INTERVIEW WITH ZELJKO KERLETA -by ELIA RULI, ECHOES MAGAZINE, March 2001.

How long have you been in London?

Since August 1988

How long have you been collecting rare Eastern European jazz?

I always had some records but serious exploring and collecting started in early 90's. 

What other styles of music do you collect?

It would be easier to say what style I don’t collect. Main part of my collection is Jazz and Fusion then Brazilian, Latin and African. There is a lot of Soul and Funk as well but I don’t buy it anymore as much as I used to. Also I have, library records, soundtracks, ezo and exotic sounds, folk funk and even some hard rock and blues from 70's that I used to collect at that time. Of course I also have some 90’s contemporary stuff as well.

What is your history as a musician - Zeljko, I don't know what you play etc. Please explain what instruments you play and how long you've been making music. Also, if you have released anything before the 'Space Runner' album.

In 70’s I used to play guitar and bass in a blues band, back home in Belgrade. I am kind of rusty now and haven’t played anything for years. I was concentrated on my architectural career. Then in mid 90’s I discovered sequencers, samplers and other gizmos and I started producing my own music, initially planned as a soundtracks for my architectural 3D animations. Timewarp spotted it and licensed “Running Fast” for their compilation Warpfactor 2. That was my first release. That was in April 1999. Later same year I finished the whole album, started label in October and released my Space Runner in December.

How do you feel Cosmic Sounds output of new contemporary music relates to the Eastern European re-releases?

This is all the music that I like and would go out and buy it if it was available on any other label.  When I play clubs I don’t look if the record was contemporary or 70’s stuff. The only thing that matters is if it is good or not.  Why I choused Eastern Europe? Because a lot of excellent quality is lying there for ages and it was always underrated and neglected and all these musicians definitely deserve to get more exposure. So what I am trying here is to present what was the from these countries in the last 40 years and at the same time to give the chance to some young contemporary talents. Someone had to do it sooner or later.  It seems that I have started a trend. I’ve noticed that quite a few labels are jumping on a same wagon and trying to exploit that ‘eastern trend’.  Sometimes these are just money driven projects but mostly they are done out of passion.

How do you go about licensing the tracks?

This is not easy at all. In ex communist countries labels were initially ran by government and after the collapse it wasn’t very clear who is going to keep the rights for the recordings. You have to go from case to case and try to clear it out. It is time consuming job but it’s worthed. To see some of these masterpieces available around makes me feel good.

Tell me a little about each of the solo artists albums you've released
(Janko Nilovic, menson Benson etc)

As you have already noticed I am running two parallel programs on Cosmic Sounds label. First one is “Fresh New CS Sound” with contemporary music. Second program is called “Discoveries From The East” and is consisted of re-issues of original albums and series of compilations under the title “Rare Jazz Fusion Gems From Eastern European Vaults” wher each of them is dedicated to one of the countries.
Janko Nilovic is Yugoslavian who was born in Turkey and lives in Paris since he was a kid. He was mostly recording library music for Film and TV on label MP2000. I have re-issued his cult library record “Rythmes Contemporains” that he recorded in 1973-74 with 45 at that time the best French musicians.  He is one of the best composers and arrangers and could be compared to Gill Evans and Lalo Schifrin.
Dusko Gojkovic is a living legend. Famous be-bop trumpeter who played with Woody Herman, Clarke-Boland, Miles, Dizzy, Sahib Shihab… and almost anyone you know. He is the most famous Yugoslavian musician. Some of his original records are fetching extremely high prices. In 60’s he invented new style later on called “Balkan Jazz”. That is a be-bop with some local folk influences. I’ve heard many times people saying that he played like Lee Morgan but with some extra soul. 
In a “Fresh New CS Sound” series I have released, apart of mine, few more albums from Belgrade. Coxless Pair / Menson Benson Sextet are two projects by saxophonist Dusan Petrovic. All in all it is 5 people that in different combinations create those two bands. MB6 plays everything live and CP are sample based band.
Alexander Sopchek is multi-instrumentalist from Belgrade who gave us that fantastic African album Masks. He also paints anmakes movies but recently has mostly concentrated on music. 

What releases both new and re-issues do you have coming up?

Next one to come out in late April is “TONE JANSA – Bouyancy (1976-78)”. Probably the best ever Yugoslavian saxophonist. He is actually from Slovenia. Reminds me a lot of Pharoah Sanders. Excellent jazz, Coltrane’s school. Has to be heard. 
May - another Dusko Gojkovic re-issue. CD release of previously LP only albums.
June - in “Fresh New CS Sounds” series “Arkestra One featuring Nina Miranda – Skydiving”. London based project that should make a lot of noise. Looking forward for this one to come out. If you like early Air stuff you gonna love this. Compost has already licensed one track and should be available soon.
July- Alexander Rostotsky & Yuri Perfenov – Once Upon A time In The City Of Kazan
Moscow based established Russian musicians in a deep fusiony exploration. Brand new material. I could listen to it non-stop. So deep, so spiritual and easy to listen to at the same time.
I will continue my ‘Rare Gems’ series as planned. All of the countries will be covered because all of them has something to offer. So far I have covered Czechoslovakia, Russia and Yugoslavia. Next one will be dedicated to Poland and should be out next summer. Also I have in pipeline Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
Also in “Fresh New CS Sounds” series - Boys from Belgrade are in studio and several more albums are expected next autumn. I am also working on my second album. I guess that’s enough for this year for small independent one man based label.


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