Michal Poncar, aka Myclick (and sometimes known as DJ Face), is a well known radio presenter, club DJ and journalist. Prague born and raised, Michal has been a mainstay of the Czech underground music scene since the early 90s. He has been responsible for educating generations of club-goers with his DJ sets encompassing a wide range of music, most noticeably with his love of deep house. When deciding who would be our first interviewee we wanted to find someone with a great knowledge and passion for Czech music and also music in general. We came across MyClick as his name kept popping up everywhere due to his involvement with various Czech music publications. With some trepidation we approached Michal over Soundcloud and he enthusiastically agreed to meet for an interview. Primed with our questions, we assumed that the interview would be conducted in English… We were wrong! However, despite our floundering attempts to speak Czech, Michal was great company throughout and, as we discovered, a music enthusiast of the purest kind.
First of all, we wanted to know how it all started for Michal.
“In 1992/93 I was 18 years old, fresh out of school and house music was something very new here in the Czech Republic at that time. We were going to some clubs that you might know and some you probably wouldn’t. Later, we were going to Mish-Mash, Ládví, Alfa and Radost FX. Mish-Mash was something completely different at that time, it used to be an underground club, whereas now it is an RnB club. Loutka & Bidlo often played there at that time.”
Michal was attracted to the new music that he was encountering and liked how it differed to the traditional disco sounds that were popular at the time.
“We were kind of weird in the eyes of these disco-goers, because the music didn’t have words, it was different, it was machine-like and they didn’t understand what we saw in it. It was like sci-fi for them. And we lived for it completely because it was finally something new and we really enjoyed it.”
He was soon bitten by the DJ bug.
“I was always watching the DJs to see how they did it with the vinyls and I really liked it. So me and my friend started to do it by playing at discos. At that time, we were playing things that everyone was playing like DJ Bobo, Twenty Four Seven and later we became more daring. We started playing Prodigy, 2 Unlimited and other stuff like this that was more focused on the dance floor. We were doing sets so, for example, from 9pm we played disco music, from midnight we were playing Prodigy, 2 Unlimited, LA Style, KLF, U 96 and after we played slow-dancing music so we were mixing it up.”
We asked Michal how long it took him to learn how to DJ.
“It took me a long time! It’s something that looks quite easy but the most difficult thing is to realise which of the records is slower and which is quicker. It was also a real problem for me that we weren’t learning on Technics. We were learning on cheaper versions that looked like Technics but behaved completely differently. When you stopped the vinyl the plate underneath stopped as well, which is bad. We were doing it how we saw other DJs do it or based on what we read about it, so it took about nine months to a year before I dared to try and play in front of people.”
Speaking to Michal, it quickly became apparent that he has a number of deeply entrenched values regarding his relationship with music. He always aims to support the musical infrastructure where he can and he reiterated several times that music is primarily his hobby; he is relatively unaffected by commercial influences and under no pressure to conform to fashions and trends.
“It is terribly simple, I play what I like and things that I have bought.”
Also he is obsessed with vinyl and not planning to move to CDJs anytime soon.
“I like the contact with the vinyl and also most DJs will tell you that the sound from the vinyl is different. It has its disadvantages, such as that nowadays there are many digital labels and it’s financially better for them to publish in digital format only. Publishing a vinyl record is more expensive. And sometimes it happens to me that I hear something that I really want to buy but it hasn’t been produced on vinyl, so I can’t have it. Some people have said to me “Just buy the mp3 versions and you can just combine them” but I don’t want to.”
He accepts that staying faithful to vinyl is becoming more and more difficult.
“I think I am one of the last DJs here who is buying vinyl. You can see how it is in most clubs, they tell you they only have equipment for CDs, so DJs are playing from CDs or from laptops. But I am still faithful to vinyl. I buy from Juno or from a shop in Jablonec, called Nula2, which is owned by my friends, so I support them as well.”
We were especially interested to find out how Michal got into radio and writing about music. First came the writing.
“I don’t know which year it was exactly, I can’t remember. I met a radio commentator from Radio 1. His name was Béla En and he had a website about computer games. At the same time he had a section there about music. He knew that I was interested in music so he offered me a chance to write. He gave me some tapes and I wrote what I thought of them. After that, there was the website Trance.cz, then, the guys from Techno.cz, asked if I would like to write for them and thats how I got into it.”
His introduction to Radio came a bit later.
