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Monthly Archives: January 2013

A child learns to communicate through inarticulate speech. It is the ultimate freedom of speech. The word “dada” characterises this freedom of speech. There are no limits – inner nor outer to captivate free thoughts, these are devoid of complex. That is the illogical beauty of the “dada” principle – the ultimate anarchy of words. You can think and you can say whatever you want, anyway you want in order to produce the sound, not necessarily the meaning. Dada is the true, free dialect. Phonetics at will. In 1916, Zurich was a safe haven for various art immigrants – whether the ones that fled the WW1-infested countries or the ones that fled the omnipresent standard art worlds. In 1973, Sheffield was a forgotten place on earth, with a group of youths that had nowhere to flee. What they had was this philosophy in the bedroom, started in the loft, then spread the word to a wider public – through toilets, small cafes… or the most bizarre places. The city sensored broadcasting these sounds.

For a place now spinning 40 into one’s living legend, Sheffield is still no ordinary machine. The noise continues to burst from this machine, still providing shades of grey about this place I’ve never been to. In 1985, I spotted an album cover with a blurred screen-generated image still, in a local record shop. It read “Cabaret Voltaire”. The visual link immediately pointed out something about it that was quite “electronic” by nature. At the time, it was already heavily stylish. Very slick. I hadn’t had a clue. But the sound of the very name was cool. So cool in fact, that someone even sprayed it on a local building wall in a park, not far from where I live – I swear, it wasn’t me. Not that long ago, I went to see if it’s still there, but this “Cabaret Voltaire” graffiti once gracing that wall has now perished under the test of time and new graffiti-sprayed nonsense, the new street-Dada – unreadable, but free. Authentic. Like some of the books – that are more bible than the bible itself.

Such was “The Graphic Language Of Neville Brody”, by Jon Wozencroft. A book about one man’s work, assembled by the other man’s thoughts, both of whom have had a considerable impact on my visual senses. By 1993, I only had that record featuring a blurred screen-generated image still. A copy of an album, as well as a photocopied b/w reproduction of it – from “The Graphic Language” book. Cabaret Voltaire turned out to be a significant part in informing some of my views of the world with that record. Apart from what turned out to be “The Covenant, The Sword And the Arm Of the Lord”, at the time I barely collected a TDK copy of “Micro-phonies”. Both are now considered “pop classics”. The triumph of Dada.

Cabaret Voltaire grew up with the likes of Tamla Motown and cherished disco in order to decontruct the notion of the beat. The concept of repetition and noise which was actually “hip-hop” years before the term was actually coined – the evidence of which is present in one of their earliest pieces, so tipically called “The Dada Man” (mind the amazing record scratching). Cabaret Voltaire’s mash-up of found music and authentic, extreme noise at this stage – made just for fun, in time had transformed into a scene. The scene that featured some of those silly little names that came along and contributed just as enthusiastically (now deservedly being part of the great establishment); The Human League, Clock DVA and Vice-Versa being part of the earlier generation of principle electronic merchants, all derived from Sheffield’s industrial obscurity, later to taste (independent and mainstream) chart-topping success. In recent years Sheffield’s treasure vaults were once again explored and properly presented – Eve Wood, a dedicated documentary enthusiast delivered two of the finest such stories; “Made In Sheffield” and “The Beat Is the Law”, covering most of the forgotten, lost, found, successful and the still-going… And Cabaret Voltaire remain the name respectively mentioned worldwide as an influence on many. Myself included.

For a long time there was this crazy idea to record a version of one of their pieces, as if it were both – a “remix” as much as being the actual cover – something close to what The All Seeing I did earlier, in the year 2002 for “Yashar”. But as Stephen Mallinder and Richard Kirk once said – life slips by, and this version somehow continued not to take place. Always “close, but no cigar”. Part due indecision, the reason for the cover version’s delay layed in the fact there are simply too many diamonds in the mine to choose from. And while among my favourite picks was undoubtedly “Spies In the Wires”, the challenge led to another one of personal favourites, and more open for exploring updates – “Seconds Too Late”.

The decyphering of the very lyrics, however, was impossible – earlier Cabs’ work was particularly abstract in lyrical content… so, recently I got into contact with Stephen Mallinder to help me out with the lyric sheet. Which he kindly did. Thank you Stephen. Thank you Cabaret Voltaire. So here it is – “Seconds Too Late”, forever for you.  Do right.

1/2, Nov ‘12

In 1973, Cabaret Voltaire were: Stephen Mallinder, Richard H. Kirk and Christopher R. Watson. “Seconds Too Late” originally released as a single on Rough Trade (RT060, 1980)

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Most of the time I feel distanced from the classic opera singers. Some of the reasons lay in this, part ignorance and part the actual lack of interest. Like most genres, Opera is now completely assimilated by the comforts of pop-industry. Mash-up duets appear every once in a while, ever since “Barcelona” (even though that one is a milestone in kitch-delight). Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballe did something of a gorgeous experiment (just like Malcolm McLaren succeeded with a masterpiece travesty of his, called “Madam Butterfly”). Of course the pop-opera travesty don’t always work for the better – the height of this sickneningly-sweet melody affair being a series of those “nightmare-before-Christmas” concerts with the popular (read: brainwash) aria-repertoire, courtesy “The Three Terrors”.

But then again, there remain “terrors” that are absolute king and gorgeously flamboyant as their flirt with the opera beast suggests: Florence Foster Jenkins and Yma Sumac pre-dating post-punk innovations by Nina Hagen, Klaus Nomi – and yes, the wild and lonely – Billy Mackenzie. Of the gorgeous threesome, Nina is still alive and kicking, while Klaus and Billy are sadly no longer gracing this world with their physical presence. Their voices, however, remain. The year 2013 will be 30 years since Klaus Nomi left this planet, sadly falling victim to complications associated with what would a little later become “popularly” abbreviated under the name of AIDS. Watching the amazing documentary about his life and work (and a truly sad death) – called “The Nomi Song”, it’s just impossible not to shed a tear at the very end. Klaus performed opera in the weirdest sense of the word – the most memorable moments on record being the touching “Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix” (an aria from “Samson and Delilah”) that kickstarted one of the most unusual careers in pop music history, and a pre-epitaph performance of “Cold Song”, which continues to leave listeners completely breathless. Nomi remains the lone example of the actual divine marriage of opera, its avant-garde aspects and pop-accessibility, forever rooted in the New Wave scene. His voice and persona were at such contrast to make the perfect match – as someone called Klaus “a cross between Mickey Mouse and the Tin Man”.

