Somewhere in the noughties So I was on Potsdamer Straße after boxing, sitting in a Moroccan shisha bar, smoking a water pipe and drinking a Turkish tea with a shot of lemon. Turks, Arabs, Germans, Africans walked by dragging their kids in tow. I had been sitting here for a couple of weeks now after boxing and I was gradually beginning to  see the same faces – locals ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Robert Soko: It was Tokyo, November 2015, and the crowd was going mad like only the Japanese knew how. People from Japan – those who were coming to our parties in Europe – I had found very lively and very grateful. They loved Balkan music, though you had the sense they didn’t quite know what it was all about. They ...

Robert Soko: So, Chiku, our goal is to interview you about your affinity for Balkan music, and then the Balkan scene in Japan in order to get some weird details out of this world. Chiku Yutaka:  Yes, yes, yes. Robert Soko: The first question – quite a predictable one – how did you stumble upon Balkan music? Chiku Yutaka: I used to DJ punk ...

Much has been made of the similarities between Balkan Beats and punk rock. There are, admittedly, a few parallels. Serbian kafana behavior, whereby drunken bećari (revelers on a spree) smash glasses, furniture and sometimes other people, is in some sense essentially punk in attitude. And there is a certain live-for-the-moment outlook in much Balkan Gypsy music that also parallels the ...

Robert Soko: Here we have water and wine. Gypsy Box: Water is important. Water brings life. Robert Soko: Abel, for the record, can you just tell me a few short words about yourself – who you are, where you come from. Gypsy Box: My name is Abel Reyes. As an artist I’m called Gypsy Box. I come from Mexico City. I was raised ...

Not a whole heck of a lot has changed here at Kottbusser Tor – or Kotti, as it is affectionately called by Berliners - over the past twenty years. People have come and gone, some new places have opened up and some old places have closed. But Kotti remains to this day, the secret heart of west Berlin (like Alexander Platz remains ...

Robert Soko: We are about to compose a book in the next year or two. Something similar to “Please Kill Me”. Robert Rigney: The Balkan version. Robert Soko: Yes, the Balkan version. Let’s say thirty years of Balkan mayhem.  Billy Gould: Cool. Robert Soko: And we are trying to get in touch with everyone who has something to say, on a bigger scale and ...