Hey my favorite passionate house music fan! I see you liked my previous biography page a lot. I had a lot of hits and reading, so I decided to update it again... It'll be work in progress from now on... Now, I know that I'm nobody famous in musical industry world, but some of you may find this page interesting, or even inspiring. I tried to keep things simple as I can, and, I'll wrote only about things related to my music career as a Radio and club DJ. But, I'll also talk a little bit about my work experience as a web designer. If you have some extra time to spare, and you want to dig deeper in my past and maybe even see my plans for the future, here is the full biography.
To win the lottery, first you'll have to buy a ticket...
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.
Something bad is coming
Life was great for me in my high school days, I was spending my time hanging out with my friends until my last high school year. In that last year whole environment around us changed quickly. You could see that all media in the country started to focus on politics and tensions between Yugoslav republics. Instead of economy topics and some BS that you would usually hear on the news, they were talking about upcoming sanctions and conflict that was ready to explode.
Democracy just died here
What used to be a stable economic country with great environment and pleasant atmosphere to live, is gone forever. Many of us wanted to leave the country and some of my friends did, but that was only the privilege of the few. You could only escape if you have money, and of course relatives abroad. But, I didn’t have any of these options as 99% of my fellow citizens. You could see on people's faces that they're smiling less, they're also started to spending less, and only a blind person couldn't see that something bad is coming. As a high school kid you are not paying too much attention on politics, but when some of your best friends are returned from Belgrade's "peaceful protest" beaten by police and some of them are arrested (not being violent), you're starting to realise that same could happen to you very soon.
Turbo Folk phenomenon
Just before war is about to start, ugly kind of music became mainstream music in our country. It's been performed by trashy singers usually willing to show a lot of skin in their performances, and not so much of talent. This new kind of music is (after twenty years) still mainstream music on Serbian radio and TV, and it's simply called Turbo Folk. I would describe it to foreign citizen as some kind of a american redneck trash music. At the time this Turbo Folk was highly influenced with mafia and gangster lifestyle, stupidity, offence, hate, open violence and women degradation. The worst thing was that Turbo Folk was also influenced with dangerous nationalism which was growing up rapidly at that time. That shit was negative cultural phenomenon, many people were instantly hooked and other would just learn how to live with it, but I couldn't.
I don't buy (or sell) that crap
You wouldn't believe how many people around me actually hooked on that bad Turbo Folk shit, they started asking me for domestic music tapes and I was already angry about it. I would never ever listen to it, or sell that crap of music, even if that means that I'm not gonna be earning any money in the future. I wanted to copy and spread only good unknown electronic dance music, to educate people, not to make them stupid and ignorant.
It was the end of my highschool days anyway and I was deciding how to move on with my life, but there was something that was unavoidable, something that will put my life on hold for a year and that was Serbian army. Even if you didn't want to go and you tried to hide from the military police, they would find you and force you to "join" them.
Sometimes they would come in your favorite cafe or club and you'll be escorted out in the truck and that's it. So, I closed down my small taping business, and after I sold all of my equipment, I prepared myself for my army days. I didn't want to be chased like some wild animal in my city, so I decided to go on my schedule. But I didn't want to go, as everybody else that I knew.
Army - The unwanted break
After my high school graduation I sacrificed one year of my life to absolutely unwanted military service. So, I gave one year of my life to my homeland, I paid my "debt" like many other young guys from my city. Luckily for me, I only lost precious time and I've seen some disgusting things, but some of my buddies from the army lost their lives. I could talk shit about my shitty army days, but I left it all behind for a sanity reasons.
I was actually a very good "soldier" until the last couple of months when I was caught running away from my military base every night. When officers are off the duty and at home, I would sneak out at night and dive one hour to get home. In the morning, I was always back for my regular duty like nothing happened... until they caught me... In normal country I wouldn't do this, but under Slobodan Milosevic's regime, this was just a revenge for me.
And then, I spent my last month in military prison with other crazy and misbehaving soldiers, they wanted me to pay for my "shenanigans". But, that's all past for me and I left it all behind when I left the gates of my army base. I have to mention that before I was caught, I used few of my free days to visit my friend Vlada in Novi Sad. That's when I decided to move to Novi Sad, here's the story.
New city - Novi Sad
Upon my return from the army in 1993, I made a decision to change my life completely and I moved to a new city. Since my dearest friend Vlada Radojević was already living and studying in the city of Novi Sad, I decided to visit him and stay in Novi Sad for one night. And, it took me only one rainy night in Novi Sad to start planning how to move and live here. It's not that I like rain that much, it's what happened that night.
