WE ARE THE COLLECTORS /Random seekers/ - an interview with Reverend Dick
The Prague-based duo Reverend Dick has a penchant for second hand analogue synthetizers which they find in thrift stores and waste dumps. The two members of the project – Richard Bakeš and Daniel Vlček – are also visual artists and members of the activist art collective Groupe Guma Guar. Aside from music, they also create visuals utilizing the endless supply of images from the internet. Welcome to the world of Reverend Dick’s audio-visual bricolage.
What’s the history of Reverend Dick? It came about as a new project of two members of the activist audiovisual collective Groupe Guma Guar: Richard Bakeš (organs, synths) and Daniel Vlček (bass guitar, harmonica and sampler). It’s been around for a year so it’s still in development – we don’t have finished tracks yet. We’ve started playing though and thus don’t have time to work in the studio. We are also working on videos and projections which should accompany our music. We’ve been also thinking about getting a singer but it’s very difficult to find somebody who fits into what we want, somebody who would come up with ideas and be able to improvize. Our history is very short, there’s no time / life’s short, art’s eternal.
You are also active in the activist/art collective Guma Guar. What is the connection between Guma Guar and Reverend Dick (stylistic, conceptual, sonic, visual)? Our project Reverend Dick is a sort of break and leisure (a romantic escape) after the longstanding playing with GGG (which still continues) and where we played harsh electronic music (a mixture of noise, breakcore, tekno, political harassment and digital problem‘). Most imporantly, we don’t like to limit ourselves in a certain genre. We’ve always liked various music and this is evident from both projects – both of them are virtually uncategorizable. You can hear influences of various music genres which we’re currently listening to, either which we discovered on the internet by accident or found at flea markets. But to get back to your question – our new project is different in the sense that its musically more subtle, with more psychedelia and less politics. Even though since we actively (meaning activistically) deal with politics, it is also present here in some respect.
With Rev Dick you play on analogue synths and guitar. Can you talk more about how you make music - music-making process, live playing, etc. What are you trying to achieve - certain sound/mood/? We are obsessed with musical instruments. We collect them – right now old organs and combo organs, etc – the older the better. Recently we’ve bought the Farfisa VIP 345 organ in mint condition for 1,000 Czech crowns (about 40 Euro) and we even got rhw Italian ELKA organ as a bonus. Nobody knows them and you can even find them online. That’s excellent as each instrument has its own story. We also own old synthetizers and effects. Our collection encompasses about 60 vintage pieces and I’m not even counting other instruments such as banjo, guitar, harmonica, etc. Our sound is influenced, as we’ve already mentioned before, by the plethora of music that we listen to and which we are inspired by, but foremostly by the instruments which we come across during random discoveries at flea markets in Czech Republic and Germany, thrift stores and online. On the concerts on GGG we virtually replaced our instruments after every concerts with newly bought ones. The sound of Reverend Dick thus engendered by accident without us having to come up with what we want.
Everything somehow came to us after we bought an old organ and instantly fell in love with its sound and realized THAT THIS IS IT. A month later we once again by accident bought a Solton Cathedral Echo from the seventies which is perfect for us…and thus thanks to all these accidents the sound of RD was borne.
The current set up is: Farfisa VIP 345, Vermona Piano Strings, Solton Cathedral Echo, sampler Roland MV 8000 with custom samples from our own analogue synthetizers (TR707 drum machine), bass guitar, harmonica, Korg Monotrone and various guitar effects. In comparison to our previous project, where we had only prepared the basics and the rest was improvisation, which either turned out well or the opposite depending on the current vibe (either it was only fun for us, other times also for the audience), RD differs in the sense that the majority of it is rehearsed in the studio and improvisation makes up approximately 20 percent.
But as I’ve already mentioned earlier the project is still in its beginnings and thus improvisation, which we like the best, is still present and we’re hoping that it will remain there in a better execution….it is necesarry to improve constantly. As Lenin said „Learn, learn, learn“. Pertaining records – with GGG we liked the ephemerality and untracability. As a result we more or less don’t have any recordings from those eight years. With RD we want to do it differently – record and approach a different audience.
You played at a witch house night recently in Prague and have some of its visual aesthetics on your website… Witch house has influenced us to the extent other music genres that we listen to have. What we are doing is hard to pigeonhole but it’s not witch house. We have both been making music since we were 15 so we’ve been through a variety of styles. As for our aesthetics, it’s necessary to add that we are also active multimedia artists with an affinity for appropriation and readymades. Our visual lexicon is thus composed of random findings on the net or at thrift stores and waste dumps. We are interested in internet blogs such as TUMBLR but we also come across a lot through aimless consumption of various visuals. For instance the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan has to process several thousands of images a day in order to be in a good mood and remain inspired. Hence, our visuality is certainly older than witch house and we were into it much earlier than it appeared at all the cool New York parties. We went to our first black metal gig when we were still at primary school and we used to customize our T-shirts with felt tips and Savo bleach (DIY even then). Also, our VJ videos in GGG were based on the same principle already eight years ago.
What are Reverend Dick’s future plans? Work, work, work.