Guide to SKOPJE

Balkon3 interview with Zoran Predin – “The second wife in the harem”


The career of one of the best known and most popular Slovenian musicians, Zoran Predin, is anything but monotonous and dull. The audiences know Predin as a main author and front man for Lačni Franz (The Hungry Frantz), a cult band from the 80’s. Recently he published  his 33 recording „A Hair died in Silk,“ as well as publishing his first prose book „The Second Wife in the Harem,“  where he gathered his stories, anecdotes, travelogues, letters. This book was translated into several languages, among which was Macedonian, and while promoting the book in Skopje, he also did an intimate concert at a local club where he premiered the new album.predin10Your new book “The second wife in the harem” is your first prose book, after three poetry books. You have gathered all kinds of stories, anecdotes and impressions. What inspired you to write this book?

While I was waiting on my hospital bed to be operated upon, I did a some sort of stock list. I remembered some of the stories that I had never written down, and it would have been a pity for those to be forgotten. The next thing for me was to write them down, and then I remembered that I have some diaries and travelogues, that I had written for various newspapers and magazines. I reread them again to see if they had any importance and I saw that they were still „alive,“ or that they are still funny and readable. I restоred them a bit and integrated them within the project. Except for that everything was going normally. Personally, I didn’t have any high literary ambitions and I wanted to do what I set out to do  – to make a pocket-sized book, with easy and entertaining content, and without any obligations. Obviously I succeed in my intentions.

Does the autobiographical nature of your book coincides with the recently published biography about you „ Iz Prve Ruke“?

That book is something different. „Iz prve ruke“ is a biography written by someone else. He came to know those information by doing some interviews with me, and not just with me, but with others too,  starting from my former band members to journalists that knew me. But that book is something else. Mine is told from my point of view and in it my experiences were gathered.

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These days the number of autobiographies by renowned musicians is huge and they pour out all kinds of details from their lives. Apart from comical happenings, the travelogues, you describe some unpleasant occurrences. Was it easy to open up to people in such a manner? In the past you did that by means of your songs.

I think that this is the only way to interest somebody to read it – to be sincere and opened, and not to make up things. One can do that if he is writing fiction, but that’s a different story. If you are writing about things that have happened to you then you have to be consistent and honest. There is no danger that someone might hurt you because you don’t make things up – those thing did happen. What you are describing is your own emotions. Since plenty of people have found themselves in similar situations or had had the opportunity to re-liven your story, in the end that is called victory.

The book is dedicated to the late Croatian journalist Darko Glavan, who died tragically in a car accident a few years ago.

That was a tragic and unnecessary death. We were together at a Santana concert in Varaždin, and by the 7th or 8th song, as I turned behind, he wasn’t standing beside me and we never saw each other again. We were very good friends. He was like an older brother to me. I learned a lot from him and I miss him very much.

predin11The book was promoted, beside native Slovenia, in Croatia, Macedonia, and in the end, Serbia. It was translated in the languages from those countries. What were people’s reactions about the book?

The reactions were mainly good. Those were some new people, since this book has helped me to expand my audience, hasn’t it? Some that found out about me through the book started to listen to my music, and those that knew my music read the book so they could see what I’m talking about, and I think that all these strands have connected in a nice way and that it started building from that point. Lately, I-ve been invited to all kinds of bookstores and libraries, and I connect things by doing a concert in the city when I’m doing do the promotional work for the book either at some club or a small theater. Besides that. The poetics of it still lives both in literary and musical ways. Judging by the messages I receive as well as notes on the Facebook, I can notice the fun people have when they read the book and they retell the stories to each other.

