The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Escape Velocity

DNA Research & The Shoegaze Revival: Dope Aviators Interviewed
The Quietus , April 6th, 2010 09:03

Juraj Benda talks to Czech Republic duo Dope Aviators about scientific research and the music scene in Prague

Dope Aviators were formed in Prague in 2004, when Kasko and his former classmate Sandozz bonded over a shared love of 60s psychedelia, Syd Barrett and Spiritualized, with Emilia joining two years later. When Sandozz left shortly after the release of Product to concentrate on his project Radio Rebels, the remaining members of Dope Aviators decided to follow their scientific roots and took jobs in Tampere's Institute of Medical Technology. However, cloning and DNA genetic research did not dampen their desire to make music. They returned to Prague in 2008 and headed straight into the studio the following year to record Another Stupid Song. Following the EP's release, the band concentrated on playing live, supporting such an artists as Styrofoam, Errors, Magnétophone, Max Tundra, Sterling Roswell and The xx.

The Quietus caught up with Kasko and Emilia to find out about 11 Fingers Records, the Prague music scene and mitochondrial DNA research.

How did the Dope Aviator's story begin?

Kasko: I met Sandozz in Prague in 2004 and started to do sessions and record with him. Emily was around, and one day she started to sing to our songs while cooking her delicious meals and we found it amazing, so we formed a band. The next two years we spent composing, working on our sound and inviting in various guests (Rentip, Hlavolam, Martin Shields). Then we got Will Carruthers to do a bass track on one of our songs and had Robert Poss for mastering. This was all really exciting, to work with these wonderful guys on our very first recordings. Initially we invited Birmingham band Magnétophone to Prague, and did our first gig supporting them and Sonic Boom at Kampa Theatre. This was a dream-come-true experience, and a very happy and creative period for Dope Aviators.

Last year you also played in Rugby's Strip Club hosted by Pete Bain, and with Sterling Roswell in London's Mucky Pup. Have Spacemen 3 influenced Dope Aviators at all?

Emilia: I guess so, definitely. Kasko, especially, is crazy about the psychedelic scene. Some of the songs from Spacemen 3 and similar bands are simply legendary, we can listen to them anytime. It's good music for road trips. I guess we are pretty happy that we know some of these people in person.

K: I was heavily influenced by Spacemen 3's Perfect Prescription when growing up in a small town in Northern Slovakia. I'd listen to everything that was coming out at the end of 80s and the beginning of the 90s. It was a real adventure obtaining these cool albums during the time of the Iron Curtain. All we had were tapes distributed via unknown folks on the black market - God bless those people. Only later was I introduced to the 60s garage sound of the bands like The Seeds, 13th Floor Elevators or Bow Street Runners. Phoenix by The Warlocks was also a huge influence on forming Dope Aviators, and Rosco's [aka Sterling Roswell] Psychedelic Ubik album also inspired us a lot when we were producing Another Stupid Song.

How would you define your sound?

K: Self-generating beam antennas, sample-and-hold spacious sound.

E: Nice.

How does 11 Fingers treat Dope Aviators? How do you distribute your records?

K: 11 Fingers is our own label and a place where we present our music, and the music produced by our friends. It treats us just the way we treat each other. Things have been changing a lot in the music business lately. Everything went digital and online which is great, but it forced us to reshape and adopt to the new rules of the game. We are through with CD releasing - it's very possible that the next 11 Fingers release will be an interactive 3D schoolbook. 11 Fingers released a couple of interesting albums ranging from drone and noise experiments, minimal electronica, and psychedelic pop. We also put out a compilation of Slovak, Finnish, British, and American bands and projects from which I will mention the amazing Richard Formby, Geese and Robert Poss.

The Volume 2 compilation will follow in the beginning of 2011. We distribute all of our releases digitally in all major music stores. LPs and CDs we deliver upon request and via local distributors.

Are there any other independent labels in the former Czechoslovakia worth checking out?

K: I'd name Mute Me, Starcastic Deadred Records, Slnko Records, Zoon Records, Leporelo, Sologroove, Silver Rocket and Big Boss - although some of them are not active anymore.

Last year you supported Styrofoam, Errors, Magnétophone, Max Tundra and The xx in Prague. How is the domestic scene in the Czech Republic?

K: I think there are some interesting new bands - the band Fjordmoss, who we become acquainted with lately, are putting together their debut album and touring extensively with another cool act, Midi Lidi. I also loved the remix work of Gurun Gurun and I really enjoyed couple of hypno electro tracks by The Attidtudes! And Uniques.

E: We don't know many bands that could have a similar sound to us in the Czech Republic. The Czech scene is mostly about mainstream rock music and old, never-ending legendary stars who look like your grandparents.

Is Prague any different?

E: Prague is the best, because at the very least, you have some alternatives and broader possibilities where to go for culture.

K: Prague is OK, but it still feels that could be more bands and a bigger scene... music in Brno is quite interesting, it's more experimental and fun. I think there are a lot of cool things going on, but it is very important to have an open mind, to go out, meet new people and seek new exciting sounds. In our region this is of high importance, because the scene is not so huge as in the UK or the states. Many, many great things are happening undercover and unheeded.

Is there a special way where and how to find the good sounding stuff, when coming to Prague?

K: There is a very nice club night called Bohemian Like You which goes on regularly. It is mostly hosted at 007 club at Strahov and serves a cocktail of fresh indie-electro-post anything bands. The same people are organizing Sperm festival, and this year's line up looks good. And all the gigs by the Strarcastic Deadred twin label have a great vibe too.

How did you end up in Tampere (Finland) and how did it influence your music?

E: I went there to do some serious genetic research on mitochondrial DNA. It is a beautiful country. The nature influences you strongly, people are polite and you have more time and peace to find yourself, which is always the best situation you can be in to be inspired.

K: We have met couple of very talented people in Finland. The most important was Timo Alatalo, who become our second guitarist and we have been backing him up with his solo gigs. Altogether Timo introduced us into the Tampere music scene which is very colorful and heavily influenced our songwriting, and influenced our overall sound by his laid-back Finnish humour and amazing song compositions.

What exactly is mitochondrial DNA research?

E: Well, we did some research of mitochondrial genome and proteome in an attempt to establish the basic biological processes related to ageing as a basic phenomenon, as well as focussing on using new transgenic techniques to test on model organisms if we are able to improve the phenotype of neurodegenerative diseases. I liked the connection between philosophy, the main questions of life and molecular biology, which was pretty cool.

Does molecular biology affect Dope Aviators' music?

E: Of course, being a scientist is like being a rocker, you've got a pretty great feeling of your personal and creative freedom. It is up to you how you are going to interpret the things that you see and experience during your life.

I understand that you're given up on science. How do you currently make your living?

E: I don't know. It's a surprise for me every day. I guess the main tactic is to try to do what you want, do it good and not regret you decisions - rather, looking forward to the new moments.

K: We switched from cooking chemicals to cooking delicious food.

What can we expect from Dope Aviators next?

E: New songs and new sounds, I hope.

K: We're recording a new album for the rest of the year, doing less gigs and working on a couple of cheap and funny videos. Some electro kicking remixes are to be expected too, and also some live UK dates.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.