HIGH&DRYs is a Serbian band, but behind this band, is one man; Only one man, Mister Nenad Djordjevic who plays drums, percussion, guitar, bass and he has so far recorded two albums: The first one in 2013 ‘Lowest Fidelity Demos’ and its successor ‘Corpus Momentum’ in 2014.
Nenad, thank you for accepting this interview. Please tell us how the band was created.
Cheers Julie, thanks for your kind invitation! Well, it’s a sad story turned quite right, actually. My ‘band’ aka myself is a result of a misfortune I had with my former band, with whom I played over a course of 10 years, and never done anything right. So, in all honesty, I sent ‘em all to hell and wished ‘em nice lives far out of my sight, finally stepping in to take care of my own music. Might sound arrogant, but I’m always zero tolerant towards any kind of waste. And that was a ten year long waste of my time, my love, my effort, ideas, everything. I thought I was done with music but it turned out I couldn’t be more wrong! Since then, I assembled a tiny, humble studio at home, acquired all instruments I needed to fulfill my vision of how I want it all to sound, and then the slow process of getting to know how it all works began. I had to teach myself to play ‘em all, since my 1st instrument were the drums, and I knew shit about guitars or keyboards or anything when I started back in 2012, including all the engineering and thrills and perils of recording process. But it turned out decent in the end. And I have a lot more up my sleeve. I love how it all turned out. I love the music I have to offer to the world.
Why the name “HIGH&DRYs”?
Not original or even interesting at all, I know! So many references. But there is a story behind it, a personal one, so it was a natural occurrence to end with such a name. To cut the long story short, it’s because of The Spyrals, and their song ‘High&Dry’ which was definitely a turning point for my own creative and music appreciation compass. You see, we got broadband internet here in this shithole quite late, and I was already scraping mp3’s of Dead Meadow, The Black Keys (before hype machine took their soul), The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Asteroid #4, Singapore Sling, (and so on and so forth) way before we got cable so my good ear was aware and prepared for that massive something that was brewing underneath the sludge of mainstream culture. And then it just blossomed, and took over the cultural playground, and everything changed literally overnight. Anton Newcombe had a good hunch in his early days – we did take over the world, and it happened spontaneously. The true culture became immune to the foul ways of the industry. Which basically means, anyone could play music and be heard, and even appreciated if it was any good! In those terms, The Spyrals won my heart, and I just followed the same vibe as everybody. A little local band that got me hooked for life, with their big sounding little music. That was exactly what I wanted to do – to make big sounding little music, and share and connect with kindred souls through the power of sincere artistic expression, without much fuss, philosophy, or technical issues to be preoccupied with. High&Dry would basically mean, big love with zero ambition.
Which are your musical influences?
Oh, so many! It has to do with how I learned to play the guitar, actually. Root of my music is blues, washed through pop, and infused with rock’n’roll. Psych-flavored, but not all the time, and not all the way. Of course, since I’m the worst trans-genre whore there is, there is a lot of experimental ingredients spiced into the whole concoction, since I listen to a lot of electronic music, world folk, ambient, funk beat, garage punk, all kinds of music actually, with same, sincere appreciation. It’s all a mixed up mess of influences, but it works, so far, so good! I cannot name any particular bands since I do not attach to bands as much as I do to particular songs that bite my heart and never let go (and because I shamelessly steal from so many, since I love ‘em that much!). If I’d start to list bands I love here, we would never be able to end this chat! But of course, I can deny it as much as I want, BJM was the game changer for me, as for the numerous others. It’s no shame. Tender, dirty, wide open, organic, ambivalent music, manly, but not too much. I fell in love with that recipe since 1st time I heard ‘em, and decided to follow that trail. So, it’s lo-fi, it’s organic, it has that pop appeal and very benign structure, unambitious, easy-to-hook-on phrases to accompany one during dishwashing or under the shower, while taking you to the highest possible vantage point within your heart, that kind of vibe. Besides BJM, I really adore the totality of sound of bands such as Stevenson Ranch Davidians, The Altered Hours, Jesus On Heroine, First Communion Afterparty, Flavor Crystals, Rancho Relaxo, The Volta Sound, dammit, I have to stop or I’ll never end, then the big ones such as Heartless Bastards, Amen Dunes, Sleepy Sun, Dead Meadow, Asteroid #4 … All 21st century tagged.
