I was very lucky and received some fresh herbs from the Czech countryside. I heard that one of them is great for tea. Since I was feeling pretty adventurous I decided to make some fresh herb tea from delicious fresh leaves. I went about my task and before taking my first sip ALERT! there’s a lovely boiled caterpillar in my tea. EW. EW. EW. hahaha. You can check it out here:
Anyway, back to research and other Prague discoveries.
Since we last ‘spoke’ I have interviewed some awesome folks like Sister Carmen from United Flavor and her fellow colleague Djei. As well as General Kryshpeen from Pro Soundsystem! I forgot to take pictures of Djei and General Kryshpeen but this is Carmen and I after our interview.
She’s an awesome singer and is a part of one of the best known Czech reggae bands…. Carmen originally hails from Spain but was struck by ‘Prague Fever’ and has been here ever since. I would also like to mention that she is one of the few women in this scene!
I will introducet Djei and General Kryshpeen soon! I want to have pictures to go along with it first.
Though I have only had a few interviews so far, I have identified a theme of religion and multiculturalism. During communism religion was stamped out. period. Now, Czechs are known for being atheists. Nevertheless some believe that the religious aspect of reggae is the most appealing to some audience members and followers. So even though people are not following a formal, institutionalized religion, they are aligning themselves with a quasi-Rasta belief system. Albeit one that is imported and foreign. I assumed that this characteristic would be really problematic, but from the point of view of some of the artists, they believe that the message of some reggae music can not be taken literally as it simply does not apply to this social or cultural context. As a result, people appropriate the message. Question: What are they extracting? How are they interpreting these messages?
The theme of love, peace, and respecting your fellow man and natural surroundings seems to resonate the most, instead of the other messages about racial justice etc. But…I’m not sure. I still have a lot of questions. Like how were Czechs introduced to Reggae?
Some of the foreigners who have relocated to the CZ have always been exposed to reggae music. Native Czechs however, have a different story. For some, they had relatives abroad who could give them records of the latest music in Western Europe, for others it wasn’t until the fall of communism that the doors openned for them to explore this new genre. I will note that in the 80′s there was a Czech reggae band known as Babalet… This definitely helped and soon more bands followed.
Sadly, many people in the ‘scene’ have become disenchanted and disappointed with the outcome or current state of Czech reggae. For some, they expected something bigger, something that would reach mainstream audiences. There are still others who seem to be pretty content but do have some issues with Czech music critics.
When I was here in the fall, I found it strange that there was a link between reggae and multiculturalism but not one between Roma and Vietnamese culture and the dominant Czech culture… In other words, if some white Czechs are looking for something from another culture, why don’t they look at who is already here (Romas and Vietnamese). Instead it seems like they have reached as far away from the CZ as possible, to Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Also, there are many many more Roma and Vietnamese people in the CZ than there are Black people. Furthermore, when I am here, I literally double the Jamaican population HAHAHA. I’m not sure what going on there.
I also wonder why the scene is mostly white. I know this country is mostly white, but still. It seems to me that if more open-minded Czechs tend to be into reggae the maybe some Roma and Vietnamese people would be a part of it too. Who knows?
ANOTHER QUESTION: Through my interviews it seems that this really small scene is really divided. I’m not entirely sure what all the divisions are…but there’s a lot of seperation between people who seem to have really similar aims and interests. Why is that?
Like I said, I am still gathering my thoughts…. Nothing is clear to me right now. But I am definitely grateful to all the people who have let me interview them so far!!
I’m sorry if this sounds really vague, but I am still in the midst of gathering thoughts and I do not want to jump to any conclusions. That wouldn’t be fair to the people I have interviewed and it would tarnish the integrity of my research.
I have another interview on Sunday and Wednesday and I will continue to make calls.
Maris kindly reminded me that fieldwork is not ONLY interviewing but also participant observation. It’s time for me to BECOME a member of a reggae audience here. There are some live festivals happening that of plan to go to and some other smaller shows. In addition, I plan on hanging out at cafes and bars with reggae nights and themes. I think I will find some interesting information there. This part will be important because it will not involve talking to people too much but more watching and listening. Who is there? How are they dressed? What language are they speaking?
Tonight, I am taking a quick trip outside of Prague to enjoy some Gypsy music. Hopefully some Roma will be there and they will be up to talking to a foreigner.