Blesok no. 21, June-July, 2001
Interview with Darko Rundek
We "suck it & blew it" so naïve!
BLESOK: After all this years, this now should present yours matured creation period. Do you ask yourself some questions like – How far did I get? What have I done really? How to move further?
RUNDEK: I always do audit myself. With that, I free myself of the foolishness surplus in me accumulated by all kind of things I do in my life, and that makes more free to observe objectively what’s happening to me consequently in time, and also helps me to identify myself more accurate. Although, as years pass on, I somehow free myself of numerous unwritten rules I thought (at the time) they mean something to me. I’m not so strict with myself anymore. I’m even free to say that in time – I become much milder… Which doesn’t necessarily mean less critical… both to myself and to my work. I probably succeeded in the efforts to become more “friendly”… And after all this time, also, I can say that finally I became a real singer, now I can do (in a row) all the concerts without calculating or even temporary losing quality of my voice… Some things like this come only with time… You know, even lyric and music, both in my solo editions are reflection of my age: I don’t act younger or older than I am in fact now. I simply try to be frank and true… just like I’ve always been.
BLESOK: Almost a decade you are living and working in France. But, that doesn’t seem to stop you to be very present at the Croatian and Balkan music scene. Is that your vision of being the mature rock’n’roller?
RUNDEK: Well, it’s true that me and my family live in the suburban area of Paris. That is my temporarily refuge, and my time there is fulfilled with a lot of work and moments of tranquility, and it is a fortune that only your beloved wife and son, your dog and your tree in the yard can give you. I often travel to Croatia, which understands certain keeping up with the situation there. At that time I try to use my stay there as much rational as I could, recording some new materials, do some concerts, and that’s it. And – then I go back. I think I was quite present there recently. Quite enough, anyway. I did two albums: “Apokalipso” and “In the Wide World”… I did music for few theater plays and films, I did many concerts with my band in Croatia and everywhere where we were invited through the states of former Yugoslavia… All that seems to me quite “in place” for someone like me with a lot behind… Exactly because of that kind of constant changes, because of those experiences from both sides – “here” and “there”, I simply can’t say that my life isn’t interesting. In contrary. This way of life suits me wonderfully… both with my age and with my understanding of the music and art in general.
BLESOK: “Apokalipso” and “In the Wide World”, yours solo albums, not only continue the developing line of reaching for the folklore from many sides of the world – noticeable for the (today cult) achievements of your former band “Haustor”, but also bring something new, your own experience of dwelling on the both sides of the world: “here” and “there”, isn’t that right?.
RUNDEK: Quite understandable. But there is no calculation in it. They are the sounds all around me, wherever I am, the music that touches and inspires me. I work on two global projects all the time. In Croatia I have my band, and in France I have “local” musicians I work with also, on the project called “Apokalipso 2”. It is an acoustic band in which the saxophonist and the bassist are French, the violinist is from Switzerland, and responsible for the percussion instruments are two Bosnian folks. The things we do is far from rock’n’roll… there are so many sounds and colors… I like that there are not much instruments in the band and yet it is so rich in sound. Noble and warm, even hot. We did French version of both of my albums and I believe that soon we’ll publish the material. I can also tell you that recently I started to work on a entirely new project. It is a trio, in fact: electric guitar, violin and percussion… we play music with ethno elements and a lot of jazz. That is what provokes me the most now, and what I would like most to do.
BLESOK: Does this increased activity of yours means that you went to France to firm your affirmation in the state who is proud with its own opened attitude towards the different cultures and sounds and even becomes the world’s center of the global music currents? Is it so?
