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Time Out Croatia music features and interviews

Discover the best new music and festival news, read the latest interviews and music features from Time Out's music critics

Interview with Irena Žilić
Music

Interview with Irena Žilić

Many is the time I have recommended a Croatian album to a friend only to find that that they are not altogether convinced by my enthusiasm. Either the language is too much of a barrier, or the music sounds out of kilter, even out of date, compared to what regularly booms out of the speakers back home. Thankfully my reputation as globetrotting beat connoisseur looks like being saved, thanks to a new generation of Croatian singer-songwriters who are not only producing startlingly wistful, elegant and catchy songs, but are performing them in perfect English. The last 12 months have seen a trio of must-listen names rise to the top of a growing indie-folk scene. Singer-songwriter Irena Žilić’s album Travelling blew people away with its polish and poise; Marshmallow Notebooks’ eponymously-titled album of wistful, witty songs was more low-fi in style but no less compelling.  We chatted with folk chanteuse Irena Žilić, a science graduate who works in a biology lab. As self-deprecating and down-to-earth as she is talented, this is a seriously gifted songwriter who wields the English language with the same poetic skill as any of her native-speaking contemporaries. How did you start out as a songwriter? I started writing songs pretty soon after I got my first guitar at the age of 16. As soon as I was able to play around with chords, the songs just kind of fell out. Why did you choose the English language? Writing in English was a natural development because the music I listened t

Interview with Lovely Quinces
Music

Interview with Lovely Quinces

Lovely Quinces is the slightly ambiguous nom-de-plume of Split-born strumming siren Dunja Ercegović. Hearing her music for the first time, you would be more likely to assume they were from North America or the Antipodes than the Mediterranean fringes of Central Europe. Her long-awaited debut album looks set to provide Croatia’s guitar-driven revolution the critical mass it needs to make an international breakthrough. It's been picked as a contender for European Indie Album of the Year - an accolade previously claimed by likes of Adele, The XX and Caribou. With globetrotting success beckoning, we stopped by to chat with this emerging Croatian talent. How did you start out as a songwriter? At around the age of 11 or 12. I learned how to play guitar but hated playing other peoples’ songs. Even now I only know about three covers! Why did you choose the English language? I’ve been learning English ever since I was five and I’ve always been under the influence of English-language pop culture. I never paid much attention to Croatian music and there are still a lot of popular Croatian songs that I don’t really know; I was always in my own little bubble. How did Dunja Ercegović become Lovely Quinces? Like most things that come out of me it was done on impulse. When I posted my first song on the internet I realised that I didn’t have a name. But dunja is Croatian for ‘quince’ and one thing led to another... Lovely Quinces was supposed to be a temporary solution but I just got stu

Young Fathers: 'We are original and the first of our kind'
Music

Young Fathers: 'We are original and the first of our kind'

Award-winning Scottish trio Young Fathers are set to make their Croatia debut at Electronic Beats Festival. Here, Alloysious Massaquoi talks to Time Out about controversial titles, politics and why their live appearance here will be unmissable. Young Fathers' music is urgent, essential listening. Moving between angry, warped beats and beautifully melodious pop, the group has frequently been labelled 'alternative hip hop', though they insist this is lazy pigeon holing based on their looks (the Scottish trio are comprised of 'G' Hastings, Alloysious Massaquoi, originally from Liberia via Ghana, and Kayus Bankole, born to Nigerian parents).   Regardless of how you label their music, it demands attention. 2014's DeadLP saw them pick up the Mercury Music Prize, while this year's White Men Are Black Men Too has garnered them plenty of attention, and not just because of the provocative title. It's a record that demonstrates the unique range of a group who may well just be one of the most interesting acts to take to the stage at Echo Park Festival. Young Fathers' live show is passionate, electrifying and utterly unmissable.   How did you set about making White Men Are Black Men Too and how did that process differ from the recording of Dead? We decided to simplify the process without loosing content. Words were cut down, our musical landscape was more driven and spacious which gave us the option to sing more.   There was quite a quick turnaround between Dead and White Men Are

Preview: Mykki Blanco
Music

Preview: Mykki Blanco

New Yorker Michael David Quattlebaum Jr is many different things. At varying times, he is a man, a woman, a poet, a rapper, a glamour model, a hipster and a social commentator.   When he gets on stage with a microphone, he is usually Mykki Blanco, his female alter-ego who happens to be one of the most exciting rappers on the planet. Quattlebaum ran away from his North Carolina home, aged 16, for New York before spending time in California and Chicago.   The Blanco character first came to underground prominence in the US in 2011, with the release of his poetry book From the Silence of Duchamp to theNoise of Boys. Marrying wordplay to music, the hip-hop element was thenbulked as the character developed. Blanco was soon lumped into a new wave of exciting, mainly New York-based rappers including A$AP Rocky and Danny Brown, artists who eschewed the old notion of what a stereotypically homophobic US rapper is with their more liberal views.   ‘I see myself as someone who uses hip-hop to express ideas,’ he says. ‘I rap, but I’m not in the hip-hop world, so I wouldn’t know if the landscape has changed in the genre.’ Indeed, he’s in his own world. Earning both hipster credentials with his madcap fashion sense and critical acclaim with his quick-fire rapping and inventive music, the future is looking as bright as his often-garish stage wear.   His 2012 mixtape, Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati/Prince/ss, has just scratchedthe surface of an unpredictably thrilling talent. ‘As much as