First time in Paradiso
My plan was to visit some nice club or venue where we could stay til the morning sun when I would go and catch the first bus for Belgrade. Bret, it was a rainy Thursday night and we went to the closest and biggest disco club in the city Paradiso, and it was a bummer. Place was big and great for parties, equipped with loud and good sound, and they had excellent light equipment. However, that night we experienced small crowd with a few drunks, not to much to see and music was shit. Since this was our only place to go on pouring rain, we stayed there for some time until Vlada mentioned one other place to go called Contrast Club. Place was far away without car and we didn't know if it's working, but it was worth checking it. I didn't even imagine possibility that I'll become a DJ, and that this club will be my residence club in the near future.
First time in Contrast
When we finally got there after a long walk, we saw just a few people coming in, but we knew that it was a good sign when we heard excellent loud music already at the front of the club. When we got inside, we realized that we hit the jackpot, we were in the middle of fashion show with all those sexy models, great crowd and super good music. This party progressively continued after fashion show, and we were banging until we could see morning lights on club's ceiling windows. That was a night to remember and to think about, and I did. On my way to Belgrade and my army base, I was only thinking how I'm gonna move to Novi Sad as soon as I'm done with my army days. Yes, I've been into some shit at the end, but amazingly, I was released on schedule!
As I planned, as soon as I finished with army, I packed my belongings and I moved from my childhood hometown Smederevo to Novi Sad. Everything was totally new to me and I spent some good time just to adopt on totally new and mellow mentality, and multicultural environment, which I liked the most. We have had the worst inflation at the time in our country, I couldn't choose worse time to move, but somehow I managed to stay on the ground.
As soon as I moved to Novi Sad, I contacted Miroslav Stanić who was, before I went to army, one of my major music "provider". I didn't know him personally, but I did knew from our phone calls that he shared with me same drive and passion for new music and new audio/video technology. After couple of months, I secured position in his studio in digital audio production department. Magic Box was the best equipped multimedia studio in the city and even around, probably the only company that was in touch with the development of new video production technologies, and also already popular 3D rendering. Nowadays they're focused on film and movie production and they probably have new name, but at the time that was the place to be for me.
First DJ steps
Since we have had Technics 1210 turntables and professional DJ mixer in Magic Box studio, I decided to spend some times playing with it. With a little help of my friend DJ Dejan Matić, I learned some basic DJ skills. He was at the time resident DJ in Paradiso discotheque and we always enjoyed listening to fresh vinyls first, as soon as it arrives. I learned how to find pitch on my next track, and then when and how to mix it with the current "live" track. I remember how I enjoyed that creative moment for the first time when you actually creating something new combining two existing tracks. It was simply amazing and I wanted to do more DJing, but this time in the front of the crowd! But, before I start my DJ career, I was also involved in some other creative things.
First multimedia projects
Besides my music related jobs, I also worked in Magic Box studio in audio production department on many interesting multimedia projects and videos amongst which the project of artistic association APSOLUTNO undoubtedly stands out. Working in this studio also gave me an opportunity to meet some local people from radio broadcasting industry. I always wanted to work on radio station and to play music for others, that was probably my oldest sphere of interest. It was very simple, all I wanted is to play and listen to some good house music, and if others liked my selection, that's even better, that's fucking great!
THE VERY FIRST RADIO GIG > RADIO DANUBE
In 1994, I was invited to play music at the first urban radio station in Novi Sad called Radio Danube. Head music editor Vladimir Mušicki invited me to join his new crew of people that will change the music climate on this radio station. Even with this change their program was nothing great, but that was my only chance to play some good house music on the radio, my only chance to get "in the game". And, accepted the offer. When you have a chance for something that you wanna do, and you really want it, just grab it, go for it!
Since Radio Danube was a mainstream commercial radio privately owned by city's lottery company, they were only interested in commercial radio program that will bring larger audience, so they can advertise their lottery tickets and games to even more people. Basically every third or fourth commercial that we played between the music was for the lottery, very boring stuff indeed. I knew that they need to make money, but you can still make money and not be a greedy at the same time.
It was very hard for me to fit in there easily, my music taste was totally different, I wanted to push some boundaries, play something new for the listeners through the daily shifts, but that wasn't "appropriate" for Mušicki and management of the radio. So, they gave me night shifts, which nobody at the time wanted, and I was very excited and happy about it. Nights are perfect for house music, and I could also smoke on the radio since nobody besides me was there at beginning of my shows.