RUNDEK: Look, for me, “Apokalipso” as a potential world hit – simply happened in a certain period of my life and that’s it. I didn’t went to France to “capitalize” the song. The material is recorded and ready for publishing for quite a few months, but fact is that I still haven’t found a serious publisher for such a step. Anyway, until now, my performances say that there is a significant interest for this band’s music, that interest exists, but soon after that, the prejudices emerge. Simply, the enormous number of those people, when they hear that we come from the Balkans, they automatically think that our concept, basically, should lay on the traditional sound, and my music is mostly originally author’s music. In case I would do some rewritings of some ethno or folklore songs, they would instantly knew in what drawer to put me in, but in this case… And, I’m simply not interested in that. That situation is such that even the largest number of French people are convinced that we, here in Balkans, are still somewhere deep in the tradition. Absurd. We all have listened and have grown up with the same music as them all, with no difference if it was rock’n’roll, rhythm and blues, soul, funky, jazz, punk… And even more weird is the fact that we Balkanians who have grown with the rock’n’roll – we are really “discovering” our ethno music now. When speaking of myself, I was so open for any kind of music, with no difference where it comes from. I was always open and I always liked to experiment, and I always did use all the different music sounds that I would hear, and it would become part of my music… Not only the traditional music, but even the classical music – Mozart, for instance… I like to play with all music, and I always try to transpose it in some structure close to the sensibility of this ages. Finally, this are postmodern times and everything is allowed.
BLESOK: As an author, you’re still in crossfire between love lyric and social engaged music. Can be even said that your recent texts are highly politically engaged. How much it strikes you all this that happens in Balkans now?
RUNDEK: Probably much more than I was aware at the time… The war simply blocked me inside as an author. That five years while the war whirl raged, I just couldn’t work, I didn’t perform, I couldn’t sing. It wasn’t any kind of a protest or political statement – I just couldn’t do it! Something in you breaks, freezes inside. It took me a long time before I could do anything with my work. I’m afraid that here the things aren’t over yet. Croatia seems stabilized, but Bosnia is on a very thin strings. SR Yugoslavia still stands before many temptations, and Kosovo is a real time-bomb. Here you are in Macedonia also, you are now going through that “purgatory”. I think that behind all of this we went and we are still going through affected much the global politics after the decline of the world’s polarized Political Order, and now when there are no “dictators” and when we became to be our own “masters”, on power came “the gangs” that impose over their Mafia & familiar rules of the game. I think that Former Yugoslavia was a kind of a “sweet” state, and only because of the “very democratic” gun-salesmen who “fed” the nationalism – we all did “suck it & blew it” very naïve… So, now in the Balkans we have chaos and a bunch of “apes” who only “launder” money. But, one thing comforts me. That’s the fact that everything changes, so I hope this will, also. They’ll get tired of the “game”, eventually, and they’ll live us alone. Sooner or later.
BLESOK: It’s absurd, but almost two decades after the “explosion” of the so called then – “Yugoslav wave” were celebrated in Poland with publishing of the compilation with the “cover” versions of the albums of the main features of the stars in former Yugoslavia published by the (great then) discography “Jugoton”, made by young Polish musicians. At the Warsaw promotion of this compilation, Vlada Divljan from IDOLI and you as a former leader of HAUSTOR, were invited. That was probably a good opportunity to recall the memories of the “famous past”. How you explain that strong creative burst and that energy then that brought so many, today – anthology editions?
RUNDEK: Always when I go to the dentist, in front of my eyes I see the pictures of that period. I remember the stage of the Subotica Theater, at that time the center of Youth Music Festival. At that time, at the stage, I chewed glass. Yes! When we performed in Belgrade, people already did gossip: “Here is that lunatic who eats glass!”. Those were amazingly vibrant years… 1980/81/82… Wonderful albums were published then… First the “Package arrangement”, then the albums of SHARLO AKROBATA, IDOLI… Then emerged that new generation of not only bold and brave, but also the really talented young people. We didn’t have any stupid “provincial” feeling or frustration. In contrary. We didn’t thought about us as small and of the world as something big. We knew we are doing something of worldly value. Anyway, Yugoslavia then was big enough for us to live by the work we loved, and then there were no compromises needed.
BLESOK: Soon, with your “Croat” band are going into the studio to record the material for your third solo project. Can you tell me something more on that?
RUNDEK: The album is called “Mhm! Aha. O, yeah! Da. Da.” and we plan to put it on the market at the end of November this year. For the Macedonian audience is interesting that the song I tip that will be a hit – is made in Macedonian, “7/8” rhythm. For a long period I was possessed by that rhythm and finally I did the song just like I wanted to. I hope that finally, someone will get a license to publish them in Macedonia, too.