Jurica Jelić – Profile
One of the up and coming stars of the fretless world is Jurica Jelić, living in Croatia, which is just east of Italy, Croatia was adsorbed by the Ottoman empire and became part of Yugoslavia, declared independence in 1991 and joined the European community some years later.
Sorry, I digress but you do need to know where Jurica comes from, more later. Born in 1986 he discovered fretless guitar in 2006. With early guidance from Neil Haverstick he draws inspiration from Balkan, Flamenco, and Middle Eastern music, mixed with Western microtonal concepts.
Jurica played fretless guitar and composed (music & lyrics) in the experimental pop band “The Alibor” for 3 years (2007 – 2010). Played live with Croatian band “Vještice” made some film and theatre scores with Samuel (Srdjan) Sacher and produced/recorded albums for various bands and artists.
Jurica is also a founder of “MicroFEST Knin”, an international festival of microtonal music, that took place for the first time, in August of 2014. in Knin, Croatia.
Jurica Jelić – Interview
With Jeff Berg (Jahloon) October 2015
Jahloon: You came across the fretless guitar at the tender age of twenty, tell us more about that revelation, how did it affect you?
Jurica: Well, I had this rehearsing room, and one day in 2006 bunch of lads asked me if they can use it for an hour or two! Well, during that process one of them had a converted fretless bass guitar, and then it occurred to me: “Damn, I should do this to my regular guitar!”. So I unfretted my classical guitar and never looked back. After that I looked online and found a large community of people on the unfretted.com forum, and lots of tips from there directed me towards completely ditching fretted guitars. And the decision paid off in so many ways!
Jahloon: What advice would you give to someone wanting to take up fretless guitar?
Jurica: Just do it!! Don’t be afraid that you’ll fail… actually you might pick up some attention, since anyone can buy a fretted guitar for 20$ in Walmart or Lidl.
Jahloon: The band “The Alibor” which you played with for 3 years (2007 – 2010) tell us about that, how it started, how it finished.
Jurica: A group of friends at that time rehearsed in my rehearsing space, one day their guitarist left and I jumped right in! Soon after I introduced fretless guitar to the band, and became songwriter for it as well! Project had some good feedback, tours, national TV performances and was in Top 10 Croatian bands for 2008. Back in 2010. we kinda went our separated ways… I wanted more musical freedom, had some health issues that I coped with for the next few years, the singer became a mum…and so on… It was a fun ride never the less…
Jahloon: What was the outcome of your work with “Vještice”?
Jurica: That band is really special to me…It consists of my teenage music GODS!! So when I was invited to work with them back in 2008. many of my teenage dreams came to life! Played with them live, and at the moment I’m recording Fretless Guitar and Bass Sintir tracks for an upcoming album.
Jurica: Well I live in middle of nowhere and I’m constantly low on money. In mean time I wanted an acoustic bass for a long time. Edward Powell made a similar instruments, so I reworked his design a bit and made one for myself. Now Im working on second version, with round body and tension system for the skin.
Jahloon: Tell us about your film and theatre scores with Samuel (Srdjan) Sacher.
Jurica: Sacher is one of my teenage heroes, and leader of my favorite Yugoslavian band! He is also main songwriter and bassist in Vještice. So any time he needs some weird stuff in his music scores, I’m usually the first one to get a call! We worked on some really nice projects…
Jahloon: The list of your collaborators is impressive: Boris Leiner, Srdjan Sacher, Janko Novoselic, Miljan Bakic, Dan Stearns, Marina Vesic, Tony Dubshot, Shaun Sandor (Promute), Momo Mano, Yonat Hafftka, Michael Hafftka, Joshua Pierce, Joel G. Taylor, Johnny Reinhard, Angelos Quetzalcoatl, Tolgahan Cogulu, Jeroen Paul Thesseling, Svjetlana Bukvic. Just how did you link up with all these people and get to work with them?
Jurica: Internet and word of mouth! And I think I have been blessed when it comes to this. I had a chance to work with so many great people, that just came into my life… guided by the universe I suppose.
Jahloon: Of all your collaborations, which has been your favourite?
Jurica: I really can’t pick…not ’cause I don’t wanna insult others, but every single collaboration was a new experience and beautiful creative process.
Jahloon: If there was one musician you would like to collaborate with, who would it be? (doesn’t have to be me 🙂 )
Jurica: I really don’t know… anyone who plays weird instruments and has great ideas. But most importantly, he / she has to be a good person, cause no matter how good a musician you are, I don’t need sociopaths in my presence. Though those types usually join the army or something so you don’t see them much in music.
Jahloon: Influences are an integral part of a musician’s development, who influenced you?
Jurica: Oh man…this list is a long one! Lots of musicians, lots of poets, film makers, painters…And other people like cooks, masons, toilet cleaners. Politicians and bankers are off the list.
Jahloon: What are your new projects?
