Music in Belgrade: The Flesh Community

THE FLESH COMMUNITY: THE DIRTY URBAN CULTURE & ONE PUNK ASS CITIZEN

It was around seven years ago when Miloš realized that music software is not particularly hard to use. He was always a music lover but, like most kids growing up in Belgrade, he never had anyone to support him creating music. As it happens, he was surrounded by people discouraging him from the idea, including his parents. The fact that most of his friends laughed at what he listened to didn’t help either. Italo disco, dirty south, and drill rap, some punk rock and lots of darkwave ­– these movements heavily influenced him. Years of experimenting with the guitar became the ground on which Miloš stood before he began to dig into synth disco beats, which would lead him to the dark and messed up disco music that is The Flesh Community.

 

“I used to think that I wanted to make a punk band with guitars and drum machines, but then when I started listening to more synth music I was like fuck guitars – synths are easier and you can do more with them. I didn’t know much about them, but I did know that they were expensive, and I didn’t know if I should just go out and buy one of them, and risk ending up only using it for a month. With Ableton it was easier to just – start.”

And a couple of months later, you already managed to produce an EP – Would you say that marked the beginning of The Flesh Community?

Yes, that’s when I realized I should give it a name, it was becoming a concept. I made a first album, and after I released it, there were people asking if I am going to start doing live shows. I didn’t think about that, wasn’t even sure whether I am capable of doing it. But when I tossed it over in my head for a while, it felt right, so I started doing rehearsals.

 

There seems to be close-knit community of friends and artists around The Flesh Community, although it is your solo project. Have you included any of these people in the project, musically or otherwise?

Yea, definitely. Those people were the backbone, like artist EmaEmaEma. I remember wanting to do a song with female vocals, so I asked her and it worked out pretty well – soon after, she joined me on stage to perform that song live. Stevan Loncarević used to be our guitarist, and we often collaborate with artist Dulait and graffiti artist Jeans with some amazing visuals and designs. At the moment, the band consists of Pavle Popov and myself.

 

You did graffiti at the time. Do you still? What is it about urban spaces that you find compelling?

I do sometimes, when I have time. There was graffiti, but it was also other exploratory stuff that people do, like skateboarding, that are actually a way to make living in the city tolerable and fun. It’s about going to the overlooked, shitty areas, and it’s being fascinated with the dark side of urban living, I think.

 

Belgrade is a good playground for that.

Yeah, it’s ideal. I come from Australia which is a really safe, clean country. It is a double-edged knife, really, good for some things and bad for others. Although it is the capital, in Belgrade you can always find a place to be alone. It seems so crowded, but you can always find a place where you can tell that no one’s been there for ages, and you can get lost in it. It’s just that, for getting inspiration and making art, Belgrade works for me.

Some would say that there really are no similar projects to The Flesh Community in Belgrade – no scene, so to say. Does that have any effect on you?

It is hard when you get confused reactions at gigs, for example. If people are saying I’m shit, that’s actually great because I can feed off of that and become obnoxious. Give them back what they don’t like even harder. But if they are just sitting back and looking like they don’t know what to make out of you, that’s when you feel like you’re in a zoo being observed. Our shows are pretty intimate, but energetic. I dance and scream. The audience gets confused at first, they need a couple of songs to get into it, but when they do it’s beautiful.

 

Where have you had your gigs? How often?

My second show was on a building foundation that never got finished, near the museum of Yugoslavia. It looks like nothing from outside, but you can go underneath the ground where there is a huge ruin. But apart from that, I had most of my gigs in Drugstore. I’ve been lazy with gigs, don’t know what the problem is really, but I decided to sort it out and just do it. I guess that I wasn’t too happy with my last two gigs, and I just became weird about it. But it’s just time to relax and do it.

 

There is something about you and semi-public, abandoned places in Belgrade. Tell me about the location of The Flesh Community’s latest music video: Outside.

