101 with Jan Nemecek

We’re glad to introduce to you one of the most interesting young artists of the electronic scene in Serbia Jan Nemeček, who was born in 1989 in Belgrade. Coming from a family of musicians, he showed interest in creating electronic music quite early – he began with a primitive rhythm machine and a tape recorder. At the age of 10 he wrote music for a show for kids, ads for films and TV series. Over time, he switched to MIDI and sequencers and working in a computer environment, while setting up his own studio. He spent several years working on ambient music (the albums Disappearance and Through the Planetary Void), as well as various multimedia works. In 2006, he started the collaboration with Marko Nastić and Marko Milosavljević, with whom he’s working together in the studio, but also on the road, with his live-act.

He performed at the Exit Festival in that same year, barely 17, making him one of the youngest performers at this event ever. In the same year he remixed Nastić’s single U Are The Reason and released a solo CD/DVD album Afterimage and the set from Exit was released as a special edition accompanying the Yellow Cab magazine, with a pressing of 15.000 copies. Earlier in 2008, he released his debut 12" for Traffica, with the title track also appearing on the latest edition of the Belgrade Coffee Shop compilation. A year later he and Danilo Tomić co-founded one of the first Serbian netlabels – Norbu, where he turns to a more experimental side of electronica, minimal and house with his Kalope alias. He gained international respect from listeners and critics with the release of the All Things album (2011) as well as numerous EPs on his Norbu label. Since 2014 Jan has focused on working with granular synthesis and sampling, producing the album Fragmented.

He has performed in Germany, Austria, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Kosovo and his collaborations include Brickwall Brigade (with Goran Simonoski), J-House (with Danilo Tomic) and live performances with Lukatoyboy. This year he presents his latest vision of music with EPs Emergence on a baby pink limited edition cassette and Organic I-III. Contrary to most DJs and producers on the local techno scene, Jan prefers playing live, presenting the development of his tracks on the dancefloor. If a question emerges about what he’s playing at any particular moment, you’ll always get the same reply – his own stuff.

What’s your favourite piece of gear – something you couldn’t live without?

As so many others, I’ve lately got really addicted to modular synthesizers. While I’ve avoided depending on hardware for quite a few years, the eurorack stuff really brings a lot to the table and enables you to do some crazy things that would be hard and cumbersome to do in software. Also, it’s very fun to use live!

Which do you prefer – playing at enormous festivals or intimate clubs?

I’ve always been fond of reasonably small venues as there’s less pressure to perform in a crowd-pandering way – people tend to know what they’re going to hear or tend to be simply more open-minded than the festival crowds. On a more technical level, clubs almost always sound better and more ‘tuned’ than your average festival.

Which is the most mesmerising club that you’ve ever played at?

Whichever one had a great sound system, wi-fi and good espresso or mate.

What is your best and worst experience at a gig and why?

I really do enjoy most gigs where the sound is good and there’s an optimal number of people on the dance floor. As for the worst – take your pick between spilt drinks and destroyed gear, power outages or police raids. Luckily it happens rarely.

Do you have any interests besides music? 

On a music-related note, I do sound design as in samples in presets for software and hardware synths. It’s quite a possibility, that if you’ve used any kind of drum or sound loop lately, it has originated from my workspace. I’m also a big nerd as electronic musicians tend to be.

My day job involves a lot of programming, so I guess that was somehow always an interest. Other than that, I generally try to stay informed about current events which takes a sizeable chunk of each day.

Do you enjoy sunset or sunrise sets?

Sunrise would definitely be my pick. I’ve only done it a few times but at some crazy locations so it was always very interesting.

What do you like and what do you hate about the music industry?

I never really liked the fact that undeveloped scenes tend to have this clan-like grouping where everyone is backstabbing each other – in the end, no one really succeeds in that kind of environment. It’s something that has plagued the Belgrade scene as well as neighbouring countries, but I think it’s been getting better lately. The music industry is also saturated to a point, where it’s kind of hard to get yourself known without associating yourself with some group or having ‘friends in high places’.

On a more positive note, it’s never been easier to just put your stuff out there. The end result of this is that you can be very experimental and you’ll still be able to reach the crowd that’s interested in what you’re doing.

If you could pick any artist to do a b2b set, who would it be?

I’m not really a good DJ by any standards, so I wouldn’t really subject anyone to play with my eccentric selection.

What’s your biggest fear?

Music-wise it would probably be some kind of on-stage meltdown or becoming boring and irrelevant (not to say that I’m not at this moment).

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you on a gig?

Other than people thinking I’m a DJ and requesting tracks (even with all the non-DJ gear and no CDJ or Technics in sight) all the time, I’d probably say one 2008 performance which was first interrupted after 30 seconds due to a police raid, postponed till the next day, then cut by a power outage two times at roughly the same point in the set.

Don’t think I’ll ever forget the second power cut, total silence at the venue other than me cursing loudly. There’s probably a much better story but I’m very forgetful.

Could you pick one timeless track?

One of my favourite electronic pieces is ‘Generator 2’ by Keith Fullerton Whitman. I find the entire Generator series quite fascinating as these are all live recordings without overdubs, sequencing or keyboard playing that manages to perfectly showcase the musical side of modular synthesis.

By Alen, edited on 14 June 2018