Friday, April 20, 2007


Turbofolk is a subject of much debate . To make a sort of eclectic sense of it, brings you irreverent posts in Bosnian and English on various aspects of the entire turbofolk scene, whether it is seeing scary people like Celo in a limo (perhaps listening to turbofolk ;-) ), or some child prodigy, or deconstructing turbofolk lyrics or Azis the transgendered, Roma rights fighting, Bulgarian turbofolk star.
Balkanmedia has clips of top cds on charts, including some by turbofolk singers; I obviously can't make any comments on the lyrical content, or perhaps lack there of, but just focusing on the music itself, without considering the greater socio-political aspects, and the "taboos" associated with turbofolk; some of the tunes and beats are quite catchy! Although some tunes tend to sound exactly the same after a while (at least to my ears); which perhaps is not something unique to any particular brand of music.


Daniel said...

My opinion: "Turbofolk" and Bosnian/Serbian "country" music is terrible; it just brings out disgust in me even thinking about it. It reminds me of primitivism. I have always prefered western music. But that's me. I have always looked "forward" in my life, but most of these people are still stuck in socialist yugoslavia.

Shaina said...

Thats cool. I think it is kind of interesting: in the Balkans that music is perhaps associated with very traditional; or even reactionary elements; but having grown up on Western music; it sounds "alternative"; and out of the mainstream and unique to me!
I can certainly appreciate you P.O.V. when it comes to turbofolk. Decontexualizing turbofolk and removing it out of the vapid consumerism and objectifying women (which isn't unique to turbofolk) or all of the political taboos associated with it; and not paying attention to the lyrics; and just listening purely to the beats and musical styling I find some of it very catchy. Although, that also could be because, as I mentioned before, it is not something that I'm used to hearing; so it is a new experience for me.

I've heard people compare turbofolk to American country music. Do you think this is a fair comparision?
I'm not really a fan of country music; with the exception of the legendary Patsy Cline, the Dixie Chicks; and maybe some Johnny Cash thrown in for good measure.

Musically, I have very diverse tastes; I like Coldplay, Radiohead, I'm a huge fan of Motown era music (especially Sam Cook, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson etc.) R&B and soul/neo-soul (especially the stuff from the 60s and 70s). Blue-eye soul music like Annie Lennox and John Mayer. I like jazz, blues and progressive rap; and especially fusions of blues with rap. Such as by Digital Underground; the Roots,and most of all by Arrested Development. I like Kanye West and Outkast and Public Enemy as well. P.M. Dawn's music. I used to a HUGE fan of "grunge" style of music; I'm not as big of a fan as I was in the past; but I still like Nirvana. I really like U2. I like Journey. I also like the Pixies, Cowboy Junkies. I like Joan Osborne a lot (although I have no idea if she is even still involved in music. I like singer-songwriter style. I like New Wave. I really enjoy pop music, top 20 type stuff. I listen to some Christian rock. I really classical artists like Sergei Rachmaninov, mostly due to my exposure to figure skating.

The only type of music that I don't really *like* is Opera, country (with the obvious exceptions of the previously mentioned Dixie Chicks, Patsy Cline etc.) Gangsta rap, although I like some of TuPac's stuff.

I typically like songs more than musical styling. And I probably like songs from every genre, although there are some genres that I like more than others.

Daniel said...

"I've heard people compare turbofolk to American country music. Do you think this is a fair comparision?"

It's similar, yes. But the instruments are different, and melody is much wilder.

The thing I hate about "turbofolk" and Bosnian/Serbian "country" music is because it reminds me of miserable conditions most of the Balkans live in. It reminds me of socialism, communism, dictatorship, barbarism, primitivism, religious extremism, and everything bad associated with the Balkans. For me, it's a horrible music.

I went to Greek restaurant "last year" to buy some lamb chops. And while I was waiting for them to prepare lamb chops for me, I had to listen to a mix of "turbofolk and country" music which is. I changed my order to "OUT!" I didn't want to sit there, eat my lamb, and listen to that horrible music which brings feelings of hell in me. Honestly, if I somebody forced me to listen to it more than 15 minutes, I would puke. Seriously.

Turbofolk/Country both have taste of socialism/communism etc in themselves. This type of music was also popular in Croatia, while Croatia was part of [I hate to same the name of that country which starts with "Y". Seriously. If I say or think about that name, it brings feelings of "vomit"]. When Croatia became independent they banned turbofolk/country from their radio stations and incorporated Croatian cultural music into their radio stations.

