Your new song, Free MP3 addresses the mass market of pirating music downloads. What inspired you to create the video?
It is not simply a story about pirating music. We use this topic and this music video to paint a wider picture about freedoms and the media scene today. We are trying to show how ridiculous all the hype is that grows around totally unimportant stories and images that are heavily promoted by the traditional media and on the internet. We are bombarded with thousands of useless “breaking-news stories”, celebrity life details and lifestyle advice on a daily basis. It is very hard to distinguish truly important information from all this noise. You can easily miss a story about a brand new war starting in the Middle East, refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, or Parliament voting on reducing workers rights because everybody is talking about how Kim Kardashian has been attacked in Paris and how upset she is right now.
We’ve realised that, if we use humour, we can reach more people and tell some important stories. People don’t like being preached to and told what to do. Humour and satire is a more efficient way to make them think about issues that they would otherwise ignore.
Do you feel that the video makes you closer to the audience, because there is such a large percentage of people who do pirate music?
If you tell a story through a topic that a lot of people can relate to personally – you can get a message across more successfully. A lot of people don’t care if the government is tapping their phones or reading their emails but they get very upset if authorities are checking what TV shows or music they are downloading from torrent sites. It is strange… So basicaly, the idea is to “hit ‘em where it hurts” and make them think.
Recently, releasing music through streaming sites has become an option for artists, whereas music used to be released through vinyl. How does Dubioza see the future of marketing music?
The model of ownership and copyrights that the traditional music industry supports is outdated and it doesn’t function anymore in the digital age so it will have to be redefined. This was always a system that protected big corporations and earned big money for them and artists only got left-overs. And now when this system is being questioned – the artists should fight against this change?
For decades the music industry viewed music as a commodity and they marketed it and sold it as such. Wrapped pieces of plastic with some content on them were the main source of profit and when musical content escaped these limitations of marketed product, things started to change.
Of course the industry was very upset their revenues started to decline and initially they tried threats and lawsuits but this approach didn’t stop file sharing. Nowadays, those industry players who survived are embracing new ides such as streaming services that are trying to attract people with relative affordability and convenience. Again, on the artist’s side of the story, again you can hear a lot of complaints about unfair distribution of profits from these digital services and this is something that needs to be changed in order for this system to survive.
We don’t have problems with any of these models as long as alternatives are available. There are different ways to how musicians can work and more and more bands embrace these new approaches and are trying to find out how to work under the new circumstances. For example, if someone likes a band they can find other ways to show their support – to go to a concert, buy merchandise, send Bitcoins… This way you can make your music available for free and still be able to make your living with your music. It works for us.
Your new album, Happy Machine has songs sung in English but also features Spanish songs sung by both Dubioza and La Pegatina. How did the band decide on including La Pegatina, and what influenced you to transcend into writing on a multi lingual platform?
We met La Pegatina few years ago at Sziget festival in Hungary. We were playing at the same stage and, on the beginning of their concert, their bass guitar stopped working and our bass player gave his guitar so they could finish a show. That was the beginning of our friendship. After that we met at different festivals and when we had an idea to write in Spanish language, so we asked them for help. They replied that they had same idea that we sing something in Bosnian language on their song. So we ended up with the song Hay Libertad on our album and Ni chicha ni limoná on La Pegatina’s album Revulsiu.
Music can transcend borders and language barriers are usually very interesting to cross. On Happy Machine we have songs in English, Italian, Spanish and even Punjabi. We write songs in the Bosnian language and our live shows are one big linguistic mess. This makes us happy.
The synchronicity of your outfits and overall matching style reminds me of sub cultures like Ska, Mods and Rockers. Do you draw inspiration from certain eras, musically and fashion wise.
There are two good reasons for these outfits: we wanted to emphasise a team – collective spirit, because it is Dubioza collective after all, and second, the more down-to-earth reason, is that yellow-black combination is visible from afar and even on a completely black stage (and most stages are black) you can see us performing.
Was there ever a strong music scene in Bosnia for Dubioza growing up?
If we look at music scene in the ex-Yugoslavia region, Bosnia and especially Sarajevo had a major role and every era had an important band coming from there. And although the country itself never had strong and developed scene, and most of record labels and media were based in Belgrade and Zagreb, people were always closely following what was going on here.
Do you find that there’s a level of respect in Bosnia towards Dubioza now that you’re an internationally recognised band?
Our country doesn’t really accept stardom as a fact and this is probably due to the stubborn mentality of our people. Bono Vox was coming to Sarajevo in one period and he said that it is the only place where he could walk down the street with his family without being asked for a photo or autograph.
When people respect your work they show you this in a more subtle and unobtrusive way. We like this because it never actually gives you a chance to feel like a star at home and even if you had made international success you can stay down on the ground. If you want to piss off an entire city, you just have to act like a star. If people like what you are doing they will simply buy a ticket for your show. If they don’t, you can have 20 Grammys and 30 Oscars and they will just say “cool story, bro” and that’s it.
And finally, besides playing music, do you guys have any secret talents?
We have invested all our talents and knowledge into music, so there is not much time or energy left for anything else. Only secret talent that is common for all people in the band is the ability to sleep in all possible and impossible positions in our van, regardless of time, temperature, humidity and level of noise.
words MANON WILLIAMS