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Fast Confession - Singer Bára Basiková: I'll take any job, even in a retirement home

Karolína Lišková
06.Dec 2020
+ Add on Seznam.cz
9 minutes to read

Everyone in this country knows Bára Basiková, because she is simply the perennial star of the Czech scene. Recently, however, the nation noticed her mostly in the popular show Your Face Sounds Familiar, where Bára achieved what she'd never thought possible. In an interview for LP-Life.com, the singer talked not only about the show, but also about the current situation.

How long have you been thinking about taking the offer to participate in the show Your Face Sounds Familiar?

I received the offer about four years ago, when the very first season was in production, when the creative producer Simona Matásková brought it over here. But back then I had other jobs and I didn't have the time, because participation means setting aside enough time for it, about four to five months. You can do other things in the meantime, but it's not ideal. I couldn't do that, moreover, when I got the offer and they sent me the researches and materials from the foreign countries, it seemed like a complete nonsense no one would be interested in.

But we all know what a hit it was in the end. When the Face first appeared on television, I think it was a big event, everyone was excited, because a completely new format of a show appeared, an attractive show. I saw that it was possible for everything to be done excellently and interestingly, everyone tried their hardest. There was also a great host and jury, so I thought - what a pity, it could have been nice. Later, the offer came once more, and I couldn't do it again, but when it came for the third time, I accepted it. I was really looking forward to it, even though I knew it would be hard, it's an adrenaline rush.

You are a singer, though, there are also those like Andrea Kalousová, who aren't singers. What was the hardest thing for you?

Of course, learning everything in a short time, especially when the song was unknown to me. To cram the lyrics. I know from my own experience that when I learn a new theatrical role or a new song for an album or concerts, it has to grow on me gradually and over time it matures. The process can't be shortened, it enters your mind slowly, and only by repeating it settles in your head. But you need a month or two for that. Only a week is brutal. So, yes, it's hard.

And then there is, of course, the requirement to imitate the voice of the performer, to try to get closer to them somehow. Another part of it is the choreography, sometimes they give you a huge silicone body, silicone masks. We often had fake noses, almost always teeth, contact lenses, wigs, beards.

Which song was the hardest for you?

Probably Mrs. Pilarová's. That was brutal, it was really hard.

And what about the Prayer for Martha?

Of course, that one too. But everyone kept coming to me and saying that there was no one else who should sing this one and who else other than you, and what other time than now, at this age and era. When I was rehearsing it, I kept crying. First of all because the end of the Face was approaching and we'd all have to say goodbye, because we've become very friendly with each other and we've had a lot of fun, and also because there wouldn't be any work after that, the Face would end and we'd have nothing. And also because this period now is so stupid and it's all just sad. It was emotionally exhausting for me, but in the end I was glad that I managed to keep my cool on stage and cried it out during the rehearsals. The responses afterwards surprised me very pleasantly.

In your Fast Confession, you said that thanks to it you reminisced about November 17. Do you remember what you were doing at the time?

I do. During the afternoon I was returning from a concert in Ostrava. I'd had the concert the previous evening, I spent the night in a hotel and left the next day. But the day before we'd already had some news, my friends and I were calling on the landline and they told me something was going on in Prague. In the afternoon, when I was on my way home, the gossip was already crazy that there was some mess happening at Národní třída. We went there later with a lot of my friends. Back then, I lived by the Charles Bridge in the Old Town, it was pretty close. We went there with my brother and the guys from my band.

We experienced it very intensely, it was something truly extraordinary. In the first moments, we felt a huge force and euphoria, that something really started happening, that it was already here. But we didn't believe that it could work out, that something could change, that the commies would go to hell or something. I think only a few believed it, but the hope and the chance was there. The power of the people, of the students, and of all the events at Národní třída, of the whole incident, was enormous and when the police retaliated against them. We thought that it wasn't a joke anymore then, that it was no longer just some shouting of slogans in the air, something was really going on here. The fact that they pitted the police against the students and the government ordered for them to be beaten up, we thought it meant something more this time.

