In which language do you like to sing the most?
I like, as I would say, "steep" (sharp) tongues both when I speak and when I sing; languages that have pronounced vocal contrasts, i.e. sharpness and softness at the same time. It is difficult for me to single out one that I like to sing the most, not even five, but it is certain that Turkish languages, Slavic languages, Portuguese, Icelandic and Japanese are among my favorites. Also, I think that poetry in these languages sounds powerful.
You live between Belgrade and Stockholm. You also lived in Istanbul.
How do you handle cultural differences?
I have lived in various countries in the last few years, somewhere I stayed shortly, somewhere much longer, but the impression I get at the very beginning usually remains until the end of my stay there, even after leaving or when returning. I assess the environment intuitively. Each place already has a special charm itself, but without entering into the social flows of any climate, you are still not aware of where you are, as if the backgrounds or atmospheres are changing behind you, while only your reality roars inside of you. Well, I was fine with that too. However, I must say that long before I started travelling, I had the impression that I had already been to certain places. And really, there I behave like a natural resident. By nature, I like diversity, and I don't find many customs of various people strange or bizarre, what amazes me more is human narrow-mindedness or hypocrisy, and that can be found anywhere....
You said that the way of singing of a people or a climate mainly stems from the geographical, climatic and cultural conditions in which it developed. Can you give us an example for that?
Yes, sometimes I get caught up in those thoughts. Namely, if you were to pay attention to the various world traditional music trends, you would notice that rugged coastal areas are usually full of bouncy songs, high mountain or long valley areas often sing long, almost calling tones (e.g. urtiin duu in Mongolia). Then, regions full of geological contrasts or unusual natural phenomena carry a somewhat mystical, or sometimes hymnic sound. And yet North Africa, the Middle East and India, which are full of polyrhythms and breakneck melismas, with their calligraphy, food, and philosophy that are also extremely rich, while those countries themselves are poorly conditioned for life, are examples of a spiritually ennobled expanse. Further, along with conquests, migrations, various political and economic turmoils, even international friendships or trade, cultures also mixed, and this can also be heard in music. You can especially hear these mixes in the music of the Balkan region.
Are the love songs of different nations essentially the same or do you think that love is formed depending on the culture?
The same. Love is the same and indivisible by areas, and it manifests itself in the heart of the people who carry it. The verses may have an unusual sequence to the ear from culture to culture, from poet to poet, but the meaning is essentially the same.
If fado (music) was food, what would it be?
It would rather be black wine. I think I'm not the only one with that impression...
You look oriental. Would you rather be a geisha or a samurai?
How do you view your expression?
A samurai in geisha attire. I'm joking. It's because of the eyes and posture, I guess. However, I am not servile (enough) to be neither a geisha nor a samurai, but I certainly care way too much about honour and loyalty (samurai) and art and aesthetics (geisha). Still, I think that I am too passionate to discipline myself in any contemporary and known, implied or assumed form, whatsoever. By implication, I say referring to a whole sequence of behaviour, image, attitude and everything that any of the socio-historically defined professions gives to a person. Namely, any type of modeled image, taken from the conveyor belt, as I say, and any action suitable to the norms and concepts of a certain social group (especially visible in the aristocratic or, on the contrary, subcultural milieu), to me is a reflection of facelessness, disintegrity and conformism, and I would not "mutilate"/"improve" myself by striving for an image of a fabricated artist (especially popular today), because that deprives me of my individuality and freedom of expression under any conditions.
In which city would you recommend us to get lost?
In Avignon. I love cities that are heavy in their antiquity, a bit ghostly, full of old buildings. I have the impression that someone is narrating an entire life to me as I wander the streets of such cities. At least that's how I remember it. There is, of course, Istanbul, but I don't recommend getting lost there, it's too risky.
Does art have the power to change the world?
It does. Art offers an atmosphere equal to drunkenness or emotional tumult, and thus changes the perception towards the existing, raw state of the world, and then it becomes, leastwise, a tolerable place. At least, I like to believe in that romantic thought of mine.
Is beauty universal or is it in the eye (ear) of the beholder?
I would say the latter. The same goes for perfection. The Turks have an expression that supports this view — namely, when you say to someone, "Oh, how beautiful you are!", the usual response is (literally translated) "That's your beauty!" (0 senin güzelliğin!), which should not be misinterpreted as: "You too!", but as: "That's how you see it!"
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently recording my own music and taking a break from many performances this year. My wish is to finally frame my years long spiritual states in one serious musical story. And I feel that the near future is the right time.
And finally, the question we ask all interviewees — could you recommend to the readers of "KUŠ!" what they should watch, listen to, read (book, film, artist, musician...)?
I recommend the old school in all fields of art (if only for the sake of reminding), because it is suffocating under the gorgon called pop culture.... I myself am currently listening to oriental instrumental music again, so here is a suggestion for your readers as well — Yurdal Tokcan, a brilliant oud player.
P.S. How many languages do you speak?
As things currently stand, I can communicate in eight languages, not counting the mother tongue and the languages of the neighbours. I learn quickly and remember for a long time, at least when it comes to languages, words and songs.
Interviewed for KUŠ! by: Jovana Nikolić