City Guide: Eddy Ramich presents Zagreb

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A rich cultural heritage and sun-glossed surroundings have turned the golden sands of Croatia into an inevitable summer festival mecca in the last ten years, with seemingly more and more musical affairs cropping up across the country with no sign of slowing down yet.

Behind this festival frenzy lays one man who can be accurately accredited as the heart and soul behind Croatian club culture. For the last 20 odd years, Zagreb-based DJ and producer Eddy Ramich has committed his life to exploring and pushing future sounds from around the world, actively developing the musical landscape as a key figure in dance culture across Central, Eastern and Southern Europe.

As a producer his Eddy Meets Yannah and Eddy & Dus collaborative projects have turned heads around the world with a unique taste of soulful break-beat and jazz-infused house sounds. Whether it has been through his 17 years on Croatia’s Radio 101 airwaves or with his long-running Kontrapunkt club nights (which celebrated 15 years of strikingly forward-thinking bookings last year including Gilles Peterson, 4hero and Carl Craig), Ramich remains a key tastemaker at the forefront of quality music across every genre.

Ahead of his appearance at Suncebeat Festival this month we caught up with the Croatian legend to get a personalised tour around his hometown of Zagreb. Alongside listing off his favourite hide-outs and hotspots across the capital, Eddy Ramich has supplied a 100% Zagreb mix, sourced from artists both active or made in Zagreb from 1976 till 2015, with a full tracklist below.

Catch Eddy Ramich at this year’s Suncebeat Festival from 22nd-29th July 2015, alongside Roy Ayers, Kerri Chandler, Black Coffee, Floating Points, Andrew Ashong, Motor City Drum Ensemble, and more. For the full line-up and to purchase tickets head here.  

Below you can find an annotated Google Map of Eddy Ramich’s guide to Zagreb, accompanied by detailed explanations below of every place pinned.

How would you describe the Zagreb music culture in one sentence?
Zagreb music scene is still after all these years a small one but it’s very various, influenced by west and east, and because of a small city/country feeling, people are still not so relaxed to create something that could be called Zagreb sound and be recognized worldwide as that.

Favourite places to buy records?
Deffo best shops for new and old stuff are Pitch vinyl shop (Đure Deželića 40) and Bon Ton (Ivana Dežmana 5). As well at Bon Ton you can find nice fancy clothes, various merchandise and other kinds of gadgets.

If you want to dig deeper then I would recommend to check out second hand shop as Roxy (Savska 34), Free Bird (Tratinska 50), Karma Music (Podgorska 3), Dobar Zvuk (Preradovićeva 24) and I’m sure you will find something interesting in ex-Yu jazz, fusion or soul sound. 

Favourite live music venue?
This might be a hard one. For years Aquarius used to be the no.1 venue for great live shows featuring bands from every corner of the world. We used to run our Kontrapunkt nights there and as well Kontrapunkt Festival and that was definitely the first festival in this part of Europe for eclectic, soulful, jazzy, broken and house music. Unfortunately during change of the music policy and not being located in the city center, the venue turned into something different.

The standard venues in Zagreb for good live show in a wide specter are still Tvornica Kulture (Šubiceva 2) and Močvara (Trnjanski nasip bb). What I really find interesting, especially if you want to feel the local jazz soul vibe, checking out the venues Melin in Tkalčićeva street and Bacchus (Trg kralja Tomislava 16) will not disappoint. I’m sure one or two Croatian jazz musicians will surprise you. 

Favourite club / best sound system?
No doubt, it is Masters (Ravnice bb)! Perfectly sized venue, only 100 people, wooden interior, bit messy looking, great atmosphere, great sound. Sometimes you feel like the venue is one speaker and you are in it. As well it has great DJ booth, I really love to play their 7h sets.

Favourite outdoor party?
I have to say none. There have been few rooftop parties on the roof of Museum of Modern Arts which were pretty good, especially the one by Red Bull Music Academy, as well there are from time to time some open air things in suburbs of Zagreb or on Medvednica mountain but that’s more kind of a trance or tech rave vibe.

It’s really shame that Zagreb with lot of potential places and green has no proper late spring or early autumn outdoor parties. Main reason for this is city politics, old laws not understanding and accepting modern culture, unnecessary bureaucracy and still not so open-minded liberal citizens. Once this changes I can promise you that Zagreb will be one of the best spots for block parties and open air things in parks, cause the potential is big.

Best view of the city?
If you don’t want to leave the town or city center then deffo the best view is from Upper town next to tower Lotrščak ( Strossmayerovo šetalište 9) or from the open space area next to gallery Klovićevi Dvori (Jezuitski trg 4). Still you have an option for a way better view if you decide to visit Medvedgrad fort which is above Zagreb on the mountain Medvednica.

The place to experience something unique to Zagreb?
For me it is skiing on Sljeme, mountain peak of Medvednica. Skiing in a capitol and to feel like you are in the Alps is kind a cool. Zagreb is the only capital city which has Fis ski female and male run.

Another unique thing is when you walk around in the centre, everyday at noon you hear loud canon fire, which they shoot from a canon at the tower Lotrščak. We locals know it’s 12 sharp but tourists get easily scared sometimes.

The first place you miss after leaving Zagreb?
Wouldn’t point at a certain place, but maybe there is this certain vibe that I miss and always happy to return to it. Zagreb is a good city for living, not to big but not to small too, for me it is little Vienna and it is becoming more and more multicultural.

