INTERVIEWS: Vladimír Mišík – A little touch, a little cheer

Vladimír Mišík joined forces with producer Petr Ostrouchov for the second time. The result of their joint work is the highly rated album “Night Image”. A new recording is always an opportunity to talk. In addition to the slow emergence of the new album, Vladimír Mišík and I were able to discuss the past, the situation in Etc and health.

At the beginning of our conversation, I would like to go back a bit to the past. How yours started courtship with Petr Ostrouchov?

At that time, these were the Czech Lion Awards. Peter came to me with the idea that they would like me to sing there with Adam (Mišík, Vladimír’s son – note. red.) “Variations on a Renaissance Theme”. So we agreed that yes, but that he would do a slightly different version of the song. Petr made a new arrangement and I liked it. I was in a situation where Etc and I were still suggesting that we should record another album, that we hadn’t released anything for seven, maybe eight years, but there was still no material. I had a couple of my songs, Pavel Skála brought something, Jirka Veselý too, but that was all. So, after that experience with the Czech Lion, I said to myself that I would call Peter. I tell him I have a few songs, and I ask him if he would collaborate with me on the album. He replied: “I just wanted to call you and I wanted to offer it to you.” So it sounded a little fatal. We made an appointment, we met, we understood what we liked, so we agreed to take my album as a producer. But he told me straight away that he didn’t see it with Etc, that he would rather record it with his musicians, with whom he knows, understands and is in a musical mood. And then it just happened.

How did colleagues from Etc … react to this?

I told them I had made that decision, and most of the time they understood, because that’s how we would argue for a few more years, and I don’t have to be here anymore. We are in a very good relationship, we still played concerts together, but I started working with Petr on the record.

© Animal Music / Zuzana Bönish

For “I’ll meet you one day” you received six Angel awards. How did it feel? Did you expect it might come in handy?

I didn’t think about it that way. When we finished, we felt like we had made a good record. The musician usually knows that it turned out well. But we didn’t talk about prices at all. Then, when the nominations came, we were expecting how many of those nominations we could, if it turned out well, change. And it turned out the way it did. It was a surprise for me, because I never moved in prices and I’m not much for medals either. So it was a big surprise, but I admit I was happy.

Did the success of the first album affect the fact that you went to the next album?

As we celebrated the Angels, Peter smiled so slyly and asked: “So, Vlad, when are we going to record another album?” So I said when they sent us some ideas from above. He laughed, but soon he sent me eight things, he used that mess (pandemic covidu-19 – note red.), when the musicians had no job and had a lot of time off. I sent him some lyrics, he did eight songs and all of a sudden we had material. We agreed to shoot slowly because my health was getting worse. So I went to the Sono studio once a month, when it was freer there, a song was recorded, sometimes two. We shot in stages for almost a year, and finally it was done.

Vladimir Misik

Vladimír Mišík is, without exaggeration, a living legend of domestic big beat. In the 1960s, he worked with guitarist Radim Hladík in the groups The Matadors and Blue Effect, both of which he co-founded. He then sang in Flamengo, with which he recorded the album “Chicken in the Watch”, which is considered one of the best domestic rock records in history. In 1974, he founded the band Etc …, with which he played until the end of his concert career in 2021. In 2019, he joined forces with producer Petr Ostrouchov and his band Blue Shadows. The result was the six Angel Award-winning album “I’ll Meet You One Time.” This year, they continued this collaboration and released the album “Night Image”.

So those rich arrangements and a bunch of guests are basically the legacy of the covid?

I don’t think literally. I don’t know how the foreign guests had it at home, but Petr basically decided to expand the band with these, from our point of view, important musicians. And as a producer and also a lawyer, he just sent an e-mail to The Blind Boys of Alabama, sent them a song and they had only one thing: that they wanted to see the lyrics and if there was anything about God. And he told them there was something about God – there was a verse that when the Beatles played, God danced. They liked it.

Then there is the devil.

They’re together. God and the devil, an age-old duel.