Which period would you like living and why?
Only in Eternal Now. I do not believe in linear time, I do not value past regrets or future concerns nearly as much as immediate experience. It’s a no-choice for me. Life, a Present for the ones Present in Present. I have no quarrel with these times or the state the world is in, firmly believing that everything’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be. Personally, I am at peace, and my heart sings with each subsequent sunrise. It’s all One Big Moment for me, my entire life, so far. One who has Love, needs no Time to justify anything! And because of that, I simply cannot identify myself with any of the past cultural epochs. The Living Spirit of these times is the timeframe I call home. Music wise, I hold dear to my heart the belief that we cannot actually feel the music that predates us. But that’s just me, and I do love a lot of old gold, but cannot truly reflect in any of it. So, it’s all about Now for me, about 21st century music, as far as I am concerned.
Which are your working conditions? Silence? Or having people all around you? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Actually, it’s ridiculously simple, my whole creative process depending on my horoscope. On a good day, I just play. I do it alone, but I don’t mind having my loved ones around me, I love when mics pick up their sounds on my recordings, feels real and homey and cute, I just love that subtle background worldly noise. I play and I do not bother with any of the technical or production stuff. If I record something on a good day, I do it quickly with no tweaking whatsoever, and I leave it a ‘demo’, not allowing myself to spoil spontaneity of the recording itself, as I love them raw and half improvised, unpolished, with that central mass of lush, yet dirty sound. These tunes and these days I love the most. But then, my ‘biggest’ songs were all made during my bad days. On bad days, I do not play – I focus, and do the tech stuff, and actually bother with production up to my amateurish, modest ability. Keeps me calm and makes me work in entirely different way, as on these days I learn and experiment the most. On good days, I burn, on bad days, I grow. Creative schizophrenia, clone circus. But it works! I find inspiration in no other places than Love and Life, the felt presence of immediate experience of them both. I am interested in no other subjects, it’s all I sing and play about. Real stuff from the rainbow side of existential gap, no posh, no pomp.
What do you think about music globally today? Do you think that they can live totally from their art?
Personally, I appreciate artists who are professionally occupied with their art and devoted wholeheartedly to it, all the time. These people are actively saving the world, and I’m deadly serious. But then, I don’t fully and truly believe it can be an occupation, and I’d never aim at it in such a way. Surely it can be professional, but it will always remain a passion for me, a passion fueling the necessary effort which makes art a fully and truly occupational process of an ongoing creative deliverance. Art supersedes existential concerns by a long shot. I simply cannot narrow it down to occupational level, and no matter how beautiful dream it is to long for, it’s not my dream nor plan. I am already allowed to live fully blossomed art life, so I guess I’m among the privileged ones, even though I have no material gain from it. I scored some pocket money from generous Bandcamp audience, but I spent it all to print CDs which I sent all over the world for free. Maybe if I was not from here, but from somewhere where counterculture actually exists as acknowledged part of society, I’d be whistling a different tune. Here’s it’s not just useless, but impossible and foolish unless you’re a folk musician doing wedding gigs. But I only live here. I never bothered wasting effort in justifying my music to anyone. My close friends and family are completely ignorant to my music, for instance, and that doesn’t bother me a bit. Not even on egotistic level. J I offer it freely, from where I stand, to anyone who might like it (or not!). My soul belongs to the whole world. My music is how we commune!
Is it more difficult nowadays to find a record label?
As a humble bedroom D.I.Y artist, I can’t really tell. I know it’s useless here. And since I have no commercial ambition, I never really sought one, nor ever even thought about seeking one. But I had a few generous offers from the other parts of the globe, and maybe I’ll consider them just for the fun of it when I brew some new, meaty, satisfying tunes to offer. My releases are forever free, as long as I’m concerned.
