Gurun Gurun are a Czech quartet made up of Jára Tarnovski (J), Ondřej Ježek (O), Tomáš Knoflíček (T), Tomáš Procházka aka Federsel (F). They are the inventors of an original declension of alternative pop, which melds deconstructions of typical pop songs, glitch electronica, quirky sonorities and bizarre sonorities, that could delight listeners by inspiring endless dreams in between the ones that could have been inspired by .tape., Tujiko Noriko, Ultra Milkmaids! After I enjoyed “Kon B”, their recent output on Ian Hawgood’s Home Normal, we had an interesting chat which focused on this release – a highly recommended listening experience!
Chain D.L.K.: Hi there… how are y’all?
T: Ill, an autumn flu nurtured by our last session at the Next festival in Bratislava.
J: Just fine, thanks.
Chain D.L.K.: Please stretch out your hands to our followers and introduce yourselves…
F: I am a theatre performer, who seeks inspiration in abstract music.
O: A sound engineer trying to escape the world of rock music.
T: An art historian with senses more developed for sounds than pictures.
J: Sound lover and ‘organizer of sound’.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you remember the exact moment when the idea of Gurun Gurun was born?
F: I do not. I wasn’t there.
O: I do not. I wasn’t there.
T: I was there, but I don’t know exactly. We had another band with Jara before Gurun Gurun, nearly a pop band. So, it was only a matter of time until we started to get bored on stage. Than we made a remix for a Prague ambient project called Kora et le Mechanix, and on the occasion of the album launch we had to play live and so with that, Gurun Gurun was born.
J: I used to play with the indie-pop band Miou Miou (Rallye Label/Minty Fresh). However, I wanted to do more experimental music. So, we made a demo with Tomas using a simple pocket recorder. This lo-fi track was released on the lovely Ressonus Records. Shortly after that, already as a trio (Knoflicek, Federsel, Tarnovski), we started to work on our debut album.
Chain D.L.K.: Most of the feedback of your music highlights the beauty of your sound without explaining the reason! Are you a sort of hypnotist?
F: And hypnagogists, too. I call it all simply psychedelia. In the case of GG it’s surely a “different” kind of psychedelia, but it’s psychedelic to me anyway.
O: Self hypnotists, I think. But the word beauty sounds really cool to me. We didn’t mean to make something beautiful…sometimes you’ve got to dig dirt deep to find “beauty”.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever felt you got hypnotized? How and when?
F: I’ve never been hypnotized. But I’ve always wanted to be.
O: Many times, by some recording, performance, or craftsmanship.
T: Never, but sometimes I feel like a somnambulist. Maybe I’m hypnotized permanently and I don’t know about it.
J:Yes, I’m convinced that everyone stays in a state of permanent hypnosis. Only sometimes, when we switch off our brains, can we escape from it.
Chain D.L.K.: Before speaking of your recent album “Kon B”, can you tell us more about your releases?
J: In November 2010, we released our self-titled debut on Home Normal. The album featured special guests Moskitoo and Sawako amongst others. In 2011, we released a remix album called “Gorogoro Garagara Rimikkusu”, featuring remixes by Zavoloka, Pimmon,.tape., Orla Wren, Hearts+Horses, offthesky and Part Timer.
This year on March the 14th the EP “Atarashii hi” was released, featuring remixes by Mergrim, Pawn, Marihiko Hara, and Nanonum. All profits from this release go to Tenohasi NPO, who do amazing work for the increasing numbers of homeless people in Tokyo.
Chain D.L.K.: A piece of trivia related to some of your older entries…the recipes for the video clip of “Kuko” by Libor Novotny?
F: I guess it’s a pile of good butter melting. The result could be some nice cookies, apart from the video.
T: Yes, butter, but no cookie, definitely. Libor wanted the butter recycled for a further art piece, so he put it in a plastic bag, but forgot about it. He remembered one year later when the butter looked like a completely new form of intelligence. Do you know transi? Somehow it seemed like that..
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve seen you perform on live stage many times.. Do you recreate something you recorded on albums or do you prefer improv?
F: I don’t know. I’d rather record another album where everything will be improved. I think it’s hard to think like this about the albums, but talking about live concerts, I often think about improvements. I guess we all do, that’s why we change our instruments so often. But maybe improvement is not the right word at all, I think the “development” would be more accurate.
O: Trying to recreate an actual song with gg is not a good idea. We tried something a few times and it was just too limiting..
