Mark Molnar: What was the public reception like when you started performing?

Iva Bittová: It was very strange, very difficult. That is why I have always said that at the beginning of one’s work and process, [wide exposure] is always more difficult. If you achieve huge success immediately, then all of those things could die very soon. But, that is just my thinking. It was strange because my first productions and presentations were usually in Folk Festivals in the Czech Republic. I was acting at that time with Divadlo Husa na provázku [Goose On A String Theatre], an important avant-garde theatre. The director and the people in the theatre group knew what I was trying to do, and I was given the chance to play some characters on stage where I could include my violin and different sounds with my voice. It was fantastic. When I started my career as a musician, I only acted for a few more years and then I completely stopped because I was not happy. I was really hoping that music was the right thing for me to do. I was not meek on stage as a musician, but the audience, especially young girls, sometimes they would be smiling and saying, “What is she doing? She is completely crazy! What are these sounds? What does this mean?” But they are smiling, and I was trying to keep going and to play the whole piece. It was not like fighting, but your self-confidence leaves suddenly because you do not get a reaction that you want to accept. But I was not waiting for praise. I was thinking too much about what I was doing. And I was practicing more and more. I did not want to give up the idea. I was trying to be stronger and stronger. After about two years of performing I started to get more respect from the audience. But that was my process.

MM: Was Balada Pro Banditu part of this process?

IB: Balada Pro Banditu was a film adapted from our performance in theatre. It was the first Czech music drama on the screen, and it was very popular.

MM: When people would hear you play your songs, would the audience recognize the lyrics as poems or common folk songs that offered them a way into what you were doing?

IB: In Czech Republic, yes, but the style of it was a huge shock.


To read the entirety of this interview, purchase Music & Literature no. 3...