The most obscure of his obscure deliveries is undoubtedly a bizarre cover version of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”. Performed live at one point, this version was kept on record (and ever since long sought after). In a way Grace Jones steered away from the original template of “Warm Leatherette” to create a tasty dark chocolate reflection of a funky song, Nomi perverted the ultimate disco hit by choice of Italian – resulting in unique and definitely the finest-ever rendition of an otherwise mass-overexploited Giorgio Moroder disco-hit (for the record, divine mass-overexploitation continues in this issue’s physical variant).

And then, there was a certain Billy Mackenzie. One of the ultimate mavericks of post-punk. As Marc Almond describes him in “The Glamour Chase” documentary – “A voice to die for”. Although, I cannot tell what attracted me to The Associates at first listen – their debut single, which was actually raw take of a Bowie standard (“Boys Keep Swinging”) certainly didn’t. I felt annoyed listening to it but the beauty of songs that annoy you, happens to grow on you – and The Associates’ version of “Boys Keep Swinging” takes time to be loved. And is. But two of the songs that stuck right into the head were undoubtedly “White Car In Germany” and “Message Oblique Speech”. Not that I ever understood, what these songs were about in the first place. Which can be somewhat disrespectful to both – Alan Rankine and Billy, making a cover of their song and at the same time being unable to understand the context of it.

But loving these particular songs, one couldn’t help from feeling tempted and try and sing along to them. Billy’s voice being so perfectly theatrical on every level, makes The Associates (especially their early body of work) so fascinatingly scary (and one other moment of pitch perfect vocal slide that is particularly thrilling, remains on “A Girl Named Property”; the second time the refrain line hits the roof with “No managerial tax, no managerial talks..:”) – a mixture of cabaret, violent avant-garde noise, expressive singing so perfectly balanced into operatics, chanson and hysterics, soul and synthdrums, all added into a cocktail of timeless taste of plain gorgeous. Both, Alan and Billy’s sense of perfection gained them notoriety but also an astonishing catalogue; sadly, Billy is no longer around – for 15 years, new songs that never will be sadly miss his voice but the earlier ones will never grow old. Graphically perfect. Totally intact.

 

Forever remain in the living memory: Klaus Nomi (1944 – 1983), Billy Mackenzie (1957 – 1998), Donna Summer (1948 – 2012). “White Car In Germany” written by Billy Mackenzie and Alan Rankine, originally released as a single on Situation Two (SIT11, 1981).

Definitely one of the most unique characters on the electronic underground scene today. Yes, you’ve heard this line before and there are so many, a man can get lost. But how many are there that have personality these days? Electronic music has always been a safe haven and we have always been trapped inside its repetitive frame. In that respect, Popsimonova might not be an exception, except she actually is. Her charming, naively dark (often violent) and introspective stop-start lyrics do reflect an era of society forever lost in dreams of escape from reality or shall we say – conformity. Residing in Sisak, along with her boyfrend and electronic partner-in-crime Zarkoff, Popsimonova delivers an honest soundtrack – sensual spoken-word-type vocals in the most adorable “Russian English” accent, complemented by a clinically sharp, mechanical beat that consumes slowly and then bursts out tour-de-force. Listening to pieces like “Ruby”, “No Contact”, “Falling Down Tonight” or “Yellow Lamps”, one cannot escape the impression, this is a lost soundtrack to “Blade Runner”, appearing 30 years too late.

Popsimonova came properly about in 2008, after a brief commotion with Anshie Crie – called Dekolaž. The two were causing quite a stir in the media at the time but sadly, for numerous reasons it couldn’t last longer than it actually did. Dekolaž delivered a number of songs that sadly remain trapped in obscurity ever since. I’ve heard them live on a number of occasions and the girls definitely had their thing going – whatever went wrong or was due creative disagreements – Dekolaž went off to become a tiny, deserved legend.

Choosing a specific electronic pattern, Popsimonova rebels transforming depression into liberation. Electronic music still is a safe haven and we’re still trapped inside its repetitive frame. It is easy to press buttons and pretend – or make believe – we’re all made of stars. According to Popsimonova, we walk on the skyscrapers. She does – and to great effect.

SD: Your name invokes associations between “(electro)pop” and “Yevgeniya Simonova”, the popular Soviet/Russian actress. Where does the name Popsimonova come from? P: It’s my family name, which just happens to sound good.

SD: Along with music, you are also fascinated by fashion. Are you planning to devote yourself to this segment of artistic expression in a more serious manner? P: I’ve always been fascinated by fashion, I’ve always loved to experiment with clothes; I make my own costumes for my shows, however, regarding my devotion to fashion, I think that’s about as far as it gets for me, it’s a question of daily personal expression. I’d also like to mention that during my last visit to Berlin, I started collaborating with Degenerotika, a Slovenian/Berlin avant-garde fashion brand, which I really adore; my long-term friend, a very talented young designer and photographer, Miljenko PerkiÊ aka Majlo Milevskij, as well as a very talented young Slovenian artist, Slavica VaselinoviÊ aka Shavi Lavi, who are both responsible for fantastic photographs. I hope our work together will continue in the future.