Interview with the organisers of The Garden Festival
Music

Interview with the organisers of The Garden Festival

This July sees the tenth – and last – Garden Festival at a former holiday camp for oil workers in Tisno. Over a decade, this seminal event has moved from its former base at an abandoned discothèque in Petrčane and helped changed the face of Croatia as a whole. Planeloads of foreigners have partied and come back for more. Some have even set up their own events along the coast and adventurous locals have done likewise. Now Croatia is a festival destination of choice. Time Out checks in with the organisers - Nick Colgan and Dave Harvey, to talk about The Garden, it's last outing in Tisno - and beyond. Nick: ‘It wasn’t an easy decision. When I told Dave and everyone, they all said, ‘You’re joking! We can’t finish it!’ But ten years is a long time to do anything. There are lots of projects in the pipeline. I’d like us to go out on a high. This year will definitely be one to remember.’ Dave: ‘I came to the first one in 2006. I’d been told that some Brummies were starting a rave in somewhere called Croatia. I blagged my way onto the line-up and I was in!’ Music producer and party supremo Nick Colgan founded The Garden club in Zadar in 2005. With years of experience on the road with UB40 and organising parties in Argentina and California, while on holiday Nick had found a lounge-bar location high up in Zadar’s Venetian city walls. Nick: ‘Wherever I go, I’m always looking out for a party venue. The Garden was a spontaneous idea. The owners gave us ten days to decide. I’d never run

Sergej Snooze talks festivals in Croatia
Music

Sergej Snooze talks festivals in Croatia

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

Interview with DJ Mariano Mateljan
Music

Interview with DJ Mariano Mateljan

Mariano Mateljan is a talented producer from Split. Born in 1989, at the apex of dance music culture, an era fondly recalled as the 'second summer of love' by old time ravers and bass affaciandos alike. Now, DJs like Mariano are helping to reignite that scene, changing the face of Croatia - and, arguably, of European clubbing in general. With serious productions on the Infuse label and appearances at FUSE, Sankeys and Club der Visionäre, he's the top local knowledge on all things bass-related. How has the Croatian music scene changed in the last ten years? The electronic music scene in Croatia was pretty huge back in the 2000s. The era of faster tempo and harder beats. It slowly started to fall down around 2006 or so. Club promoters kept bringing over the same old names over years because it was surefire, money-wise. That’s probably why the majority of Croatian party clientele still like it bangin', because they never really had a chance to hear and explore new and different sounds. How do you think the festival scene has affected growth of electronic music in Croatia? I think the festival scene has affected our scene in so many ways, mainly because most of the names on those festival line-ups, you would hardly ever see booked at a club in Croatia. Another reason is that the amount of festivals during the summer season is incredible. You can basically party almost every day for three months. Do some festivals deal more with the local scene? Which ones? I’m not too sure

Talking festivals in Croatia with Mimi & Labud
Music

Talking festivals in Croatia with Mimi & Labud

Mimi & Labud are authorities on the local dance music scene in Zagreb - and beyond. They're the founders of Ekstrakt, and organisers of major events in the Croatian capital: sure-fire experts on dance music culture, and the summer festivals which have proved to be such a game changer. How has the Croatian music scene changed in the last ten years? It changed quite a lot. After the big boom of electronic music and underground rave parties in the mid 1990s, it all went down a bit at the beginning of the millennium. In the last five years, things started to change back to normal, so we can say that we have very healthy scene at the moment. How do you think the festival scene has affected growth of electronic music in Croatia? The festival boom has certainly helped local scene to grow. Festivals do a lot by educating local audience, giving them the freshest and newest trends in electronic music. It also helped getting Croatia better known in the electronic music scene as a whole, so now more foreign artists are interested in coming to play here, either because they already had a great time, or they’ve heard amazing stories of notorious Croatian parties. Festivals also raised the bar by bringing amazing sound systems, which has improved the technical aspect of our party scene. Do some festivals deal more with the local scene? Which ones? Even though some foreign festival promoters aren’t that clued up about our local scene, there are some that have good understanding of it a

Sonus Festival: interview with organiser Robin Ebinger
Music

Sonus Festival: interview with organiser Robin Ebinger

The Garden Festival set somewhat of a precedent in the history of European festivals, inspiring hoards of dance music aficionados to swap their wellies for sunblock and the sunnier shores of Croatia. It's also been a blessing for local DJs, showcased at festivals like Sonus, which packs some serious homegrown talent. Sonus festival has a rep for boundary-pushing, dance-music innovation, and has successfully earned it's place on the calendar of any self-respecting bass-music buff. Robin Ebinger, from Cosmopop, helped to launch this seminal festival back in 2013. He chats to Time Out about the inspiration, bringing in local talent, and what the future holds for Sonus. Why Croatia? For a long while we had planned to extend our festival roster to southern Europe, so started visiting locations in Croatia back in 2009. We always rated Croatia as an interesting market for festivals due to the beautiful landscape and immediate proximity to the sea. In January 2013, a friend contacted us with the idea to host a festival. He already had a venue and had done small shows there in 2012. We really liked the venues and the idea, so this was when Sonus was born back in 2013. Since then the Sonus community has grown and grown. We are proud to be a part of today’s strong Croatian festival scene. What were your thoughts before you went? I was familiar with several other festivals in Croatia before. But I had never felt the vibe down there. We knew that by combining beautiful weather, beac

Felver’s Sonus Festival Playlist
Music

Felver’s Sonus Festival Playlist

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