The man behind Sirup, and a professor at Zagreb University to boot, Sergej Snooze is involved in many aspects of the domestic music business. He gives us the lowdown on the history of dance music in Croatia and the scene's hottest festivals, including Sonus and Outlook
How has the Croatian music scene changed in the last ten years?
Summer festivals are booming. I think it’s amazing what is happening now but I have to admit that it’s been a long and hard path. We used to have to pay taxi drivers to be in front of clubs. Now they fight for a place there. Also promo – ten years ago, I used to take 100 tickets with me and sell them around town when I was having coffee with friends. Musically speaking, same tech house groove is consistent, with every few years a new summer trend. It’s great because it pushes you to be more delicate in your selection of techno and house.
How do you think the festival scene has affected growth of electronic music in Croatia?
It’s always a double-edged sword. On the one side, it’s great that there is so much to hear and dance to. Also Croats can meet different cultures by dancing shoulder to shoulder with people from other countries. On the other, I’ve heard locals complaining because these festivals are expensive for them to get in. But for sheer value for money, if you calculate the number of DJs you can hear and the money you spend… In a way, this is related to the very strong roots of electronic music scene in Croatia. We were always close to Germany, and used to have raves all around the country, even in the bad days of the 1990s.
Do some festivals deal more with the local scene? Which ones?
Definitely. Personally, I work closely with Sonus and Dimensions/Outlook. The Garden is just ten minutes from my holiday home and I’ve become friends with Nick and Eddie. Also last year Dixon made a summer Croatia tribute with Lost in a Moment, and this is produced with Felver, one of the pioneers of tech house in Croatia. From other promoters and colleagues, I know that almost every festival is supportive of the local scene.
Are you playing at Sonus this year?
Yes, I’m playing at Sonus for the third time now. For me, it’s the best festival in Croatia. I meet lots of international friends there, new and old. Sonus is more than just a festival. As a DJ, it is very challenging. The crowd is demanding. They know why they dance and how they dance, so for me this is probably one of the most important gigs in Croatia. At the same time, it’s a holiday. I go there with wife for the week, to dance, have fun and meet friends.’
From my personal perspective, all that is happening now is amazing. Especially as I was involved from the early days and now I see the thing booming. I smoothly transformed back to my roots, to DJing from promotional activities, and now in a way I feel that I’m enjoying fruits of all this work in the past. Also, I think that international productions can bring professionalism to local ones. Knowledge transfer is very important.’