SD:  Popsimonova has been a part of the scene for six years now – at first as the co-founder of the Dekolaž duo, and then launching a solo career. Your life partner Zarkoff also connects your solo and band endeavours. In your opinion, is there greater freedom in creating solo, or is it necessary to share your ideas with another person? P: Well, I prefer to work solo, but I’ve collaborated with Zarkoff on the “Voluntary Work Camp” release; I liked it a lot, so we continued to work together on the new album as well.

SD: Over here, the public still somehow doesn’t care much about local alternative artists, among which certain individuals, each in their own way, seem to build their reputation abroad quite well. How is your work received by audiences abroad? You often perform in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands… You have also performed in Brazil with Florence Foster Fan Club, and you “wandered” into New York as well… What are your impressions of travelling abroad, both good and bad? P: Yes, I’ve played abroad quite a lot this year, and my impressions were really really good, both of the audience and the critics. It’s a shame our local audiences don’t care enough for local artists. True, the scene is pretty small, however, there are some really talented performers who are under the media radar. They’re really respected across Europe and beyond, like Zarkoff, Umrijeti za strojem, Le Chocolat Noir, FFFC…

SD: During your visit to New York, while walking the city streets, you came across an icon of the underground scene – Genesis Breyer P. Orridge. What were your impressions of each other? Did you stay in touch after your meeting? P: Yes, it’s incredible that I managed to recognize him by the way he walked, and from behind, too; somehow I immediately knew it was Genesis, he was green and bloated like some frog with clammy skin, but incredibly wonderful and easy to approach, and he was really open to conversation, and I was a bit paralyzed, so we didn’t really hang out for long. We exchanged a few words and didn’t stay in touch after this; though I know I have to seek him out next time I’m in New York and simply become his personal nurse.

SD: You recorded a lot of material these past few years – along with the official single releases and appearing on some interesting underground compilations, your first real album is in sight. P: Yes, especially in 2012, I’ve been really active with these releases: an EP (“Yellow Lamps”) for the Belgian label Romance Moderne, then for the digital label from Sarajevo, Adriatiko Recordings (“Hazardous Material”), as well as for the Viennese Dark Disco label’s compilation (“Falling Down”). After a recent release with Zarkoff (“Voluntary Work Camp” EP, mini CD on 0.5), I’ve been preparing new material, so I’m about to have a new EP on Romance Moderne, and I’ve also finished a new album with Zarkoff, which comes out on vinyl soon.

SD: How did Popsimonova grow sound-wise, and what are your expectations regarding this album? P: The work methods were quite different this time, a little less experimenting, a little more putting things on a grid, in a form-frame, like exercises in style. I expect to finally make a solo release on my own, perhaps peek a little to the pop side of the scene.

SD: Are publishers abroad interested in your work? Is there a chance for us to one day hold in our hands a Popsimonova LP? P: They sure are, I have more foreign releases than local.

SD: What subject matter inspires you the most? In her songs, Popsimonova, in a most ingenious way, is more of a narrator, and less of a singer. Are songs such as “Falling Down Tonight”, “Yellow Lamps”, “No Contact” and “Empty Eyes” individual introspections, or are the aforementioned titles examples of social commentary? Or are they just ambiguous wordplays? P: True, I wouldn’t call myself a singer, even though I’ve started working on that a bit more seriously. The songs you’ve mentioned are mostly individual reassessments – I find inspiration in solitude, alienation, relations, cold cities, neon lights…

SD: What (or who) are the rather brutal lyrics to “Ruby” about? P: The Happy Prince, Henry Morgan, mortuary cosmetology and dying of the dinky folk.

SD: Are there any favourite songs in your repertoire you would like to mention? P: “No Contact” and “Falling Down Tonight”.

Interview conducted: 0.5; proofreading/translation: Goran Gregor.
Further info: soundcloud.com/popsimonova or myspace.com/popsimonova
Popsimonova images directed by degenerotika.de

PEDIGREE is a term some bands definitely hold up to. Learning from Punk and slowly but safely building their own musical identity, Leifert is one such example, a complete breath of fresh air, standing on their own feet, and steering away from the rather spoiled and somewhat stagnant “indie” scene, that is sadly no more.

Coming from Rijeka, which enjoys its deserved everlasting legend of a Rock city, the sound and the look of Leifert draw inevitable comparisons – but not in terms of copycat crimes, more by honest inspiration and most importantly, when saying “I compare Leifert to…”, it means a true compliment to the girls. Introducing Petra and Gia – the two current members of the group – who continue to work on Leifert’s sound and deliver impressive music. At the moment, their first proper studio album is on the rise so here’s a message to all of you listeners out there – TAKE NOTICE!

At first, they appeared under a different name altogether and were originally a trio – called “Larve”. The word perfectly encompassed the raw energy of the group’s early, equally excellent material – which is now sadly left laying forgotten in the archives. Petra (the remaining constant from the original line-up) along with Dunja (who left earlier on) and Vida (who left Leifert prior to this interview) delivered only a few recordings, each of them a gem – “Bubimir”, “List” and “Razum” – along with two, somewhat transitional and far more experimental (master)pieces, “Splur” and the 16-minute frenzy of “Tuberkuloza”. Dark, disturbing and learning from their own musical growth at the time, Larve demonstrated how impressively they moved forward in order to find their true sound. The five recordings can be traced via occasional blogs for personal introduction to the group’s amazing early work.While “Larve” had a significant meaning, line-up changes very quickly caused the group to search for a new name. “Leifert” sounded confusing at first, almost like a desperate modification of the original name, in order to move away from Larve’s tempestuous proto-Punk beginnings. Soon it was revealed, Leifert is the actual family name that sounds indefinite – or better, neutral enough to make a suitable reference. While personally, I still cannot relate to this very name, I do greet the girls for their attitude and truly great music that they’re up to. Recently, several new songs were presented – “ena u godinama” (loosely translated as “A Woman In Ages”), plus “Ptice” (“The Birds”), “»eta” (“The Squad”) and “Jegulja”(“Eels”) – each demonstrating Leifert’s sense of perfection, making the anticipation for the debut album even more unbearable. The album will be produced by Bojan BanoviÊ of Diskurz. Welcome Leifert and may the force be with you.

