30-somethings may not have heard his name, but younger listeners love him. Of course, mostly girls and women. Sebastian Navrátil has already won several awards - and his song Toulavá has almost 30 million views on Youtube. This boy from Liberec has worked his way up to becoming one of our most successful young musicians. With the band, he sells out concert venues and unwillingly breaks female hearts. In an interview with Luxury Prague Life, you will learn what hardships Sebastian had to face during his career and if music really is the most fulfilling thing in his life.
How do you explain to yourself that you’re known mainly among the younger fans?
I guess my songs songs have found the way to their audience, I have no influence over it.
Did you plan it that way?
Not at all, the intention was to make music for everyone. Now that I look at it from a distance, we were trying to use the same model for our songs after the first CD, and they were a little teenage, or how to call it… I guess it turned out accordingly.
You are 27 years old, but when I saw you in the photos, I honestly wouldn’t have guessed you were over 20. Could that be another reason?
For sure. And the videos we were making, too. They were focused on being handsome and so on.
Do you consider yourself handsome?
Yes, naturally. I don't have to wear make-up, it was exaggerated in the videos. New videos for our next album will be made differently.
Have you ever had a Bravo in your hand?
I wanted to, but I didn't have money for it when I was at the age when everyone was reading it, so I've never bought one.
They used to sort boys into different categories there - tough guys, romantic boys and adventurers. What type are you?
I think I can be both - sometimes I’m tough and sometimes romantic. There are two different people in me, which can be positive or negative, depending on the situation.
Like a split personality?
Not entirely. But my mom is a totally different person than my dad, and my dad isn't a good person.
In what way? Because he stayed in Germany?
No, he just has a dark past. I take him as a person whom I no longer want in my life. He’s not a father figure to me anymore.
Aren't you afraid he’s going to be feeding off your fame?
I’ve severed all the ties in our relationship, so there’s no room for that.
You gained fame in 2015, you were already collecting awards...
I used to sing with another band prior to that, and we also had a famous song or two. So maybe five, six years.
It’s interesting that, being in my 30s, I don't know you at all.
I take it that you're famous only in the moment when everyone knows you. That means, I think, that your songs have to be on the radio for more than ten years. People have to know about you, even if they don't want to.
So you think that these six years haven’t changed you at all?
Well, I don’t think its fame... But overall, life has definitely changed for me. If I should speak for myself, I think that a musician is bond to be influenced by singing at concerts every weekend, five years in a row.
It manifests in various ways.
It depends on the person's attitude. I enjoyed it, I was very young when I jumped into it. I used to drink a lot, live the rock'n'roll lifestyle…
Not really. I had a girlfriend for six years, so I wasn’t really into girls. It was wild. But I don't feel the same as I was before.
Did you sober up from the quick jumpstart?
No, on the contrary. We took a lot of different stuff, it must have left a mark on me. I don’t see myself as a completely normal person. Being normal is difficult.
You live in Liberec. Why aren't you already in Prague? You've got 28 million views of your song Toulavá on Youtube. That’s quite a lot and everyone should be fighting over you here…
That’s not how it works here.
No? So how does it work?
I don’t know. I take it as depending on who finds liking in you. We have achieved a considerable success in a short period of time, some people might have achieved less, but they get much more attention. I don't think it's entirely about the numbers.
So you’re happy in Liberec?
I am and I wouldn’t want to go to Prague. Even though I’ve been here every other day in the last three weeks.
Well, look outside, there’s your reason. There’s too much industry here for me. Liberec is pretty, you know? Beautiful landscape, mountains, parks, forests…
What do you do when you’re not producing music, recording, getting ready for a tour or traveling from one concert to another?
I'm home alone. And when I'm not home alone, I go boxing. Less now, because I don't have much time, but I still go when possible. Sometimes I go to the sauna or play with my friends or visit my mom, walk the dog... Different stuff, nothing big.
Are you happy and satisfied? You look bored to me.
I’ve had a rather difficult period.
How do you mean?
I had some health problems. Generally, due to the big boom that went off... Of course the road can still go up or down. For us it went down a bit, and it was quite difficult to get in terms with it. I'm not saying we're not well off, but it's not like when I would hear my name on every radio station seven times a day. Now I see that it’s quite difficult to repeat the things that we managed to achieve, to stay on the same level. And I have a lot of work to do, I'm really extremely tired today.
I’ve noticed that you studied at a textile school. Can you sew?
Yep, we had practical lessons.
I find your story incredible. If you want to be a singer, you attend the conservatory, a music school, or take part in a talent competition. But not you. You were studying at a textile school, the one day you stroke the guitar strings by mistake and suddenly you became a singer...
It wasn't like that. The school was more of a coincidence, I used to go to a medical school before, which I had chosen because I was miserable at math, and there was less of it there. But I was an avid snowboarder in my first year and I often skipped school.
You were a rebel, huh?
More like an athlete. They didn't like me there because of that. I passed my first year, but I already had a bad name. So I switched to a different school with a graduation exam, for which I didn't have to take exams and where there was less math. And that happened to be a textile school. So it wasn't that I'd particularly wanted to go there.