My friends Dulait, Mihailo P. and I were tossing around ideas to access some of the most photogenic unused locations around Belgrade for a video, thinking about how we could succeed without going through any bureaucratic hassles like getting permits, which would have been impossible in this country. We then got Andrija K. involved, who is an established film maker with a very adventurous side, and he proved to be an awesome cameraman, editor and co-director. He brought very strong energy to the project.

 

All I knew was that I imagined it to be shot literally underground. One of the locations is a natural cave that the Germans used during WWII when Belgrade was under occupation. They built bunkers within the walls of the cave system, which are entirely concrete, with chambers and tunnels – all surrounded by a natural cave. At the end of the tunnels, you enter this large cave located under one of the city’s largest parks.

 

There even used to be a graveyard above this exact spot, but the city decided to relocate it at some point. A lot of the graves and surrounding soil were actually dumped into the cave beneath. And to top it off, the cave also used to sit at the edge of the Pannonian Sea some millions of years ago, so you can even find some visible shellfish fossils in the middle of it all. It is a really special place!

 

In the video you are trying, in super-slow and arduous manner, to get out of that dark twisted cave that used to be a cemetery / Nazi bunker / sea, and on top of that you are naked. Talk about symbolism.

I think that was a way of expressing this urban alienation, being naked in a cave. You’re vulnerable, exposed and in a dark place. That’s how it feels to go out and make art sometimes in a place like this. It’s like you mentioned earlier, there is no solid scene in Belgrade, but there are so many people that are really creative that rarely get the recognition they deserve. People here tend to be conservative in their core, although it’s not even their fault. But they are afraid of any art that extends beyond their conformity– they are afraid of those kinds of ideas. It’s not always welcoming.

How do you think The Flesh Community may connect with these people? How important is it for you to grow your reach?

Honestly, I would like to get it spread. The first reason to do it is for yourself, but then you put in a lot of effort and in some way, you want it to be seen and you want the interaction. And I feel that it’s relevant, I feel that lot of people feel alienated and vulnerable in this climate of chaotic capitalism. People need to think less about what others are going to think as far as any kind of art is concerned. Another thing to take into consideration is that people here really need to work their everyday jobs and survive, (I work as a programmer, for example), so I guess this kind of drive is difficult to get in touch with.

 

It can be difficult to express yourself in this country, especially when there is no money in it, so there is not enough space for wanking around with art. I think it’s important to find the time and space to do it, though, because people need it, everywhere. It’s cliché but it comes down to really loving what you do and feeling that what you are doing is right – and in the end, it will be.

 

What does your creative process look like?

Either I have an idea of a rhythm, or I start messing around with synths and make a melody that takes me someplace. But I’m thinking about starting songs with lyrics, because that tends to be the hardest part for me. The worst is when I have a song that is just waiting for lyrics. Usually I don’t work in continuum, I make a lot of things and then don’t do anything for a while.

 

Plans?

More gigs! Stop being lazy and stage-frightened, and do more gigs – that’s my plan. My day job is stopping me from doing a lot of things at the moment, but hopefully I will have more time soon. It’s not just rehearsing for live shows, I also have a lot of ideas for new songs that I keep thinking about. It’s frustrating when you don’t have time to do all the things that you need to do, which just accumulate and press onto you as the days go by. I feel like I might go crazy sometimes!

 

We seem to be living in times when making music has become easier than ever before. How easy is it for you?

Yeah, it’s not easy at all and the industry is so heavy. I like making music but I don’t even know if I’m actually into the industry or willing to go in that direction. It is like making products, you have to make a product to sell, and when you start thinking that way, I don’t know how much space there is left for creative thinking. I don’t think that I could make music without that kind of freedom, making music that has to be popular or sold would be a nightmare.

INTERVIEW ~ ANA KONJOVIĆ

PHOTOGRAPHY ~ DUŠAN RAJIĆ 

WATCH HERE ~ “OUTSIDE” BY THE FLESH COMMUNITY

 

thefleshcommunity.bandcamp.com

soundcloud.com/the-flesh-community

 



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