KUŠ! Magazine, 2016


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 Turkic 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                                                                                                                                        DEC 2016

M:agazin, 2021

Which language sounds the most beautiful through poetry?

Any language, in fact, sounds beautiful if the poetry is clear and deep, when it flows. Like water. Some waters are more rough than others, and that's where I rather find myself, so I will say that for me all those sonically dramatic languages, like Portuguese, Turkish, Polish, Serbian-Croatian, Japanese, Icelandic, Farsi, Gaelic, French and a few more, sound convincing. Over the years, I find it increasingly difficult to answer such questions, because there are many scripts that grew attached to my heart. If I have to choose, may it be – Farsi language (Iran).

You communicate in eight languages. What language that you already sing in would you like to master next?

Every knowledge requires updates, and when you keep a lot of things in your head, it is most likely that some knowledge will fade if it is not used regularly. So I mainly deal with making sure that these few languages that I already speak don't vanish from my memory. Nevertheless, in addition to Romance, Germanic, Slavic and Turkish languages, I would like to start a new language tree. It is about time to learn that Japanese once for all.


Is there something that all nations have in common when it comes to music?

Pathos. Regardless of the topic that is covered in the song; be it personal or mass suffering, social injustice, pride or, ultimately, love. And that is what is sung about by every nation.

You have lived in many countries, which country is the most inspiring for art?

Which one would you like to stay in forever?

There is no such a thing like "the most inspiring country", there is only our inner state. Some places are capable of supporting certain states of the soul, so the soul can express itself there more easily. Not only artistically. I am carried by some dreamful vision of mine that I can be who I am everywhere (as long as I don't offend certain customs of the hosts!), so I don't bother much with the landscapes around me, I am inspired by - completely irrelevant to this world - details. However, I feel good next to the water. Or in the east. Of any country. I would stay forever somewhere by the water - possibly on an island.

How does the local audience work for you? Is it open for your creativity?

The local crowd is decent. At least it was at my last concert. Earlier, I used to experience even discomfort. There are always and everywhere narrow-minded people, people who don't find it appropriate to listen to me singing the songs of some other people that they loathe. Fortunately, I don't look back at it much. There are always at least a dozen pairs of ears in the audience who really travel with me. There is a wonderful world out there, regardless of the ability to understand everything I sing or talk about. I love when I see children and old people in the audience. Moreover, I like to know that there are also connoisseurs. Both musicologists and historians.

Of all the performances so far, which is your favorite and why?

There were wonderful experiences, wonderful collaborations. Although, for the most part, I performed the most important concerts all by myself. However, I fondly remember a concert at which I was a guest, together with the great Luís Guerreiro, some eleven years ago at the "Sava" Centre in Belgrade. And I remember that event, because that was the first time I officially received confirmation of the quality of my interpretation of fado music, precisely from him. Later, perhaps even more important events took place, but for this occasion I single out that one.

You are an authentic artist, especially in our climate. Did you have any role models and who were they?

I would say that I am just being myself, very simple in my actions - I listen to my heart, and then others hear it, too. Those of my kind are called authentic today. Once upon a time "artist" was enough. I do not favour anyone, but I learn from many sources. I mostly listen to the musicians who have passed away, but none of them is really dead, because they left living treasures behind.

How much has the pandemic affected you as an artist? Did it reduce your productivity or did you discover some new depths?

The pandemic, or whatever, pinned me in place, cut off my path, as many around me experienced, too.

It did not significantly harm me as an artist, but as a living and economic person it did. I live from my work, just like a shoemaker or a mechanical engineer.

Who would Asya be if she didn't play music?

A cook. I would be a chef in charitable institutions. I love cuisine. And the kitchen area. I would say that I am as colourful in that field as in music. As I love to eat, even though it doesn't show, it would be a great occupation.

What are your plans for the future? What is the next destination?

I make no plans long since, they usually get barren, but I stick to a few principles of mine by which I will continue to act in accordance with the given situation. I am always creating something, so when there are conditions - I will publish some work. I'm sure I will be travelling again, so I'll think about that when the cage opens. There are circled places on my map, but I would leave that to myself.

Interviewed for M:agazin by: Aleksandra Škrbić                                                                                                                        OCT 2021