You must be really dexterous - at medical school, you had to be able to prick needles, at textile school, you had to be able to sew...
I don’t really have any gift of magical hands, it’s not that difficult. But I am not unskilled.
So when did the idea of becoming a singer first come to you?
Ever since I was 15 I had a vision or a dream that I’d like to sing with a guitar. But my mom and everyone else kept discouraging me from it. Then it looked like I could try to apply for a music school for a while, but it was hard to catch up, seeing as I’d never attended any basic school of arts, so the idea was dismissed. But I started my first bands and we participated in a competition.
Then I got an offer to sing with a friend from the same town who’d made a big hit, and we had the same background, his life story was similar to mine. I saw a chance in it - that if he succeeded, so could I. So we made a song together that ended up being one of the most played hits in the country. Later on, I was working in O2, where there was a TV for people in the waiting room, and I always saw myself in the video. I totally hated it there, so I told myself I didn't belong there and quit.
But you need to make a living somehow! Did you have money from the song?
I had nothing at all. For the first few gigs, the guys took me along so that I could at least pay rent, they were giving me 500 per concert. And I just believed in it. Looking back, I realize how crazy it sounds. I told myself, "I can do this, I’m gonna play concerts".
And you were getting 500 per concert.
Back then, yes. Then I made my own song and on the very day when I ran out of money, I played my first concert.
Seems like you're a child of fortune, someone must have been watching over you.
I guess so.
I suppose you're not getting 500 per concert today, but it's a profitable business…
Most artists have some kind of obsession, such as buying leather shoes, a particular expensive brand... Are you crazy about something?
I like cars. I have a car I’ve always wanted.
I love Audi, so I have an Audi. But it was a long way to ge there. So I have an Audi, and that's about the only thing I‘m into. I have a good guitar, I have one expensive leather jacket…
So you’re not crazy about anything.
Honestly, that’s not my thing.
I bet you are getting tons of fan messages every day. Your relationship has just recently ended. What’s your current status?
I’ve never spoken much about being or not being in a relationship, because it was a constant row of ups and downs. And that hasn’t changed. Only now it's in an even worse phase than it used to be...
You are 27 years old, guys around thirty re starting to settle down. Would you like to have a family?
The cliché image - a lovely house with a garden, two adorable children, a beautiful wife…
I have one of those. I’m working on making my dreams come true. And it would be nice to have support in a woman who’d stand by my side.
Do you think it's hard to find such a partner today?
When you're in love and unable to leave, then yes. But I think it's alot about the fact that if someone’s had such a long relationship - I consider six years to be quite a long time - and then the relationship is over and they have a new relationship with someone who also has something behind them, such people treat each other a little differently than they used to treat their original partner.
You mean like they’re more suspicious?
No, the other way round. They already know what caused the problems in their previous relationship, and they are less jealous, they trust each other more, they don't make the same mistakes.
Does it ever happen to you, when you’re with friends in a bar or in a disco, that a girl spots you and tries to pick you up because of who you are?
I don't go to discos. Sure, there have been a few attempts, but I don’t get off on it. I have a calmer temperament. I mean, it's nice to see someone likes you. But I am not the type to abuse the fact that I am more visible and someone even calls me famous.
You’ve got a new tour ahead…
We're touring with our new CD Rub a líc now - named after the song Rub a líc (Two sides). The name was based on the fact that I had those health problems, so I had time to think about whether I wanted to keep doing music or not. There was a time when I had so many concerts that I was, in all honesty, simply drained. Then came a time when I almost couldn’t sing, I was in surgery with my vocal cord. And that made me realize that I liked doing it once again. It has two sides, that's why the name.
The health problems were related to the vocal cord?
Yes, the vocal cord was damaged, I had a polyp on it.
But its alright now?
Back to your tour…
We started this tour in Brno on March 28th and we’re going to Prague next. We will finish in Liberec, because I am from Liberec, so it’s a home ground for me. Musically, this is probably the most important thing for me now.
All your songs are in Czech. Wouldn’t you like to have one in English and take it abroad? Don't you have the ambition to be famous beyond the borders, too?
I don’t want to overestimate my singing and musical abilities. There are other, braver people - for me it sounds like a completely insane plan. I think it's hard to stay on top here as it is, even though I know that I would sing a lot better in English and even composing would be easier. I could do a different kind of music then that what I’m involved in now. In fact, I enjoy different genres than the one we’re doing, I listen to a completely different kind of music, but I don't want to pursue it. My dream is to sell out a stadium here, to have my Czech fans, not to fool around abroad. That's a crazy idea.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Do you think you'll still be making a living with singing? And do you have a back up plan for the case it doesn't go so well anymore?
The music industry, being a singer, is a job like any other. When you do it well and deliver good results, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing it in ten years. I have a good team, we have produced a lot of songs and we have a great self-reflection. That is, I think, the most important thing. I believe we'll keep doing this, but the only thing I'm afraid of is that I might have some complications with my vocal cords.