SD: Is Rijeka an inspiring city to form a band in – or does the main trigger of taking things into your own hands lie somewhere else? Petra: It is a very inspiring city, in my opinion it has a positive, weird vibe. It’s truly a city which floats, as described by a friend of mine. In this city one cannot stand still, whether it’s about going out or working, for if you don’t “flow”, you become a worm, and the thrill is gone. The moment you stop “flowing”, that’s not it anymore. You aren’t as fresh as the flowing Rijeka, you become a smelly pond, murky and green. I definitely think that the great industry of the past left a certain active spirit in this city. However, I also believe that people are deluding themselves by saying “Rijeka is a rock city”, and think they’re something special if they have a band and come from Rijeka. In a way, they’ve started taking these things for granted, as this is the general mindset they tend to have, and so time passes and they find themselves releasing a debut album after existing for ten years. Screw that kind of work and that sort of people. These are perfect examples of stagnant, non-flowing people, who rot and turn into a swamp, a pond, a black hole.

SD: What sort of sound does Leifert aim for? Petra: Some sort of electro – although, I don’t like to categorize music by genre, especially my own music, because I make what I like and what sounds good to me. I do what I feel like doing and I do it the way I feel. The same principle applies to the music I listen to, I listen to whatever sounds nice to me and describes my feelings at that moment. So I find it a bit primitive when someone says they listen to pop. It’s such a broad term, for me it’s stupid to categorize anything as pop. To me Simple Minds are one thing, and Talk Talk are another. They have a common link between them – but I wouldn’t call it a “pop” link, I’d call it freedom. I can hear in their music that they did exactly what they felt and thought, and they created their music in alignment with their principles and their lives. This is why I also like the Pet Shop Boys, who called contemporary music “ego music”, as today’s performers – I won’t call them musicians, they’re merely performers – don’t create music because they are this music, but to fill their own egos and become important and famous. “Me, me, me, me – yes, yes, yes, yes; You, you, you, you – no, no, no, no”, this whole story is exactly what the Pet Shop Boys sing about in this song.

SD: Does this constant branding of someone as a “Rijeka band” annoy you? Do you think a typical Rijeka band even exists, whether belonging to the older or the younger generation? Petra: As I said earlier, this whole “Rijeka is a rock city” business, screw people who think this is how it is. It’s about the people, not about the city. It’s true I don’t feel this sort of feeling in any other city, but perhaps it’s because I’m so used to it. I’m sure that’s it. If I moved to another city, I wouldn’t lose what I have inside me, as it doesn’t belong to the city, it’s about the people. You either have it or you don’t. I think that there’s a specific sound (not a band) to every country/city. Because of all the different surroundings. For example, the Slovenians had a lot of new wave/punk bands who all sounded similar – und, O! Kult, Via Ofenziva… here in the greater Rijeka area as well: Fiume is for example a typical Rijeka sound, as well as Strukturne Ptice, Idejni Nemiri… however, I wouldn’t say those are typical bands for a certain area, but rather beginnings of a specific musical direction, and not of a specific genre. This was later held back by newer bands who grew up listening to these old bands and picked up on their sound, some intentionally, some accidentally.

SD: It’s wonderful to hear a young band such as yours, with well thought-out lyrics in your mother tongue. How challenging is it to put together good song lyrics in Croatian, as opposed to the ever-popular English language to which most other bands gravitate toward? Petra: I’m really glad to hear such a nice compliment. I write best when the mood strikes me, I cannot write whenever I would like to. Inspiration is an odd thing, it comes unexpected. Lately, lyrics come to me in English much more than in Croatian. Somehow I’m beginning to find this language a bit dull. I can express myself better in English because it seems simpler. For now, though, it’s just a bunch of scrawled notes on paper, we’ll see what time will bring. Here in Croatia I definitely won’t be expressing myself in English. Lately I’ve been keeping myself busy with too many things which are neither music nor writing, it’s annoying. I suppose I should catch my breath a little. Perhaps something more unique comes my way. Sometimes it’s good to distance myself, because then I can come back refreshed and make something even weirder than before. Of course, one should nurture whatever one does in order to perfect it and advance it, but the things I do outside music and writing, also have to do with creativity and a lot of brainstorming and I believe it can only benefit me. All this correlates with each other, and I connect and use it all for Leifert, so it’s healthy.

SD: Officially, Leifert is a duo – Bojan from Diskurz is helping you as a producer. Have you thought about expanding your line-up in the future? Petra: No.  Gia: At the moment we have a different live concept, so it’s not necessary to expand the line-up. Oh, those people, they only bring tensions and problems, if we were to expand our line-up, we’d be taking a doberman to stand on the stage and bite the people who would cause trouble.  Petra: Yeah, that’s true.

SD: How important is the band’s image – both appearance and sound-wise? Can Leifert preserve their experimental tendencies, stay uncompromising, resist the dictatorship of the environment which expects “the game to be played by the rules”? Gia: To us, the image is as important as the music. It also creates an impression and some sort of definition to the music being heard, and the general feeling. Take, for example, Talk Talk – they didn’t really consider their image that important but they show a very strong personality with their music, and this is what we respect so much.  Petra: We’re not looking up to bands who have a great image so they look great and therefore we like them. The image is a part of the deal, but not an essential one. It differs from one person to another. The way I feel in sneakers is different from the way I feel in high-heeled boots. Just like I don’t feel the same if I eat mayonnaise or not. Sneakers aren’t for people, mayonnaise is garbage. Therefore, whatever I eat is the way I feel. I create for others as much as for myself. I don’t eat mayonnaise, not because I heard Madonna doesn’t eat it either, but because to me it’s shit. I understand what’s modern today and what’s interesting to the masses, and I don’t think I’m a part of something that Croatian masses would like. On the contrary, I’d feel unnatural. Not because I think of myself as “underground”, but because I simply think we aren’t shallow, and mostly because we live in this “state” which has a very meaningless existence. Here, the eyes which would look toward something new and unconventional are strongly shut.