And, nobody from the management even bothered to listen to my program, so I basically have had a lot of freedom to do what I wanted, and that was it, my first radio show is born! Later, more and more of my radio buddies would hang out with me in my night sessions, it was one of my best times on live radio. Music that I played was underestimated for daily program policy, despite the fact that these actual music tracks were voted out (by thrilled listeners) to be hits of the week, or even a hit of the year in radio's daily program. Music that I played at night shifts finally started to infiltrate daily shifts too which was great for hungry listeners, but not so for the management.
In no time there were problems with the Head Office, my idea of modern radio program and new music was totally different than theirs, and I wouldn't stop because I knew very well what I was doing and how progress works. Together with some of my creative friends, we made a gathered decision to find some other radio station where fresh ideas and progressive music are top priority. We wanted implementation of higher standards of radio production and we wanted freedom.
SECOND RADIO > RADIO SPIN
It was 1996 when I decided to leave Radio Danube and to find some other radio station that will give me space to promote modern electronic music. Luckily for me and few of my collages that also wanted better working conditions (freedom), we were asked to come and play our music on smaller but still perspective radio station called Radio SPIN.
This radio station worked in the past with no success, their concept was already seen and it wasn't modern or successful. After all disastrous variations of rock, post-rock, neo-rock, pop-rock and some other music from the past, they finally realized that they need to call people who created best program from Radio Danube, they called us.
Look I don't have anything against good pop and rock music, but as everything else music is evolving and progressing to something new, something else than Deep Purple or AC/DC. And, if you are truly music listener and lover, you would know what's new, what's hip, what's good for urban radio station. I was totally fine for them to play that at home, after all, taste is taste, but as an music editor on the radio, you have to be current. So, we took the charge and changed things, all different from now.
The best city DJ selection under one roof
Shortly after, progressive and fresh musical genres started spreading with more and more listeners recognizing the old crew which have changed the broadcasting frequency, but not their music style! At the time, my title progress to Head Music Editor and I took that power to recognize and assemble the team of high-quality-sound lovers. Best city DJs and electronic music producers were first to get time slots for their excellent shows. We took the city radio again! Finally!
THE VERY FIRST CLUB > CONTRAST
As soon as we started again with our radio program and we continued with our shows, my sound and music choice were instantly recognized again by the clubbers and local crowd. What was more important, I've been recognized by the club managers and owners. I got my first DJ residency in one and only Underground Club CONTRAST after having just one rehearsing gig. I was more than ready to play my music choice to the real clubbers for the first time for real. I remembered that rainy night when I first time visited this legendary club, and now I'm gonna play in it ?!? Dream came true.
What was so special about the Contrast? I would put it like this: What was Studio 54 or Paradise Garage for New York, that was Contrast for Novi Sad. This was the only club in the city that was supporting club music from all over the world, it was a smaller, but great great club. You could hear and dance on all kinds of music here; from trance to techno, some old funk and rock to disco, but when I was resident DJ there mainstream was only best underground House Music. This club were equipped with the best speakers in the city, Bose bass tubes on the roof to kick you in the brain, not to destroy your kidneys!
Since most of the clubbers and visitors already knew me through my radio shows, I was lucky to play actually what I and crowd wanted to hear, and they would respond on my music selection very well. But when real hit-us-hard clubbers were in the club and when night is right, I would push some fresh material, something deeper that I loved the most. I remember working hard, I would usually spin for a four days a week (Thu to Sun) and on some nights when the crowd gets hot and steamy, I would play long six to eight hours sets, until the morning sun shows on club ceilings. After we close the club with the owner, we would go together to eat something, and finally sleep. That time is for many clubbers labeled as "golden age of Contrast", and I know exactly why!
One radio down, SPIN is OUT
While I was working and focusing on recent start of my DJ career, SPIN radio suddenly goes off-air due to dispute amongst co-owners. One of the owners literally plugged out mixpult from the studio in the middle of the program. We didn’t play any role in this ending, it was like a storm that you can’t predict or avoid, but maybe it was a time for a long needed break for me, to clear the things up. After this closure things were changed for me and my homies, now it was well known who are the people who will create good club life in the future. We got our names out and mine was one of them, but the only thing that was always missing is more money.
