Kladivo, Konj in Voda counts as one of the better »so called« folk bands from the region of former Yugoslavia. We spoke with the mastermind behind the band, Dani Bedrač.
How did it all start? When and where did you begin your musical journey?
At the end of primary school and in the 1st year of gymnasium i started writing poetry. At the same time I was of course thrilled by rock music, but I've got completely »enthralled« when the psychadelic movement emerged. With music, unusual audio and visual effects and of course the texts it tried to dive into different mental and spiritual dimensions of a human being. In particular into the »higher« states of the mind. It invocates the mentioned states with help of hallucinogenic drugs, meditations and unusual life-experiences. I'm talking about the time when the hippy-movement started spreading out on the west-coast of the USA, and soon after also in Europe and everywhere else. It offered »positive vibrations«, free sex-life, limitless happyness, marihuana and LSD, the beauty of sunsets and the full moons,... The movement itself somehow didn't attract me: I experienced their values as banal simplifications, and their lifestyle as a sort of a cheap pretention. But we had a thing in common anyway: the interest into unusual, different spiritual states, wherein you can find inspiration for poetry, music and pictures. If the hippies were looking for a way into instant-nirvana, into pernament bliss and escaped into these states to escape from their inability to face reality and lead dialogues with it they did it differently from me. I was »tripping« because of a personal (perhaps traumatic) experience, because of my search for a referential point eg. Interpunction, from which I could understand life more deeply and better...; and of course: these states became also a source of inspiration for my writings, music and paintings.
Were you perhaps in any other bands, prior to the establishment of Kladivo, Konj in Voda?
Before Kadivo, Konj in Voda was enstablished I played in 2 or 3 teenage bands... I was 13 years old when I 1st grabbed the electric guitar, stopped visiting the barber and established my 1st musical band, that naively and intermediately replayed all bestsellers from bands like The Beatles, The Monkees, The Rolling Stones... If I remember right the band was called The Invaders. Later, somewhere in my 3rd year of highschool I established the band Plaz. It was a classic trio made after the classic sample of The Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience... , We improvised a lot and I started writing my own songs. But this band has unfortunately never grown over the »garage-level«. We played on schoolparties and at 3 or 4 smaller concerts.
How would you describe the scene in the region of Celje (Slovenia) in the late 70's and early 80's? Were there any relative bands that maybe never recorded anything?
Actualy there were no bands you could call relative to Kladivo, Konj in Voda in the region (i actualy can't recall any others any later either). Closeby in Žalec in the period of 1979-1984 there were festivals of acustic music, in Celje there was a youth club called KljUB. On both of these locations mostly performed bands and individuals from elsewhere... Celje got a bunch of interesting so-called alternative bands relatively late, around the year of 1985.
When exactly were you established and where were your first exercises?
The roots of the band start in year 1979, when I met an excelent guitarist, a musical educator and good friend Srečko Lavbič (20.1.1957-15.2.2006, R.I.P.). He was teaching classic guitar in the musical school in Žalec. I introduced him to all my songs and Srečko, who was by the way also a perfectionist and a master at aranging, was excited. We tried to enstablish a band with some friends: we learned to sing with multiple vocals, but none of us was a good singer. It got serious when Srečko started to teach Damjana Golavšek in the ways of the guitar. He was inspired by her voice (it's memory still inspires me) and immediately me and Damjana (who was at the time about 15 years of age) went to listen to music to her place in Petrovče, where we also had out 1st exercises, which could last for the whole day. As much it concerned the performance we had high criteria: each song, be it performed at the exercises, in the studio or on the stage had to sound the same way it did sound in my head, even if i 1st heard it in my head years before! There were no compromises: interpretation was the subject for all of us (Srečko took care of it as a musical educator). In the frame of the arangement each of us could work his own way.
In 1983 you recorded your now-already-legendary album called »Vidov ples«. Could you share some of your memories of how the album was recorded? Which memory runs the deepest?
The Album was recorded in Ljubljana in studio TopTen in 1983. It was recorded by master Dare Novak and produced by Andrej Pompe. We were recording in the ensamble of;
DAMJANA GOLAVŠEK-vocals; MIROSLAV VIDEČNIK SINE-vocals and guitar; SREČKO LAVBIČ-guitar (classic and acustic guitar,mandoline,...), DANI BEDRAČ-guitar(acustic guitar, mandoline, bass-guitar), AVGUŠTIN PENIČ-violin (sometimes also guitar,temburin,flute);GREGOR STRNIŠA-piano(synthisizer).
The recording was rather turbulent, there were a lot of tensions between band-members regarding the way of recording, arangements of each song... And exactly these tensions made the album the way it is. We also had some guests; MITJA BEUERMANN on the clarinette, the excelent bassist NINO DeGLERIA and the percussionist VLASTO SKALE.
Was this a privately issued LP or was it issued by a label? How many copies of it were »printed«?
The album was issued and published by the label RTB (Radio-televizija Beograd). In the 1st wave there were about 3000 copies, that were bought out imediately.
