The Yugoslavian music scene was quite opulent. Aside from the UK music scene, it was perhaps one of the best in Europe. It all started at the end of the 70s when New Wave became popular. At the time there were so many good bands from Rijeka, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Zagreb – in one word, from all over Yugoslavia. The music scene was quite in step with the times, following the trends from the UK and USA, but still managed to stay original and unique. Most of those bands don’t exist anymore, but the songs are still alive and well, even today, more than 30 years down the track. Unfortunately, Yugoslavia fell apart and we stopped producing good music, especially during the crises of the 90s, when the music scene got trashier and trashier every day.
Even today I don’t know many good Serbian bands that I could recommend you listen to. Maybe they exist somewhere without enough media space on TV or radio shows. However I can name a few which are really good.
- Margita je mrtva (Margita is Dead): This is a Serbian underground electro synth band from the city of Nis. They have released two albums – in 2005 (Six Sexy Songs) and in 2008 (Do pobede); and also three EPs – in 2005 (Blitzmadel), 2007 (Transsexual), and 2011 (U sjeni neona). The name of the band is dedicated to Margita Stevanovic, who is a deceased member of the iconic Belgrade rock band EKV and to all her fans. They sing in English, Serbian and German. Their music is quite retro, and sounds quite a lot like that of the 80s.
- J.U.S.T: This duo is made up of Hana Vucicevic and Boris Krstajic, who were part of the band Speed Limit. Their popular single True Love was released on the compilation of Belgrade Coffee Shop 3, followed by an entire album named Searching. The album was quite a success, presenting a fusion of house and deep house sounds in a fascinating production. The most popular singles are Searching, True Love, Dance with Me, Nobody Knows and Sexy Things.
- Zemlja Gruva: This is a band that has become really popular in last couple of years. The band consists of 11 members, three of which are vocals – two girls, Zoe Kidah and Konstrakta and one guy, MC Milovan. Their music style is a fusion of pop, jazz and funky. There is a free download of their latest album on their website: http://www.gruvlend.net
- Svi na pod: This Belgrade pop band originated in the 90s. They play gigs all around the Ex-Yuglosavian region. You can hear them at festivals, concerts and in Belgrade clubs. They sing in Serbian, and their most popular songs are Ljubavi, Bez plana, Iza nas etc.
- The Collision: A really awesome Belgrade band. Their music style is funk, soul and jazz. Songs are in English. You can catch them in one of Belgrade’s clubs if you are lucky, as it is great to hear this band perform live. I saw their gig three years ago on the river raft Povetrac over summer, and they blew me away.
- Mistake Mistake: Another popular Belgrade’s band who play gigs in clubs around the city. They formed at the end of the 90s and their music is quite interesting, a fusion of dub step, electro, reggae and garage. You can find all the information you want about Mistake Mistake on their official website: http://www.mistakemistake.com
- Vroom: Originated in 1997. The band promotes a mixture of Balkan and cabaret music with modern sounds from the west such as drum ‘n bass, techno and trip hop. Interesting female vocals are supplied by Vanja Vukotic, and the rest of the guys from the band play bass, drums and harmonic, sampler. They are quite a popular band, and have performed all around the Balkans, as well as a few performances around Europe. They have also won several prestigious music awards.
- S.A.R.S.: This is an alternative pop band who formed in 2006 in Belgrade. They are one of the more popular local bands these days. With their singles Budjav lebac, Ratujemo ti i ja, Mir i Ljubav, Rakija and others, they have manage to penetrate into the music scene of the Ex-Yugoslavian countries. You can hear them play at numerous festivals such as Beer Fest or the Belgrade Calling festival. You will find all the information about their up-coming gigs on their official website: http://www.sarsband.com/
- Darkwood Dub: This is definitely one of Serbia’s best bands. They are an alternative rock/electro band, who formed in 1988. Their music is mixture of gentle bass lines, live drumming, electronic percussion with slide guitar, synthesizers and samplers. Vocals are provided by mister Dejan Vucetic. In 2009, the band was nominated for the Best Regional Act at the MTV European Awards. Today, Darkwood Dub are one of the top bands in the Serbian rock scene, and for the last 10 years they have regularly toured throughout the countries of Ex-Yugoslavia and around Europe.
- Plejboj: This is one of the best rock/punk bands from Belgrade. Forming in 1992, they released two albums – one in 1994 (Sviraj decko) and another in 1997 (Overdrive). The band also provided the music for the Serbian movie Do Koske in 1997. Their most popular singles are Znaj and Ko je ko. The band performed at 10th Belgrade Beer Fest on August 14, 2012.
- Bebi Dol: Is a Yugoslavian/Serbian pop and rock singer. In 1983 Bebi Dol released the album Ruze i Krv, which was a huge success at the time. The most popular songs on it were Mustafa featuring the vocals of Slobodan Konjovic and also Superboj, Ruze i krv and Lapiss Lazuli. In 1983 she released the single Rudi and that was again a huge success. She was very much in step with the music of the time and the western Europe music industry; people called her the ‘Yugoslavian Kate Bush’. She represented SFR Yugoslavia at the 1991 Eurovision song contest in Rome with the song Brasil, but this song had the worst rankings ever. Sure, it wasn’t her fault – Eurovision is pretty much a political event, and she was representing a state that was falling apart at the time. In the 90s Bebi changed her music style into one that was more pop-ish. In 1995 she released a new album called Ritam Srca, followed by the album Ljuta sam in 2002. Nowadays, she sings at the bar Plato, and also performed a few months ago at the new fancy club of Brankow.
- Elektricni Orgazam: This Serbian and Yugoslavian band formed at the beginning of the 80s. They originally started as combination of new wave, rock and punk, but the band later slowly changed their style, becoming more of a mainstream rock act. They were one of the most notable rock acts of the wealthy Yugoslavian music scene. Fortunately, this iconic Belgrade band still exists. They have a really rich biography and everything you want to find out about them can be read on Wikipedia or on the official website of the band: http://www.elektricniorgazam.com/.
Dragana Kostica is the Belgrade-based editor in chief and founder of Still in Belgrade art, culture and club scene magazine. She holds a Master of Arts in Cultural Policy and Management in Arts (MA of Arts) and a Bachelor degree in Archaeology.