Get some real job when you need money
Job on radio station was never paid enough, all I got is recognition and some fame but I never earned some normal salary. And, working as a rookie DJ in a club wasn’t much better. It's the old DJ problem. When you are new in the business, you can't complain much since you're not big enough to complain and ask for more money, and I needed money to buy new records and become more independent. I decided to find some daytime job that will bring me some steady cash flow. At that time my night DJ residency gig earnings was only enough to cover my daily basic needs and that would be food and cigarettes. To cut the story short, I became a manager in TV/HiFi retail store. And it was a good job, sometimes it was very interesting, but mostly boring. Still, it was much easier for me to buy new music now when money is not an issue anymore.
After few years of successful business store closes due to very high rent expenses (we were located downtown), and I was offered job with the same company at different location. But, I decided to focus more on my DJ career, and yes, I was sick explaining things to people who can’t or won't read user manual for tv or whatever. I used all my savings to buy bunch of new vinyls, as always, I had to travel to Hungary for that since closest music shops for vinyls were in Budapest. Soon after that, I was getting more calls and I started to perform outside Novi Sad. You could tell that I was a DJing much more.
THIRD RADIO > IN RADIO
In 1997, I decided to accept an offered position for a Head Music Editor at freshly opened Radio IN (106.3 MHz), where I will stay until the year of 2000. What I found there was the same old story with stale radios: uninformed music editors, uneducated people in marketing, and a lots of prejudice. Before new crew arrived you would hear bad old music selection served by lazy music editors, and we had only old and broken equipment. The only good thing was working internet connection, so there was no excuse for music editors to ignore newest music trends and to follow current hits charts. When you're running commercial radio your daily music has to be more commercial, period. What you do at night, that's how you keep young hip crowd there.
As a head music editor I immediately gathered group of people that were capable of creating a very unique radio identity, and capable of showing the Novi Sad's audience what an urban radio really is. It was the first radio whose team of music editors successfully managed to play only top quality music at the day; good funk, some popular jazzy tracks and some pop rock gems and newest hits. You could also hear commercial house hits at the day shifts, but the real program would start usually after 4pm and it would go crazy until the morning shift. Night shifts were reserved for latest and best electronic music radio shows, live DJ sets, guests, party promotion etc. Every local DJ was doing their own show, and listeners would hear unique selection almost every night. It was a great time for NS radio, IN RADIO ruled.
Along with my team, I kept presenting and defending the electronic music that was already accepted around; everybody started listening to it more and more, recognizing it and loving it. At the time this was the first radio station in the city that were broadcasting the latest of current world music production. Equipment was very bad and old, but luckily we still managed to make good program with a few working computers. I was also a Head Technical Manager since no one else knew or wanted to fix stuff and use electronics properly. Let me put it clearly, it was no money = no people situation. Nobody works for free. Sometimes I would have a feeling like I was some stupid little enthusiast who couldn't stop working for free, but something inside of me didn’t want me to quit with this radio station, yet.
I remember when I used to work 16-20 hours shift, I was practically living on the radio and fixing it.
There was a lack of staff due to the fact that simply there was no money for the salaries, and some people simply didn't have time to waste and they wouldn't show up for the work. Maybe they didn't loved music as I did, or they were not serious about the job, but I knew that I have to keep it on. After all, I didn't have anything else to do in this country and this city, we were in the war. I remember that day when NATO air strikes started and when we heard first bombs around us, I didn’t want to stop with the program even when other radio stations were shut down already. I knew it, if we would stay on the air and work until this shit clears (NATO bombarding), our days would come, and they did!
NATO strikes, radio is keep going on
Having great motivation to continue with the program during NATO air raids, part of the crew have managed to do transform clubbing in the city. With no electrical power, we organized (with the help of generators) a serial of successful parties at the local warehouse/club, which despite catastrophic situation in the country and every day bombardment, achieved its main goal - the celebration of life and music. After end of the war IN radio enjoyed great popularity and more and more advertising clients wanted to get on the air with their products and commercials. We knew at that moment that we have big success with our new radio, we used that moment to elevate to the next level.
Besides great music and solid radio program, we realized that we need to work more on our radio station to keep the momentum going, and management put big effort to make informative program more professional and gave the city most objective news and fresh service information. Music editors would complain at the beginning, but after boost of their salaries, they realized that you have to compromise in your life. You don't want to be an starving artist.
SECOND CLUB RESIDENCY > DISCOTHEQUE PARADISO
Great success that IN Radio enjoyed right after the war has partly contributed to better status for DJs who worked on radio. As I was one of them, I finally got my residency at the best equipped clubbing space in the country at that time, discotheque Paradiso. I played throughout the season every Friday night the most progressive sounds, together with my friend Zlatan. After this residency and endless number of crowded venues, I needed another kind of recognition to convince myself once again that I'm on the right track.
