Srdjan Gojkovic: 40 years of Elektricni orgazam
The lead singer of the band Elektricni Orgasm and the author of the famous hit song “Igra rokenrol cela Jugoslavija” as well as one of the founders of the New wave, Srdjan Gojkovic Gile continues to work and dream big even after full four decades of being on the scene with the same energy.
For our 011info interview, Gile speaks about the origins of New wave, why movie music is specific and reveals what Elektricni orgazam has in store for the future.
You grew up in two different parts of Belgrade. Which was your favorite?
I was born in Gavrila Principa and I grew up there until I started junior school in Banovo hill when I was six and a half years old. My father got an apartment there in which I live to this day. My father passed away in 1976 when I was 15 years old. It was then I went back to Gavrila Principa for a few years and from then on I kind of went back and forth as they say.
I spent most of my time in the city center. It was great for me in that period because SKC was close by as well as Akademija club. I could reach by foot all places where events important to me took place.
Did living there influence any events later in your life?
I don’t think that played a key role. For example, I had friends who lived on the outskirts of the city like Koja from Disciplina kicme who lived in Block 45 and he had no problem hanging out in the same places as me.
Of course it was logistically easier for me. I just go outside and take a walk to SKC. I didn’t have to get on a bus, but if I had, it wouldn’t have been a problem.
You entered the world of music not as a singer, but as a drummer - which is unusual for band lead singers normally.
I started playing the drums when I was around 17 years old, though I had played a bit of the guitar before that. A friend of my father’s had gifted me an acoustic guitar when I was in junior school, but I’d usually just turn it around and bang a rhythm on the back. When I was a kid going to concerts, I’d usually always just watch the drummer. I didn’t get attached to lead singers and guitar players. The drummer was always more interesting to me because they’d always be doing something with both their hands and feet.
I remember during a vacation when I was a kid, Boba Stefanovic was playing on a hotel balcony with his band. The drummer was Lazar Tosic, legendary Jazz drummer. I went to their performance every night and tried to sit wherever I could see Tosic the best. I didn’t care about anything else. That’s how I fell in love with the drums.
To this day I like playing the drums. I often take up the drum during tone rehearsal. But the circumstances were such that I ended up as a lead singer and guitar player.
What made you decide to give up the drums?
There was this need for me to be in the center of attention on scene and be in the front position. On the other hand, it was the audience who made that decision for us, right from our first concert where Elektricni orgazam played opening act for Hipnotisano pile where I was playing the drums. People were just thrilled with Elektricni orgazam. When Pile came on, a lot of the audience left the hall. It was obvious which path was for me. Still, everything you do, you do in part for yourself, but the audience’s reaction is needed for it to all make sense and back then the people had spoken.
At the time when you were starting your music career, but also later as well, you had often performed and worked with different groups and individuals. How useful was that for you?
When I work with musicians that I don’t normally work with, I always learn something new. I learned a lot working with Vlada Divljan. This cooperation with Magic Bush too, even though they are a lot younger than me, brought me a wealth of new knowledge because they have a different approach. I’m sure they got something out of me as well.
I’ve always been happy to appear and work with everyone as long as I like what they’re doing. I’ve worked with friends such as Anton and Cane from Partibrejkers, Milan Mladenovic, Koja…
You mentioned SKC as a sort of gathering point for different creatively-inclined people and that it played a vital role for many of them. Is that the work of those who led that institution or was it the people themselves who gathered there and went on to become legends?
Primarily it was the leadership. SKC still exists today, but nobody is there and not just because of Covid. You had to craft that creative nest that SKC was in the 70’s and early 80’s. By that, I don’t mean just the people who decided who played in SKC - Moma Rajin and Nebojsa Pakic, but also everyone working in the galleries and organizing interesting art exhibits. All those sectors were very strong back then. From the SKC movie theatre program where I saw the Yugoslavian “Black wave” for the first time which you couldn’t see in normal theatres, to various performances - from Marina Abranovic to theatre plays such as “Kugla glumiste” or Ljubisa Ristic and the KPGT which were avantgarde at the time.
SKC was an education institution where you didn’t even have to enlist but just show up whenever you wanted and see various content.
I think that all goes back to the student protests in 1968, after which Tito or the KPJ gave SKC to the students. That was the start of it all. Then a hippie group of creative people started building up the place. It all culminated around ten years later and lasted halfway through the 80’s. Then, it started to get commercialized. The concerts were no longer free as they were when we were kids. Kapitalism started rolling in and everything changed.
The circumstances back then proved to be ideal for the beginning of what we today call the New wave. Although it was short-lived, it left a deep mark. Do you think that something like that can happen again?
Any avant garde movement has a lifespan of only several years. The same thing happened with the Yugoslavia’s New wave which did what it had to do and then went away. In fact, most of the bands fell apart and only a few survived because they adapted.
The New wave was a spur of the moment thing. Its creation was influenced primarily by huge changes in the global music scene that were going on at the time, but also economic, social and political circumstances. It was the age of a certain economic prosperity during the seventies. We were the generation whose parents could afford, just from their paychecks, a trip to London.
After Tito died, there was also chaos in the government, so they didn’t have time to pay attention to things like censoring the bands, so a more liberal age came about where certain things could pass that never could’ve in the past. For example, in the 70’s a band called Elektricni orgazam (Electric orgasm), would’ve never made it to a single concert, let alone publish albums.
