She lives only five minutes away from mine, but I still manage to get lost on my way. It doesn't get any better when I walk in, the place is packed with so many things, I get through a tiny corridor to the kitchen for a tea, then we get back to her room and it tells me a lot about this woman. So busy, so passionate, and no matter what she is pure.
I just ask her to play, or better, I can see her craving the guitar constantly, so I just let her do whatever, in the meantime I'm making my way upon pedals, books, weird surfaces, so that I can take some pictures and impress something that comes to Villi so natural.
I always thought her shy and distant, I never understood if she liked me enough, I never understood if she liked anybody, but I never had doubts about her love for music and for bigger things out there. Now I know for sure she likes everybody and nobody, she comes and goes bringing that red warm dust all over, like the Brickfielder wind; she stays true to herself, she gets confused, she wants to do good.
I'm so happy I had the opportunity to talk to this artist, in the silence of her room with a wonderful view, her gaze lost in her memories, her smiles and her complete aperture which hit me like a storm on a quiet morning. I am inspired.
Villi: It's not stressful at all. If it were stressful I would not do it. When you do something you really really like and it inspires you constantly it is not stressful, I mean, it can be because you want to make the best of it, of course, but it doesn't make you feel anxious. Let's say it's stressful in a positive way, because you are so passionate about it that you want to make it good.
With Smich Hyen we started six years ago and it was my first real band with gigs and everything, it was really stressful actually to be on stage for the first time, but I was not alone, I was surrounded by people with whom I created something, we were in that together.
N: So it's not a big deal to go back and forth between London and Ostrava? Because it's what you actually enjoy...
V: Yeah, so now I live in London since almost two years, but the band there is still going, it's kinda amazing because I keep travelling back mainly for that, and of course to see my friends and family. I try to make sure that the band is still up because it's something I really want to keep doing. For me there is no such thing as holidays, it's important that I create something constantly, that's what I chose, I am not complaining, even though sometimes I would need to switch off my brain; but at the same time creating music is like a therapy for me, it's how I keep the stress out.
N: I know you previously played bass with Kulma too, but you've been replaced once you left for London. Why did they make this decision while Smich Hyen preferred to carry on with you?
V: So, Ostrava is not like London, not even like Prague, it's not even that small but the music scene is pretty limited, you can put six bands in one van basically, because everyone plays with everyone. I played with both bands, but then I left for London and Kulma got offered some gigs and as they play more for fun it's been a natural decision. Also the new bass player of Kulma is the guitarist of Smich Hyen. Anyway, Smich Hyen have been offered some gigs as well, but they didn't feel like accepting without me because I was so involved in the writing process.
N: How do you determine to which band give the idea you've got for a song?
V: All the bands are so different, that's why it's possible for me to keep it up. When I write music I never know in which project is gonna end in the process, when it comes it comes, but when the idea is complete I can clearly see where is gonna go. If Smich Hyen and Vyk Non were too similar, it would not have been possible. In HLMX I play bass, then I'm in another band at the moment, but all the parts I play give me something unique. What connects all the projects I am part of, is the aim, none of us want to be famous, we don't do it because of big money, we just love it.
I'll try to explain. Recently I've been offered a job as a session bassist, a paid job. I would have been required to play the exact same parts as they were written previously, and for a moment I've got tempted. I thought that I could maybe dedicate less time to my job and play more instead, but then I asked myself where was the soul of it! I've got scared that it would lose its meaning...
N: Did you refuse because it was a paid job or because you would play music you didn't write?
V: Both. I think I would really struggle... I thought that I would end up just doing that and I would lose myself in the process. I cannot do something just because I'm told to.
I used to play piano when I was really little, my dad was good with electric things so he built me a keyboard. After few months my parents decided to take me to a music school and I would spend from five to seven hours a day playing piano. My future was basically written. I wanted to go out and enjoy life, instead I would sit there and play because somebody else decided that for me. It was so hard, I knew that if I'd quit I would disappoint so many people. But I started a Summer part time job and with that money I just bought my first guitar and a pedal, I needed a really nice overdrive, to play the Nirvana songs, you know [laughs]! I didn't even know how it would sound, I just went to the local music store and I said something like “Ok I just want this guitar, an amp, and give me a good pedal too”.
N: I am really curious about the HLMX project. There is something slightly sharp about the sound, but it's so soft compared to your other bands. How do you feel playing this kind of music?
V: I love it! It was not my intention to start a new project, as I am so busy already, but I decided to give it a try, because it's with a friend of mine and I would play bass which sounded interesting. Then I completely fell in love with it, since the first rehearsal. The drummer is amazing and Holly, the singer, plays the guitar in a completely different way from me. We were composing in her room, I started some bass lines and she created all the grips around it, it felt like making a puzzle. Even if the music is soft, it is still kinda dark; we both come from these really noisy and loud bands, but it came out like that completely natural.
N: How do you feel on stage? You seem so bright and slightly shy in person, but once you are up there you look mysterious and confident.
V: Confident! Ah. Well, I can be super nervous before getting on stage, which is weird because I played many gigs in my life, but once I start and the sound is good and I am there with my friends sharing this experience I kinda forget where I am. It's like another dimension. For me, being on stage is not like really being above people, is more like sharing something with them. That's why I probably bleed all the time, I forget I'm there, I just know I'm doing something I love and I play hard. After the gig I see my guitar and I'm like “Oh my god, it's full of blood, how?”, or maybe the guitar is broken or something. It's hard to explain, but for me the more I bleed the better the gig is, it means I've been under this sort of hypnosis and I didn't feel any physical pain.
N: What do you need in your life right now to feel accomplished at the age of 27?
V: I am living my dream and I cannot do any more at the moment. This is the life I've always dreamed of, if I die tomorrow it would be with the guitar on my back. It took me time to get to this point, because moving to London is not easy, and I didn't intentionally come here to stay so long, I expected to remain for four months and it's gonna be two years soon. I didn't even intend to play music here, it just happened. I felt it was the right thing to do. When you first move to London you know nobody, so you end up spending a lot of time by yourself, so you grab the guitar and you start playing. I got inspired by this experience of me being alone. But it is also overwhelming how music connects people all over the world.