SD: Which is the worst agreement you had to comply with as a band? Petra: Well, this one isn’t really an agreement, it all sounded fine and dandy but you can never know who you’re dealing with. So, I could tell you a wonderful anecdote. We were playing in a city where the organiser was getting high all day, along with his whole “organisation”. When we asked for food, noone cared enough to get up and take us to the place where we would have our promised meals. So we found it ourselves. Then the power went out and it was way past the arranged time for the sound check. Nobody even lifted a finger. They just sat there, smoking that weed, telling us it would be arranged. A few hours later, the power came back on. At the sound check, the sound engineer cursed at us because our keyboards had two outputs and he didn’t know how to connect it. I don’t even have to mention the sound quality we had that night. All this really tore us to shreds, and if you ask me, we played quite badly and listlessly. This wasn’t enough, though, as after the gig, when we should have been paid, whoever we asked for the money, sent us to a different person. So, we’re standing backstage, next to us is the organiser and the sound engineers, smoking weed, this other band is playing, while we are talking to ourselves. The organiser was so stoned that he laughed in our faces when we asked for our money because he wasn’t even aware of what we were saying. The sound engineers, who should probably stand by the mixing desk when someone plays, aren’t there but five meters away getting high with the organiser. One of the organisation people finally found someone in charge of the money after two hours and found out that that someone was at home, sleeping all this time. He managed to get there and we finally got this disgusting money which I wanted to shove up their asses.

SD: From the moment you revealed to the world your work called “Larve”, your songs resonated with straightforwardness and sharpness, offering a fine synthesis of real social darkness and a revolt of the youth which you use to oppose the everyday disappearing in this darkness – in the song “Ptice” there is an interesting phrase saying “a time of pastime”…but the impressive, gloomy tone of the song itself points to something completely different. What are your songs’ respective lyrics about? Is there a song in your newer repertoire that you could say you are especially proud of? Petra: Well, the material is very diverse, each songs stands for itself and can also speak of multiple things at once. “A time of pastime” can be a time of horror, a time of fear, and again – and truly – a time of pastime and a time, when you have time to think about what you are about to do, what you love. I give the listeners free choice to understand these songs however they may feel them at a certain moment. I don’t want to say something literal, so that it may seem it means only one thing and that’s it. I don’t know how to write lyrics like that. We have a new song which I like, yes. It’s called “Suton”.

SD: Speaking of live performances, it’s become somewhat of a must-have for bands to have their own video-projections. How does Leifert create/choose the video material? Do you incorporate these video sequences into the context of your songs? Petra: Yes, we choose the material so the song appears exactly how I just answered you about lyrics and writing. So, to each their own. The first projections we had were made by Ivan Kapović/Firma Mašinerija, they’re great! The newer ones I did myself, I used some video material depicting another interpretation of the songs, in a way.  Gia: We don’t want to burden people with set things, let them see for themselves what a certain song reminds them of, a certain verse, our image, our thing. I don’t like it when someone tries to impose their thing upon me, just as those bands who are extremely bothered by politics are pathetic. Politics won against them, because they got frustrated by it. Idiots. And Leifert’s lyrics are based on some life events which give you certain feelings, and who feels similarly – feels it, who doesn’t – let them worry further about money, politics, bribery, corruption, injustice. What we create is vital and we don’t impose anything.

SD: Does Leifert tend to make their live act more of an artistic performance and less of a standard gig? There’s also a mysterious static “frontman” appearing with you onstage. Who is he? Petra: I don’t know, I don’t know what I do during the set and what we look like, that’s for the audience to figure out. I just act while I’m onstage.  Gia: Yeah, Douglas was the band’s “mascot”, a head of a male puppet, who had no body, but a golden cloth. He was with us until the summer of 2012.

SD: Speaking of live acts, in your opinion, are art galleries more attractive – or different – than standard concert venues, and to what extent?  Petra: They aren’t more attractive, because all that seems to me like hopping on the “art” bandwagon where art doesn’t exist. Everything is something, nothing, easy, it’s coming, it’s not, cut the crap already. As far as I know, everyone is circling around and around, repeating the same things over and over again. I prefer concert venues because the organisation there follows a logical pattern. Whereas those alternative places for performing don’t seem to know anything, when it comes to organising a gig. This makes me angry. Everyone is confused.

SD: When you play live, does it make you happy? Does it disappoint you and how much? Petra: I cannot speak about the audience because I don’t even see them when I play. I’m not being arrogant, I just think that a band shouldn’t concern themselves too much about the audience – simply because since the very beginning the audience didn’t show much or give much to them. Every band, including the ones who achieved global fame, was at one point spat upon. So I don’t really take it personally, or professionally, although human primitivism can strike a hard blow every now and then. I think you’re strongest when people recognize and smell that you give yourself completely to whatever you are doing, that you are living it. I was never disappointed, as with each gig I play, I demand more from myself, so with each performance, I challenge myself a little more.

SD: We are expecting your debut album with bated breath, and with good reason. How long did it take to create the material, and was it because of your own perfectionism, or because the Larve/Leifert work had been falling on deaf ears until now? Petra: Larve’s work wasn’t really work, but a youthful introduction to making music. Leifert is like a beginning of work, and since we had our hands full after we changed the whole context of the band, releasing our stuff wasn’t among our priorities, simply because we didn’t feel we had enough material. So we preferred to keep working one more year, rather than releasing some meagre EP.  This didn’t make any sense to us, and we didn’t see pleasure in it anyway. We weren’t mature enough for something like that, either. The album was made from the end of 2011 to the end of summer 2012. The reason it took so long is the perfectionism my husband Bojan has during producing. He really brought so much shine, such a seal of quality to the album. I’m really, really pleased with what we made.

