In our new column Meet a local we present interesting individuals from different professional fields living in Belgrade. The idea is to get to know some locals and their favorite neighborhoods and venues in the city.
Please introduce yourself to our readers:
My name is Andrija Gavrilović. I was born in Belgrade on the 12th of July in 1995. I have been in love with music since I remember myself. My music education started early, with my dad Gaša filling our home with the music of James Brown, Queen, some Serbian rock bands and later Jazz. My mom Bojana told me I was always singing and buzzing my lips even before I started talking.
The trumpet was introduced to me when I was 9, by my friend Marina Milošević, and this was instant love, immediately I realized that, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
I spent my middle school and high school years perfecting classical trumpet playing, and as young talent recognized by professors in my school, I was encouraged to run for many competitions for classical trumpet and workshops around Europe. Classical music was my first love, but at home I always listened to jazz. Most of my friends where jazz students from music high school Stanković, we shared our love and interests for music, and I was dreaming to follow this path too. During this period I spent a lot of time with one of my best friends Pera Krstajić, before he was granted a scholarship for Berklee College of Music and moved to Boston right after high school. After a few months of his new experience, Pera convinced me that Berklee is where I should continue my education too. Excited about the new school and benefits and level of knowledge and training I could gain in this school, I was sure I must go for an audition, so I started performing and learning jazz music. The Jazz language was very familiar to me so it didn’t take me long to find my my place. After a few months of hard work I managed to prepare for the audition. I went to Valencia and performed pieces for my future. Since I played both classical and jazz music, professors at the audition loved my performance and granted me with a scholarship for Berklee.
It was like a dream come true, doors to Boston were opened, and I was going to learn from the very people I was following on YouTube every day.
Soon after arrival to Berklee I met Tiger Okoshi. The best teacher I have ever worked with, and I still learn from him every day. He hasn’t just taught me how to improve my trumpet playing, he made me understand what means being a professional musician. He introduced to me the world of composing and woke up my creativity.
Tiger taught me to search for my voice in the sea of inspiration, how to take everything I have ever listened to and shape it into my own music.
After few first compositions I created myself, I recognized a pattern in emotions they carry. It was obvious that I was telling story about my feelings and my ‘’road” from the moment I left home and Belgrade, singing about life and experiences in Boston, and finalized it with last song composed on the day of graduation at Berklee. This is how my first album was born. 8 original pieces, each one of them painting my emotions, fears, excitements of leaving comfort of home town, meeting new people, new skills…giving me as a person a new, better shape. That same person is standing here now, after beautiful school era, ready to start a professional career as a musician in the USA.
Everyone thinks that Berklee gives to its students best education in the world due to god programs and best professors, but actually, chance to meet in person, to live with and to play music with so many fantastic musicians from all round the the globe, is why this place is the best music school in the world. Berklee College of music is the place where the best energy of modern and jazz music is encircled, and all talent with its cultural different forms from many continents is focused. Those musicians, become our best friends, heroes, inspiration and role models.
Dedicated to them, I named my album CAFUNÉ witch in Brazilian-Portuguese means to run your fingers through your loved one’s hair. Title song cafuné I dedicated to my best friend Tito Pascoal who left this world in January 2019.
The album will be published later this year featuring my friends: Pera Krstajić on bass, Eviatar Slivnik on drums, Ido Haimovich on piano, Gagi Hajnrih on guitar, Ori Jacobson on tenor sax, Ognjen. Gotovčević on alto sax, Tea Kaljević on vocals and flute, Tiger Okoshi as a producer. Me on the trumpet, obviously.
Just before graduation I was informed that Berklee decided to grant me with the honor of sharing my video on their worldwide known YouTube channel, followed by millions. For this occasion, we produced and filmed video of me performing my rendition of the famous Balkan song “ZAJDI ZAJDI”. I am very proud to share our authentic music with such auditorium.The video will be published in August 2019. A perfect start to my new professional life in NY where I am moving soon to begin my career.
Has there been a new project lately?
In our profession usually one project leads you to the next one, so you never start or stop one, you just fly in to new ideas, sound or mood. I have started using my knowledge of music production and engineering, combined with my trumpet playing and composing to perform solo shows. Live looping and stacking trumpets and percussion featuring one or two artists at the time. Right now, I’m working with Gagi Hajnrih, guitar player and Tamara Jokić singer. In this project I will try to fuse classical training with jazz and contemporary music to get a new sound that could give the audience a fun experience. I plan releasing some videos soon.
Second new and in same time, old project, is the festival “BE HERE AND THERE”. Idea was born last year in Boston, by me, Tamara, Sonja, Gagi and Ilija. Main idea was to share original music created at Berklee, featured by students and alumni of our college. We wish to bring as many professors from America and all around the world to Belgrade to guide and work with young Serbian musicians. We wanted to encourage our, Serbian colleagues living abroad to return to Belgrade from different places in the world to show what they have been doing and to try to popularize quality music in Belgrade again.
