cover photo : Bojan Besnik Gashy

Senzorama, a radio show at Ljubljana’s cult Radio Študent, is celebrating its first anniversary with a compilation of local musicians and producers working in the field of ambient, experimental and electroacoustic music. Such musical expressions being in the forefront of Senzorama along with the emergence of a new generation of local artists resulted in Senzorama vol. 1, a compilation of new and previously unreleased works. The compilation features 20 tracks, selected among the 90+ tracks that were submitted through an open call. Senzorama vol. 1 showcases the exceptional quality and diversity of the current scene in Slovenia, bringing to light many younger and previously unknown artists as well as more established and experienced producers.

We’re in the conversation with the curator of the compilation, Tine Vrabič (NiTZ), musician, concert organiser and radio host.  

Popscotch : Hi Tine. Can you tell us something about the first Senzorama compilation, which you’ve curated for the Radio Študent’s label  ZARŠ. Are there going to be any upcoming events connected to the release of it?

Tine : Hi, thank you for the invitation, I’ve been a fan of Popscotch for a while now.

Compilation was meant as a product of the first anniversary of my radio show Senzorama on Radio Študent 89.3mhz in collaboration with Damjan Manevski from ZARŠ records. As I wanted to make something special for the occasion, a new compilation of ambient and experimental music was definitely on point. It’s been a while since a compilation in this genre was curated in Slovenia. A lot of artists in our club scene and a lot of musicians I know, are now more into producing ambient music and experimenting with sound in general. A lot of new collaborations were made during the COVID period. The potential for a new compilation was looking really good when I’ve first asked 10 of Slovenian artists to contribute exclusive unreleased tracks for my show during the first lockdown, and got their tracks in only few days. I immediately knew there is a lot of new material being produced. The interest definitely showed when we’ve received more than 95 tracks for the open call. We are also really happy that we were given a chance to present our compilation on this years MENT festival Ljubljana, which is in my opinion, one of the best festivals in Slovenia and our region. Beside my DJ set, three live acts from the release are being presented: 1983, Rouge-ah & Nice Trick. It’s going to be a nice presentation of the sound that we are covering on the compilation.

 Senzorama Vol. 1 on Zarš

Since Senzorama is also your radio show on Radio Študent, what’s your take on the role of radio with the promotion of this type of music in Slovenia, and its influence to create and support the local scene nowadays .

My idea of Senzorama wasn’t always just to promote the specific genre but also try to give a certain platform which combines different vibes in ambient music. There are a lot of b side tracks on releases who are more club oriented, but are not given a lot of attention. I always try to explore older releases who were poorly presented and not easily trackable or are just unknown. I can see that with a little push and encouraging artists with this kind of compilations, is always welcome for their creativity. We all need that. A lot of good material is being held by artists on their hard drives, as they usually don’t get enough feedback and aren’t that certain about it. So I can say that these kind of platforms are really welcome to push the artists to come out with unusual material which is usually made without any pressure or restrictions. That is always welcome in a creative process.

Speaking about it, there seems to be a lot of new potential and younger, previously unknown names arising from the compilation. What is your take on the character of local electronic and electroacoustic scene? Is it more DIY, or you would say that, apart from Radio Študent there is more infrastructure involved – and which initiatives and performing spaces would you like to point out.

For sure Radio Študent is one of the most supporting media for this kind of genre. They always try hard to do good coverage of the experimental scene and is without a doubt very essential for the last 52 years. A lot of young artists who are also doing club music are now experimenting and collaborating between each other. Still, we have a very micro scene, some of the festivals and art directors are still not giving enough attention in giving a chance to push and discover young local talents.  You always need smaller and perhaps underrated events to push unknown artists, and that’s indeed happening .

Unfortunatelly we also don’t have enough venues who can support this kind of events.  Although lot of initiatives are doing amazing things who are worth the attention: Sajeta, Sonica, Jazz Cerkno, Zasavje Noise Fest, Neposlušno, Ignor, Grounded, Zvočni Lišp, Defonija, Ropotarnica, Zavod Sploh, Kamizdat label, Rdeče Zore, Confine Aperto, Topografije Zvoka, Mesto Žensk, Inexhaustible Editions,  AmbientSoup. Venues like Cirkulacija2, Kino Šiška, Channel Zero, Gromka, Menza pri koritu, Španski Borci, ŠKUC gallery, Steklenik… Klub K4 was of course important in every aspect of electronic music for the past 32 years, unfortunately it got more into mainstream scene for the past few years, but you can find a lot of local talent and is still very important to the scene. Despite our small scene, there is a lot of great things developing each year.

You are also a musician, involved in different projects. Can you tell us more about them, and is there something you’re working on currently.

I’ve been working on a project II/III (two out of three) with Urška Preis for the past 7 years. Combining experimental and ambient music with harp and effects, we are starting to work on a new album which will come out in 2021. I’ve currently been active in different projects also, experimental/ambient act with a young promising female producer and a DJ, Nulla for pre-več exhibition for a well known poet Dejan Koban. With Daniela Zajc, who is active as a modern dance performer. With this act she is doing stunts on a rope and playing on a processed pianino. I am recording sound through effects, sampling it on the fly and making different atmospheres accompanying her performance. Last year I also opened my own label AmbientSoup where I tend to release my music and collaborations, in general the music I like. Few releases will also be focusing on music from different A/V exhibition projects. The platform is also one of the rare events series in Slovenia which is focused specifically on more ambient music. Despite that, I was also invited to join a Berlin-Paris based agency Rings of Neputne, who are being really supportive during these times. So also a club oriented EP will be released on vinyl later this year.

Nitz on AmbientSoup

II / III on AmbientSoup

How did the entire situation with the pandemic affect your professional / music life?

I was working as a program manager in Klub K4 for the past 6 or 7 years, Our collaboration unfortunately ended during the pandemic, so it gave me new motivation to move forward. Doing music production workshops with youth centers, opening a public studio which is meant to give producers a place to work and mentorship with finishing their projects. As a producer, it definitely gave me more time to learn new things and approaches,  as well as starting new projects. Started producing more club music too.  Just trying to take something positive out of the situation.

What are you currently listening to? Few songs / recommendations from your playlist.