Without Aleksandar Gilic, Montenegro’s nightlife would be very different. As we described in two recent features on Montenegrin venues and DJs, Gilic pioneered the country’s dance music scene as DJ Gilerz and a brain behind one of the capital’s best clubs, District. This weekend we’re taking over the space with George FitzGerald, the Zenker Brothers and more for a two-day Electronic Beats Festival in Podgorica, so it seemed like a good time to reflect on our past endeavors in the Balkans. We set Gilerz up with a new talent, Fil Lavin, both of whom have played the Montenegrin Electronic Beats Festival in the past and will DJ tonight and tomorrow. Click here for more information and tickets to the festival.
FIL LAVIN: Hi Gilerz. I spent the last 12 hours at a festival in Tivat, a city in the south of Montenegro. We gathered some of most interesting DJs in the area, like Soft 85, Chevalier, Ilija Rudman and Raven TK and had a crazy party. What are you up to?
GILERZ: I’m preparing for the new season at District nightclub in Podgorica. At the beginning of the year we moved into a smaller space with capacity of 200 people, and I think we finally found the perfect place for those who truly want to enjoy good music. We have a successful year behind us, and now we’re preparing the lineup for the next clubbing season.
FL: I always prefer to play in a small clubs, because you have better communication with the audience. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to District yet because I moved to Belgrade [Serbia] a few years ago. But DJ Mili Sefic told me that he spent one of the best nights of his life at District.
G: That’s true—he had fantastic feedback from the audience and we’re going to host him this year, too. He’s from Chicago, but our main goal is to promote DJs from Montenegro and the surrounding region. I believe that Montenegro now has a new generation of very talented DJs and producers, and we want to give them a chance to show their knowledge to those who appreciate good music. I still can’t talk about the specifics of the lineup, but I can proudly can say that the Electronic Beats Festival is going to open our next clubbing season.
FL: Oh, that’s a good motivation to visit District. I’m so glad the organizers selected the cafe/bookstore Karver as one of the festival venues. That place is surrounded by the [Ribnica] river, and it’s just magic. I’m expecting a great lightshow and sound effects like in years past.
G: You performed at the first EB festival in Podgorica. Do you remember that night?
FL: Yeah. It was a a little weird because the festival was held in the Montenegrin National Theatre and everyone was sitting while I played dance music.
G: Well, now we have a place made for dancing and there’s an impressive lineup.
FL: That’s true, but you know, sometimes it’s hard to get Montenegrins to move their body. People from abroad used to ask me why people in Podgorica don’t like to dance. I started to think about our traditions and national dances, where people used to jump and climb on each others’ heads. So, maybe if we call [the Electronic Beats Festival parties] a “wedding,” everybody will to dance.
G: Hah! Well, I’m sure that things have changed. Titograd, which is the former name for Podgorica, used to be a rock ‘n’ roll and disco city. At some point our music scene was contaminated by so-called “turbo folk,” and I think that the media outlets are responsible for spreading such bad taste. Anyway, there’s still a lot of people who recognize good sound, and they dance. We’ll see it at the festival. What are you planning to play on Friday?
FL: For the opening night I’ve prepared two sets and I’ll probably present some new things I’m working on.
G: I heard that you’re working on a new project. I still remember when you started out; you expanded on a minimal template and brought fresh elements of nu-disco and organic sounds. Are your productions different now?
FL: Actually, I’m working on two projects. I would say that the music I’m working on right now is different compared to my previous work and the deep house and disco sounds I used to produce. There are techno elements in one of the projects I’m working on by myself. I’m working on a second project together with Belgrade DJ and producer Dusan Lolic, and I think that we’re going to present it soon. We’re experimenting with different genres by using live instruments. It’s ambient music with dub, deep and techno elements.
G: Do you consider music production a hobby or your primary job?
FL: Actually, I’ve never considered my musical career as a main job. I don’t live off my music, and maybe that’s why making it is still such a pleasure. It’s not easy to find a way to make good money and stay true to your style at the same time, and I don’t think that problem is unique to the Balkans.
G: I never took on producing because I realized that I can’t be fully dedicated to that job. I’ve never felt ready to start that adventure. That’s why I prefer to be a digger and to make a good party atmosphere on the dance floor.
For tickets and more information about the EB Festival in Podgorica, click here.
We interrupt our regular festival season to bring you this important newsflash—Electronic Beats Festival is coming out of the concert halls and into the clubs and special locations all across town!
Beginning in September, we’re bringing the new Electronic Beats City Festival to four different cities—Podgorica, Bucharest, Budapest and Zagreb—each offering 48 hours of a multi-venue, multi-genre experiences comprised of artists and DJs from around the world. Dates are listed below, and ticket information, locations and lineups will be announced shortly; stay tuned!