Jurica: Ah, I have few good ones coming up. Im working on “Maaskab Duo” a collaboration with Joel Grant Taylor. Also wanna start solo microtonal metal project, new tracks for Vještice are on my work table, and I want to release a selected collection of my work for my 30th birthday. Limited edition, consisting of 6 disks. Each different like, acoustic, electroacoustic, orcherstral, band…and so on… Other than that, I really don’t know what might come into my mind tomorrow.
Jahloon: How do you see your career progressing?
Jurica: This is hard one. I have noticed as the world gets crazier my career goes down, so at this moment I have barely any gigs and income from music. But creative wise, I think I’ll be making music as long as I inhabit this earthly existence.
Jahloon: You are well established as a musician, but if you could not be a musician, what other career would you pursue?
Jurica: Oh man that’s hard… I don’t know… maybe a taxi driver, or an airline pilot.
Jahloon: Like many musicians, your heart has a socialist leaning, I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that musicians care about other people and the way our planet is heading.
Jurica: Well believe it or not I’m anarchist, guided by principles of non aggression! So some of my ideas might seem socialist, and some might seem conservative. But we won’t get too political here, cause explaining it in few sentences will just make me superficial and dumb. But yes for some reason musicians tend to care for others, probably cause we were born (or raised) with empathy. Which can backfire from time to time.
Jahloon: Do you want to expand on “Informed Planet”?
Jurica: Informed Planet is a small social network for activists. Im a server admin on it, and I run it together with couple of friends from all over the world, together with its founder Julz who happens to be from the “land down under”. Main motto for network is: no data-mining, no spying, no information collection, and other “goodies” you get on other mainstream networks.
Jahloon: You often mention Croatia’s problems, if you had to live somewhere else, where would that be?
Jurica: At the moment every country on the planet is ruled by the same people, and by same tyrannical laws. So moving doesn’t change anything. But if I had to leave Croatia, I’d choose Iran or some South American country.
Jahloon: Yes, I can agree with that, Iran is completely different to what is expected, you can drive from a sunny beach to the mountains in forty minutes and be skiing, plus the people are very friendly. Anyway let’s do the fun questions…. Which six records would you take to a desert island, and why?
Jurica: I guess I’d bring ones that make me feel good:
Edward Powell – Pilgrim
Type O Negative – October rust
Morphine – Good
Beethoven’s 9th symphony
Haustor – Treći svijet
John Coltrane – Blue train
Jahloon: Favourite drink?
Jahloon: OK, favourite hot drink?
Jahloon: Favourite food?
Jurica: Grilled trout
Jahloon: What’s the best book you ever read?
Jurica: One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel G. Marquez
Jahloon: What film had the most impact on you?
Jurica: I would have to say “Bladerunner”
Jahloon: Ha! That’s my favourite film… next question: Your house burns down, you can rescue one item (apart from the cat) what would it be?
Jurica: My fretless baritone guitar.
Jahloon: You win the lottery, what is the first new thing you would buy?
Jurica: I would build a self sustainable village, where like minded people can come and be my neighbors. Lottery money should be more than enough to do it.
Jahloon: OK, you don’t win the lottery, but you can have any guitar you want, which would it be?
Jurica: Classical 8 string fretless with baritone (cello) scale length. Since I don’t play lottery (losers don’t believe in luck), I’m planning to build one for myself
Jahloon: Your favourite effects pedals?
Jurica: Ring modulator, delay, wah-wah,… thats about it
Jahloon: Your favourite guitarists (again, you don’t have include me 🙂 )
Jurica: You, and many others… I really don’t have any favourites since every person puts something unique into their instruments. Along those lines I don’t like those who do everything in order to sound like someone else.
Jahloon: How has the internet affected your position as a musician?
Jurica: It has opened many doors and created many connections. Also gave me problems on music distribution strategies, which like everyone else I have hard time solving.
Jahloon: What direction do you think your music will take in the next five years?
Jurica: Oh I really don’t know … But if I’m alive in the next five years, I think it’s gonna be more refined with more developed goals. The older I get, the more I get a better picture on the things that I want, and I’m kinda learning how to say “No”. Hopefully I’ll have more live performances, cause that is one aspect of music I really miss.
Jahloon: Will you organize any more microtonal festivals?
Jurica: If things go according to plan definitely yes!! But next time it will be a part of a musician residence, so we can all spend more time talking, recording and meeting each other. But it depends how things work out. Last festival we made with barely any money, so I’m not sure how that will play out again.
Jahloon: How would you like to be remembered? (and not on a gravestone that says “I told you I was ill”)
Jurica: I don’t … I want to enjoy my life and my creative process as much as possible. In the end, a day will come when no one will be remembered. In 20 million years or more no one will know of Mozart.
Jahloon: Well many thanks Jurica, for a most enjoyable insight into your life and music.
Jurica: It was my pleasure.
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