SD: If it’s not a secret, may we know the name of your forthcoming album? Petra: “Leifert”.

Interview conducted: 0.5
Proofreading/translation: Goran Gregor
Leifert are due releasing a debut album.
For more information visit soundcloud.com/leifert or myspace.com/larverijeka
Leifert portrait directed by Firma Mašinerija

So far, all I know is, it’s a young collective of graphic designers, photographers, clothes designers and videomakers… Zagrob, who had been invited to perform in Ljubljana on October 13, asked a group of friends (myself included) to participate in his live concert. We had mere a few rehearsals before going there and the impression of a group of young enthusiasts behind KRST we met, was immediately striking.

To start with, I will continue raving about the very poster for the event – for quite sometime, I haven’t seen such an original poster, which barely reflected any kind of information, yet the striking visual code of KRST’s sheer and effective minimalism immediately caught everyone’s eye by its parsimonius, stylishly morbid graphic. Silkscreen printed, white on black, it somehow reflects the fascinating new “grey area” everyone from KRST operates in, and in their own way… Matjaž, Maja, Anže, Janja and Nina will tell us a little more about it.

SD: What was KRST before KRST – and what is it now? How many of you are involved, what are your interests – and aims? †: KRST is a group of five individuals, friends, schoolmates, ex-couples, etc. with similar outlooks and one strong common aim: we need to be creative and put our thoughts, visions and ideas into form – it can exist as a sketch, a drawing, a photo, video-material or a fashion collection. Each of us has interests and experiences in different fields of art and together we complement each other’s ideas. At the moment, we are very busy with other commitments so we barely had any time to talk about our future projects. Hopefully we will rejoin with fresh ideas and new visions about our collective future soon.

SD: For years, many still have faith in Laibach, who are by now considered the national treasure… But in reality, what is the situation today – regarding the underground scene in Ljubljana? †: Today, Laibach as it used to be, is in the past. They have become their own parody. With their disco pop reunion they lost the totalitaristic mien of the earlier period and distanced themselves from the other NSK collectives. Laibach the band is now no longer an alternative response but a sensational happening for the masses. Despite the critical opinion, we think that Laibach (at least before) was the monolith of Slovenian and Yugoslavian underground scene and for many creatives a strong example, a phenomenon which they would come across sooner or later. We are certain that every country has cult bands in larger cities – a tradition which is then passed to younger generations. For example, if you are from Vancouver, you are very likely to come across Skinny Puppy, even if you’re not into “goth”. And in the same way it is hard to pass by Laibach and Borghesia in Slovenia. Borghesia (well, 2 out of the original 5 members) is actually planning to issue a new album soon. We are excited and at the same time somewhat doubtful about all these reunions. Underground scene here is, since the 80’s, created in the DIY spirit, main platforms for artistic freedom being AKC Metelkova, Tovarna Rog and Radio tudent. We think that Ljubljana offers a good underground scene, at least in music, new projects and ideas happen all the time, Ludovik Material and It’s everyone else, for example, are two new slovenian projects we noticed lately.

SD: Are you connected with people from other Slovenian cities? †: We are all from different cities, no one in our group is from Ljubljana. But Ljubljana is the city where we all live, it’s our base. Group KRST is still very young and Krst was the first event we did together. For that one, we haven’t connected with people out of our group yet, at least not on a creative level, but we are open to collaboration with others and would be very happy to do events out of Ljubljana as well.

SD: In an era of tiresome and degradingly aggressive mass-consumerism, how do institutions, cultural or otherwise, react to initiatives like yours? Do they react at all? †: Not one institution has reacted to our event, because we didn’t inform them and we wanted to keep distant from any organisation and institution. We tried to organise our event independently, because we did not want to get designated by a certain institution or political view. We were thinking about the consequences of having a concert or a performance in a museum and because the contextual dependency there would be is very strong, so we gave up on the idea. We think cultural organisations would provide us the space if we wanted and we don’t think they would react to an event like this. It would probably depend on the promotion of the event, which we didn’t do much about and of course the severity of statements against – or not in favour of – the institutional political views.

SD: Recently you have organised your very first multimedia event at the abandoned factory confines of “Tovarna ROG”, where Zagrob and 300.000 V.K. performed live. Was it difficult putting it all together and what are your impressions of this very first event by KRST? †: Frankly, yes. This was our first event and we had very little knowledge about organisation. We wanted to take care of everything and so we did. We fell in love with a place in a complex of Tovarna Rog. It’s a small house without electricity, that’s why we needed to get an aggregate powerful enough for lights, bands and videos. We took care of the sound system, projectors, security guy, drinks, food… That was the most stressful part of event: organisation and our planning with time. Series of incidents happened a few hours before the event. We had problems with the aggregate and therefore with electricity which affected bands’ practice, videos, visual preparations, etc. At the end, the result was not completely what we had in mind. A lot of our video material was not shown, due to our own fault, so parts of the whole story were not even shown. But all in all, our first jump in the water had a successful ending! The concerts succeeded and the atmosphere came to notice with set design. Our videos melted together with the singer of 300.000 V.K. in an unexpected, positive way.

SD: You particularly seem to be interested in video… The one you made in support of 300.000 V.K.’s part of the performance, seems to be having something to do with death and/or ghostly experience, with elements of fashion. What is the idea behind that video? †: Actually, this is an internal experience of a particular female character who goes through a cathartic process. It all started with a discussion on contemporary rituals, how they are perceived today and how all of them feature certain transformations. We projected our own hidden fears into a fictional character, which was presented in a symbolic way – for example, rocks embody the significant other, etc. Of course we wanted not to force anything and leave the viewers to interpret the video in their own way and through their own experience.

SD: In what way morbidity fascinates you? †: All of us had visual encounters, whether it was contemporary art, music, literature… somehow a lot of these things had elements of gloom, which we found aesthetically pleasing for as long as we can remember. Perhaps this was a common ground for our collective, a visual story from which we started out and will probably follow our work, at least for a certain period in our lives.