THE FIRST DJ COMPETITION > FIRST PRIZE
At the first exYU DJ competition I won the first prize, GeminI DJ mixer (which I later sadly had to sell to pay the rent when I needed money). The competition was held in the Underground club in Belgrade and lasted for two days. This event has undoubtedly started a new chapter on DJs in our country, and for me it created an opportunity to make even better appearance on Belgrade scene. The fact that these kind of happenings started a new tradition in Belgrade and Novi Sad (where I was one of the jury members) proves that DJing is unstoppably started to emerge on the scene as a career in our small country.
INTERNET > WEB > MULTIMEDIA
In the atmosphere created after NATO air raids and Slobodan Milošević’s regime fall, our country finally got some perspective and I focused more on computers where I discovered endless possibilities in multimedia design and communication. I was more and more online, and after a while I started working with software for web and multimedia presentations. Huge experience that I already build in digital audio production gave me a certain advantage that I used while creating multimedia CD ROMs and internet presentations in FLASH.
THE FIRST CLUBBING WEBSITE > NS CLUBBING
In 1999 I launched NSclubing, very first Novi Sad's web site dedicated to music, clubbing and urban life style. This site was simple guidance for city's night life and events. You could find information on domestic DJs, parties and time schedule for your favorite radio shows. This was quite revolutionary in the country at that time where only 3% of population had computers and almost nobody uses internet, but I wanted to start this site anyway. As the year of 2000 was approaching and after I learned some new skills, my main goal became a creation of the new website that focuses on clubbing & life style that comes with it so I created...
SECOND CLUBBING WEBSITE > LIFE STYLE
LIFE STYLE was more complex website with some educational and informative content. Next to info about radio shows and local DJ scene, you could find out what's new in film, local theatre and check out some links for other interesting web destinations. It was a FLASH animated website with attractive layout and better defined topics that started to attract more and more visitors even from abroad. Because we naturally mentioned and promoted our web site on our radio shows, radio management wanted from us (me) to pay for "advertising" if we want to continue with Life Style website promotion on IN radio. Since website was non profitable and I spent so much time working for free on this radio station, I decided to quit. That was insulting for me and I didn't want to continue work there since they didn't even appreciated my work.
THE START OF MULTIMEDIA PROJECTS > NGO MEGACORP
When I finally decided not to waste my time with boring and dishonest people anymore, life and work in the country got some perspective. With my lovely wife Milly and our closest friends Sandra & Nebojša Kević, we established an independent operating non-governmental organization. Main purpose was to nurture and develop artistic expression with an attempt of introducing digital media as an art form. Milly did all hard work with registration and I was doing our new website and design preparation, and NGO MEGACORP was born. Shortly after we start with our first project simply named PROJECT GO!
Our first project was realized in close cooperation with Goethe Institute and was implemented into the closing night of the first Novi Sad's EXIT festival in 2000. It was all about sending the message to young people, message for desperate change in our country through art form. After the event, I created a multimedia CD rom and website, it was a professional presentation of our work and I spent a lot of time on it. NGO MEGACORP by the end of the year 2000 starts working on its next project. IFOMA (International Festival Of Modern Arts) establishes its first opening by gathering great number of artists (musicians, painters, performers and guest DJs) for one night in well controlled environment demonstrating its power through multimedia. The idea is to create a cultural platform where artists from different cultural backgrounds can meet and exchange their diverse artistic expressions offering a deeper kind of insight into where are we heading to..
DACHA > MY FIRST WEBSITE
While I was working on our NGO Megacorp projects, at the same time I was pushing out my first promo DJ mixes because I wanted to present my style of music and DJ mixing skill to much wider audience. Besides sharing it to my friends and clubbers, I wanted to go online with my DJ mixes and maybe make few new connections there. After I mixed couple of mixes and prepared some content and some pics, I decided that is time to make my first personal website. I was finally able to present my own work and standard of quality house music. It was a small simple FLASH website which I hosted at my local provider but it looks like it was a good move for my promotion.
RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY > NEW YORK 2001
One night in 2001 I was listening to my friend's (DJ Z) radio show and I learned about the existence of RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY. Listening to their experience on RBMA, I suddenly got some new energy and a burning desire to be recognized more by world music circles and to learn more about music production. It was a chance for me that I simply didn't want to miss, even if it was a just a lottery. Remember, you have to play to win! So, I filled in the application form and sent it along with my promo CD MIX to USA. On my birthday, the 4th of July, I received an e-mail saying: "congratulations! pack your records; you're going to NYC!" I was chosen amongst 1600 applicants worldwide to be on RBMA. It was time to celebrate!
