I was always interested and influenced with latest technology and electronic gadgets, and after I begged my parents every day, they bought me my first computer. I spent a lot of time playing with my Commodore C64, Amiga and some of early PC's from 286, 386 etc. As any other kid, I wasted some of my time with a lot of computer games, but I also learned some programming skills too. At the time, you could find few decent books on this topic in my local stores, and I wasn't lazy to learn some basic programming and computer skills. Computer world was, and it will always be very interesting to me, but after a few years of programming I found out something else. It was something much more exciting for me and that was the world of HiFi sound, and new wave of modern dance music simply called House Music.
Computers were fun, but as I was growing up my interest in HiFi equipment was also starting to grow and I would finally trade my computer for my first amplifier, cassette decks and a set of turntables. I didn't have money for both, and I soon realized that: You can't listen good electronic music such as house music without good equipment. I figured that early testing many of my friend's amplifiers, speakers and cassette decks. Since I was already enjoying listening to music on great HiFi stereos, I also wrote many reviews and articles about cassette decks and other HiFi equipment, and I self published it all in my personal self-printed magazine simply called Cassette Deck. I also traded a lot of equipment so I could test it for my magazine, and it was a fun. I was amazed how many people were subscribed to my self-published magazine, and how many wanted to know more about HiFi in ex-Yugoslavia.
Getting fresh music was very hard at the beginning
When I started to buy and collect music for the first time, I found out that is gonna be really hard for me, one boy from small Serbian city, to get some latest dance and house releases from all over the world. Yes, you could hear some tracks on our local radio stations, or you could read some useful information in some of the magazines that I would order from abroad, but that was just a crumbles for me. I wanted more and more new music all the time, every week, and you couldn't buy any of it in our music stores officially. Today you would go online and get everything that you need, but at that time it wasn't that easy; radio, TV stations and music magazines were my only options.
Then I met my good friend DJ Belka who was also very interested in HiFi and electronics. He was the biggest music collector in our city, and we traded music on a daily basis. We were also "importing" HiFi equipment from Germany, people would order specific models and we would "deliver". But, behind that business note, we were actually enjoying testing latest HiFi components, it was in our blood. We would trade components on a daily basis between ourselves, just because we were "bored" with our current configurations. It was literally, I'll give you TEAC deck and PIONEER amp for your Nakamichi deck etc.
Finally, a good source for fresh music
Besides music, I was also interested in hobby electronics and I experimented with some simple household DIY projects. I would always try to do some small repairs in my household by myself. I also learned how to fix or clean cassette decks and "dirty" amplifiers volume knobs. I learned all that stuff reading popular Slovenian DIY magazine called Sam Svoj Majstor which I bought for the first time just to cure my curiosity for new magazines. It was a bingo!
This great magazine covered many useful household repair and build topics, but what was more interesting, they also had printed pages with ads section for HiFi equipment and for a music sale. Some of the them offered new dance music recorded on best chrome or metal type cassette tapes directly from the vinyls. My previous local music source would offer only Italian imports with some Italo shit, but here you could also get new American and UK production too! Imagine that, brand new names and some brand new music styles were just phone call away from me!
So, I ordered my first “test” tape from one of the sellers and I was impatiently waiting for it. I still remember that day when I returned back from my school, and when I found new music delivered to my mailbox! Nobody was at home that day besides me so I could listened to it loud. And after few hours of listening (and one loudspeaker down R.I.P.), I felt some new life energy. Don't get me wrong, I was happy with my life before, kids are kids, but with this new music in my life, I stepped into one new dimension, house music got me! Thanks to this great magazine and postal service, I was finally able to enjoy music from all over the world.
And, it's getting better and better...
Soon after I discovered my new sources for fresh music and I ordered couple of tapes from Slovenia and Croatia, I also discovered one of the best studios for duplicating music that was actually only 15 miles away from my city. Audio Studio Dragon used only the best Nakamichi and professional TEAC decks for tape duplication, so I hooked up with him and I used his studio as my main music source for a long time. He was getting new vinyls weekly and music would be taped directly from the turntables with fresh needles to all professional grade decks. As you imagine, I was his regular visitor and probably one of the best customers. In rare occasions I would get some new vinyls and the guy would trade music with me, but I left a lot of money there, I know that for sure, and I never felt sorry about it.
After few years of searching and buying new music, my personal collection grew so big and it wouldn't take a long time for me to be recognized as best source for dance music in my city and even around. For all the people who couldn't digest bad domestic mainstream shit music, or "only hits“ imports and compilations, I was the guy to know. Yes, you could buy some popular mainstream pop or rock album legally on CD or vinyl, but in our country at the time dance music was very rare to find. With this incredible music I was able to make great connections and I enjoyed popularity as a hip high schooler in my city.
My first studio
And, as it usually goes when you're in possession of good music, I was starting to getting calls from my friends and other people who knew me, they all wanted my new music. I started to copy and sell cassette tapes for a small profit. I used that money always only to buy a new music, but I also purchased more equipment so I could offer even better recordings, and to build my personal duplicating studio. I knew that only good equipment and great skills will produce good copies, electronic music simply needs good presentation, needs good sound. Business was doing great, I remember those nights when I used to woke up on the middle of the night every 90 minutes to switch recorded tapes with blank ones, and start copying a new round. I remember that I specifically collected only double (auto reverse) decks, so I wouldn't have to wake up every 45 minutes to switch the sides, and I never used high speed duplication because that degrades sound.
You can't get it legally, and you know you want it...
I know that many of you will think about my music duplication only as music piracy business, but before you judge me that harsh, I think that you'll have to consider place and time where all this is happening. We were living in the country where war was just around the corner, and nobody even cared for electronic or any other foreign music, in some places it was even forbidden to play "NATO MUSIC", as they called it. I considered my hobby as pure electronic music promotion. If I wasn't made those tapes, a lot of people would never heard for some of the best dance music ever. And I know that many of my buyers later purchased original CDs, as soon as they could get it officially in the stores. As I said, I considered myself as electronic and dance music promoter, not some guy who wants free profit from other people's work. I was happy that many people shared same taste and passion for dance music as I did, and I loved those sessions when we would talk about the latest dance singles while we were testing our newest HiFi components and speakers with those tracks.