THE PRINCE OF BALKAN MUSIC: GORAN BREGOVIC

GORAN BREGOVIC WHO HAS BEEN MAKING ROCK MUSIC WITH ‘WHITE BUTTON’ GROUP FOR LONG YEARS SHARED THINGS ABOUT HIS ROCK STAR IDENTITY AS THE SOLOIST OF THE GROUP THAT GAVE A CONCERT IN ISTANBUL.

We always loved Goran Bregovic. We always found the singer who popularized Balkan music around the world close to us. The Sarajevan singer attributes it to sharing the same culture. The musician who left the conservatory to join the White Button (Bijelo Dugme) rock group when he was young became one the most famous rock stars in his country for a certain period. He gave a great concert with the group in İstanbul. We have had a special interview with the ‘Prince of the Balkans’.

When did music enter your life?
I was so young. I learned how to play while hanging out with older people.

You make music with the White Button, can you tell us about it?
Yes, I love rock music and my group and I became so famous. It never crossed my mind that someday a war would breakout and things would come to this point in my country. I was famous and making good money.

Where were you when the war broke out?
I was in Paris and I made a fresh start there.

Do you think Turkish music influences Balkan music?
Is the contrary possible? The Balkans had lived under the protection of the Ottoman State. Not only our music, but also our cuisines are similar to each other.

Which music style expresses you on the stage the best?
I guess contemporary Balkan music. Balkan music is an old music style except general sound in the world. I express myself through Balkan music the best.

Can you tell us about your orchestra?
It consists of male members. There are musicians who make traditional music and those of Roman origins among them. I have Bulgarian vocalists.

How did you name your orchestra as ‘Wedding and Funeral Orchestra’?
Orchestra tradition in the Balkans is based on military. There were no music academies in the region during the Balkan War and the First World War and the military had the need for an orchestra. The easiest way to do that went through giving a trumpet to a Roman gypsy in those days because gypsies could learn to play any instrument so effortlessly. Therefore, many orchestras were established from Budapest to İstanbul. Those orchestras began to play at funerals after a while, regardless of their military background. The tradition required the most favorite songs of the deceased to be played at his or her funeral, that was why they played at funerals, too. The name of our orchestra is based on this story.

Where do you live?
I live in Paris. I spend long time in Belgrade because I make Balkan music and the place nourishes me. I spend my summers at the Adriatic coast.

How many concerts do you give in a year?
I give 150 concerts in a year.

What do you think is the reason behind Balkan music’s popularity?
Balkan music hosts many different and colorful rhythms within and this appeal to listeners. Lately, DJs began to show interest in Balkan music.

What would you say about the Turkish listeners?
They are so fun. We can reflect our music so easily to them. Being that popular in Turkey makes me so happy. Music is the first tool of communication of humans. Your communications skills depend on your fluency in this language called music. I can speak the language of music so easy in Turkey.

What about your family?
I have three daughters; this is a great treasure. My wife is the one who creates balance in our family. I travel a lot; I get to disappear a lot. So, the mother of my children keeps our family together.

Can you tell us about the work done with Sezen Aksu?
I liked “Gül” the best. Aksu is a great singer.

Whose offer was to make an album together?
It was Sezen Aksu’s. We got along really well from the moment we’ve met. Besides being a star, she is a great person as well. She counted on me when we were working together. The concerts we gave together were welcomed with excitement.

You have reached large masses with Emir Kusturica, which movie themes have you made together?
I worked in three of the best movies of Kusturica: Underground, Time of the Gypsies, Arizona Dream.

You travel a lot, where do you like the most?
Serbia and Russia among the northern countries are so beautiful. Surprisingly, I would say that Serbia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Iceland has an extraordinary beauty. You feel like you are on the moon. Metropolitans such as New York and İstanbul impress me by their liveliness and unique beauties.

What does music mean to you?
I make music for as long as I have known myself; this is the only job I can make money. I feel so happy when I am on stage. Music is my life.

Are you going to come back to İstanbul?
Definitely, I will. I feel like İstanbul is a larger version of Sarajevo. I feel like I am home here.