04-05 September: Podgorica, Montenegro
02-03 October: Bucharest, Romania
16-17 October: Budapest, Hungary
06-07 November: Zagreb, Croatia
For a look back at our Spring festivals, cruise on over here.
Electronic Beats’ festival season got off to a flier last night in Podgorica with storming sets from Kate Boy, Jessie Ware and Moderat.
As sun set on an overcast Friday night in Podgorica, an undeterred local crowd was bolstered by those who had travelled from far and wide for some quality entertainment in Montenegro’s capital. With the live sets promising a soulful melancholy as much as more physical beatwork, the captivated audience filled the Stadion Malih Sportova with a party spirit that was unmistakeably sophisticated.
Photo by Darko Jovanovic
First up after local warm-up act Deep Thoughts, Stockholm trio Kate Boy showed why their debut EP Northern Lights has been pricking attentive ears since its 2013 release. They showcased tracks from their forthcoming album, which addresses issues both political and personal that have motivated them during their extensive time on the road. What comes across most, however, is that these three know how to work a crowd. The group set the mood with synth-pop hooks and dark, atmospheric bass lines, winning over the growing audience impressively so early on in the evening.
Photo by Jannik Schaefer.
Jessie Ware’s Devotion was one of 2012’s most loved releases, meshing heart-on-sleeve vocals with wily guest productions from some of the UK’s most burgeoning electronic talent. Tonight, there is a maturity to Ware’s performance which confirms her place as a pop star with real longevity, and not simply a promising newcomer. It’s her first time in the country, having only previously seen it on Casino Royale, but she immediately connects with the Montenegrin audience, who are finishing her lines for her from the word go. Remarkably, unheard material from the singer’s forthcoming album Tough Love receives a response as rapturous as her hits.
Our love for Moderat is hardly a secret, and once again their unstoppable live show provided some proper fireworks at the night’s climax. As we entered the wee hours of the morning the local revellers rain-danced with the band through monsoon conditions, who packed punches with yearning vocal and pummelling bass frequencies.
Sascha Ring (Apparat), Gernot Bronsert, and Sebastien Szary (Modeselektor) have played on many an appreciative stage worldwide, and they took a moment backstage to tell us what continues to make the electronic supergroup continue to hum:
How has the show changed during your time on the road?
GB: Well it took us twenty shows to find a way to play the music live in connection with the visuals, which was something we also had to take care with. After finishing recording the record it takes a lot of time and energy to prepare a live show. We have no ‘master plan’ it’s just trial and error, so that’s why we always play our first shows far from home! For this record it was in the US.
How does it feel when you return to working as Modeselektor, has your approach changed?
GB: It’s not easy I guess. We started Moderat because we got tired of the evolution of electronic music, and Modeselektor stands for something which is within that universe. For now, we are not going back to Modeselektor. We are back in the studio trying to make some new Moderat music but also preparing a new live show for next summer with a guy called Siriusmo, and it’s just for fun. I don’t want to put myself under pressure with Modeselektor so it’s all about fun and having a good time. We have no visions about new Modeselektor music so that’s why we’re in the studio with Moderat right now.
That’s where the visions are?
Save the date, readers: On September 12, Electronic Beats Festival returns to Podgorica! After last year’s blowout, we’re pumped to return to the Montenegrin capital for another night of A/V pleasure. Check out what we have in store for you this time:
Ever since Kate Akhurst met Hampus Nordgren Hemlin, Markus Dextegen and Oskar Sikow Engström during her travels to Sweden in 2011, the native Australian knew there was a special synthesis in the making. Three years later, Kate Boy have been picking up plenty of attention with their synthpoppy debut EP Northern Lights, and all signs point to the Stockholm-based trio rising even further thanks to their impressive live shows, ultra-cool, imminently catchy electronics and much-anticipated full-length.
“I don’t really like the silences between songs… that makes me feel really uncomfortable.” Fortunately for Jessie Ware, that silence is usually filled with wild applause. After the success of her debut LP Devotion—an album of luscious, futuristic R&B and soul that Hercules & Love Affair’s Andy Butler called, “smart music from an outsider perspective” in his EB Mag review last year—Ware has been excitedly prepping for her second LP, due out later this year. If lead single “Tough Love” is any indication, it’s going to be intense.
Headlining the night will be our old pals Moderat. Each time we’ve booked the Berlin-based collaborative collective of Sebastian Szary and Gernot Bronsert (Modeselektor) and Sascha Ring (Apparat) for our events, the audience reaction has been off the charts—and for good reason. Their Prague performance earlier this year tore down the house—we can’t wait to hear what they’ll do this time around.
It’s all going down at Stadion Malih Sportova from 7 p.m, so RSVP now! Sharing photos? Discussing afterparties that you should definitely invite a dedicated EB Team to? Sort it out online: hashtag #ElectronicBeats on Twitter and Facebook.
Update: Head over here to read our recap of the fun.