“I was writing for Techno cz, and the editor-in-chief at the time arranged a show with Radio Akropolis which was an internet radio station. This was 2004/2005 so it was arranged that I would have a regular show. Finally, we had two shows there. one on Wednesdays from 10am to 12 and one on Fridays from 8pm to 10pm. On the Wednesday show, I played music that I liked and I would comment on it. On the Friday show, I would invite guests and do interviews with them and then they would perform sets there in the studio – so this is how I got onto the radio. Then Radio Akropolis ended because they were dependent on grants and, when these grants suddenly stopped, they did not have enough money to operate. For one, two, three years, I was off the radio and then a friend wrote to Radio 1 to see if there would be any opportunities there. They knew that we already had some experience from Akropolis radio, so we went there one day, did a test show and they concluded that yes, it was great and then everything was fine.”
“What we have on Radio 1 is that everyone likes something different. There are people who like drum n bass and we do exchanges, playing something from every style and every presenter plays music that they like. I’m happy that I can play there. For example, on the radio, when I play from midnight to 6am, I cannot play house because nobody would enjoy it, so instead I do short blocks of music such as 40 minutes of house, 40 minutes of minimal, 40 minutes of drum n bass, 40 mins of dubstep etc so that there will be something for everybody. For me, it is relaxing to play different styles. I like all good music and it gives me energy.”
Unfortunately there is no listen again feature.
“Unfortunately, we cannot do ‘listen again’ which is a shame. But I broadcast now in the day when I fill in for colleagues, for example, on weekend afternoons or sometimes on weekday mornings from 6 – 9 am. But (at these times), there already start to be some rules, there are lots of adverts and trailers. And, people are getting up around this time, so you can’t play underground music like during the night. In the morning I go for different songs, shorter and not techno!”
We asked Michal for his thoughts on how underground music had developed in the Czech Republic and what his favourite places are at the moment.
“That’s quite a difficult question because primarily I love house and this style was most popular in 2001/2002. Before that it was underground. Then it gradually became more and more popular and, at that time, there were 1200 people going to Roxy so it was really full there and it didn’t really matter if there was some DJ from abroad or a Czech DJ playing. People just loved that style of music and, when they had time, they went there. That was at its most popular. Afterwards it went slowly downhill and started splitting into all these sub genres. So when you say house for someone it means what’s played in Studio 54 like happy house or electro house, but I am talking about house which I enjoyed to a deep level with some strong moments and a massive atmosphere.
I also forgot about one important thing, before when we went to a house party, it meant there would be techno, acid house, house, trance, everything. Now its more about choosing according to which DJ is playing. Previously, the term ‘house party’ meant it was electronic music and the style wasn’t too important.
U Bukanyra is the best club for me, especially for deep house. It has an absolutely magic atmosphere on the river and every weekend it is totally full but if we are talking about sound I would like to say Cross Club has got a massive sound system. And dubstep there is finally dubstep.”
The interview wouldn’t have been complete without putting Michal well and truly on the spot at least a few times. With this in mind (and after a lengthy explanation in broken Czech), we got Michal to name his ‘desert island disks’ (stuck on a desert island…only allowed eight records etc etc). Having established that he would be allowed to take his Technics with him (“but that’s very important!”) he went along with us. Here is his selection:
1. Jam & Spoon – Tripomatic Fairytales 2001
2. Jam & Spoon – Tripomatic Fairytales 2002
3. George Michael – Twenty Five
4. Spirit Catcher – Lazerbeams EP
5. Kruder & Dorfmeister – The K & D Sessions
6. Logical Progression Level 3
7. Massive Attack – Protection
8. The Future Sound Of London – Lifeforms
We also asked him to suggest a few Czech artists and bands that we should check out:
Floex, The Real Transported Man, Kubatko, Merak, Matoa, ANS, BeatFoot, Biscuit, Lumiere, Lanugo, Alvik, Stephunk T, Jock The Lock, Rido, Juanita Juarez aka Brooklyn, Philip TBC, Touchwood, ZKA4T, Tvyks, PKarel, Maux, Navigators, Tata Bojs, Alef Zero and many many more…
Michal can be found DJing at U Bukanyra on the fourth Thursday of every month. You can catch his Radio 1 show – Fluffy Clouds – in the early hours of every Thursday morning (even weeks are 12:00 until 6:00, odd weeks 01:00 until 6:00) – he is also an active Soundclouder, so make sure you stop by his page and check out his latest mixes.
James and Adam