Serbian DJ Marko Nastic is the latest name to emerge from the European techno scene, following Slovenian Umek and Valentino Kanzyani from Slovenia and Petar Dundov from Croatia into the international forum.
Still only in his twenties, Nastics whirlwind three-deck sets, which take in tribal and tech-house, electro and techno as well as his clubby productions for Umek and Kanzyanis Earrisistible label, have seen him make the transformation from respected local spinner to a sought-after DJ who plays all over the world.
DJing and music were always a part of Markos background: even in his pre-teen years, he was fascinated with synthesisers and drum machines and his uncle used to play Italo Disco in the 80s on Belgrade radio. This made Nastic, who was in his early teens, think about the possibilities of DJing and, when techno started filtering through to Serbia in the early 90s, his older brothers turned him on to it. However, just as techno music was becoming popular in Serbia, the Balkan conflict escalated.
Marko admits that he was too young to realise the gravity of the situation, but, like every area of life, it also impacted on his world. Things were tense, but a lot of it probably went over my head, he admits. But it meant that buying records was very difficult and the selection wasnt good. My friends went abroad to buy records and some friends that lived in London sent us material. Things have got much better since Milosevic was ousted, were free to travel and the scene in Belgrade is stronger. Still only 14, Nastic had just landed a job at Belgrades dance music shop, Happy People, where his interest in dance music was allowed to flourish.
I started mixing using Technics in the shop and thats also where I made friends with people in the club scene, he explains. Nastic met Dejan Milicevic, his future partner in the Teenage Techno Punks DJ collective and, by the time he was 16, in 1997, he had landed a residency at Belgrades leading underground club, Industria, together with Milicevic. He also became the clubs programme director, strengthening his collaboration with Gordan Paunovic and Belgrades other important electronic music DJs and promoters. Industria set the standard for clubbing and DJing in the Serbian capital and Markos next project, promotional team Teshka Mashinerija also began at Industria, with a string of exceptionally successful parties. Nastic stayed at Industria for four years, before moving to the Mondo club for a year and then he resided at the Incognito club in Novi Sad.
As his DJing developed, he was a regular feature at virtually all significant techno events in Belgrade or Serbia in the 1990s. By the age of 25, he had played together with global techno luminaries like Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola, Kevin Saunderson, Green Velvet, Adam Beyer and Billy Nasty and, like the adoration afforded to Umek in Slovenia, he had developed a near religious following at home in Serbia. One by one, the clubbing scenes in neighbouring countries became aware of Nastics unparalleled DJing skills, and his distinctive three deck style, as well as his ability to mix up everything from Croydon-style tech house to rumbling Resse-bass style techno meant that he became a regular guest in Bosnia, Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria.
Although electronic music in general took off in the former Eastern Bloc states from the mid-90s, Marko believes that techno is still the most popular style in Eastern Europe. Techno just keeps on getting bigger and bigger, he enthuses. Theres no doubt that Umek, together with Valentino Kanzyani gave the East European scene a higher profile internationally. Given their close links, its no surprise that the two Slovenian DJs signed Nastic to their Recycled Loops and Earrisistible labels for a six EP and album deal. The first two releases, Devil In My Pants and Lets Get High, fused Markos love of dubby, tribal house with pumping party techno and were even supported by mainstream
DJs like Fergie and Judge Jules on Radio 1. Joining the Recycled Loops team as well as signing up to Berlin DJ agency, KneDeep has seen Nastics international bookings flourishing. He did his first non-European tour in 2002, of Brazil, and now regularly plays gigs in the UK, across Asia and in Europe - and cites M47 in Hungary, U60311 in Frankfurt, Sala del Sel in Gerona and Techno Flash in Valladolid, Spain as his favourite clubs to play at.
Marko also recently completed a three-month world tour with Umek and Valentino Kanzyani to promote the Recyclopedia Electronica double CD.
Featuring the labels highlights on the first unmixed disc, CD two showcases Nastics skills as he effortlessly chops and blends his way through the labels back catalogue. Marko also recently completed a remix for Martin Hare on Dark House Music and for Alexander Koning and is working for a new label from Slovenia, Fargo - but the project currently taking up most of his time is his new label, Recon Warriors. The imprint, whose name is inspired by the Serbian armys military scouts, is the first to come from Serbia and will focus on the clubby, tribal side of techno similar to the output of UK labels like Ingoma. The first release, Zulu Samurai, by Umek, is currently available and subsequent releases are planned from Veztax from Slovenia and Austrian producers Bariqua Tribez as well as releases by Valentino Kanzyani, Marko himself and upcoming Serbian producers like Dejan Milicevic, Leon and Kobaja, which, he hopes, will win Serbians emerging scene more recognition. Its the latest step in Nastics evolution as one of techno musics most promising producers and DJs, and he believes that his background has made his path to the top more difficult than his European and American peers. It has been harder for me than others, but my theory is that if you want something badly and if you work hard for it, theres no doubt that you will succeed - no matter where you come from, he says - and its impossible to fault his passion and determination