There is a cat on the train. A group of people are standing around smoking, laughing, chatting and drinking rakija. It is hard to believe that this world still exists, just a few kilometres down the road from my usual hang-outs. A proper blast from the past! Despite the fact that I'm going to smell like 20 ashtrays and am inhaling a heap of nicotine, I absolutely love this! Life is happening ...
After waiting for an hour to depart Beograd Central Station, I am relieved that we are moving at all, rather than seeing an end to a journey that has not even yet began! As the train dangerously rocks us through the night (could it be that the conductor is drunk??), I drift in and out of sleep, smiling as images, sounds and memories from the past two weeks of epic happenings come to the surface. At the same time as living with a little fear of a derailing train – scenario, I am resting in deep gratitude for the richness of existence I am getting to experience these days. Such excellent musicianship, closeness, laughter, love and kindness!
(Photo c Audrey Penin, Festival Eurofoniks, https://www.instagram.com/_audrey.p__/)
It was three days after I came back from a rather spontaneous trip to Istanbul that the world went into lockdown. What happened before that was so beautiful that it was – and still is – hard to believe it could ever even have been true. Our fiddle-partner in crime Gabriel Meidinger from France, now based in Istanbul, and a bunch of his friends – amongst which Ceren and Ozam from the band “Seyyah”, truly gave us such a good taste of their life over there. They showed us their city, Istanbul island life, the world of makam. They took us into their homes, brought us to crazy jam sessions, recorded us in their studio in the middle of the night ...
To meet them all again and get to work together for a whole week in Nantes/ Brittany as part of Eurofoniks Festival, just when it was possible again, was therefore very special from the get - go. We had such a truly wonderful time together and worked hard all week, celebrating this new fusion project with a final concert at the Noveau Pavillion. There are so many moments that are still very vivid in my memory, but one of my favourites was an hour of vocal practices with Ceren, where we exchanged insights into the traditions we involve ourselves with and wrote new lyrics together in Turkish and English. It really felt like there was so much happening under the surface that we couldn't even begin to actually grasp, but yet got a little glimpse into on some level ...
(Photos c Audrey Penin https://www.instagram.com/_audrey.p__/
Alix Bir https://www.instagram.com/alixbir/
Toby Kuhn; Festival Eurofoniks)
Then it was on to the coast for a few days of nature, old-time music and catch ups with even more long lost friends. And a moment later, a reunion in Ljubljana, where we just experienced an entirely epic “Kavc Festival”. Aside of having gotten to see really unique and amazing gigs in various private flats around the town, I got to play a couple a gigs with Matija Solce and Ales Zorec (aka “Los Hostes”), again two musicians that I really admire. It is hard to put into words how playing with them lifts my musical spirits.
An epic last night of concerts was followed by wild dance moves into the wee hours of the morning – the music was so good, you could not help but jump up and down like a mad person!
Kavc Festival, Ljubljana with Matija Solce & Ales Zorec (aka Los Hostes) & many many friends <3
The amount of close friends from different corners of the planet that I got to see, spend time and work with over the past few weeks is truly overwhelming.
There is nothing in the world that leaves me with such a genuine feeling of whole-hearted fulfilment and excitement about being alive than spending time and working with friends that I admire and love both as people and creatives, while also travelling to a new place (or revisiting an old favourite) ! Play becomes indistinguishable from work and life really is just happening. I can't believe that I am allowed to follow my dreams. I thank you all you utterly beautiful people! And all the lovely strangers I have met in the past few days too that have taken me in and helped me along with such genuine kindness!!