Parallel to your book you also promote your new record „Kosa Boja Srebra.“

In general, I don’t like to repeat myself and this time I have assembled a different kind of a band, where I changed the instrumentation: instead of bass guitar there is a tuba, and an accordion, electric guitar, and for the first time in my career I’m using electric loops, that were made in such a manner where this type of musicianship will be made even more functional. It is not meant for a calm audience that wants to sit through the show, but for those that want to dance, which was evident a month ago at „Tvornica Kulture“ arena in Zagreb, that this approach was successful. Each song has its own feel, its specific arrangement and therefore a world unto its own. It is not easy to predict into what kind of mood or world I’m leading my listeners with each song. To m that is the most important thing about this record. The lyrics are good or as one journalist has noticed, I have remained a rebel, but now I rebel in a charming way. One of the most positive things about this record is that we could perform this song in a more straightforward way as on the record. To me this is world music but in a very fresh way.

What was the title song inspired by?

I dreamt a dream. It may sound banal, but it was the first time that I managed to remember a dream and simply I wrote it down as it happened. I dreamt that I met Margita, the keyboard player from the band EKV, but since she remained young, as we all remember her, and I have grown older – she didn’t recognize me. Since I was still hearing her band’s song „Eyes with color of honey,“ as an allusion to that I chose the title „Kosa boje srebra“ (Hair with Silver colour)

From this time distance, how do you look at that period of music history when EKV and Lačni Frantz, among many were still active?

That was a very productive and qualitative period, when a high quality music was made that is still alive today. The music that came out of the New Wave is still present and is listened by generation after generation. It still has that something that musics prior to her did not have, and the interest shown by the new generations show that she is still magical and special. Why is that so, probably sociologists can explain that better. That music was bold, uncompromising and sincere. Those are, probably, its finest virtues.

The band Lačni Frantz created a unique music, and your lyrics were critical and provocative. Do you see this kind of approach in the form of criticism and protest among  younger bands?

I think there is, but things have changed a lotTo look upon issues from the past and today in the same manner is pointless. What is happening today has to be seen with today’s eyes and ears. That is why any hint of nostalgia won’t achieve anything positive and that will only cause damage, since it hinders new ideas and it steals their space.

Wasn’t your record with Matija Dedić „Traces within the longing,“ where you sang the cream of some of the most popular ballads from former Yugoslavia, based on nostalgia?

„Traces“ was purposefully based on some yearning and it wasn’t nostalgia. There is a big difference between these two words. That was a some sort of experiment that showed when we listened to well known songs, that in our subconscious we still hear the original songs. Wherever we listen to those songs – in a car, on a balcony, in any kin of arrangement, within our heads he hear the originals. Our minimalist approach to those songs, actually, is the red button that is turned on whenever that song is heard.

What is it within a certain song that makes it to be immortal? What makes it listenable for the many generations afterward, and not just in the times it was created?

That happens when the song reaches the emotions of a huge number of people. That means that a huge number of people, will decode something in the song that is very close to them. I would sang that song in that manner since it evokes identical sentiments within me. And if those things coincide, then we have a hit or an evergreen song. But that cannot be made on purpose. Even those hit-makers have to have an inspirations, and with the skills they have and everything else, but without the inspirations, there is no hit nor evergreen song.

To what extent do you follow what is happening on the music scenes in former Yugoslavia?

Not that much. Mainly I’m preoccupied with my work on several areas, and because of that I don’t have much spare time. If someone sends me something or will recommend someone, for eg. my wife Barbara might send me a link,  I will check it out. Sometimes I will find something by myself. One can say that I’m 4-5 steps behind occurrences, but things do catch up with me. The more better ones really do.

Are there any plans for another book in the near future?

Not for now, although I have some ideas that might make me write a proper novel. But, I don’t think that will happen as I don’t necessarily feel like it, and I don’t think I have strong ideas to start. I will be performing again with the Gypsy Swing Band, and with the help of Damir Kukuruzović I created a wonderful program, that I hope to present in Macedonia either in the spring or during the summer. But mainly, for this year I can say that there will be more concerts as well as promoting this book.

Nenad Georgievski

photo: Angel Sitnovski