Let's explain the concept of the album itself or the so-called Vid's dance (Vidov ples- the title of the album itself)? What was crossing your mind when the album started taking it's form?
The album was actually emerging in my head already years before; the concept of the album was based on my so-called psychadelic starting points I described before and also on my lyrics. The music was serving as a tasteful and basic additional atmosphere; it was just a base for the poetry. Later – just before the recording and inbetween - it overgrew it's primary objective. We improvised a lot and let ourself go to momentary feelings..., We enriched the arangements with synthesizers, a clarinette, percussions, we recorded inventive and upgraded multivocals. The album is a summ of musical experiences and feelings of all of us, even thou it is in it's base a simple melodic and tripping poetry.
In most of my interviews I cite some of my favourite songs and ask the author to comment each song on it's own. If you would comment some of them I would be really thankfull.
I would gladly do so. But I must admit I don't realy remember what kind of a state or mood lead me to write the texts. It is a time-distance of 35 years or more,... Neithertheless I can tell you it was a series of single trips, insights and recognitions I tried to put into words with the poetic arsenal I had at the time. Somehow intentionaly I tried to not be a smartass and try to teach the listeners about some lessons or messages. I tried to musicaly paint the states awareness, even thou some songs still send some lessons or obvious messages... I am preety sure all of this can be understood while listening to our songs. The diction of both singers is quite clear and the texts are understandably sung. .. Each listener can stil interprete each song on his own, which was somehow my intention.
Who made your cover artwork?
The cover was made by a local painter, Branko Dobravc from Celje – the text on the backside of the cover were my work.
How about concerts? Where did you perform?
We had our 1st performance as a trio (Golavšek, Lavbič, Bedrač) at the musical school Žalec in 1979. As the mentioned trio we had quite some succesfull concerts in Polzela, Kranj, Celje, Maribor,... We managed to record our 1st songs in the studio of Radio Študent in Ljubljana. It's too bad, but I don't seem to recall the number of concerts we had back then; in the timeframe of 1979-1984 we could be talking about a tripple digit number! The concerts started to follow eachother more constantly after Sine Videčnik, Gusti Penič and Gregor Strniša joined us. We performed almost every single week, then for some time none and then followed a period of bigger and more known concerts, out of which I would expecialy like to mention the concert in the Gallus-Hall, Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana, the concert on the gymnasium of Miloš Zidanšek MB. We also had a great concert (recorded live with no mentionable mistakes) in Narodni dom Celje. We also performed on the festival of acustic music in Žalec each year. We also had a performance on the festival Omladina in Subotica, we played on the Slovenian tour with the band The Tannahill Weavers... To be honest there realy is too much to tell...
I was always interested who influenced you the most? Perhaps english bands like Pentangle, Comus, Fucsia?
I couldn't say that. Even thou I know the works of the mentioned bands. At first I was realy enthusiastic about The Rolling Stones, later also Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Jim Morison. I should propably also mention Jefferson Airplane, Vanilla Fudge, Pink Floyd and similar. Later on some electronic bands and some punk bands joined in... Parallely I listened to a lot of etno and folk music of european and asian societies, what can be propably noticed in some of my songs.
What happened after the album was out? Were you still musicaly active?
For quite some time I was, I worked in a experimental group Lokalna TV, a band named Sfinkter...; I recorded some minor things with Marko Brecelj, but then I spent some of my time with my family, studies and alinism... But regardless I kept on writing poetry. I only performed on some literar evenings or smaller events. Later, especialy in years 1996 and 1998 I recorded some audio-writings, which were not realy compareable with Vidov Ples, especialy not in terms of being well known.
So, what are you doing nowadays?
I am creating and working as a lyricist and musician. In the last time I am also working as one of the editors of a local literar magazine named Vpogled. About 5 years ago I was leading the group Aletheia, in which I nowadays only perform in a duet with the vocalist Simona Kropec. As a writer I published 5 poetic collections and 1 novel. I also offer my services as singer-songwriter on a lot of events (on independent performances and concerts, on literat evenings and book-promotions) across of Slovenia. Once a year I normaly also perform in Sarajevo (BiH).
It crossed my ears there is a re-issue of Vidov ples going on. It will be issued on vinyl, which especialy excited me. Can you tell me anything more about it? Which label is going to do it?
This year I published a mini album (CD) Le eno pesem še napišem, but I am not thinking about reissuing »Vidov ples«. But I am thinking about an LP in ways of »the best of Kladivo konj in voda«. The LP would be accompanied by a text-book. For now that's just a wild idea I am currently discussing with some labels... But I can tell you it will take some time till we see the published edition.
Thank you for your time and the answers you gave me. A lot of readers, especially from other countries will be happy about this interview. Mainly because your LP reached a cult status abroat, which is understandable, since it realy is exceptional! Would you perhaps like to share anything else with our readers?
Thank you for your well-versed questions. I am happy about Vidov ples being so valued. I guess it deserves it, because of the invested effort.
I would like to greet your readers and invite them to listen to some of my other works. They can find a collection here: http://soundcloud.com/bedrun
Translation by Tomaž Urankar
Translation by Tomaž Urankar
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
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