The first concert season happened last summer, we featured Vasil Hadžimanov, Marko Djordjević, Pera Krstajić, Katarina Pejak and Višnja Begović as Berklee Alumni, and the music of current Berklee students at the time, Gagi Hajnrih, Tamara Jokić, Ognjen Gotovčević, Ilija Mihailović and myself. Event was organized and well covered by media until last moment, beginning of august 2018. Two days of concerts at Bitef Summer Stage, was visited by more than 1500 people, which I consider a great success considering that jazz music is less popular in Belgrade.
We are still working on developments of the same idea, gathering our brains on the next big event, as we know Belgrade audience would appreciate it.
Since last summer we did few smaller performances, mainly sessions. At 5A Soba as a winter edition of the festival and recently we started “BE HERE AND THERE SESSIONS” collaborating with Beogradski Market. Including others than Berklee musicians, all who are making their original music, we are welcoming creative musicians to join us in an effort to enrich the city scene with good quality sound. The live sessions recordings will be shared soon on our YouTube channel.
What do you like about Belgrade?
Belgrade is my home, where ever I travel I always miss the city energy and the loving people of Belgrade.
People are what I love the most about Belgrade, the beautiful, smiling, caring, loving people I grew up with and all new people I meet each time I come back.
Also, the food. I love to cook and very often I cook for my friends. I have spent many nights in Boston describing what the food is like in Belgrade to my foreign friends. I have learned to make some traditional Serbian meals, but the taste of my grandma’s kitchen is still the best.
Where do you like to go out?
Going out in Belgrade is another thing I miss a lot. Our Serbian comunity, sharing the life in the US, spends many Boston evenings in talks and nostalgic memories on those “Belgrade nights” with big plans what we will do next time we go home.
Nightlife in Belgrade is very special and diverse. One can find something for everyone’s taste. If you are a party animal, there is always an open invitation. I prefer spending time with friends, with a pint of beer in long night talks and laughs, if it happens to be a “not a music night”. Quiet small restaurants on the river bank in Zemun, are better choice for me. I am not big fan of loud night clubs that you can find many in Belgrade, if that would be your cup of tea. With great nostalgia I remember place called Čekaonica, where most of my friends and I, spent many nights. Čekaonica was a small jazz club that changed its location a few times, and we always followed it. And even when we were in fear that the energy and vibe will change with the new place, it managed to keep same good familiar atmosphere that kept us as regular guests. Unfortunately, Čekaonica was closed, and young jazz musicians instantly felt this loss. It was a open home for all music lovers, to share, to show and to learn.
Name 3 of your favorite restaurants in the city?
Naming 3 of my favorite restaurants in Belgrade must be the hardest task since there are so many amazing places.
- Taverna Jakovljević
Good place to try various traditional Serbian cuisine dishes, to share dinner even accompanied by owners, the family Jakovljević themselves. Nice place, good food, one always feels welcomed.
2. Brdo Piva
By the name you would say it’s a beer place, but it is a good food place, no questions asked. The best ćevapčići I have ever tasted.
3. Dva Jelena
Even though it’s a very famous tourist place in Skadarlija, Dva Jelena deserves a place in this short list. Whatever you order there, you want make a mistake, but don’t forget to ask for their famous bread, freshly baked for you, covered with olive oil, dry paprika and garlic.
Where do you drink coffee?
Unfortunately, I am not a coffee person and can’t recommend a best coffee shop by the product, but “having a coffee as social event by our tradition” I could recommend few spots in Resavska street, where I usually meet my friends. We have chosen this part of city to hang spontaneously, because our school was very near, and ‘having coffee in Resavska’ was part of our school life. Not a particular shop, but one of 4 coffee shops in Resavska was always “the place”.
Where do you spend your leisure time?
Being a professional musician is time consuming, so leisure time is a discussable term, I’m not very familiar with. Since I usually perform at night, I sleep bit a longer, and I spend my day time practicing, composing and working on my music. If I happen to have some time between the professional work, you could look for me either at the gym, by some pool or just home, listening and discovering new music and new artists.
Name your 3 favorite locations in Belgrade and justify your choice
My favorite places in Belgrade are usually by the water.
For number one I would say Zemunski Kej. I have spent a lot of my childhood by the sea, in Boka Kotorska, so I feel for big blue water and the calmness it gives me very much. In Belgrade, Zemunski Kej is the closest I can get to this feeling. People walking with their families, pets, friends and just having a good time minding their business.
Number two would be New Belgrade, blok 23.
Blok 23 is where I grew up, and returning there, always fills me with nostalgia. Just walking around the neighborhood remembering the careless times and the fun I had, running into people I went to school with, old-timers that used to play football with us. Everyone needs to feed that hunger for old times, from time to time, especially if you live abroad. Even just meeting the stray dogs that are somehow still alive and playful or just passing the buildings that used to look so huge before moving to USA.
And last but not least number three would be my place.
I was the first one from our gang, that was living alone in Belgrade, so naturally my home became the hang place for all of us. Every night shift would start by gathering at my place and planning what to do, where to go or just who to invite to come over for a party or listening to vinyl records there. I am lucky that many of my neighbors are musicians, and they did understand that sometimes, noise from the apartment was actually a ‘not so bad live performance’.