SD: These days, how difficult is it to find a suitable place for people to meet, see and hear something different? †: We focused on finding the right place for our event and it was by no means an easy task, given that we wanted something that deviates from venues where parties or concerts usually occur. We were looking for a place that is intimate and consistent with our concept, in which it is possible to create the desired atmosphere and is large enough for the number of people we assumed would visit. This first venue combined all of the above, if you do not take into consideration certain drawbacks, such as the unexpected power cut, which demanded a great deal of effort, time and financial resources.

SD: Abandoned warehouses and factories – like the devastated complex of “Tovarna ROG” – seem to be an everlasting template for expressing something considered “obscure”, “industrial”, “alternative”… do you find that ruined factory spaces sometimes also happen to trivialise art? By default, making it sound like it’s always expected to be ultimately marginal – instead of something that should be more, and deservedly, central? †: It could be, we agree in a way, because when putting an “alternative” happening into an even more “alternative” space, it can easily banalise the whole idea of the project, especially in Ljubljana, where these places were started up and are driven by the alternative community. But it is again very difficult to avoid it, because there are really no better options here. These places have become graveyards for some art and birthplaces for another. Doing first events in such places offers a quality springboard for new, upcoming artists in all fields, but after a certain period of building good foundations there, it is very normal if not obligatory, to move on and find other platforms which can complete you as a whole. So, at least for us, we never considered to dwell in the same ground but tend to move on and try to explore what else is out there.

 

Interview conducted: 1/2
Further information: krstkolektiv.blogspot.com

Darija Fotak’s work combines simple shapes and characters, while on the other hand provides motifs from the surreal world. While these days, such approach might not be anything new under the sun – and many do show similar approach in providing collage art, mixing childish illustration, colourful shapes and photo cut-outs, all of which are now generally accepted under the term of “hipsterism”, Darija’s work displays a unique, personal view. In terms of collage and illustration, the characters are sharp, giving the impression of “explosion”, with tiny details captured in their cut-up freeze-frame momentum. In terms of surreal landscape, it might be of matters emotional – longing for free expression within art-context.  According to some of her own saying, words like endurance, perseverance and persistence mean nothing particular.

Improvisation is affected by superficiality, neglecting the knowledge and remembrance – all of which serves a purpose in the wake of glorifying the moment. In questioning the bandwidth of limits, as well as the activity of what she calls “asymmetric pairs”, the distortion of meaning and value, the right meaning of what is “the object” and “the subject” – Darija shows no intention of creating a new, imagined or utopian reality, nor she establishes views of existence: she tries delivering a relationship between the idea, the action and the emotion, where various operating models intertwine, all within reality that already reflects through a system of signs and symbols, that serve a purpose of this rather personal questioning.

Influenced by the film work of Kaneto Shindo, Toni Scott and Michelangelo Antonioni, Darija explores various motifs: mysticism, chill, eroticism, voyage and adventure – all this in order to express themes of disappearing, hidden desires, fear of change… She also mentions sado-masochism – pointing out this being one of the most intriguing, and popular subjects in the context of human pleasure: De Sade, Boccaccio, The Kama Sutra, David Lynch and Dita Von Teese all appear in this cocktail of expressing graphic desire.

SD: Someone once said that art has no alternative – in your opinion, how spent are the classical and alternative worlds? Is there an unexplored space between them, where something new can be said, without sounding like something already thought of or seen? DF: I’ll start from the fact that it’s very hard for today’s artists to be original and innovative, but I still believe there are, at least partially, unexplored forms of expression, in the sense of combining the artistic with some other form of human activity, i.e. science, new technology/communication forms, or so-called socially engaged arts. By that, I mean „relational art“, which has been present under this name since the 90s, and is “a set of artistic practices” which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space. Only in this regard we can observe the key problem – what sorts of relations does contemporary art produce, for whom, and what for?

SD: In your opinion, how much can something called “conceptual art” stay free of media-related pomp, to which some art critics and theorists often give a larger-than-life value? DF: I would dare say that what is called “conceptual art” is simply a form of trend, but on the other hand, in these past few years, we are aware of the revival of drawings and paintings which are given their well-deserved credit exactly because of the overabundance of “conceptual art”. Yes, the media today does have a great part in giving importance to an art piece or to an individual artist. It’s interesting to note how shifted the relations are under the art system, where an artist would create, a custodian or a critic would choose, expose, speak of, and the viewer would observe and contemplate. There is an erasing of borders regarding these roles, between two of these three functions – namely, the artist and the custodian. The new media replaced the custodians almost completely, and critics as well – their role (previously carried out by writing about current cultural events) in “representing” an individual artist and his/her work decreased significantly.

SD: Your work is an interesting blend of comics, collage and surrealism. You find your inspiration in movie, literature and media icons. What’s the situation with your role models from the art world? Is there an ultimate leitmotif when it comes to combining these three, seemingly incompatible worlds? DF: I like how you characterised my creative work. Yes, it is somewhat based on comics and surrealism, and I do find my inspiration within the icons of cinema and literature, even though they are merely intermediaries. What stirs my calling is the essence of the story itself, the plot, the narration, sometimes only a part of it, or the direction in which it might develop. As far as my role models from the art world go, I would begin with mentioning painters and illustrators in the field of child art, which surrounds and astounds me, namely Horace Pippin, David Hockney, Andrzej Klimowski, Hannah Hoch, Kiki Smith, Zlatko Keser… there’s more, but I can’t remember them at the moment. I’m not sure that I can point out, as you say, the ultimate leitmotif for all three worlds, but there certainly is one, I’ll leave it to the observer to discover it.

