Not enough is currently being written about the experimental and electronic scene in Serbia. To try and shed some light on the current state of affairs, we’ve been talking to Nebojsa Ciric from the Ubivae Records label based in Novi Sad…
On the 25th of January you have released your second V/A compilation on Ubivae Records. Could you start off by introducing the different names behind the label? Also, what are your individual backgrounds and how did you all come together?
Our second V/A compilation “U Dubinu” (Into the depth) has just been released and you can check it out and download for free off Bandcamp, along with our first V/A “Na Stranu” (Sideways).
One of the first people that got me into electronic music is the man with the best monicker of the crew – Lakmus Red. He is a multi- instrumentalist and a programmer. Also, he is a proud owner of a bunch of classic analogue pieces of equipment, including the MPC2000, Korg Poly800, Roland SH101 and many more, all of which he mastered within months. Lakmus Red is a one man powerhouse. His live performances move even the stiffest of audience members and he is in great deal responsible for moving forward the experimental electronic and psychedelic scene of Novi Sad.
Then we have IbogAbel, who has recently graduated from the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad as a sound designer. He is a DJ, a drummer, a piano player, but most importantly, he is extremely knowledgeable in music production and sound design. Just take a listen to his field recordings, which he releases under the name of Robert Bushman.
Next in line is suuba. I met suuba via Soundcloud somewhere around 2008. Immediately we agreed upon meeting each other at a local cafe. From then on, we have collaborated on numerous projects and live performances. Suuba is a knowledgeable producer. He focuses on the ritual, the weird and the unexplored side of music production.
Another name on the list, definitely in the heavyweight category, is a man that goes by the name of Mika Technika. Mika is something of a living legend here in Novi Sad. He has produced tons of music, mostly focusing on IDM, hardcore dnb, noise, techno, etc. He gave away free Youtube tutorials, participates in forums and is generally really knowledgeable, helpful and enthusiastic when it comes to music production. His live acts are reserved for those who can take it, but if you stay, Mika Technika is going to tear you to shreds.
Another excellent producer with great talent and skills goes by the name of TERRABEATS. He has been active on the Serbian alternative electronic scene for a long time now. Personally I got to know him around 2006 when I first witnessed his semi-undustrial, dark, groovy and powerful live-act in an underground club called Anarh. He also plays multiple instruments, but is focused mostly on electronic music production. He recently released an album for Trauma Records entitled Concept 3004.
We are not all from Novi Sad. Namely, Varda Sundown is the latest addition to our V/A series. He lives and creates music in Belgrade. If you take a listen to tracks via his Soundcloud page, you will notice the great attention to detail in each and every one of them. He produces psychedelic electronic, downtempo music, which drags you in as soon as you play the track.
I am mockwar, a bass player, bedroom producer and an overall music and sound lover. You can check out my experiments on Soundcloud.
How we all met is almost inexplicable. Various parties, social situations, the internet… All those factors were responsible for bringing us together. Before Ubivae existed, we all played out live performances on a regular basis and that is definitely something that pushed us toward conjoining our efforts for the purpose of promoting alternative electronic music.
Ubivae Records is based in Novi Sad, one of the most dynamic cities in Serbia. Could you describe the experimental and electronic scene in your city? Is there enough support in terms of audience, venues, and local press?
Lately, Novi Sad has been extremely active in terms of electronic music production and promotion. You can go to a party or attend a live event every weekend, and sometimes during the workdays too. I would like to mention Tunnel as a new, fresh venue for the alternative electronic music community.
There are a few organizations that strive to move things forward when it comes to promoting alternative electronic music. Public Pee for example is one of them. They have made connections and collaborations with international artists and regularly organize live events. I would also like to mention Lag, a Novi Sad based techno DJ and a promoter of the underground culture. He is an influential artist and a great supporter of our local scene. Another great crew features a series of techno events called “Late Night Consumption”.
Without these kinds people, there would be no parties at all. Another great crew is a band called Don’t Touch Anything (DTA). Their members are very influential when it comes to organization and promotion of alternative electronic music in Novi Sad. Thanks guys!
As far as the press and local coverage is concerned, it is all on the shoulders of enthusiasts. Local TV stations and radios do not pay much attention to the scene. The best thing about this is that we are building a stronger community of like-minded people who are mutually supportive, so with the power of internet we manage to organize ourselves and promote our live acts even without the local media support.
The tracks on U Dubinu are quite varied in their approach, moving from the funky tone of Lakmus Red’s opening track Greedy to the more experimental take of Mika Technika in S D S D. Is the scene as eclectic as it sounds?
The scene is actually even more eclectic because we are not the only members. :) So, parties and live events vary from funky breaks to hardcore dnb and noise. I cannot even pinpoint the number of genres that we go through during our live performances. Sometimes, there are several parties going on the same night. So yes, the scene is small but eclectic and it is just getting started to form more significantly.
Your Metaspaces album was released by the Hi Headz net label, which is based in Belgrade. Due to the proximity of Novi Sad to the Serbian capital, is there a mutually supportive network of artists and labels connecting the two places?
Of course. Usually the collaboration happens over the internet or at social gatherings. So if we host a DJ from Belgrade they will most likely return the favor. I would also like to give a shout out to Drugstore– one of the best clubs for alternative electronic music in Belgrade.
Again, I would just like to say that it is usually the individuals or smaller organizations that are responsible for organization of such events, but there are zero organizations needed to further automate the process. We get things done, but it is not a moneymaking industry.
Compared to other Eastern European countries, such as Poland, Hungary, or Slovakia, Serbia’s electronic and experimental scene is struggling, at least to my knowledge, to raise its profile outside its regional confines. Are the politics of EU membership to blame for this in some way? What could and should be done, in your opinion, to promote the work of Serbian artists abroad?
We never mix music and politics. A lot of our DJs and musicians have had appearances abroad, usually in Europe. We tend to connect to open-minded foreign artists and establish long-term connections. As long as our goal is promoting good quality alternative electronic music, we don’t really care about the borders, the EU, just as much as they do not really care about any of us.
Are events such as the Exit festival instrumental in shining a spotlight on Novi Sad and Serbia in general or are they mainly a one-way ticket for international acts to gain a new market?
Exit definitely attracts a lot of foreigners. Some of them stay longer and discover more of Serbia and usually end up falling in love with it. That’s a good thing in my opinion. It is hilarious for anyone to think that Serbia is a new market for the music industry. Prodigy played in Serbia in 1995. They have come back for the Exit festival couple of times, but I am sure that the band was aware of our existence even before all the big names started dropping.
What are your long-term plans for the label?
Currently, we are on a release-to-release basis. We have recorded a lot of live performances, some of which will be released over the course of the upcoming months. We want to get connected with as many creative individuals and are open to collaborations. Hopefully, one day Ubivae will be a home many talented artists.
What are you all currently working on? Any new releases in the pipeline?
We are all always working on new tracks, so new releases can be expected all throughout the year. I know for a fact that Lakmus Red almost has a trip-hop album wrapped up. Can’t wait for that! You can follow us on Facebook for further information on our upcoming releases. A new website is in the works too, so you might say that we are just getting started.
U Dubinu – V/A is out now on Ubivae Records…