Was there something that Petr Ostrouchov definitely surprised you with? I assume you recorded the vocals and Petr was already composing it …

When I sang, he already had it mostly recorded with the musicians. But they surprised me. For example, the “Sixties”, this is the only song of an older date, we thought about it on the previous album. I had a bit of a reggae, and I couldn’t take it, somehow the boys didn’t like it, so they left. They surprised me now. Peter says: “Listen to this,” and he released me a demo where the boys played almost swinging blues. So that was a surprise. I immediately rewrote the middle verse, about the women, to make it a little easier, I had something else there before. And it even got on the single.

Why did the choice fall on this song?

There were different opinions, even the director, who was making the clip for “Once” at the time, suggested that it would be perfect to make “Night Picture”. But I was against it because I didn’t want it to be the same again – a serious song for a poem by Václav Hrabět. The song isn’t worse, but I had an idea that the single could be lighter. This new album is a little more serious, as if more meditative, in slower tempos. That’s why I wanted it to be announced, albeit nostalgia, but at the same time at ease. Which, thanks to Michaela Pavlátová and the Mayans (video clip directors – note red.) succeeded.

It’s probably the lightest song on the record, along with the opening “Step by Sun Step”.

The one with the retirees. Yes, these are light things. I have a pretty clear system of what should be on every record – a little touch, a little cheer. “Story” still belongs to the happier part of the album.

How do you write lyrics? Where do you get your inspiration from?

Mostly verses come in the morning, which is strange. I’m a night bird, but sometimes I wake up at six o’clock in the morning and I have a dream in me. When it’s somehow graspable, I have an iPad by my bed, from which I always read before going to bed, so they start writing it right away. Maybe I like a verse or part of a text and then I write it. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s not, every author has it differently.

Did any things fall under the table? There were those eight things from Peter …

They were good, it was clear they were fine. I don’t think anything fell under the table. Peter brought something else, eventually David Stypka. There I was a little afraid that it would be too pathetic in my submission, but I think it turned out well.

Vladimir Misik
© Animal Music / Zuzana Bönish

It occurred to me that both records were in a way beyond your comfort zone, which you had been used to with Etc for years … Wasn’t there nervousness?

She wasn’t, because Etc and I wouldn’t … put it together. I will not specify it, but there were also some antipathies among some musicians. Which was one of the reasons I turned to Peter. And there was no problem, we are human and musical.

Does covid have an effect on your decision to stop touring?

Covid has no influence at all.

Interrupting those concerts …

I used to have a severe mental crisis, depression, because my health is complicated and unfortunately not good, and I almost collapsed mentally before those concerts. And thanks to covid, when we didn’t play, I felt mentally better, which is a paradox, but it was. I have been thinking for two years that this is a burden that I can handle only with the last of my strength. So I decided, he announced, the guys in the band understood that because they saw my states, so there was no wrong reaction. Recording the record was a slightly different kind of work, because we shot it together for a year, but I only went to the studio once every fortnight, so it wasn’t the stress. The studio is less demanding for me, I add drugs or a little booze, but it’s not the stress I have to. You have to have that concert, it’s no different. One climbs onto the stage and has to give it because people have paid for it, they are looking forward to it, they are happy about it, they usually like us or the music we produce. It was just embarrassing to me that I was so sick that I was doping more and more, and when I told my doctor, he just got scared.

And then he rejoiced when you said you were ending live …

That is not the case, but he considered it a sensible decision.

Is there any chance that you and Petr would try it in the third?

Petr made some thoughts, but we have no plans yet.

Did you enjoy it, I suppose …

Sometimes I didn’t sing a note in that studio because I was so sick that even those 80 milligrams of hydrocortisone wasn’t enough. Not that it was difficult to sing technically, but sometimes it didn’t work. Especially when I forgot my asthma spray at home. But Petr is a very helpful producer, a friend, and when he saw that it didn’t work, he didn’t suffocate me. We had no limit. We said we weren’t making an album, that we were just making some songs, and if we could, we might make an album out of it someday. It was mentally relieved, I didn’t feel any pressure that I had to, so I sang more relaxed, and I think that was reflected in the result.

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INTERVIEWS: Vladimír Mišík – A little touch, a little cheer