Each year, RBMA holds two weeks long seminars on different locations having for its instructors the very famous and successful DJs and music producers. It all started in 1998 in Berlin, and in 2001 it was set to take place in NYC; the city that has been defining the music of my deepest affection. During the course, all 60 students have a chance to learn, practice, make music, mix CDs and listen to currently most talented people of the industry. Anyone who is into making modern music will find this experience to be a precious one.
Every student gets to know the way of work of musicians coming from different parts of the world, different cultures and music scenes. The far best about the Academy is spontaneous and relaxed communication among students and instructors. Highly recommended!!! More info about the Academy itself at:
What can I say, it was impossible for me to even dream about visiting New York City year ago, and now here I am, standing on Time Square like I was always supposed to be there, like this city needs me. I spent couple of most exciting days in my life in NYC. Red Bull Music Academy was great, we learned some important production lessons, met some great people and producers from top of the music industry and we visited some great parties. Everything was great until 9/11 attack happened. Academy was canceled after one great week, the rest of the time we spent figuring out how to get home. At that time I was sad, but somehow I did know that this was not my last visit to this beautiful city, and I was right.
DACHA > DJ UNITY
After my return from NYC I was introduced to one new idea that could help establishing DJ as a legal profession in our city. At the time you could be only registered as a singer or performer, but not as DJ. I also liked the idea to standardize salaries, just like unions. More and more of new DJs were showing up on the city DJ scene, and some Rookie DJs would work for very low rates and club owners would take it for granted. We would have hard times getting normal money for our gigs. I was totally ON with this idea, and some of my friends and other recognized DJs from the city asked me to join this new DJ organization that will officially protect the interests of local DJs and music producers. They wanted me there to be a President, and I didn’t mind to take that position since I liked the goals and the crew. Great number of local DJs wanted to be in this together, wanted to be in only one association that we called DJ UNITY.
It's all legal now
DJ UNITY was the first official and legally registered association of DJs and music producers on these grounds as NGO. Its main objectives defined by its statute and law are promotion and affirmation of young, talented and unknown DJs and producers not only in the city, but the country and abroad. I worked passionately on the DJ UNITY website and site was growing fast, I spread information on more than 30 local and domestic DJs. I build web page for each member and i gave them nice presentation on internet with images, DJ sets, and other info. Those are the times when social networks simply didn't exist and to have such a website in FULL FLASH was really expensive, it took me a lot of time just to maintain it.
Our first party
To announce its existence, during summer DJ UNITY organizes an event called INTRO GATHERING. It lasted for two days managing to gather over 50 DJs who played on three different stages at old and magnificent Petrovaradin fortress. That night, on 4th of August, 1500 people danced the night away under the stars of one fantastic summer night officially labeled as DOUBLE ENTRY. Luckily for us one of the visitors was world class citizen from London, Mr. David Browne, who visited Novi Sad already few times. He already helped me personally to get to RBMA in New York, I couldn't make it without him and I will remain grateful to the rest of my life to him. This time he was helping DJ UNITY to stand on the ground. I remember him telling me on that party that some power cord (that was laying on the ground unsecured) could cause incident that could cost us a lot of money. If someone gets hurt, they could sue us. He was always one step in advance, wise man.
For me David was a lifesaver, miracle sent from the House Music Gods. I didn't even knew him very well and he already offered me help for my RBMA trip, he gave me the money needed to continue pursuing my dream. He opened my eyes so I can see world better, he knew it, that one visit to NYC will change my life, and it did. Now, Intrigued by this organization and its goals he offers to invest in something he felt is destined for success. Thanks to this great man and fortune that sent him DJ UNITY gets to run one club season in CLUB CONTRAST.
OUR CLUB CONTRAST
Yes, It was the first club in the city whose organizers are DJs and people from the industry instead of just money oriented owners. The guy who owned the club space was also owning the restaurant which was located next to the club, so it was extra money for him and his business to rent the club. Previous manager couldn't pay asked price, so we took the chance and jumped into this risky lease. This was a unique chance to raise the level of happenings on a higher ground and present our DJ names together with foreign and successful DJs.
Thank you Mr. David for your unselfish and noble act towards the creation of a better world!!!
