The Dutch Balkangroup of Igor Sekulović has a second album: Pump Up The Radio. The band consist of a truly bright club, the music is sincere and it moves to positive thinking and partying. The word projekt is consciously spelled the Bosnian way and Rakija is the national liquor of the Balkan, with an alcohol percentage of 40 to 60%. “ When this is on the table, it is always lots of fun”.
Igor arrives from Bosnia in the Netherlands with his mother and sisters when he is ten years old. Mum’s profession was being a judge but she was, due to her heritage, summarily fired overnight. Running away was the only option. Without his father because he had been mobilized. It is really intense when you have to leave everything at such a young age. Igor rapidly integrated, went to the Rockacademy and presented modernized hundreds of years old songs from his motherland as a graduation project.
With a big band he renewed the Sevdalinje (the traditional Bosnian blues) by combining it with energetic ritmes, splashing blowers en his screaming rock guitar. Traditional elements were matched with psychedelic western rock, whereby yearning for love the town was painted red and nostalgia was linked with exuberance. A few sensitive notes aside, standing still and not toasting wasn’t an option. From the start it was clear that it couldn’t stop with that one time presentation in 2011. Projekt Rakija has stayed a close family, with besides a dozen musicians also a cartoonist and a graphic designer within ranks.
Their debut album Welcome To The Family already brought them on tv show De Wereld Draait Door and on many beautiful stages. Everywhere the band plays the people react exuberantly, whether it is in rock halls, on jazzfestivals, in the Netherlands as well as on their tour along cities as Copenhagen, Munich, Sarajevo, Moscow and Budapest. In the last city they closed the world famous festival Sziget on one of the main stages in 2014.
For the band it has been intense, amazing and furiously exciting to see if their music would do its job in ex-Yugoslavia. Some songs are originally from there, but are now played with western influences by a Dutch band. “It was euphorically. The responses were overwhelming and for a minute we became the happiest people in the world”. In the Netherlands they have proven their status as a festival band as well with performances on Mundial, Paaspop and de Zwarte Cross; an invitation for Lowlands 2015 was received with a lot of cheers.
The melodies of Projekt Rakija are often melancholic, the message isn’t always easy, but right through the heavy beat people often interpet the music as danceable and happy. The band members enjoy that contrast. The group evolves and the music changes a bit every time. In Pump Up The Radio there are a little bit more electronics and beats. But the message stays the same. “It is typical Bosnian to laugh about their own suffering. New energy is received from it. The lyrics of Rage Against The Machine weren’t always positive, but you did go out of your riff. Bob Marley’s neither, but it did touch you within.”
Titeltrack Pump Up The Radio holds a political statement. Man is secretly a bit controlled nowadays. Igor Sekulović has a problem with the fact that there are an unnecessary number of things being imposed down from on high. He is in his heart a real socialist and a big advocate for a democratic world. “Refugees are in the news a lot lately. Unfortunately negatively as well. Not everyone in Europe has the same opinion. If I hadn’t fled to the Netherlands back then, this cool band wouldn’t have existed. Now that the band is here, I would see it as a missed opportunity to keep my mouth shut about these issues. Yes, I was a refugee en look, I have a positive story! I hope to inspire others with it.”