Interview: Five Minutes with teepee

Tereza Lavickova (singer-electric guitarist) and Miroslav Patocka (singer-acoustic guitarist) are the driving force behind the nom de plume of teepee. The two have just released their latest single, ‘Parallel Worlds’ via SPRINGSTOFF ahead of their upcoming album, Where the Ocean Breaks. The two met in high school before they began appearing on the independent music scene in Czechia, 2015.

Having toured together extensively from the United Kingdom, Austria, Germany to Slovakia and Poland, they are now looking forward to appearing at EUROSONIC 2020, this Friday. You can find all of the details in the link below. Previous festivals teepee have appeared at include Enea Spring Break, Waves Vienna and Nouvelle Prague where they were able to display their upbeat atmosphere paired with intoxicating vocal harmonies.

teepee at EUROSONIC

Knowing the two would have some interesting insight from their journey of humble beginnings to immense crowds before them, we jumped at the opportunity to ask them a few questions.

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Tereza: I was taking classical guitar lessons since I was 6 years old. Coming from a family of doctors, I always had the need to help others. Not long ago I realized that music is the best way to do it. It can make you dance when you’re sad. It can make you cry when you’re happy. It can make you smile when you’re at the worst place. It can give you hope when you lose everything. It can change your emotions so drastically. It has so much power that I think it would stupid If I wouldn’t want to be part of it.

Miroslav: Since I was a kid, I was always drawn to music in any form. From the movie Grease, that was basically looped in our TV throughout the first years of my life, I tried many instruments in elementary school and eventually got the closest to guitar and singing. When I first started making songs at the age of 12 it was a very natural process and when we met with Teera, I knew I found a great ally for the exciting journey of songwriting and performing.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

For both of us, it’s a slightly different process every time. We do not have any specific pattern, but almost every time it’s a riff on a guitar or a specific loop or sound. That is soon followed by some lyrics that come to our mind. Usually, we are just messing around with the guitar and effects that create a soundscape which is then followed by a melody and lyrics. However, sometimes it happens that actually lyrics and an idea of a topic set a certain mood which we then try to communicate in the song.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Not yet but we are planning some.

What’s on your current playlist?

Tereza: Sigur Rós, Aurora, Billie Eilish, Moses Sumney, James Bay, The Japanesse House, St. Vincent, Sufjan Stevens, Son Lux, Archive, Olafur Arnalds, Daughter.

Miroslav: Bon Iver, Sons of Kemet, Anderson Paak, HVOB, Josin, Charlie Cunningham, Altin Gün, Tycho.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

We always try to create very intimate and melancholic atmosphere. Our songs are very personal and emotional. In many cases they talk about our deepest scars, confessions and worries. It’s awesome when it clicks and we can share all our feelings with the audience. Then, you feel really connected with everyone in the room and we always get butterflies in the stomaches when that happens. When you know that the people in the audience get you and share the emotional moment with you.  

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Tereza: I use to play on classical guitar for more than 15 years, so the way I play and use guitar is very specific. Miroslav likes to play with different tunings of his guitar. He also uses capo in a very special way that is very specific for our music. We both love delays and reverbs and that makes our sound special. We love to create soundscapes that are dreamy and you can dive deep into them. somehow the combination of our vocals also creates a very fragile and harmonic atmosphere. 

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

We mostly spend long days in the studio (something between 10-12 hours), which is partly because we always plan only a few days session in Vienna with our producer Tom. As the process of making the album took about a year and a half, we’ve experienced all the seasons in Vienna so the daily schedule might be slightly different according to the season. Mostly we enjoyed working in summer, when we would start and end the day with a bike ride and had the option to enjoy walks around the Danube within breaks.  Apart from that, it’s all the same, lots of coffee and hard work. 

We had basically 3 blocks within the whole process of making so we cannot really describe only one day since all the blocks had a different structure. In the first sessions, we would listen to all our demos which we’ve done separately and would pick up songs that might fit the whole album. Then, for about half a year, we had only pre-production sessions which meant getting the songs to the place where we felt confident with them and were ready to record. Finally, the recording sessions came, where we recorded the final takes of the drums, guitars, and vocals. 

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

Tereza: I think that when we started, it was just fun for all of us. The breaking moment for me was when people started coming to us with really beautiful feedback. When they say that our music means a lot to them, that they listen to it to feel better, that our songs help them to get through hardships and that our music inspires them. Those are the moments when I feel most grateful. Because of this, I started to think that maybe this is what I am supposed to do. No matter how you look at it, music changes the world. It touches people in their deepest places, it can make them so happy. It is better than any medicine in the world and I am so happy that I get to create it and spread it around so people can feel better. 

Miroslav: As I mentioned above, the whole journey towards teepee felt like a natural process to me and when we first got the option to play our songs for the people and record an album, it felt like this is the right place to be and I was enjoying every bit of it. The more we grow with the project and get closer to the people that enjoy our music the more I feel grateful for doing what I always wanted to do.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Definitely a few guitar picks as we tend to lose them those quite a lot. And water, there is never enough water!

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Josin, King Princess, FUTURSKI, Charlie Cunningham and Elder Island

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Tereza: For me, it’s the transience and ambivalence of things. It’s really fascinating how the same thing can have so many meanings. It just depends on how you look at it. As with music, meanings are endless.

Miroslav: It might also be any form of art, mostly reading books, taking photos or listening to different music we like. Sometimes it might be a new sound or guitar tuning that will suddenly blast off a creative ride.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Tereza: My good friend once said, that it doesn’t matter what your gear is but the important thing is If the instrument inspires you. My guitar is actually a cheap Chinese copy, but for me it’s perfect. I really enjoy effects from TC electronic and Electro Harmonix. I have a bunch of those but I don’t think I could play without my Flashback X4 delay from TC electronic.

Miroslav: I fell in love with Strymon effect pedals, so currently the Big Sky and Timeline represent endless possibilities. I also enjoy playing my Sigma mahogany acoustic guitar and quite recently bought a Cremona Luby archtop guitar made in Czechoslovakia at the end of the ‘50s. 

We both also make our demos in Logic.

Any side projects you’re working on?

We are both musically fully focused on teepee, while finishing our master degrees at the Charles University in Prague. It is sometimes really hard to balance school and the band so we cannot imagine having other projects at this moment.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

We are learning new things almost every day. Especially in the studio, we’ve learned a lot. I think that the most useful skill that we learnt is how to use recording software for music production. It’s a long way to go but it opens up new possibilities for us.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you next year?

The whole album will then be released in January 2020 and we will start touring in February.

Famous last words?

The father of our first producer once called our band “A silent bomb in turbulent times!”.

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