Toxique – Pop group continues success with vibrant second album

Klára Vytisková, photo:

Toxique, one of the most vibrant and closely-watched Czech pop bands, recently released Outlet People, their much-awaited second album. With the CD, the band takes on a new look and goes further creatively – with electronic sound, a children’s choir and a slew of new ideas – than ever before. Klára Vytisková is the band’s charismatic lead singer; she dropped by Czech Radio recently to discuss how the new album (which has been getting rave reviews) came together.

Klára Vytisková, photo:
“It’s often said that the second album proves whether a band is worth listening to or not but we didn’t get stressed out over that. We had so much material – like 20 songs – that we boiled down to 13. We started in January and I finished it in my flat this summer. So it took a long time to prepare the album.”

You’re bits: you’re talking about the vocals of course…

“Yes. I had cleaned out my closet and filled it with rugs and mattresses: it was really small, one metre by one metre, and that’s where I sang my parts. I had a really good mic and I spent a month in there singing. It was really hot in the summer and I live on the 5th floor, right under the roof, so that wasn’t fun. Oh, yeah, it was hot. But it was okay {laughs}.”

How much of a perfectionist are you? How many takes did you do, for example?

“It depends on the track but sometimes five or six times. But I would sing different parts and then choose and mix some of the tracks together. Some of the songs aren’t mine, so of course there’s input from the guys who would say ‘change this or that’ as we put it together, so yeah.”

One thing that I like is that every time I put the CD on I discover new elements I hadn’t noticed before… Would you say Outlet People is more intricate than your previous album?

“There are a lot of different sounds: we were working a lot with synthesizer sounds, which are unlike a guitar or bass. You can hear it. There are all kinds of different elements. We were also working with a kids’ choir, five kids, but we tripled them, so it sounded like there were many more of them.”

I’m glad you mentioned that, because several songs, including Ring the Bells, use the kids and it is very powerful there, a strong sound as you say…

“For me it’s a very heart-felt song and when I sing it live it really feels like power which comes from deep inside. That’s the best feeling you can have: when you’re singing it and you can really feel it and people are listening and you can tell them ‘here is what I have to say’. It is actually a very sad song and I can put all my sad emotions into it. Sometimes when I am singing it on stage I am almost crying by the end.”

Many people have commented on the new look of the album – what kind of look were you going for?

“We were thinking about something very different which would contrast our first album and we decided to work with Studio Najbrt, a really great design studio. I wanted to focus solely on the music this time and to leave this job to someone else. So we let them design everything: the website and costume and CD and LP designs – everything.”

Looking at the new logo here...

“It’s a mask.”

Are the masks also used in your show?

“They are used at the beginning. But of course, it’s hard for the boys to, play their instruments with masks on, so they are used only at the opening of the show!”

Let’s talk about the opening track, Field Lines: what was the inspiration?

“This is a love song, actually. It’s about magnetic power, you know, about those ‘field lines’ and how magnetic power between boys and girls is working together.”

Now, I know that you have been performing a lot lately: now you are headed for the UK, including London, Birmingham, Liverpool, also in Glasgow... how much are you looking forward to those shows?

“Oh my god, a lot! All of us. The last time I was in England was when I was in Grade Eight when I went on a school trip to London. I am looking forward to trip and to the concerts. There will be a lot of energy: we are playing in big venues and will open for the singer Kayah. I think it will be great.

You have a chance then, in the UK, to see Toxique. After that, the band returns to the Czech Republic and will hold its ‘traditional’ Christmas concert at a popular venue here also not to be missed. Klára Vytisková once again:

“Yes, yes, it’s a special thing for us! We will have one on the 1st of December at Palác Akropolis and because of the new look will have a different Christmas tree this year. It will be black & white and have triangular Christmas balls or decorations. It’s also special because we give presents to our fans. We have one for Pepa, one for Marie and so on. And the first Marie or Pepa who shows up gets a gift.”

That sounds like a lot of fun. One thing, though, when you are choosing the names Marie, Pepa, those are common names... what if a Květoslav shows up?

“If I really want to keep one of the presents for myself I’ll write down the name Květoslav because I know there will be no Květoslav! Or you can say ‘I am Květoslav’ but then I’ll want to see your ID! So don’t do this, don’t do this, or I’ll be really angry {laughs}!!”