Where will you find the friendliest, most interesting locals to have a chat with?
Ro&Do bar (Opatovina 29) is certainly one of the places to visit in Zagreb. That minute you get into that place you will become friends with the owner (what a character!!!) or he will kick you out of the bar. That place describes what’s in a way Zagreb about.  

Then Pif bar (Preradovićeva 2) daytime and nighttime, very Zagreb vibe in a way that people are capable of sitting and drinking coffee for hours, talking and just spending their time there and in the bars nearby… People here love their coffee time for sure! And often it stretches to night drinks.

Then there are few wine bars, Basement (Tomičeva 5) near the funicular and Sherry’s which changed the location to center (Ilica 73) and made buzz in last period. You can meet there various kind of people and have a great time while drinking a glass or bottle of wine or two.

Best place to see another medium of art other than music?
Most interesting and unique one is the Museum of Broken Relationships at the Upper town, visiting the place can be very emotional, a must see for sure.

While walking around the city have a look at the public water pumps which are one of the oldest landmarks, called by the locals “Iron Francek”. In last few years they got a new visual expression thanks to the Pimp My Pump crew. Guys did a great job transforming pumps into popular characters from movies, music world etc. Now, people notice the painted pumps and everybody agrees it gave certain funky stamp to Zagreb.  

Best local grub?
Zagreb became recently really good when it comes to food and wine, especially Croatian wine. For me the place depends always on who the chef is, therefore you have to check out Priska’s Kitchen at Dubravkin put (Dubravkin put 2) and Gregorio’s food at Sherry’s (Ilica 73). As well other two places I really enjoy to eat are Fajn Bistro (Vranyczanyeva 6 – upper town) and Lari & Penati (Petrinska 42). Check all four places and you will be happy, all quality with a slight variation of prices and each place has a different food philosophy.

Is there a person (dead or alive) who encapsulates Zagreb for you?
For me it would be Boško Petrović who left this world 4 years ago. He was the most important Croatian jazz musician who was doing it way before all us, like organizing festivals, inviting big international musicians to Zagreb, promoting Zagreb as a musician to the world and in 1988. opening his own club. He was bringing world to Zagreb and vice versa.

I will always remember hours I used to spend in his jazz club, entering around 2pm and leaving around 2am… When he would see me from the door he would already give the sign where to sit and next was to try this cheese and try this wine and then when he started telling me the stories from the past, that was just priceless. After he passed away the club was closed and still stands empty.It should be a museum or the best would be if some of us younger could take it over and make it the most musically, most progressive place in Zagreb.

Tell us a little about the mix you made for us. What was the idea behind it and what would you like it to say about Zagreb?
It’s a mix featuring artists being active in Zagreb or made in Zagreb from 1976 till 2015. More jazz, jazzy, soul, disco, house, electronic influenced, but all in all with a certain soulful vibe. In one moment I realised I could have made a 3h selection which made me super happy knowing that all tracks I was going through are from Zagreb.

When you listen to the mix don’t look at it as classic club dj mix but more as a selection or presentation. 

As someone who’s been immersed in Croatian music before it’s recent turn as a major host of summer festivals, what has been your take on the trend over the last decade?

When it comes to the trend of summer festivals in Croatia it is something we in Croatia knew years ago that would happen, the potential was too obvious not to been seen. I think it is absolutely great to be on the map as a festival destination, especially a leading one, but what I miss and have said at beginning, there is still no Croatian sound, Adriatic sound that goes with it…

With Croatia now a key summer destination for dance music from around the world, do you think the Croatian scene and local talent has been stifled, or benefitted from the extra attention?

When it comes to local artists, yes – they do play on festivals, but still only few do have benefits from it to become more internationally known.

Who are some of your favourite up-and-coming musicians/artists coming out of Zagreb right now?
Artist wise, from Zagreb you have to check out Marko Pelaić aka Homeboy, Josip Klobučar, Chui, Davor O and of course always Ilija Rudman.

DJ wise I’m into DJ Savage, my favourite DJ at the moment and Jan Kinčl Zero, he got the skills, then Jogarde who can really surprise you with some heavy stuff and Jazzozo who can play some super fun and lovely stuff, pretty disco-ish, although all these guys have been here for years already. 

Tracklist for your mix?
B.P. Convention & Zagreb Soloist – Mystery Of Blues 1976
Josipa Lisac & B.P. Big Band International – Ti Si Sunce Mog Zivota 1976
Zdenka Kovacicek – Dragi Mi Je Lijep Ko Slika 1978
Josip Lisac – Ti Si Genije 1979
Igor Savin – Folk Sinteza 1979
Eddy & Dus – Starlite 1999
Ilan Kabiljo – Kad Nema Ljubavi 1996
Dus – A Brighter Day 2001
Ilija Rudman – U.M.M.A. 2007
Yannah Valdevit – Brave 2012
Homeboy – Kaprije 2015
Cubismo – Night In Tunisia ( Nu Zagreb Dub ) 1997
Eddy Ramich – Cafe At The… 1999
Eddy Meets Yannah – Can’t Hide Love 2005
Cubismo – BelievIn’ 2002
Chui – Hypnodrome 2013
Josip Klobucar – 9 Walls 2011
Mayales – Od Ljubavi 1999

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