The Exchange is a periodic in-depth look at the artistic motivations of musicians and collectives. We try to approach this from a more cultural and societal perspective, aside from the necessary musical one, because we cannot deny the influence of modern age bringing ideas from all over the world which broaden our horizons. It is a fact that we can learn a lot from movements that are foreign to us.
Envélope Cruz, Belgrade-Paris
Looking deeper into the Belgrade clubbing culture, or better said, music culture you will find it heavily intertwined with a newfound focus on Western Europe, the multiple layering of identities and cultures and a rebellion against corrupted authorities. Experimental electronic music is on the rise in the capital crossed by the Sava and Danube rivers, and the group Envélope Cruz (Nemanja Trećaković, Alma Đelić, Andrej Vasilijević) is one of its interesting phenomena. Reaching out to Paris for a collaborative effort, it is very much a balanced project between friendship and passion for music.
We asked Nemanja Trecakovic to elaborate further on the existence of Envélope Cruz, and as a beautiful addition to this small interview, we have a live recording from their show in Catch 22 Artspace, Belgrade.
Z – How did the project come to existence?
The history is really short, since I left my band back in 2010, I did some sound for films and installations and started Envélope Cruz as my solo project just for fun back in 2013. I didn’t have big plans, it was just for fun, did a few live a/v shows here in Belgrade and that was it. I met Alma last summer randomly since I rent apartments here in Belgrade, she was my Airbnb guest, Since she is a DJ and a singer we jammed a bit, recorded some stuff and it just clicked. Her vocals was something that I was looking for. My friend Andrej helps me for live shows, he controls the video stuff because I don’t have 4 hands and I want the human part represented as much in visuals as in the music too. So three of us started to play as a band and this was our first live show.
Z – What is the inspiration for this particular live set?
Inspiration for our live setup came from my new patch that I’m working on. It’s the brain of the setup, a video to midi sequencer, video data from video clips is converted into a MIDI signal and runs all instruments in real time.
I play some layers too and control the sequencer, the MIDI data, and the mix. Also the video signal from the clips is processed in real time by video effects from the patch that Andrej controls live. So every track have it’s own video clip as a source. Alma sings and manipulate her vocals in real time with some looper and granular FX. We don’t have a plan how our tracks should sound, we just play and improvise and sometimes the result is good, sometimes not, but it’s more fun for us that way. Also we have some algorithms, Markov chain that randomly modulates some FX on send/return channels. We record the mix as it is, no edits, post production, just the master channel audio. We plan to expand the setup and add some DMX control for the lights and laser since we use only strobe lights synced to rhythm and projectors for now. All instruments and FX are also custom built in MAX as the whole setup, we use Ableton Live with the patch too, just to mix and record everything.
Z – How do you see your position in the Belgrade/Serbian underground scene?
Ah the Belgrade underground scene is really good, lot of talented artists. Maybe the biggest problem is that we don’t have so many good places to play live shows. In addition there are not so many people who are into underground music and art in general, as some other cities from Europe have, I guess.
But, that won’t stop us to do our thing. Since we are Belgrade / Paris trio, we don’t have enough chance and time to work and play together, and we can play here few times a year, and it’s enough because of the situation. Our plan for this year is to focus on some live shows in region also, Zagreb, Ljubljana and Budapest. We will see how it goes, on our first live show here in Belgrade, we had around 50-60 people on the concert. Because we are new band, we need more time and shows to find our place in the scene, here and abroad also. In the future, we plan to upgrade our live setup, play live as much as we can, maybe to record an album, but I think live shows are the best format for us and the audience to experience the whole thing. Then we will play some shows in Paris and Berlin and who knows… I like to let things go naturally, so we will see where all this takes us