Winners of Czeching 2016: Himalayan Dalai Lama

Winners of Czeching 2016 HIMALAYAN DALAI LAMA - Foto: Barbora Linková

Winners of Czeching 2016 HIMALAYAN DALAI LAMAFoto: Barbora Linková

The 20-member international expert jury of Czeching 2016 has springboarded the Brno-based producer duo, Himalayan Dalai Lama, to the European stage. They will perform at Eurosonic festival on the 13th of January from 21:30 at Simplon UP.

Radio Wave’s music export project Czeching (an international showcase of Czech music projects nominated by 6 Czech music critics) enabled David and Kryštof to record their new EP in Czech Radio’s studio in Karlín. Their EP Space was released on December 12 on cassette tape, and is also available as download on iTunes or Amazon and on streaming sites like Spotify. The official launch of the EP took place in Radio Wave’s glass studio, with Himalayan Dalai Lama performing two of their latest tracks live. – A little teaser for what both music fans and professionals will have the chance to witness at Eurosonic, the largest European showcase festival held in Groningen in the Netherlands. This year’s winners will hit the stage on January 13. Aside from the new release, Czeching equipped the band with promotional materials and introduced them as one of the projects included in the International Exchange of the EBU (European Broadcasting Union), thus promoting their EP and the live recording of their Eurosonic gig to listeners of other European radios. 

Despite the huge success of their show during the Czeching Showcase sessions in Czech Radio’s parking garages and clear indications of the jury’s opinion, Himalayan Dalai Lama did not envisage their victory. However, two weeks later, the band found themselves in a big recording studio surrounded by sound engineers, a music director and their own special guests – pianist Jiří Hradil of Tata Bojs, Jan Šikl of Zabelov Group who contributed to the string arrangements and Pišta Kráľovič alias FVLCRVM who took care of the mixing. “We chose to include two tracks in progress, thus adding two new songs. We had a live string quartet, drums and piano in the studio which made an exciting experience. We paid great attention to post-production, with the assistance of Tomáš Karásek, who was also responsible for the mastering,” adds the Brno-based producer duo describing the EP’s recording sessions. 

The result signals a notable shift towards more subtle and imaginative electronica whose touches were already felt on Himalayan Dalai Lama’s debut album Lama, released on the Slovak label Gergaz. 

“We wanted to give it some more space, so that people could close their eyes and experience the space,” said the creative duo, clarifying their vision behind the new release. The concept of the visually attractive booklet was produced in collaboration with photographer, curator and editor-in-chief of Artikl magazine, Bára Alex Kašparová, who nominated Himalayan Dalai Lama for Czeching 2016. Her photographs feature some sort of a new space made of foam, created in conjunction with the duo. This space is also planned to be exhibited as an installation. 

Although Kryštof Matěj and David Novotný are, first electronic music producers equipped with synthesisers and Ableton Live controllers, they started as musicians in the bands – The Hydes and Luis Bunuel. Kryštof is a drummer and David plays bass guitar. They soon teamed up to produce mainly electronic dance music and got the chance to remix tracks by Arms & Sleepers from the US and to support their shows. Several months later, in the spring of 2015, thanks to their music friendship, they toured several major European cities. They managed to gain experience on the international scene prior to the release of their debut album that opened their doors to Colours of Ostrava and Elekce festivals, and earned them a Czeching nomination. “I discovered their sound about a year ago. I was impressed by their professional production whose dramaturgy worked greatly in the space, and visual presentation that corresponded well with the atmosphere. They work hard to fulfil their music vision, they are very ambitious, and definitely want to reach beyond the confines of the Czech scene. Their music is purely instrumental, so they are not limited by the Czech language. And besides, they are able to modify their compositions and perform live. They keep up to date with modern trends and work really hard,” says jury member Bára Alex Kašparová who picked them for Czeching. 

The band is currently getting ready for their show at Eurosonic. They have prepared two different live shows, one, including live instruments, is more spectacular and the other is a live set designed for the club stage. Although some Czech listeners might see live instruments as attesting to the producers’ great musicality and creativity, it is not the case. Last year’s Eurosonic programme confirmed that producer sets, such as the UK’s Mura Masa are also regarded as fully-fledged and lively performances. Hence, Himalayan Dalai Lama can be expected to find more international listeners very soon. 

International Jury Members’ Opinions 

„Jan Sneum (radio presenter and music editor, Denmark): Great arrangement and production. Great variation in sounds, instruments and figures and rhythms. At the same time all the way through moody and cinematic. You just have to listen....“ 

„Wojciech Barczyński (music programmer, OFF Radio Krakow): Their music is immediate, passionate, but most of all it's fun. They play with sounds, molding them into something futuristic and traditional at the same time.“ 

„Lörinc Bubnó (musician, editor of Radio Petöfi, Hungary): Himalayan Dalai Lama have a very complex and contemporary sound, yet their music is very easy to listen to. They manage to grasp your attention without a singer and that is very impressive.“ 

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