T: Maybe we are not able to do so just technically. Chance is a quite significant factor determining our cooperation. A friend said we look like a bunch of chimps in the cockpit of a spaceship during concerts. So many buttons, but how do they work? In my opinion, that is. I am still quite impressed with that look of a surprised child.
Chain D.L.K.: Is there a sound that used to torment your worst nightmares or better dreams?
F: I don’t dream with sounds, usually. Sometimes I dream I am singing a song, but I never remember it. I like sounds, in general. I don’t think there are some scary or tormenting sounds, apart from some pop music.
O: No sound, that’s sort of nightmare for me; on the other hand silence is one of strongest and comforting sounds to me.
T: For me too. I have a splitting headache at the moment.
J: Casio MIDI sax. This could be used as a killing weapon.
Chain D.L.K.: An abstract electronic music performer – I don’t remember who to be honest – told me that Japanese people manage to produce a vocal sound that he found particularly fitted to abstract electronics… why do you use a Japanese voice singing in your release? Is there an acoustic reason as well?
O: It kind of sounds like birds singing to me, so I think the acoustics is the main reason. Let’s see how my new Miku Stomp box will work for us.
F: I’ve found many other people and languages producing very interesting sounds. Like Swiss yodeling, for instance. I guess it’s all matter of taste, and the concept. And the concept was to have Japanese vocalists in this case.
O: There is also a great range of sounds produced by various types of chimneys; I think it’s the next thing we should focus on.
T: But chimneys, as opposed to Japanese voices, cannot be used so easily for ASMR purposes.
J: It’s true that I prefer listening to ASMR videos in Japanese, heh heh. I think girlish soprano together with the Japanese language creates an ideal contrast to our music.
Chain D.L.K.: Quoting the cover artwork of “Kon B”, have you ever met a ghost speaking Japanese?
F: I think ghosts are invisible. Therefore they can be everywhere.
T: No, only in Kwaidan, a seamless ghost.
J: I meet ghosts all the time. But they never speak. They might be quiet in Japanese, though.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you explain that cover artwork?
J: We used artwork by Angela Deane from her mysterious series “Ghost Photographs.” Ghosts live beyond two or more worlds. I think our album dwells among many different genres, between acoustic and electronic music, between Europe and Asia, between composition and improvisation. I see “Kon B” as a huge feast of sounds.
Chain D.L.K.:…and above all, could you translate the song you liked most of “Kon B”?
J: I like them all, but for example here is a rough translation of the opening song “Atarashii hi” that was written by Cuushe:
A new day
Walking with weary feet
And swimming in the clouds again
In the dark
I try to take out my hand
Let’s make a new day
Let’s draw a beautiful new day
Chain D.L.K.: My favorite track of “Kon B” is “Beda Folten Supasuta” and not because it’s the last track…how did you make its awesome and somehow puzzling sound?
J: The basis of the track is our collective improvisation. Then we recorded some acoustic instruments and analog synths during the post-production process; we added some samples and unused tracks of violas da gamba from Irena and Vojtech Havel from 2010.
The track is dedicated to Beda Folten, the character from Karel Čapek’s novel “Life and Work of the Composer Foltyn.”
Chain D.L.K.: I was similarly impressed by “Mado” and “Koe /Sukuu”…can you give us more details about these two tracks?
J:“Koe” and “Sukuu” are actually two tracks joined together. The demo of “Koe” rang differently, though. It was recorded on an acoustic guitar and it had a regular beat. However, when Cuushe added her vocal line, we had to throw the basis away and we started to work on a new, much more abstract track. And again, the songs “Sukuu” and “Mado” were born mostly during our improvisation. Cellist Alexandr Vatagin plays together with us on “Mado”.
Chain D.L.K.: “Kon B” is your third release on the excellent label Home Normal…what’s the main reason you had such an almost idyllic feeling with Ian Hawgood’s label?
J: We released two albums and two remix EPs on Home Normal. I like Ian’s openness and his sense of eclecticism. Most labels focus on particular genres, so their entire catalogue looks quite similar, while Ian releases what he likes. We don’t fit anywhere…
We do appreciate that Ian gave us the opportunity.
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?
O: There is vinyl version of “Kon B”, coming out on Silver Rocket and Home Normal just now, nice white vinyl, so let’s spin some ghosts on the turntable, any dj will jump and dance.
J: We’ve been working on a live Gurun Gurun album. Most of us also play in other bands and we have some solo projects. We’ll definitely release something new in 2016!
visit Gurun Gurun on the web at: