It’s midday in Croatia on a beautiful winters evening and we are heading out of our Beats Travel base in Split to meet a local duo, AMPM. Croatia is known as the epicenter of top international music festivals, but it’s also forming a reputation for strong home-grown talent.
We get settled at a local cafe and It’s clear right away that these guys have known each other for a while as Antonijo begins to tell the story of how they met.
"We were both raised in Split. Milan is a few years older than me and we have known each other for about 20 years now. Back then he was a metal head until one day he sold his first guitar to buy his first turntables.”
"6 years ago, our mutual friend saw me play at my house and insisted that I meet his friend who was into the same music as me. He drove me to his studio and it was then that I realised it was my old friend, Milan.”
“The first time we played together, I brought some synths and we made about a ten minute housey track. It felt right and straight away we had an instant vibe. From that point, we’ve been like family."
Milan continues “We decided to do some deep house music, but our style was also a little different. We are both Metallica fans. We always say that everything came from Metallica.”
It quickly becomes apparent that they both compliment each others style with their individual skill-sets and backgrounds as Antonijo touches on the subject of the duo’s roles.
“I was privately schooled and played piano and was taught a lot about how the music functions. Milan has been a DJ and guitar player and is great for composition. I have melody and he has composition. He’s a DJ and he knows how people function. It is the perfect blend of AM and PM. Our initials Antonijo Milina and Milan Pivalica.”
When asked about their inspiration, both have varying answers.
Antonijo begins “Besides the Jazzy, Metal Rock, for electronic music, one of the biggest influences for me was Gus Gus from Iceland. Their creation of electronic music is so different from any other. They are very melodic and most amazing synth sounds.”
Milan then interjects “Gah, There are too many good things and too many good artists! It’s hard to pick but maybe if I had to choose in the last year it would be DJ Koze and Roman Flugel.
So what do they think makes AMPM stand out?
Antonijo replies, “We try to make our atmosphere. If I have to put a colour on it, would be a deep black house. Not depressive, just the good black! We have a local saying, Music In Moment. During our set, nothing is pre-recorded! This is one of the main aspects that makes us different.”
The Evolution of the Croatian music scene
Antonijo - “Thanks to the festivals, it is building. People now know where Croatia is and what’s on offer.”
Only recently, the duo have been working on a new project in the form of a record label called ‘Simulation’.
Milan explains, “We just started 2-3 months ago and the idea is to be the main station in ex Yugoslavia - we want to be a platform where we will have a label, party series, podcast and studio. This concept is to extend the community and support young talented artists also.
(Antonijo) “My vision of simulation records began from working with our friends at Outcome we make music and send it to some label they won’t listen to it because you are from Croatia. If you don’t have the connections, even if your music is the best you won't get a response. So we decided why don’t we make something for everybody else to give everyone a chance. It’s us and the Outcome guys that have founded it.”
(Milan) “We are really happy with the start so far. We’ve had our first release and were first on the progressive chart on Traxsource for 5 or 6 days. It’s a track called “Life After” an original from Outcome and an Argentinian duo, Brigado Crew.”
Our second release is coming worldwide on 5th of April. Gian Pietro and Tiziano, better known as GizA DJ's are an eclectic DJ/production duo from Italy. We are also working on a second track for our first release on our own label and that should be out sometime in June.
In other exciting news, they have just started a collaboration with Mixmag Adriatic. Their first podcast came out recently and will be released on a monthly basis. The aim of this is to bring together their local crew and produce an array of interesting interviews with artists and topics.
Croatian Festivals and Clubs
Why do you think Croatia has the world hotspot for festivals?
Milan - It’s a lot cheaper, it’s beautiful and in a good position.
Antonijo - I’d say a big reason is that fresh, it’s new and people haven’t been here before so they get that sense of excitement too. You have loads of people that have been to Spain 10 times and get bored. I’m not saying Spain is a bad place, I love Spain but it’s just we are a newer destination
Can you recommend a club that can’t be missed whilst in Croatia?
During summer I really like Kalypso on Zrce and Barbarella discoteque in Tisno. Those places are amazing and you can expect some really nice music. It's a real experience!
During winter in Sibenik I was in the Tunnel Club, that’s really a hotspot for our music. Sibenik is small but very liberal and the guys from Ratcat are doing great things with good vibes in the smaller cities. The smaller cities support the venues and are behind youth and culture a lot more than for example split.
Any up-and-coming Croatian producers that we should look out for?
There is one guy that we have to give a shout out and that is Tino Simich. A newcomer on the industry that plays some quality house music.
We aren't as involved with the youngsters anymore as we were a few years ago. Everyone we know is already involved. This will change with the label as we meet new young people.
This is the call for them. If you think you make good music, send it to the Simulation records, and if we find it good, no matter who you are, what your surname is, who you know, who your father is, I'm going to listen to it, my friend Milan will listen to it. The Outcome guys will listen and if it’s good we are going to put it out.
What's the favourite place you have played in?
We played in a fortress as the warm-up for Gus Gus which was amazing but you can’t go wrong with playing on boats. Especially here in the Adriatic.
What is your favorite festival?
Labyrinth festival. Held in Omis, a stunning part of Dalmatia, this electronic festival was vibes all around.