Unfortunately, years of destructive and lawless way of life in Serbia have shown that people are undoubtedly damaged and that greed is not seen in uneducated and rich only. Some DJs from our organization thought that all we needed to do is to make money faster with expensive DJs, so called "big names", and to pay for more advertising, and that policy immediately collapsed. Not to mention that our own local DJs (together with me) didn't play much, and we also would not let young rookie DJs to play so often as we wanted from the beginning.
We ended up with not profitable club which was losing the money instead of making it, we fail. To create popular teenage and local mafia hangout place in order to make no money was a compromise that I couldn't take. We started all because of the music and money would come later with our hard work and trust in ourselves. We wanted to make place for educated, young and old clubbers, but I guess we couldn't hold it together anymore.
The end of DJ UNITY
After our DJ organization started to meltdown, I couldn't find any inspiration to update our website, nothing was right to me anymore and site starts to be obsolete. I followed many events, hosted many DJs mixes here, and offered bunch of links and stories about other club events in the country (and ex-YU republics), and now it will all go in history, offline history. Only one season active DJ UNITY also goes into history as one possible outcome if people unite and work together and another outcome if they get lost within the frames of their own self driven ambition.
EXIT FEST, not a big deal for me
We all strongly supported EXIT festival from the beginning, but soon after they made couple of parties, they showed me that this organization was not about music, it was strictly business and politics for them. Since they were started as a student political movement against Slobodan Milosevic, I thought we were sharing same standards, knowledge, ideas about our future after Milosevic. I worked couple of times on EXIT, but I never felt welcomed, never felt that vibe that we had on club Contrast. It was all fake for me, and it still is. Should it exist, yes, even like this. Could it be better and cheaper? Yes, but who cares anymore, you're not 16, right?
NEW NOW MEDIA
All video and audio commercials, as well as print layouts for DJ Unity weekly flyers and radio announcements for Club Contrast were done in dynamic fashion by our own multimedia lab that we later named New Now Media. My friend Igor Lečić Leka (aka LeChe aka MedMan) was in charge of audio production and radio ads, and my wife Milly was in charge of video production while she was also working as video editor on or local TV station. And, I took the webmaster position since I was already building and maintaining our first websites. After we were finally finished with our club Contrast and DJ Unity cooperation, we established our small agency and this is where I found my creative environment in collaboration with energetic group of people.
Next to commercial presentations, NewNow has completed and placed on the Internet more than 20 websites, more jobs were coming and Leka also stated to work with me on web design projects. We also did several multimedia CD ROMs and produced up some nice beat music videos by the end of 2002. Being a part of these projects was exciting and inspiring and we were recognized as one of the city's best fresh multimedia agencies. One of the biggest projects that we finished was website for Serbian National Theatre (SNP - Srpsko Narodno Pozorište).
Somewhere at the end of 2002, along with my friend and DJ partner Branko Milovanović aka DJ (Sexy) Buttke, I start to build one new website that we simply named DeepLink. After DJ Unity debacle, Buttke and I realized that we spent so much energy for nothing, and we decided that we're going back to "our" DJ roots. From the beginning it was all about loving and promoting best house music; deep, soulful, funky, vocal, nu jazz, latin, with some new disco production, and best tech house music. With DeepLink, we would finally support and promote only what we personally love, deep soulful house.
For a short period of time we successfully expanded DeepLink network. We performed at many events such as EXIT & ŠLF festivals, played at many local clubs, and we also supported gatherings organized for democratic changes in our country. When Native Instruments introduced world's first professional DJ software TRAKTOR, Buttke and I organized presentation in our city's biggest CD store! It was revolutionary for young people and local DJs to see new way and future of DJ mixing. We also hosted many late nite radio shows on freshly opened Radio AS, where we spent some crazy nights. However, my most important and last DJ residency in my ex home city was Deep House Fridays Sessions @ Lounge Cafe, Novi Sad.
This small downtown Cafe always had cozy atmosphere and very nice crowd, and it was a perfect night and daily spot for me and other Deep and Soulful House Music lovers. Stuff was always welcoming too, and you could have a seat for your company if you pop in at the daytime or early at night. This was a perfect downtown place for a great parties for many, it was easy to find and it was always full. I was DJing there numerous times as a resident DJ, and besides great time that I had playing in the Club Contrast, this was my next favorite place to preform.
This place was tragically burned down after I already left Novi Sad and started new life with my wife in NYC. I heard that one very drunk guy insisted to get more booze, and after they refused to serve him, he used cigarette lighter and lit up highly flammable wall decoration, just near entrance, and that was also cafe's only EXIT! Many innocent people lost their lives that night, I was deeply sad and I cannot imagine what their families went through.