Since your 2014’s second album, what have you done? Any other projects?
A lot and almost nothing. I was pulled toward other pursuits. I wrote a lot of songs in the meantime, more than twenty, I feel I could put up three albums at once, but that’s simply not how it works for me. These tunes brew slowly and have to mature, despite their overall musical and technical simplicity. They feed and grow on sincere emotional investment – something I cannot force or fake. It doesn’t take time to record ‘em, it’s all done in a day or few. But their growth is their own thing I cannot influence much but remain patient and faithful. I can only play ‘em until both I and they feel ready to commune and make it happen. I play them frequently, daily as of lately, but it’s not studio work. Seriously speaking, I have made third version of the conceptual framework for my next demo LP release. The working title is ‘Something Lucid This Way Comes’, and 14 to 17 songs will be featured. I had yet to polish the whole thing. Several of the tunes that have been recorded since my last release will be featured on the album, as originally planned, but not all of them. So, it will not be a desperate scraping of anything I have available, but real thing, soulfully weaved story, in similar shoes as my 1st album, more concise, less experimental. I cannot foresee when I’ll be done, since I’m more than a year overdue and stung by undelivered promises, but I’m fully on it, and it will be done. You’ll know 1st!
How many instruments do you play?
Quantity might be on my side, quality being disputable, ha! I do play a few instruments, but it was a matter of utter necessity. There was no one else to play ‘em, and I wanted them on my recordings. There was no one to teach me anything whatsoever. And I am left-handed and completely musically illiterate. I draw my songs, like a kid. I don’t know to read musical notes. I don’t know what A, E, D letters mean, guitar chords, frets, tabs. It’s all Greek to me. I will be and remain amateur as long as I breathe, and I’m good with that. I get the sound I want out of my modest ability to play all these things. I just take the thing, fool around with it for a bit, and then just play it. All by ear, and by heart, intuitively. I never took time to practice any of them. Whenever I take ‘em, I play songs to suit my heart’s needs, covers or originals, but technical practice of any single instrument is something I haven’t spent a single minute of my life on. The drums and various percussion were the 1st, because no one in my former band wanted to tackle these gentle beasts. Then I got into guitars and bass. That was fun learning process, so satisfying! Then keyboards. Then harmonica and a little bit of flute. Who knows what might come next! I’m good with software instruments and “digitalia” as well, but other than keyboards, I use none in my songs. And that’s just instruments. To get all the engineering stuff working, was a fun nightmare to go through all alone as I did!
What do you think of all these social networks?
I cannot sing enough praises about this novel phenomenon, now firmly taking solid root within the core of global society and culture. I don’t care about detrimental content, about malignant and wasteful people, all the noise not being part of my experience after all these years getting accustomed to the ways of the web, leaving ego and conflict aside. All I get is love, connection, sharing, all these lovely and loving people, handpicked soulfood to nourish my mind’s needs and all the fantastic music to bomb my heart with. I think content control and maturity of character are what makes all the difference. We are indeed one mind and one heart, but still young and unsure of itself, on the thorny path toward greater self-knowledge and overall acceptance of the ways the world truly works. It still takes a long way and a lot of good faith to make all of these fruits to fully ripen, but it seems we’re well on our way. I had my share of shitty experience and a lot of conflicts, but that’s something everyone has to go through to find his own starlit meadow in the midst of the jungle. Social networks being an integral part of both my life and my art, and a natural extension of my character into the selfless spheres beyond the tight confines of ego. Honesty, humility, and bullshit proof mental vest are ways to go along with the social dynamics of the web and get most out of it. It is the bonfire at the center of the global village, as we’re re-discovering the tribal ways within ourselves. The entelechy of hope, poetically speaking! I am active on Facebook, YouTube, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Pinterest, Tumblr and StumbleUpon. Taking the best of all worlds, since they have so much to offer!
Thank you so much Nenad for all your answers and we wish you all the best and you have all our support.
Photo credits: Self-taken by Nenad