Somewhere in the noughties Then it was over to Petrit’s bar on Hobrecht Straße for the grand opening of the joint. Ladaslava, a Slovak Gypsy girl from Prague had stenciled “Gypsy” flowers on the wall. Petrit had managed to scrounge together an ensemble of secondhand furniture, mostly bought at the flea market at Boxhagener Platz. I had arranged for a ...

Mostar Sevdah Reunion are a Bosnian institution. Emerging out of the ruins of war-torn Bosnia in 1998, tending the traditions of Bosnian (Muslim) sevdalinkes, they have been described as a kind of Bosnian Buena Vista Social Club – having played with the legendary likes of Šaban Bajramović and Esma Redžepova. Their line-up has changed continuously over the years, but their ...

Robert Pešut  is Magnifico, a 42 year-old singer from Ljubljana, who is called in Slovenia somewhat quizzically  “the Slovene Madonna”. He is also known as a self-styled čefur, a term which wannabe Western Slovenes use to denigrate the backward Serbians, Bosnians, Gypsies and other Balkan types in the country. However, most people who go to Balkan parties in Berlin know Magnifico from his ...

Are you originally from West Berlin? No, I’m from the west of Germany close to the French border. My ancestors came from the east as my name says. According to family propaganda the number one Borkowsky was an officer of the allied army against Napoleon, made it up the Rhein valley where they had to go to the winter camp ...

Now that the Balkan Beats hyperbole appears to be out of fashion, erstwhile pioneers of the genre Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat of Balkan Beat Box - teaming up with Uri Kinrot from Boom Pam and Itamar Ziegler from The Backyard – have turned the gaze southward, westward and onward for fresh impulses, fusing Ethiojazz, Afrobeat and Afro Cuban with a Middle East touch. ...

All is quiet on the Balkan front. One exception from the region is this jazzy new release from Balkan stalwarts Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs, with ten new tracks by turns, moody, bluesy and introspective - alongside some ranting, rollicking passages to boot. It is no coincidence that on top of being a musician, Nikola Gruev is a trained architect. ...

In 2013, Turkish-German author, music compiler and DJ, Imran Ayata stumbled upon a poor quality video snippet from the eighties featuring a young man named Ozan Ata Canani playing saz and singing in German a tale of Turkish Gastarbeiter life in Germany.  The song was called “Deutsche Freunde” and Imran Ayata was floored by the sincerity and force of the message, not to ...

Whereas the first albums had more to do with retro futurism, in Anadolu Ejderi (Anatolian Dragons), past and present collide beguilingly as Gaye Su Akyol jumps on the Anatolian wagon, pushing it further with self named title track, setting high expectations  via bold synth flash, fierce drum roll, punchy guitar lines and haunting refrain. At last Gaye Su Akyol has delivered a made-to-measure ...

Imran Ayata (1969) is a Turkish-German author, music compiler and sometime DJ. Together with Bülent Kullukçu, he put out a collection of immigrant music, Songs of Gastarbeiter Vol. 1  in 2013, after rediscovering and resuscitating the career of a little known Turkish balladeer, Ozan Ata Canani. Earlier this year Ayata and  Kullukçu came out with Songs of Gastarbeiter Vol. 2, the centerpiece being a new ...

OMFO: I come from Odessa -  an area that is closely linked with  Balkan culture. Odessa was a part of the Ottoman Empire, and the territory has been home to many different ethnic groups – Gypsies, Moldavians, Greeks, Armenians, Tatars – people who express the core of this Balkan ethnic diversity.  Crimean Tatars, for instance:  typical Balkan music. If you listen to music of the ...

Robert Soko: Happy to have you on board. We are about to have a chapter on the Netherlands. And, well, we don’t have any prepared questions. We just love talking to people naturally. But let’s start somewhere. 25 years of Amsterdam Klezmer Band. How did you come up with the idea of making a klezmer band? Job Chajes: Yes, well, I started ...

The deeper I got into the Balkans the more I began to feel the magnetic pull of Istanbul. As of Novi Pazar, everything started to tilt towards the Bosphorus. The food, the music, the language, the mannerisms, all began to assume a Turkish touch. I realized that if ever I were to unwind the knotty issue of the Balkans in my ...

I was walking up Hobrechtstrasse in Neukölln the other day when who did I run into but Petrit, my old friend and owner of Mama Bar, that legendary Neukölln watering hole where I had spent many a night back in the day. It had been ages since we had seen each other. Petrit’s beard was touched with grey now, but ...

Robert Soko: You were running a Project Rakija ten years ago, which was somehow linked to the Balkan Beats, Balkan culture. Then at some point you dropped it. The first question would be why? Then the next step, which is a current project of yours, which I find quite interesting, is Bosnia meets Tropical.  This is something that I never heard of someone else ...