My friend Srđan, who was one of the guys working and organizing things there, ended up in prison for no reason! He was not even there at the time tragedy happened, as I heard, and they arrested the guy who committed this awful crime too. But, that's the court system in Serbia, inspector who allowed them to use flammable material on the walls is not guilty at all... However, I will certainly remember my days in Lounge as one of the best in my life, we all did it for the fun and partying. As I recorded my DJ sets on many of these nights, I posted my mixes online for everybody to enjoy, you can find mp3 sets live here.
NEW RESIDENT CITY > NEW YORK CITY
Well, some of you remembered that I said at the beginning that you have to play to win. So, I played again and again, and I won US Green (permanent resident) Card. I was finally able to try to live on totally different continent. Is it gonna work? I didn't know at the time, but I couldn't care less if I fail. All I want it is to get out, get out of this unhealthy environment called Serbia. After long administrative work, and a lot of hope that we both put into this "operation", we were "approved" by US administration, and ready for our new life in America. My wife Milly and I both wanted to live in New York City, culture center of the world, so we prepared for the toughest challenge. I was very sad to leave my family and friends, but on the other side very excited and happy for my new opportunity. It was unreal, just like you earned extra life in some video game. So we moved to New York City.
DJing in NYC? Forget about it...
As much as I wanted to continue my DJ career in the states, I knew that it will be impossible for me as a newcomer to enter those magical DJ circles in NYC. As a freshly imported European in NYC, first you have to find any kind of job to work, unless you're some kind of professional and job is already waiting for you. But, before you find a job, you have to find a place to live, which is even harder when you're new here and don't have any credit history. Even before I came to America, I knew that looking for a DJ job was not the best idea for me at all. Music that I'm playing is not commercial and it's considered underground even here where most of it comes from. There are places where soulful house sound is playing, but there is a line of DJs waiting for that spot, and they're locals. I knew that I have to play first on my other skill here in NYC, web design.
Hard to find place to live
As I mentioned, before you find a job, you need to find a place to stay in Manhattan. We weren't so lucky to find it right away, and we have to be in New Jersey for a few months. It was so hard to look for a job in Manhattan from NJ, even harder to travel every day to work if you found one. Without car in New Jersey, you're stuck where you are unless you have bus or train station really nearby. And, if I wanted to live in suburbs, I would probably stay in Serbia, we wanted to live in New York City. So, after few painful months spent mostly in commuting and working basic jobs, we finally found some room to rent in Washington Heights. If we only knew for cheap rooms agencies when we arrived here, we would probably never go to New Jersey at the first place, but what can you do. Some school is paid, some learned on your own.
Web Design in NYC
When I looked for a job in NYC web design market, I found out that it's not gonna be a problem to get one. Web designer was well paid and desirable profession in New York, I was good at it so I found nice job in fashion boutique in Soho called Runaway Connection. It was interesting to work there in first couple of months, you're meeting new people, getting to know fashion business, etc...But, after a while, I found myself bored, job became too repetitive for me, and Instead of making their website store and sell things online, I was more doing design, than redesign, than design again, redesign... It's a fashion world...
After I left fashion boutique, I worked one year making and maintaining websites for one client. The job was not so exciting, but I learned stuff or two besides web design. However, this was just another dead end for me since there was no progress in salary, and job became lethargic. When you start to ask yourself "what am I doing here?", it's definitely time to move on. I didn't want to look for another job in the online industry, instead I decided to help my wife Milly with her freshly opened Pet Service business. I was a little bit bored of people, and I never had a dog, so why not have many?
Radio ? It was a fu#cking time
As you already figured out, I worked on many FM radio stations, but I never even considered to own one. However, when internet radio became more popular and affordable to have, I decided to start Deep Link internet radio station. I could do it years before, but it looks like I needed some good reason for a start and I got one.
At the time I already mixed and hosted my radio show on UK's Mix The Groove Radio, but we ended up our relationship after guy asked me to pay money for the "slot". Instead of paying him, I paid hosting for my personal radio and I started to play some good DJ mixes for me...and 25 other listeners...That's how DeepLink radio started.
As my internet connection gets worse at the time, I had to temporarily stop with the program, but after I moved to another location, I started it again. This time I used more professional radio software instead of winamp, I was able to play jingles, and I also installed remote connection so I can use my smartphone to control the radio while I'm outside with the dogs. It's a cheap, but functional solution and it works.