M4REKG: Experimenting with Alternative Music in the Czech Republic

How many musicians in the Czech Republic do you know of who are alternative music artists?                                                                                                                                               In case you don’t know, there is a local artist that you should hear about: M4REKG (Marek Gabriel Hruska) who isn’t afraid to mix and match different genres and concepts with his own unique spiritual touch.                                                                                                   WEARME FASHION’s curiosity about this unique artist’s personality led us to conduct our recent interview. A millennial generation artist who grew up by listening to Mike Oldfield’s favorite album “The Wind Chimes”, as well as many other types of music shared with us “it all started when I discovered Bjork”. “It was not like anything I’ve ever seen before. Until this moment I’ve never experienced any art like this that would put more art forms together and it affected me. “This was a real starting point in Marek’s perception of the power of all music.

When talking about his debut album “Singledom” and what it takes to realize such a feat, there was not one question we asked that he did not respond to with all the kindness and respect possible, as well as a hint of regret, but one question especially stood out: “What changes should be made in the music sector in the Czech Republic?” His answer, of course, was many things, and ineffably complicated but we did get many other answers from him to many of our other questions which are much easier to share with you here.

With the launch of your debut album “Singledom”, what have you learned from that particular experience?                                                                                                         “During this period, I had a time of personal development and growth in phases that I felt I needed to pursue, from an initial desire to learn traditional electronic music leading to an understanding of my need to express myself by adding an additional emotional aspect to the music in the form of words of self-acceptance. It is a constant work in progress and development of the self while performing and writing songs.”

Is the album a one-man production?                                                                                         “At first, I was consulting with people from the industry and expecting to get their feedback, but in the end, I realized that I don’t need them. Everybody had their own opinion, so I got so many mixed messages and consequently decided to create the music the way I feel it should be anyway. Art will never be for everybody. You cannot make a work of art that everybody will love and attract people to it, so I stopped caring to try after one point.” On one hand, Marek set out to solve his own personal dilemmas through his art and on the other hand, he also wished to create an album he could be proud of and have no regrets with releasing.”

How do you know when you’ve finished a song, and fulfilled the aim of your artistic project?                                                                                                                                              “I never know. Somebody once told me that the biggest art is in finishing, finishing something, anything really. This is the real art because everybody has so many ideas and opinions, but if you don’t express them, nothing ever happens. I wrote many songs in Czech, but I remember a few of them that I really loved, but was never happy with the way they turned out thus I kept redoing them over and over again. Then I realized, you have to finish something in order to move on. One day, you make something good and the next day you create something awful and that’s just how life works out. The creative process is really important for me and then, somehow, it just stops. I came to the conclusion that it’s healthier to record thirty songs and choose the best ten for the album than to muse endlessly over the possibilities.”

Your lyrics seem full of sorrow and as if there is a dystopian feel to them, why is that?  “I am a very social person and love to hear people’s stories and experiences. These stories had a few basic topics, usually depression, loneliness, and expectations of something such as a wedding, baby coming or buying a house. I tried to track down a few parallels that the most basic of people’s feelings have in common and work with them in my own way. The concept wasn’t to make people think about difficult things, but I felt the need to work on these experiences. We are all facing various difficult experiences and feelings at any time in our lives, such as loneliness after a breakup or when your spouse is on the road or when a death happens in your family, so it’s very important to make the feeling common to everyone’s experiences. When people learn how to get through these difficulties and work through their emotions I believe they can handle it better.”

So, it’s quite interesting to hear the idea behind your lyrics                                          “What I like the most, is every time when someone hears any of my songs, that they find a lot of room to empathize and connect the lyrics to their own lives. I felt that any of these songs are no longer a therapy for me to explain myself, and instead is something that speaks to people, that they can relate to them and create their own story. The whole experience was eye-opening for me.”

What motivated you to write the album in English, and what changes can be made especially for independent music in the Czech Republic?                                                       “I wanted to break a barrier between traditional and artistic music and open up to the world.” Marek admits, “it was possible to achieve this using universal English that most people understand today. The language helps to understand the meaning underlying the lyrics and the music as a whole. Most of the phrases written in English for the album would never work for the album or sound quite the same in Czech.                                 People in the Czech Republic aren’t ready yet for alternative and artistic music, due largely to the atmosphere, as they are used to their routine, thus promotion for these artists is often a matter of luck.                                                                                           Because several main radio stations dominate, broadcasting all over the country with only well-known artists on a set playlist, this creates a very difficult environment for new generation artists in the country to promote themselves, get their music out there to the people, and limits space for them. The French singer, ZAZ is a perfect example of this. She came to the Czech Republic when she was already famous in all the rest of Europe with a gold record and a platinum record. However, only after her participation in a big alternative festival in the Czech Republic did these radio stations start to play her songs, as before, they wouldn’t.                                                                                                               We do have small radio stations that focus more on alternative music and art, but a lot of people don’t like them due to their limited capacity, as they only broadcast in a few places. Another problem is that people want to have a more traditional approach, with having the radio turn on at the push of a button, rather than investing extra time to tune into it on a cell phone. These stations, of course, sometimes play harder or more artsy music that the standard mainstream listener doesn’t really listen to and isn’t accustomed to.”                                                                                                                                                   With all of the optimism he can muster Marek says “there’s no space that would merge these two together in order to diminish the barriers between alternative and indie music and all other music out there better than music like mine making it to traditional stations, the decision to produce in English was even part of this.                                                          If the majority of people working in media, be it radio or on magazines are not actively trying to give new music and artists a chance, then it makes no sense for those outlets to exist. Furthermore, since they don’t care about alternative music and radio, they can’t really say anything about the best music and are seemingly uncaring about changing how things are done.                                                                                                                             This is unfortunate, though because of it I’ve discovered a lot of great Czech indie bands, musicians, and artists on my own, and I was quite impressed. I was like ‘why haven’t I heard about this before?’”

Cover photo: M4REKG

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