After this, it took a quick turn. All of us didn't get much sleep most nights, we were printing leaflets, we went to schools to spread awareness. Things were happening in Prague, but the countryside was cut off for a long time, there was no information from the media at all. Television broadcasted something, but people from the countryside knew practically nothing. Even newspapers were held back, they didn't get to the countryside at all, so people didn't believe that something was really going on. We, actors and singers, went to the countryside, to the squares or to schools and told them: "Yes, something is really going on in Prague, it really looks like the communists will fall." We encouraged and motivated them.

Later on, we were at the Wenceslas Square every day, it was unforgettable and I am happy that I got to experience it. I was 26, it was a beautiful age.

Byt Smetanovo nábřeží 191m
Byt Smetanovo nábřeží 191m, Praha 1

When did you first travel without an exit pass?

Right away. I think we went to Berlin in December, The Wall was already demolished. My boyfriend and I agreed to get married the next year. Knowing that the Iron Curtain had fallen, we decided to have a wedding the next year. It was a big decision for me, motivated by those events. Suddenly our whole lives changed and we were looking forward to the future, to the euphoria and joy. We told each other we were going to get married and in June 1990 we had our wedding.

If there was no revolution, you wouldn't have gotten married?

Maybe not so soon.

Right now, we have a special situation here as well. What's your view on it when you have experienced the past period of prohibitions, orders and the subsequent euphoria?

On Tuesday at Národní třída, I realized this very strongly, and not only me, a lot of my friends, that we're now back where we were. We can't travel, shop, associate, sing, we can't basically express our opinions, we have to wear masks. It's scary.

I have already talked about this recently that these bans and orders, the scaring of people, the economic situation, when people are losing their livelihoods, their jobs and business, when they end up in terribe circumstances, all this is much worse than the whole coronavirus. Yes, there are serious cases, of course I don't want to downplay that, but it's nowhere near as terrible as they try to scare us. It's being proven every day. The field hospital, which they built for 30 million CZK, is empty and no one will ever be placed there, because 90% of cases of the coronavirus infection have the normal course like the flu. Of course, some cases are more serious, but it's not as crazy as they tell us, and all of this bothers me.

We are losing our freedom and democracy. At that time after the revolution, we had Václav Havel and people who had a certain niveau, who were intelligent, cultivated and had respect for the whole world. Now, the gentlemen like Zeman and Babiš make me sick, I'm ashamed. A president who is incapable of producing a coherent sentence, who burps or sways because he's drunk and instead of uniting and supporting the nation, says things such as that the entrepreneurs who go bankrupt are incompetent and the singers should stay hungry because it'll only do them good, I'm sick of it.

What are you going to do now after the Face is over? What will be your source of livelihood?

I'll do what I was doing in the spring, I worked back then too. I have a blog called "If you jump, I will too" and some additional texts along with it, because I have already received two offers to publish a book. But in order for the book to happen, I want there to be more than what I've published on the blog, and also some other materials. Otherwise, I will teach singing and help where it's needed. In the spring I did anything available. I was helping in the hospital, at the post office, in the pharmacy, in the retirement home, I would do anything.

How does your son perceive this?

I think he's still too small and doesn't fully realize what's happening. It all happened slowly, first he didn't go to school, then we studied at home, now they study via the computer.

This must be challenging for you too.

It's terrible. It's terrible for the children that they can't socialize, they can't be together, they can't run around the playground and they can't even be at school. What kind of education is this, when he sits alone in his room staring at a computer screen? He's not socially bound to his friends since they are not in a group, they can't chat and fool around together. It really saddens me that they can't go to the after-school clubs, we have no way to develop any of his activities. At least we try to go out every day. It's all so restrictive, but I think he copes with it surprisingly well.

What about your older daughters? Won't you be a grandmother soon?

No, not yet. Unfortunately, they don't want to yet.

Would you like to?

