Dogma 3000: Croatia Uncovered
|source:||Implant magazine, May 2001|
Croatian artists Dogma 3000 recently performed at the Return To The Source Spring Equinox party @ Brixton Academy to good acclaim, they've also just released their second album on RTTS Records called "Dogma 3000". After a couple of minor hiccups I eventually met up with them in the RTTS office a few days after the equinox party, the spring sun was shining and it was time to find out a bit more about trance Croatian style.
Dogma 3000 are Damir Ludvig (DJ Ludvig) and Goran Stetic, they both come from the Croatian capital Zagreb. They first met in 1993 when Damir got in contact with Goran after hearing his music on the radio. They then kept in contact swapping musical ideas and information for the next two years, however, it wasn't until the end of 1995 that they first decided to write music together and '96 before things really got moving. They both have different musical backgrounds and this has certainly helped them over time, serving them well if they've ever had any problems.
Damir originally sang in a school choir before getting into hip-hop and break-dancing, he was then a graffiti artist and started to show an interest in electronic music for the first time. He then became a rapper and in 1990 did a concert with his band Diffo, in '93 he had a No.1 hit in Croatia with another project called Fresh Style, the track "Wicked At Weekend". Goran on the other hand has always been interested in electronics and music, he'd played the guitar for five years but found that to be limited and so he started to programme computers like the old Commodore 64 & Amiga. He then started to write games for them with friends and he's also done music art & animations, it after that that he started to write electronic music and met up with Damir.
They are influenced by everything around them even the negative things. Damir says: "Even some things that you don't like can inspire you to go in another direction or not to do the same thing that you've just seen or heard." They also organise a monthly party called Astralis in Croatia, they've been doing this for three years and so this also has a big influence on them, it means they can crowd test their new tracks and see if they work or not. This then enables them to rewrite the tracks or even ditch them altogether before they release them and it's certainly an advantage worth having. Although it didn't have a major influence they also think the war when Yugoslavia broke up certainly affected the way they go about certain things.
The start of 1996 saw them record two four track demo's with their limited equipment, they then sent them all over the place but luck was not with them, they'd sent them to all the wrong people! Even after they got tracks to the right people who wanted to release them they had problems, the labels that were due to release them either ended up splitting or folding. Eventually they had a track out on a Dutch compilation at the end of the year, things had finally started going their way and they soon started to have tracks on other compilations. It was at the end of 1997 that they had their biggest break when a label called Blue Moon Productions based in Taiwan called them.
The label owner David Chan had heard their music and really liked it but he could also hear that they had a limited amount of equipment and he offered to fly them out and give them the use of his studio. So before they knew it they were on a plane to Taipei to record their first album and in a proper studio to, as you can imagine they were overjoyed at the chance and are eternally grateful for what David has done for them. They weren't going to let this chance go by and so they worked night and day in the studio, much to David's surprise, by the time they left they'd recorded "Land Of Utopia" which was then released on the label at the end of 1997.
The next three years were to see more compilation releases on labels like RTTS, Digital Psionics, USTA, T.R.N.C. and Boom! Records, they've also done a remix or two along the way. Their second album has just been released and is already getting good reviews and Dogma 3000 certainly think it's their best work to date. They also have their third 12" release in the offing following earlier releases on USTA & RTTS, called "Pressure" it features DJ Yaniv and will be available on Hadshot Haheizar. They've also recorded under names of Utopia, Trinity (with Ree-K) and Sedam and hope to have another project up and running soon and will be aiming that at the US market.
As well as recording Dogma 3000 have taken their sound around the globe playing in places like Italy, England, Switzerland, Thailand and Japan alongside such legends as Marc Spoon, Tsuyoshi, Tonka and Hallucinogen. They've certainly acquired their own sound but say that it's always evolving, which is as it should be for any self-respecting artist. These boys certainly take their music seriously, it is their livelihood after all and is certainly their way of life when you consider the fact they are also promoters. This is also an advantage as they can see things from another angle, which most artists don't have the benefit of, so all in all they have a pretty good insight into the music business as a whole.
They've used these advantages to good effect and one of the ways they've done this is with their live performances. Instead of turning up with lots of equipment they've stripped things down to a bare minimum and mix Damir's DJing with Goran's keyboard and fx boxes, the loops and other fx are pre-recorded. This then allows them to remix tracks live and also adjust to the audience reactions, which definitely gives them the advantage over completely pre-recorded sets that don't allow any deviation. You certainly wont find these two hiding behind banks of equipment and miming along, it also helps the promoters and there's less chance of any computer malfunctions, they've also found that it satisfies the audience too.
"E1" has been their most successful release to date, originally it was to be released on Matsuri but that was not to be, fortunately Zoo-B @ USTA picked it up and it was released on the label last October. They do worry about the success of their music, as they say: "It's nice to be successful and it makes our mothers proud." They both enjoy the recording and playing side of things and Goran goes on to say: "It is a great reward when you see the crowd jumping around and enjoying the music." Damir continues: "If you make a track that moves the crowd in a proper way you then come back to the studio and you're full of energy. It gives you the inspiration to write better tracks If we only worked in the studio and didn't do all the other things it would be much different."
They see the scene itself as still being confused and still uncertain about which direction to take, this may be true, but personally I think a lot of the major labels have made their choice over the last year or so. Dogma 3000 see themselves as artists first, Damir says: "If it's psychedelic trance or not it doesn't matter, that's just a label that's given to the genre to help buyers etc. The way things are going one label goes techno and one label goes mainstream, it doesn't have to stay within the confines of a named genre". If that's the case then it doesn't necessarily mean that the psychedelic trance scene is fading, although I think it's losing its identity in certain areas. The "Dogma 3000" album itself certainly veers towards a more deep and progressive feel, a sound that's extremely popular at the moment, which is one of the reasons why a lot of people have noticed them recently.
Believe it or not they do have time for outside interests, Damir has returned recently to one of his great loves Karate and he's really happy to be back training again. At this point Goran gives him one of those looks, he prefers to delve into meditation and eastern mysticism as well as doing some graphic design work. They also love sex, although not too kinky, rounds of laughter then occur as we discuss the subject further and the merits of who has the best looking women. Their highs and lows have been hi-tech and low basses! Seriously though their high was when they decided to go for it with Dogma 3000 and they haven't looked back since, they also believe in the power of positive thought which they believe has helped them through the low times.
It certainly seems to have so far and things seem to be going from strength to strength for them at the moment. So before they fly home for a Croatian orgy I ask them about the future. Discussions are under way with RTTS about future releases and they also hope to be doing a project with Afrika Bambata. They've already recorded his vocals and are thinking about making a different sort of crossover track which sounds very interesting, they do like collaborating with other artists as they believe it helps to keep the mind open.
So with my mind open and after some obligatory photo taking I bid them
good-bye, I'm sure these are two crazy Croats you'll be hearing a lot
more from in the future. Big thanks to RTTS for making this possible and
if you want to know more about Dogma 3000 then check out their website: