Macedonia may not be one of the countries at the top of your ‘to travel’ list, but it’s definitely one that should not be underestimated.
For a small, landlocked country in the Balkans, its music scene holds its own. With bookings of the likes of Derrick May & Juan Atkins, could this be the next music destination?
Here at Beats Travel we like exploring new cultures and music scenes. This month, the team have immersed themselves into the Macedonia scene & soaked up the rich history of the land. We sat down with Ogi, one of the prominent members and driving forces of the Macedonian electronic community over the last 20 years, to get his take on his homeland.
MACEDONIA MUSIC SCENE PROFILE
NAME: Ognen Uzunovski ‘Ogi’.
ROLE: PROMOTER (Macedonia)
How did you start working in the music scene?
Before the year 2000, I had some problems with the law until a man called Samoil Radinski, one of the oldest DJs in Macedonia, took me in and introduced me to music. He invited me to come to his house and hide for 2 months. The whole time living together, listening to different styles of music from jazz and techno to house. This is where we also first watched the French documentary ‘the universal of techno’ and started seeing the guys from Detroit. Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Kenny Larkin, Stacey Pullen and many others. In that period, Smilen Dimitrov, a member of SAF – the most famous rap collective from Macedonia, was our tech guy. He was more educated in computers than most. So there were 4 of us that teamed up together. Myself, Samoil Radinski, Ivan Todorovski and Dr. Smilen Dimitrov creating the promoting agency BALANCE, celebrating 18 years this year!
Tell us a bit more about BALANCE, what has it built in the last 18 years?
First Balance party in Ohrid/Gradishte. Dr.Smilen Dimitrov, Derrick May, Ognen Uzunovski, Samoil Radinski 15.07.2000
Over the past 18 years, we have brought a lot of DJs and artists to Macedonia. We also organised two festivals in 2008 and 2009 called Fonetica, with mainly domestic artists. Although, the first festival was with Italian DJ Alaxander Robotnick. The festival was 15,000 people and held in the town of Struga. We also now run a club called Sektor 909.
We’ve been really impressed with the Macedonian scene. How do you think it compares to other countries in the Balkans?
I think Macedonia stands out more than any other country in the Balkans for our love and dedication to booking Detroit artists. No country in the Balkans books them like we do!
You translated Laurent Garnier’s book Electrochoc into Macedonian. Tell us about how this happened?
It was a passion project. Myself and a few other guys in the Balkans decided we wanted to translate it from French. It was actually translated into Macedonian before English! A year after that Laurent Garnier came and played here.
Do you travel outside of Skopje much to go to festivals?
Not so much. During the peak festival period when you have countries like Serbia holding EXIT and Lovefest; that is also our peak time with work here. We had planned a collaboration with them. We would take our Symphonic Orchestra to EXIT for their 15 year anniversary with the Underground Resistance but unfortunately it did not happen due to politics.
Do you have any local producers or promoters that people should know about?
Samoil Radinski, the founder of Logos Recordings and Nino Flooder, who plays only vinyl for the last 20 years.