Boris Kovač is a multimedia artist from Serbia, or more precisely from the country's northern province of Vojvodina. Kovač is one of the few world music composers and performers in Europe who, after thoroughly researching their own musical tradition, have managed to incorporate their heritage into a music free of the cliches of market demand.
The first instrument Kovač played was the accordion. After a short introduction to the saxophone, he set off learning music on his own, following his wish to experiment. Constantly exploring various artistic forms - theatre, performance art, style, media - his refusal to assume a final stance towards art is what makes this author a "cultural nomad."
During the past decade, Kovač also gained renown for his chamber music, and his (co)authorship of numerous theatre and musical stage pieces that are performed at festivals throughout the world. He has performed with his ensemble in over 25 countries, visiting about 50 music festivals.
In Serbia, however, this artist broke the surface only in 2003, with his album The Last Balkan Tango - An Apocalyptic Dance Party which was a licensed released by Ring Ring - B92 as the album was originally issued by Berlin's leading record label, Piranha Musik, in 2001.
Speaking for Southeast Europe: People and Culture, Kovač discusses his music and explains what he is trying to invoke and tell through it:
"Traditional ethnic music is a natural foundation for every artistic music. I don't believe that artistic creation does not rely on life itself, both individual and collective. I feel akin to almost every kind of ethnic music because they are all in their own ways close to the essence of life, which is - regardless of all the differences between people and peoples - the same. Of these familiar musics the most familiar to me is the music of Southeastern Europe, but I also feel a great kinship with the music of Capo Verde, where I've never even been.
Through my music I speak of how I experience the world: it is at times contemplative, sometimes for dancing, sometimes sentimental, sometimes sacral, sometimes exhaled, sometimes erotic, sometimes melancholic, sometimes nostalgic. My work has always mirrored the great changes that I've gone through as a person. And, again, I've had the childish courage to change and record those changes, which has always been exciting. Just now I am changing course again, which means I'm also changing my market, which is a professional suicide because I'm back to square one."
How have new theatre trends influenced your music?
For me, art is one. I feel the same for music, whose genres I deny. The relationship between music and stage art is natural, it all originated from rites. I gladly collaborate with theatre artists who understand that through music one can say what is otherwise impossible.
However, such theatre artists are few in this environment. Here the dominant culture is epic, patriarchal. The new generations, new trends, are gradually changing this picture, but I don't know if I will benefit from that. Ten years ago I composed the score for the ballet 'Don Juan,' which was called revolutionary, five years ago I did the score for the play 'Nahod Simeon,' which many considered the best Serbia had had in several years - we won all [Jovan Sterija Popović] awards with it - but in all these years no one has even suggested that I do anything else in Serbian theatre.
You've collaborated with Serbian director Darko Bajić on the film "Na lepom plavom Dunavu" (The Beautiful Blue Danube), and won the Best Score Award at the 2008 Cinema City festival in Novi Sad. Do you intend to continue working on film? Which director would you like to work with?
"I'm interested in working on film scores only if the film allows my auteur music to live in it. I'm not interested in making sound props, although doing that occasionally would be useful because films, especially here, unlike music and theatre projects have serious budgets at their disposal. I'd gladly give working with another A-list Serbian director a try. The film director I'd really like to work with, and wouldn't ask about the terms, is named Lars von Trier.
How do you view Vojvodina's contemporary culture within the context of the culture of the Balkans?
"Vojvodina, with its multinational, multicultural essence, is a natural ingredient of the 'Balkan pot,' but its historical fate is ambivalent because it equally belongs to Central Europe. And this state of heterodoxy in every aspect, which in its way exists in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well, is natural to me. And not just because of my half-Serbian half-Hungarian decent, but because I've always found mixed tones closer to heart than clear ones. The flag of my state would be olive green, not blue-white-red. Clear colours are as boring as uni-national states.
Read more at www.boriskovac.net