The New wave was a massive flood of everything that had accumulated in our region at that specific moment.
It all boils down to a few right people in a few right places.
In Jugoton at the time, shortly before we made it to the scene, they assigned the first music editor in Yugoslavia who came from the rock ‘n’ roll genre. It was Sinisa Skarica. In PGP RTB, there just hadn’t been those kinds of people before. Only around the late 80’s they brought in Peca Popovic, which was when we crossed from Jugoton to RTB, which we always used to see as a folk music house. Of course they also had some Jazz and pop music, but just negligibly so.
Keeping that in mind, it’s a bit strange that people used to reproach you for publishing albums for City Records.
That’s what I said back then too. Jugoton also wasn’t 100% to my taste, but it suited us better than PGP. In Jugoton we had Veljko Despot who did excellent licensed programming and published foreign albums as well. Still, this publishing house mostly worked in pop music - Oliver Dragojevic, Gabi Novak, Arsen Dedic - so we didn’t quite fit in there either.
When it comes to City Records, my logic was that we’d never published for a publishing house that we liked 100% anyway, because it didn’t exist.
The closest we came recently was the small publishing house “Odlican hrcak” (Excellent hamster) who publishes Partibrejkers, us, Magic bush…
But back then, you had to work with a publisher that has a sales network so that you could reach your audience. We didn’t have internet so someone in Vranje could only get your album by going to the store and buying it.
Elektricni orgazam was one of the few bands who live exclusively from music. How do you manage to do that?
The circumstances were such that we were able to hold enough concerts to live off. Although we’ve had difficult periods and years. Before the bombing I had my own music show where I played music I liked. Also Banana and I had a cover band and performed in cafes playing foreign bands’ songs. I still work as a DJ from time to time, but everything I do is exclusively linked to music.
What’s interesting is that you and Srdjan Zika Todorovic were among the first who accepted and understood electronic music in a special way.
Zika and I spent a lot of time together - he even played for Orgazam back then as an extra member. It was in the early 90’s when there was a club industry. It was the first serious place for DJ’s to play music.
Back then it was interesting to me both as a music genre and as movement. There was something similar going on with punk and New wave. A lot of young people came up, all of them extremely creative. Sadly we didn’t have some results of the same magnitude as during the New wave, they weren’t making albums, but that scene did yield some people like Marko Nastic who is today considered the most popular DJ.
On the other hand, you’ve worked with Ljubivoje Rsumovic and composed music for two cult-hit movies - “Kako je propao rokenrol” and “Crni bombarder”.
In “Kako je propao rokenrol”, Vlada Divljan was doing music for a certain story, I did music for another one and Koja did yet another. For the movie “Crni bombarder” I worked with Divljan directly. In the preparation phase we made songs, the most famous of which was “Svecane bele kosulje”. Then the war broke out and Vlada packed up and moved to Australia in the middle of shooting. So I had to do some accompanying music for certain scenes all by myself.
It was interesting making movie music because there you are guided and limited by the movie itself and the ideas of the director.
On the other hand, working with Rsum was amazing. Above all he was a huge child at heart, which is why he’s one of the best children’s writers. I also consider myself a child at heart, so we had a lot of laughs, goofs and fun.
It all started when Vlada Divljan and myself recorded a punk cover of the song “Ivin voz”. Vlada was then hired to compose the anthem for the Bosko buha theatre led by Rsum and at some point he played him the cover. Since he loved it, he suggested we make a few more covers and he’ll make the script. That’s how “Rokenrol za decu” play came to be. Vlada and I had roles in the play and we held over a hundred performances during a single month.
After this play we made a second children’s album where Ljuba also did lyrics and Vlada and I the music. It was the “Rokenrol azbuka” for the TV show “Fazoni i fore” where every letter had a song.
Regarding the 40 year anniversary since the New wave, Jugoton is publishing a re-edition of four hit albums “Paket aranzman”, “Bistriji ili tuplji covek biva kad…”, “Elektricni orgazam” and “Haustor”. We can also soon expect to see a documentary movie about Elektricni orgazam. How did the shooting go?
They interviewed all the members of Elektricni orgazam, the current and some former ones. The movie is being edited right now. I think there’s enough material for around six hours of film, but what all makes it to the final version depends on the director. There will be tons of archive footage, private photos, videos and more.
I’m not sure when it’s supposed to be done, but I hope it will be soon. The movie was supposed to air within the New Year program, but they realized they couldn’t finish it in such a short time so it was postponed and will air eventually, possibly in two episodes. We will see.
Are you planning to write an autobiography?
Right now I don’t feel the need to do so, though I’ve had a few offers. I don’t like to do things unless they spontaneously come out of me. Still, I’ve considered it and I might do it at some point.
I love reading those kinds of books myself. Although memory can be a tricky thing. The more time passes, the more a person will ‘polish’ those memories the way they like. Still, all the stories are more authentic coming from people who experienced them first hand.
What are your plans moving forward?
Covid stopped us right when we were about to go on our tour celebrating 40 years of existence. Most of our concerts were sold out, though, so our plan was to go on and mark that anniversary the moment the situation is better. Although it’s no longer 40 years since the band was made, it’s 40 years since our first published album.
We are also planning to publish a new album when time comes and I started working on a new album with Magic bush so right now we’re doing arrangements for new songs.