|INTERVIEW WITH ZELJKO KERLETA
- PLASTIKS MAGAZINE, BELGIUM, September 2000.
1.) The label was started last November. Did you start it with a certain aim? Promoting Eastern European music?
Yes, there was an aim to promote a good Jazz and Jazz related music from Eastern Europe. I just felt that it was neglected and poorly promoted. My collection stretches from Jazz, Fusion, Latin, Brazilian, African, Soul, Funk, Ezo & Library music even some Blues and Rock (that I used to listen as a teenager) and of course a plenty of Eastern European Jazz. All of these styles had some exposure at certain time on radio, in clubs or releases available here in London. Only Eastern European musicians were still in a shadow. Someone had to do it and give them a chance. I said why not me.
2) So far the releases were mostly Yellow Line releases. Are they gonna be the main focus for the future, or do you want to have a fine balance between Yellow and Blue line recordings?
Yellow line was created just to get distinctive image for the label and without any relation to the label's program. Label was growing fast with the strong image of Eastern European specialist but became popular relatively fast so I started receiving demos from all around the world. Mostly from young artists who were digging what I was doing and wanted to become part of that. I don't want to put any boundaries around my label so in order to change that strong Eastern European image that is limiting me I am starting new "Blue Line". It is supposed to cover the rest of the Europe and in a same fashion as a Yellow Line should give chance to young new artists and also to try to rediscover some obscure 60's-80's rarities. For the re-release I am interested again in a countries that didn't get much exposure in the past.
3) So far most releases were re-releases. You've signed already some new producers. Do you want to focus on both or will the re-release of old Eastern European records stay the main focus? How do you select this new acts like DJ Chile, Arkestra One, Coxless Pair...Do they have to have a link to the Eastern European sounds or are you also gonna release western stuff.
There is a waste of material from Eastern Europe that I have in plan to re-release and I'm just gonna do it. This will go for years and there is no rush. But I definitely get more excited when I discover young new talents and they will have priority. Polish and Hungarian compilations has been postponed already because last April I discovered in Belgrade many extremely talented new artists and four records will come out until October. How do I select them? Same as how I select records when I'm DJing. Just what I like. I don't care too much if it is trendy or if it sells. If I freak out when I hear it, that's it. I must say that originality in style is very important for me to freak out. There is still an explorer in me. There is no need for link with Eastern European sounds. This is what I am trying to break in CS image. As the name says: we are COSMIC SOUNDS and there are no any limitations. Anyone is welcome as long as the music is cool. For example Arkestra One is actually Matthew Timoney from London and without any connection with East. But also, my favourite at the moment, Alexander Sopchek from Belgrade only geographically belongs there. His music is totally African, Fela Kuti meets Sun Ra. I am not trying to make any boundaries but to give exposure to neglected quality music and new talents from all around the world. Eastern Europe was just the first one that I spotted being familiar with their opus.
4) A lot of the recordings from the 60's till the 80's from Eastern Europe were never released here and very collectable items now. Do you think local eastern European talent nowadays is getting enough attention? A lot of artist I spoke too and who played a lot in the east part of Europe speak about great club scenes, though we still don't get that much records from that part. Is that going to change in the near future, do you think?
That's it. You touched the essence. That is exactly why I am doing it. You can find records from Latin America, Africa, Japan but not from your first neighbour - Eastern Europe. I wonder why. Actually I don't wonder any more, I just release them. Something similar is happening now as well. I am aware only of Dzihan & Kamien (Sarajevo-Vienna connection) and two brilliant guys from Hungary: DJs Keyser & Shuriken that became part of Compost Family. Respect guys. It is picking up slowly and we will here more from these countries in a future.
5) How do you find these rare records from the past? Have you been collecting them for years? Do you travel a lot to the East to dig the scene and collect records? Do you get some help from collectors all over the world?
