- region:Gypsy and Balkan
- label:Piranha Records
- type: DJ/Remixer
Only when he had left his native Bosnia in anticipation of the turmoil to come in the 1990s, Robert Soko developed an interest in the local music he had firmly ignored while still there. But when he finally took to it, he really did take to it! Meanwhile, he has made it a worldwide success – the BalkanBeats!
DJ Robert Soko has been throwing parties in Berlin since 1993. To characterise his mix of music from the Balkans properly, he coined the term BalkanBeats – the defining label for the genre ever since. BalkanBeats are gypsy brass and folk melodies reinterpreted, given electronic beats and blended with Western styles such as ska and rock. The phenomenon has caught on in other cities around the world – of course where Balkan immigrants live, but also everywhere that young, urban, adventurous party crowds are searching their lustful, nostalgic kicks on the dancefloor, too.
Robert Soko grew up in Zenica, central Bosnia, listening to western music: rock‘n’roll, punk and ska. In 1990, he left the exploding region for Berlin. He took a job as a taxi driver and started hanging out at the old Arcanoa, a legendary former punk bar in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, frequented by notorious clientele of the neighbourhood but especially by fellow ex-pats. The Arcanoa became their new home! Soko put on his first parties there, playing the rock and pop soundtrack of his Yugo youth for 50 German marks for evening and beer for free. He celebrated the socialist holidays: Tito’s birthday, Day of Women, International Worker’s Day. The parties were dazzling with nostalgia and irony alike – an apt sign of the strong feelings the people of the exploding Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had about the tragedy occurring in the region.
Then, after decades of listening to and playing primarily western-derived music, Robert Soko found himself returning to his ethnic Balkan music roots, the roots he originally had rejected flat out as a youth in Bosnia. Goran Bregovic’s soundtracks to the films of Emir Kusturica and Fanfare Ciocărlia’s early records ignited a spark that not only caught on with the people of the Balkans, but with Western communities, too. In almost no time, Soko made these variations of the ever-growing ‘ethno-beat’ movement the flavour of the day on the international dancefloors.
Amalgamating the musical roots of the Balkan forefathers with state-of-the-art electronic grooves and production (and incorporating everything from surf rock to swing on the side) BalkanBeats is one of the most ecstatic and intoxicating models of party and dance music around.
It conquered Berlin; then other European capitals; then New York, Cape Town, Recife. It is here to stay!
+49 30 54815400
- Robert Soko (DJ)