SD: You teach Art at an elementary school. Within the confines of a teacher’s work, are the new generations interested in art? How big is your freedom as a teacher when it comes to making ideas closer to the young ones? DF: I teach and I love my job. Art, as a subject in elementary school, has changed a lot in the last two decades, in order to develop along the increasing growth of new technology, and with emphasis to the importance of understanding visual communication. Of course, there is a set curriculum and guidelines which the teacher should respect – I’ll be honest and admit that the freedom of the teacher is mostly defined by the principal of the school, and I’m happy to say I have a lot. The most important thing is to try and find a way to keep the children interested and introduce them to the world of art, creative work, and culture in general, and in turn, release the best in them. This isn’t an easy job, it takes a lot of responsibility and effort, but it is completely worth it at the end, as there is no greater pleasure than to see how a child progresses, their elation after they complete a task and get deserved praise. The new generation is pretty interested, but still, the teacher/the pedagogue has the leading role here – it’s up to him/her to make this subject even more magical and erase all its boundaries.

SD: To what extent does your work reflect sensitivity, and how much is it based on provocation? DF: When reading various reviews of artworks, I often come across a certain role of today’s artist as an agent provocateur. This dose of provocation is as old as art itself, they go hand in hand. I think it’s omnipresent today, although sometimes latent. I don’t know whether it’s because of the times we live in and the complete decadence taking hold, or because of the contemporary fashion of irony towards everything. You noticed well, in my work there is sensibility along with provocation, but not because I might want to twist their values, but because I like to explore where these two elements can meet or part, when we, through interpersonal relationships, stray from established and conventional norms in order to prove that there is always an alternative to everything.

SD: What is your greatest frustration regarding artistic activity? DF: I am a person who doesn’t like a single aspect of laws, boundaries and norms. And in order to make your way through the art world, one has to submit to certain established ways. Even though all this is a challenge, at the same time, for me it’s a sort of barrier – because, at the end of the day, what is the artist of today? What is their role? Are they really needed in modern society? I am frustrated by my own self-criticism; I am incredibly harsh to myself, so I am never completely pleased with whatever art I make. Discrepancy as well, I start a lot of stuff which never gets finished.

SD: You’ve mentioned the topic of sadomasochism among your interests – when you explore it, does it create curiosity or aversion within you, and why? DF: Sadomasochism – curiosity or aversion? Both. It’s an attractive subject which has always been interesting throughout history. It’s in human nature. As long as a form of sadism or masochism is being used within the boundaries of private space, or in literary or cinematic art, it can be beautiful, but when it turns into a subject or topic of public “forcing”, i.e. in the domain of performance art, then it often crosses the line of beauty and becomes a thing of what I would call aversion.

SD: It appears that many seek inspiration in some darker side of life… Does the negative and the dark offer a more concrete insight into something positive, or is this popular “darkness” often a thing of pretence? Why does it turn out that lighter subjects are often associated with pathos or kitsch? DF: This, what you call a darker side of life or the subconscious is always an infinite and unexplored area, interesting enough to dig through. Just look at today’s tabloids, so-called temples where the people feed. It’s as if everybody craves sensational topics, they read about the dark side and celebrity scandals, in order to comfort themselves and say “Serves them right, see, they’re not much of a role model, are they?” It’s so sad. I don’t know, this dark side is always interesting, I suppose it’s because we always wear masks, hiding or repressing this side of ourselves. The positive and the negative can hardly exist without each other. I don’t know if the “dark” style is a thing of pretence or not, but I could agree that some use it as one. I don’t agree with the statement that lighter subjects are necessarily related to or identify with sentimentality, pathos and kitsch. It’s just that the latter get related with sensationalism quite easily.

SD: Where do you think is the line between pretentiousness and honesty in artistic expression? DF: Tough question. It’s individual, although I think that for good art one needs a bit of both. Not necessarily, but an artwork should be honest. Andrej Tarkovski once said “Whenever an artist somehow dissolves himself in a work of art, and after it disappears without a trace, then this is incredible poetry.” One must have courage, and act honestly in artistic expression, and this is where we reach this flowing through into pretentiousness, and I think that, sadly, today there are very few pieces which radiate honesty and a sort of purity, if you know what I mean. It’s the other ones which there are too much of! When an art piece is good, this honesty immediately rushes forth from it, it touches us.

SD: We keep sinking deeper in the age where mass-consumerism has almost completely erased the social perception of the artistic and the commercial. Can an individual artist offer an idea of social change in this day and age? DF: I agree. I think the artist still has the role of an initiator of social changes, but in a slightly different form, I’d say a little more passive, he/she is there to point out, inspire, awake critical thinking in the observer, instead of acting in revolt.

SD: When someone says their work speaks for itself, to what extent is it an empty phrase of excuse, and how much an encouragement for the observer to think? DF: It depends on what type of artwork it is. Sometimes, artworks are able to exist and speak for themselves – let us not forget the famous saying “a picture says a thousand words”. This call of the author is at the same time a provocation directed towards the observer not to be passive, but to become an active participant in discovering different sets of visual cognition. In the end, it is important that an artwork acts retroactively and carries an idea, otherwise it has no meaning.

Interview conducted: 0.5
Proofreading/translation: Goran Gregor

“The future, it is always now”, said Zastranienie in their recent video-interview for Nataša Šarkić, one of the authors of “(On the Quest For) Beograd Underground” documentary. The multimedia provocateurs in disguise pointed out this need to establish a desired balance between the past and the future, in the heat of the moment. The Viennese Michael Giebl and his friends from the Crazy Hospital DJ team provided a number of underground events, under the name of “Future Echo”, at this amazing Praterstern’s clubbing spot, called Fluc.

There performed an impressive list of electronic/experimental acts, forming the ideal platform for the new emerging underground electronic scene – based on nostalgia and its post-modernes. The beauty of solidarity felt within “Future Echo” remains forever breathtaking. Sadly, with it’s 18th edition of live performances, “Future Echo” is set to enter its tiny, deserved and respectful legend. Michael, along with a group of his friends is about to set up this new platform where all matters obscure and individually compelling will congregate and reflect in an entirely new form. A logical step forward, into the future.

For archives, video-footage and other treasures, please check facebook.com/future.echo