I've been collecting for a long time but still buying like a crazy hoping to discover more. It is a shame but I've never been to any of these countries apart of my own - Yugoslavia. I get records through my connections all around the world. Couple of my favourite Eastern European records I bought from Norwegian dealer etc..
6) Most of the artists you released are not known here, are/were they known in their own country?
Yes, most of them were (and some still are) actually legends in their own countries but also there are some obscurities that I re-released just because I like them and not because of their local fame. Same is with the new artists that I am releasing soon. Some are already well known but some are just my discoveries.
7) Janko Nilovic is still making music and doing live gigs, what about the others?
Most of them are still very active like Dusko Gojkovic who is 67 and still regularly touring all around the world and recording at least one album per year. The latest arrangement that he has is to lead RTB big band in Belgrade. He just came back from Jazz festival in Israel and is going soon on tour in Japan and much more. He is hyperactive.
8) You were born in Yugoslavia. Why did you move to London? Was it for the music scene?
It's a funny story. As an Architect I did also some graphic design back home in Belgrade. I won competition for design of the poster for one travel agency so they gave me a week in London. It was in August 1988 and I am still here. I obviously didn't stay because of famous British weather, food and beaches. The attraction was big opportunity in architectural career and exciting music scene. I discovered Sunday afternoon Jazz Dance sessions in Dingwalls with Gilles and Patrick, hundreds of record shops and dealers, pirate radio stations and that was it. Once when you're in it it's like a drug. I became well known as a crazy Yugoslav who spends his whole salary on records. I guess record shops just loved me.
9) What's the link to Plastic People? Are you resident, ..?
Link is the same vibe, friendship and respect for each other's work. We both don't compromise and really work out of hart and not just as a business. We support each other and discuss together future projects or gigs. Simply we are good team and we consider ourselves good people that we find very important. And we are open for other GOOD and honest people in music business and in a same vibe to join Cosmic Sounds Family and we will support each other.
10) Future releases contain stuff from: Alexander Rostotsky, Alexander Sopchek, DJ Chile, Arkestra One, Coxless Pair, 'Belgrade's Burning' What does these artists sound like? Other stuff? Are you working on new own material?
'Belgrade's Burning' is Section
Through Belgrade's Scene that I discovered while I was there last April.
As you will read on the cover it was extremely hot while I was there and
the music scene was literally burning. Not all of them are typical CS style
but they all deserve attentions. Some are promising to be really big. COXLESS
PAIR are combining live playing and programming. Very original combination
of Jazz, Funk D&B and some scratching. Killer versions of Tokyo Blues
and Jive Samba, very clubby. Also here is my favourite "Contemplation"
beautiful Downtempo jazz tune with a modal feeling. All sounds very fresh.
MENSON BENSON SEXTET is a live band and has very original approach to deeeeeep
Jazz with deeeep bass lines, mad saxophone and some scratching used as
a rhythm section. I know that serious Jazzers gonna hate me but MB6's "Favourite
Tongues" is the best ever version of "My Favourite Things" (respect to
Coltrane). I just loved it how the crowd in Balance danced their asses
of last time when I played it there. ALEXANDER SOPCHEK will shake all the
dance floors around the world (serious ones). I guarantee. Africa at it's
best. Very Groovy, very Funky, Jazzy and seriously good. DJ CHILE sample
based Soul Jazz with a lot of grooves. Quite Funky. Working hard on his
debut album and first track will come out on "Belgrade's Burning". ALEXANDER
ROSTOTSKY - All above artists were from Belgrade and not very well known.
Rostotsky is from Moscow and is established Jazz bass player with a big
previous discography. Plays deep Fusion, very soulful and spiritual. Check
track "Dervish" by Boomerang from the compilation "Red Square Groove" and
you will know what I'm talking about. New version of that track will be
on forthcoming CS album and a few more like that. It hypnotises me every
time I hear it. The rest of the album is being recorded at the moment in
Moscow with Indian tabla player and I still didn't have a chance to hear
it but expecting a lot.
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