interview Series: Reggae Music In Czech Republic

Cernoch is the webmaster for the largest reggae music portal in Czech Republic. Below is a recent interview we conducted with Cernoch.

Question: What is the reggae scene like there?

Reggae became quite popular in the last few years. In my opinion, the main problem is that a lot of people are listening mainly to Bob Marley and only a few other artists. There are not many reggae enthusiasts. Probably the best Czech reggae band is Svihadlo (www.svihadlo.com). They have Jamaican singer Vincent Richards. A next great dancehall band is Vokokos (www.vokokos.net). There are not many reggae bands.

Question: How about the ska scene?

Ska is doing much better. Like in other parts of Europe ska became very popular. There are a few ska bands. Just to name a few: Fast Food (my favourite Czech band) (www.fastfood.mp3records.cz), The Chancers (2tone ska, Czech-British-Scottish members) (www.chancers.cz), Green Smatroll (http://greensmatroll.hujer.cz) and Vertigo (www.vertigo.zewl.com). There are more ska concerts than reggae concerts. This summer there was a big ska-punk festival Mighty Sounds (www.mightysounds.cz). Thanks to Kuba, Fido, Premek and others for the festival. And thanks to HPK (www.hpk.cz) agency for all the shows.

Question: What was the first Reggae song you ever heard?

A. The first reggae song I’ve ever heard was probably a song by UB40 in a radio. Or maybe the stupid pop song A la la la la Long by Inner Circle. It was a big hit in that time. I have became interested in reggae after listening to compilations of songs by Bob Marley, Dillinger, Alpha Blondy and Jimmy Cliff.

Question: Who and what are your influences?

A. I like all Jamaicans styles… ska, rocksteady, roots reggae, dub, dancehall. I like The Skatalites, Prince Buster, Phyllis Dillon, Lee Scratch Perry, U-Roy, Josey Wales, Tristan Palmer, Eek a mouse, Culture, ….. I like music from Studio One too.

Question: What style of reggae is played often in your country? [Dancehall, Lovers Rock, Conscious etc.] What style do the majority of fans seem to prefer?

A. Ska is the number one (I know, it’s not reggae). Dancehall is very popular, roots reggae is popular and dub is popular too. I can’t tell you if dancehall is more popular than roots reggae.

Question: Was the fact that Reggae is English and Patois a barrier?

A. In my opinion, the “message” is very important in reggae. It’s necessary to understand what the music is about. English can be a barrier for a lot of people in the Czech Republic. So if English is a barrier, Patois is much bigger barrier. Unfortunately, most Czech bands are singing in English. On the other hand, a Czech number one reggae band Svihadlo have lyrics in Czech language. I hope that everybody try to understand about what reggae is.

Question: Is Reggae mainstream and is it played on the radio there? Videos on TV?

A. Reggae is not mainstream. Not at all. There are two reggae programmes in two local radio stations. One is in a capitol city Prague and the second is in Brno. Both of these are moderated by DJ Kaya. My friend Don Bruno is publishing fanzine called Banana (www.bananafanzine.tk).

Question: How is Reggae influencing your culture?

A. Reggae is changing their way of thinking. A lot of people say they are Rastafarians. There was a big discussion if a white man from Europe can be a Rastafarian. I’m not sure. They can be influenced by Rastafarian faith but I think that it’s not good to tell about yourself: “I’m a rastaman!” I’m not a Rastafarian but Rastafarian faith changed my way of thinking a little bit. There is a lot of people with dreadlocks and smoking ganja but they don’t know anything about Rastafari.

Question: If someone traveled to visit your home and wanted to hear reggae music what would they have to do?

A. They would have to go to Prague to find most of the shows. I recommend you to visit www.rastaman.cz where you can find a list of upcoming shows and news about the czech scene. Feel free to contact me. My email can be found on rastaman.cz

Question: How would you describe your country’s reggae sound and development?

A. I hope in future there will be more reggae bands. I’m waiting for a new wave of reggae bands. There are a lot of selectors and DJs. Vokokos play good dancehall. Sound of Svihadlo is based on roots and dancehall rhythm. Other bands plays roots reggae. Most of the sound systems play dancehall.

Question: What are some of the names of the popular local artist?

A. Who would be the top 5 artists? I’ve mentioned top 5 bands in the first and second question. Top 4 sound systems could be Pro Sound System, Coco Jammin, Swamp Safari and Beatz Smokin’ Weedz. My favourite DJs are Dr. Kary and Admiral Kolibal. My favourite selector is Dasha.

Question: How did you get interested in Reggae?

A. When I was 12 I first heard a reggae compilation. See the third question.

Question: Who is your favorite Reggae Artist?

A. Except the artists I mentioned as my influences I like Laurel Aitken, Dr. Ring Ding, Alpha Blondy, Doreen Schaffer, King Tubby, Gregory Isaacs, New York Ska-Jazz ensemble, Western Special, Open Season, Aggrolites, Moon Invaders, Warrior King, Natural Black, … and many other bands.

Question: Where do you think Reggae will be in 10 years time? And in Your country?

A. In my opinion, reggae will be more popular. Jamaican music will be mixed with other styles like hip hop. I hope that there will still be bands playing roots reggae. I wish to see more reggae bands in the Czech Republic.

Question: How are you involved in Reggae?

A. I’m a webmaster of www.rastaman.cz – website about Jamaican music and Rastafari. I’m a reggae and ska selector too. I try to spread reggae music here in the Czech Republic.

Question: In some countries you might see people wearing a Jamaican-style hat with fake dreadlocks attached when they attend reggae concerts and other events. Do you see anything that you see in your country?

A. Really? It’s funny. I’ve never seen this. It´s better to have fake dreadlocks and reggae in your heart than to have real dreadlocks without knowledge of reggae and Rastafari. Do you know what I mean?

Question: Have you ever been to Jamaica?

A. Not yet. Maybe in future …

Question: Do you have many / any Jamaican people living there?

A. I know only one Jamaican there. Vincent Richards – singer of a Svihadlo band and a member of Swamp Safari sound system.

Question: Do you eat Jamaican food?

A. I have good opportunity to eat Jamaican food because there was published a Rasta cookbook by Laura Osborne. Thanks to Libor Haler for translating into czech language.


Special thanks to Ras T. You can contact Ras T via email [email protected] or visit his site at http://www.rastaman.cz/

About the author

Xavier Murphy