Interview with Milan Mladenovic

Came across this nifty interview with my favorite musician, Milan Mladenovic, leader of Ekatarina Velika (EKV). It is from 1990, done somewhere in Yugoslavia; I’m thinking one of the capitals like Belgrade or Sarajevo. I really like this interview because it asks a lot of fun questions, get to see a lot of his personality, and demonstrates a lot about the culture at the time and that Milan M. grew up with. So, I felt like translating the interview for fun and to see how well a conversation translates as opposed to translating lyrics like I usually do. Hope you enjoy! Since I don’t have a transcript of it, I’ll just listen and pause sometimes to translate it to English. I’ll number the questions in order:

1) What did you want to be when you grow up?

Milan M.- “When I was little, I wanted to be Beatles- one of the Beatles, since my best friend and I went all around the street and sang Beatles, especially favorite song: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” (since he was born 1958, and the song is from 1968, he was about 10 years old) 🙂

2) What did you read back then?

Milan M.- “I li-li- read a lot of Karl May. Right after that, I read the integrated version of the ten volumes of 1001 Nights. Uhh.. I also loved to read, um, Aleksandar Dimo, and something like that. Adventurous books.” I like how in the beginning he was still thinking about music, so he almost was about to say “Iistened to” instead of “read”. Then he continues:

“I wrote songs, even like, from around second, third grade of primary school. And some of them are published in books that were collections of those songs, from little, is it, Sarajevans.”   That means he grew up in Sarajevo, for at least part of his childhood. So he was born in Zagreb, grew up in Sarajevo, and died in Belgrade. All three capital cities!! So yugo, I can’t even-

3) What type of music did you listen to back then?

Milan M. – “Well, then I listened to, in general, Beatles. That somehow interested me the most, and that which could be heard on the radio; those various groups who in that time, uhh- RAVAGED around Yugoslavia. Those are some, uhhh- pop groups, were called The Silhouettes, I don’t know, Pro Arte, some kind of things like that. Weird.”  Haha, I love his fillers as he thinks of what to say. 😛

4) When did you begin to play (instruments)?

Milan M. – “Eh, well, I began to play innn 4th grade of primary school when my father bought me an acoustic guitar on which was written “Tango”. And then I went to some school where I learned, like some, accords and how to play, and I began to learn various songs, and to be interested in that.”  🙂

5) Who do you look like more, mother or father?

Milan M. – “Well, that couldn’t be defined because in every period, when I was a kid, uhh, first I looked a little bit like my mother; then later, I started to look like my father, and etc. So that, I just know that I have my father’s nose. But now, for the rest.. It wouldn’t be knowable.”

6) …But spiritually? (his personality, they mean. I don’t think we don’t have an equivalent word for personality. we comment on their “spirit”, or characteristics)

Milan M. – “Well, that’s a compound (mixture). Every child is a mixture of their parents, like you know well. Thisss, uhh, pfft, I think I am strict like my mother but that I’m, uhhh, easy-going like my father.”  ahahahaha 😉

7) How did your parents react on the first rocknroll steps? (like how did they react in the beginning to your career choice?)

Milan M. – “Eh, well, when I began definitively to deal with rocknroll, my parents did not like that at all. However, as time passed, I slowly kept fighting for them to get used to all that, and to.. later they became happy that, that, uh, I don’t know, read my name in the newspapers and, they started to help me and to support me.”

Ha, and then he had move out of the way for the tramway bus!! Haha, they’re having the interview in the middle of the busy street.. like I don’t understand why don’t they go to the sidewalk.. but I like it 🙂 Milan continued:

“Well, now that I avoided the tramway, I can say that, uh, well I never had some spiritual leader that would support me or who I would go to for some advice and etc. like that. So, in general, I have done, uhh, everything, pft, by myself and given effort to be independent….. Be careful, be careful, this one’s coming fast! Run away!” And then a second tramway comes through! 😀

8) How do you feel on the stage, like Milan or…?

Milan M. – “Well, on the stage it depends. It depends on the conditions. If it’s nice on the stage, if it’s a good stage, if there’s good music sound and everything; if all the conditions, that are..necessary -for a man to relax to be able to play and to give everything of himself- are good, then I feel super. However, if something is not alright, I become very nervous/irritable, and I think that’s always seen when something is not alright.”

9) How much is a top artist different from others?

Milan M. – “Well, I don’t know, I think that it’s, that it’s most substantial that which can be found inside people and not, not which is found from the exterior; I think that it’s normal that, uhhh, the face is the mirror of the soul, and etc. I think that the audience knows that the best.”    🙂

Hahaha, and then someone recognizes him on the street in the middle of the interview and asks him if he’s Milan Mladenovic, and he said “I am. What can I answer you?” (meaning “what more can I tell you?”)

10) Have you sometimes written or composed a song for a woman that you love?

Milan M. – “Of course I have, since that’s, that, that happens to us all and from that we all… live and build our lives on that. Meaning, on love.”

11) …many artists are created because of women?

Milan M. – “Well, of course, it’s the truth that women inspired artists..from, that’s.. ha, the question itself has the answer. Yeah, yes they have, of course.”

Haha, Milan Mladenovic and his evasiveness with these last two questions… 😉 I have always paired him and Magi together. But then again, Magi is a djecak. hahaha, if you know the band well enough you’ll know what I mean by that reference. Anyways…

12) Your favorite book?   (rapid change of subject, huh?)

Milan M. – “In general, for me, “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula Le Guin. ”

13) …Can you give a summary?

Milan M. – “Well, it can’t be doneeee. I would need, an.. hour’s time.”

“An hour’s time?”

“Well, yeah.”


14) Why do you love to read science fiction?

Milan M. – “Because of that that science fiction can build, um, a completely new world, thattt, that does not exist, thatt is really far away- meaning that it throws us into something that- uhh, that can throwww us out of the daily cycle and opens for us some new viewpoints, paths, in which we can, in which we can enjoy; because of that that they’re unusual and really, because of that that they’re that far away.”

15) Should people leave this country? (Yugoslavia)

Milan M. – “A-ha, out of this country, for always, you all shouldn’t go. Iff some of us do go, they should return, eventually, when something is dealt with, or when this country becomes normal. Eh, or we should all work together for this country to become normal, which is ideal; however, that has become really really difficult, in these conditions. Those, I would be able to recommend, to everyone, that they try to stay here and try to change something; and if they can’t do that -if that’s not possible to them, if they can’t take it anymore- to return after an excellent time to feel that they can’t take it anymore out there outside, and to start to build something here… Bye-bye.”

16) Three wishes for gold fishes?  (Basically, just make 3 wishes, as a last question. haha, how that phrase ends up rhyming in English.) 😀

Milan M. – “Eh, well, my first and my biggest wish is to wake up and to establish that it’s year 1990 and, and that I, and to say “Oh, what a bad thing I dreamt!” Ah, second wish would be, for, for me to be healthy. And complete. One supportive, faithful period. Meaning, another, 40, 50 years. Ah, the third wish would be, to, earn that much money that I can , uh, with it to.. make some interesting things, like which is music, like which is… like which is music. I would get held up on that.”

And that’s the end. The last question is pretty heart-breaking because he died three years later at the age of 36. </3 So his wishes never came true. But who knows, maybe the first one did? ❤

Milan Mladenovic and EKV ❤