Now, local Croatian music is a bit different, they use different instruments, I don't even know the names of these instruments, but they look like this: [hahahaha]
2. Instrument:

Ooooy-haaa! hehehehe

Yakima_Gulag said...

I don't think that turbofolk is REALLY like C&W, but there IS a similar political atmosphere to both musical genres, not so much socialism as reactionary hyper-patriotism. In the U.S. C&W is more right wing, at one time it WAS more socialist, but that music diverged and became 'Americana' and 'American folk music' The waters get a bit murky, but basically to do any American folk music, and in time any Western European type folk music, such as English or Irish, it really helped to be a Communist.
I confess, I do like SOME turbofolk, but my real preferences in Balkans music are for the truly older styles of music, such as sevdah, or klapa, or tamburica. I don't like much of American C&W, Patsy Cline, Johny Cash, some George Jones,the Dixie Chicks, Willie Nelson, who was raised not far from the Yakima Gulag in a tiny town called Naches.
I think I'd like both C&W and turbofolk more if it weren't for the political ethos involved. I tend to be more open to disassociating a musical genre from it's political ethos.
I like sevdalinke far better than I ever liked turbofolk.

Shaina said...

sevdalinke is great!!! I've listened to some clips of groups like Mostar Sevdah Reunion online. :)

oh yeah, and heavy metal, don't like heavy metal either.

Owen said...

There's some nice music to listen to at London Sevdah blog.

Yakima_Gulag said...

Nice music and good people basically over there at London Sevdah, I have been in fairly regular touch with them. They just are decent people all around.

I like in American C&W Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, the Carter Family, the Dixie Chicks, the B-52s, who are from Georgia and turn C&W on it's head, of course Elvis, early Elvis, not his later Vegas stuff.

In traditional Irish music, I like the Wolfetonnes, the Dublin City Ramblers, and the Chieftains, in Irish Rock, I like That Petrol Emotion, and In Tua Nua.

In Scottish music, my traditional picks are Ewen McColl, I got to meet him and we had all his records growing up. I heard him and met him in Seattle, on one of his extremely rare U.S. tours. The U.S. wouldn't give him a visa because he was anti-nuclear. Jimmy Shand, and his Strict Tempo Band, and Scottish folk rock, Capercaille, and Run-Rig, Silly Wizard and the Seattle band Keltoi, sadly defunct.

In Bosnian music, I really love Mostar Sevdah Reunion, and of course London Sevdah, how could one NOT like them?

There's a group that seems to mostly be Russians called Gogol Bordello that I like a lot too, rather similar in feel to Kultur Shock which is out of Seattle and has existed for 10 years.

Daniel said...

Did you know guys:

"Sevdalinke" = "Love Songs"

Kirk Johnson said...

In Bulgaria turbofolk is usually called "Chalga." It's also sometimes called "Pop-folk."

Shaina said...

Thanks Dan and Kirk for the info!

What are the similarities and/or differences between "turbofolk" and "chalga"? Besides geographic location and name.

Yakima_Gulag said...

@Daniel, yes I did know that! :)
@Kirk, yes I'm familiar a little bit with Chalga, I'd say the difference between it and Turbofolk is that Chalga has more girl singers, and that the music is lighter, more 'pop' than Turbofolk, except for that Roma cross dressing guy.

Kirk Johnson said...

Thanks yakima gulag--that sounds about right. My main experience with turbofolk was by watching Channel Pink on cable in Sofia.

Most of the Chalga singers I've seen and heard have been women. Especially live.

I've tried doing the line dance, and I always end up yanking everyone out of step. Now I know better than to try.

Mirza Basic - London Sevdah said...

Hey guys thanks for the nice mentions and kind comments about London Sevdah here.

It is a very challenging project to keep away from the turbo-folk and maintain in the original, intended form of Sevdah that Bosnia deserves to promote around the world.

We are the only group in UK who are able (at the moment) to do this at least semi-successfully.

DrunkenPirate said...

Someone previously asked what the difference between pop-folk (or chalga) and turbo-folk is. Well, the contemporary pop-folk that is developing in Bulgaria at the moment has A LOT in common with Serbian turbo-folk. So I guess you could say that the two genres are becoming more and more similar with time. Probably, the main difference is that one is sung in Bulgarian and the other in Serbian.

However, there is a widespread trend in Bulgarian pop-folk. Many singers buy the song rights from Serbian and Greek authors and make a new cover of the song in Bulgarian. I don't know why they do this and what's the point of it.