F-Society party series are taking place at the Boat 20/44 every Wednesday. On the 4th of July, Johana from locally known collective Banda Panda is going to host Belgrade-based singer and DJ Tamara Ristic aka Kezz. We used this opportunity to chat a bit with Tamara.

Dear Tamara please introduce yourself to Still in Belgrade readers?

I am a singer-songwriter, live looping artist, composer and a music performer. My stage name (at first it was just a nickname) is Kezz, which means smile. Art has been my passion since my early childhood, and throughout my life I have been trying to discover different media and forms of expression, but my main field of expression is definitely  music.

Tell us a bit about your professional background and education?

 As a child I entered the world of Art through my family, acting in a local Art theater in my hometown Kikinda, playing glockenspiel in the Children’s percussionist orchestra and singing in the Children’s choir. Then I started playing piano in Music school and developing musical performances as a member of local bands. After high school, I started Art History studies in Belgrade and in parallel Classical singing in Secondary music school “Mokranjac”. While at faculty I started a project named “Promotion of heritage through the synergy of music and visual art” which I have been developing ever since. Today I’m completely into music, working as a live music performer, producer, also composing music for videos, theater shows, radio, exhibitions, performances… I’m also working as a music editor for Dirty podcast which is broadcast every Friday at 10 pm at Radio Aparat.

Tell us more about your music production and collaboration with local producers such as MKDSL and others. How do you name your music style?

It’s interesting that, at first, I started using electronic music in my production and live performances, but I never listened to it. My younger sister Tijana Ristic (event manager of Topljenje, Berlinski zid, China Town, Dnevni rejv) introduced me to the world of electronic music a few years ago. It was really exciting when in your mid-twenties you discover a whole new dimension of music. So I started researching the production of electronic music, which is a very similar process as learning to play a new instrument. So, those collaborations are very important because you can learn faster. With MKDSL it wasn’t just a collaboration, but also some kind of mentoring which has developed throughout the years. I don’t have a special name for my music, but I can say it’s a combination of modern, electro-organic sound and stylized singing inspired by the traditional music of the Balkans.

Since you perform live but also work as a DJ, can you tell us what’s the difference for you between live performance and a DJ set ?

I call it ‘live sets’ because I made a hybrid of live performance and DJ-ing. At the live sets I always perform a few of my songs with looper and sampler, then I start mixing another tracks with my music, and singing live, improvising with vocals over that – and the party starts! And the difference is only –  the energy. That’s why I wanted to move my music away from the concert form and give it a chance to come alive on the dance floor.

Where do you usually perform? Name a several of your favorite gigs so far.

I perform at various events and places such as galleries, museums, theaters, cultural centers, summer scenes, squares, festivals, exhibitions, performances, television, radio, bars, cafes, clubs. So far I have performed in countries throughout the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Norway. I don’t favor any gig over another, they are all my gigs.

You were invited to play in Berlin, so please if you can tell us more about that experience?

It was a very intensive experience because I had two concerts there and very little free time. So I decided to leave visiting museums and galleries for next time I’m there, and just feel the vibe of the city. Than a strange twist happened and we finished at Farbfernseher club where Lüle (Kompleks) had a party!:) Imagine that!

Can you tell us more about your latest release?

My latest release is a video for a song from my album – Tamo // There. It is a song with a mantra style of lyrics where one sentence repeats “I want to go There, but my steps are weighty on this ground.” It has a symbolic meaning because sometimes we don’t need to change the place where we live to find a solution to a problem, but instead find a solution inside our deepest selves, changing the perception of our lives. The video was recorded last summer at the mountain Bjørnfjell in Norway during the “Beisfjord Remembrance” project by Marsil Anđelov Al-Mahamid related to the 75th anniversary of the Beisfjord tragedy. The main location is a “submarine” rock which is described in the sources, which was the safest place for the internees, and their “There”.

As far as I remember you studied Art History and attended music school classes so please explain how has your primary profession, which is art history, influenced your music and/or inspired you? Is there any true connection among those two passions of yours?

Yes, and during the studies, my main field of research was Heritology. So I started a long-term project “Promotion of heritage through the synergy of music and video art”. The studies helped me better understand tradition and its transformation, but also how it develops today. Also, I acquired some very useful skills such as cultural and project management, which made me register my own organisation and start with the implementation of different projects which are also dedicated to music.

What’s your plans for the future? Give us some dates, so our readers can get informed about your gigs.

I always keep my plans to myself until their actual realization. I have a very busy summer, but I want to focus now on the gig I will have at the Boat 20/44, on July 4th at the F-Society event hosted by Johana (Banda Panda).  Also, it will be my great pleasure to open the Festival Karusel with my concert on July 16th.