I would love to, of course. But I still have a small son, so I'm still good. One daughter is in the hotel business, the other in a magazine's editorial office. She's been working from home since the spring, and I think that's also nuts. However, since she also writes for other newsrooms, she still has work. The second daughter is in the hotel business, there it's only restrictive and sad, but sometimes she goes to the hotel because they have to clean it up and take care of it. But without the guests, it's just sad.

So you often have her at home now?

Yes, often. Because of the coronavirus, we moved to the countryside cottage ever since spring and spent a lot of time together there, that was great. We drank an awful lot of bottles of wine and it was awesome. (laughs)

There are opinions that when pubs are closed, people drink less, but it's often the other way around.

I've never drunk like this in my life, but what else is there to do (laughs). When it wasn't possible to go to a concert, to the theater or the cinema, to have a dinner in a restaurant or, in the summer, sit in a beer garden, which was always a common thing, the more everyone drank at home.

You also do jumble sales every year. It probably won't happen this year, right?

Not this year. Now that Face is over, I have the time and I want to do it via my website and Instagram. I want to set up an e-shop, take pictures of those things and sell them through it. There was no jumble sale this year and I usually do it twice a year. We often did it outside of Prague. In Liberec, Ústí nad Labem, Budějovice, Pilsen, Jablonec, Brno, Pardubice, Hradec Králové. People were quite interested in it, we always traveled to somewhere, we spread it out and were selling all day. We always did a spring and a winter sale. It didn't happen this year, so I want to do it now as soon as possible. The first spring coronavirus jumble sale, in February or March, I want to put up the site around then.

Where will the proceeds go to?

I'll do it as I always do, we always found a place to donate. There are so many of them. Choosing an association, institution or a foundation that needs money is the easiest part. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of them, especially during this time now. We always decide where to donate the money and try to give some happiness to those who need it.

If there were any cultural events in the spring, where could fans see you?

I don't know at all, I'm not able to say anything at the moment. Everything that was supposed to happen in the spring moved to autumn, that didn't happen again, then it moved to winter, and that didn't happen either. I feel sad that I usually had tons of Advent concerts planned every year, mostly with children's choirs, in churches and the like. It's beautiful, charming, it's very powerful before Christmas, I miss it so much.

There will be nothing of the sort this year and no one knows what events will be moved and to where. Some organizers don't dare to promote something for the third time if they don't even know what will happen tomorrow. On my website, I also removed the concerts and performances section because it was all canceled anyway. I don't know when and what will happen in the future. We have to wait for it.

Bára, thank you very much for the interview.

Fast confession:

What did the coronavirus give you and what did it take away?

The coronavirus took away my job, my ideals, but it gave me a lot of free time, which I spent mainly with my family, with the people I didn't have much time for before. I could read more and relax more.

What did the show Your Face Sounds Familiar give you and what did it take away?

The Face didn't take away anything at all, but on the contrary gave me friendships, adventures, an amazing experience and an absolutely wonderful four months.

How would you assess the current political situation in one sentence?

As depressing.

What helps to ease your mind the most at this time?

Being with my children and friends.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

No.

A singer's worst nightmare?

I go on stage, the band is already playing, I'm late for my cue, not only do I not know what kind of song it is, but I also don't know the lyrics or the melody.

If you weren't a singer, what else would you be able to do for a living?

Writing or maybe doing business in the fashion industry.

What did your children do lately that made you happy?

That they spend time with me often and feel happy with me.

Where would you like to live in the next life?

I don't believe in future lives.

How did you celebrate November 17th?

My friends and I went to Národní třída, to places where many of us still remember the situation back then, we lit candles and reminisced.

What do you want for Christmas?

The amazing eggnog from IF café.

For how much money would you be willing to shave your hair off?

So for 300k CZK.

What pissed you off lately the most?

The politics.

What would you like to make happen in 2021?

I don't want anything, I just want everything to return to where it was a year ago, at least a little.
The interviewee asks the interviewer:

What are you reading now?

A detective story by a Norwegian writer, whose name I don't remember now, but it's a trilogy and it's very thrilling.
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