When someone tells you that in Bihac there is a band playing songs in French and then you find that song and listen to it, and all the while listening you cannot stop dancing and moving, you feel urged to meet them right away to see who’s “hiding” behind that band and talk to them about what made them play and sing in Bihać in French. I met two members of the Jall Aux Yeux band, out of seven. It was a very interesting and inspirational conversation. I hope that the French will hear of the band Jall Aux Yeux and that they will become really famous in Bosnia and Herzegovina so we’ll all dance and shake to their songs.
Hana: The band is called Jall Aux Yeux, so what does that mean?
It’s our local wordplay related to a place here but we would love everyone to try to find out for himself what’s “in the eye” – is it maybe sorrow in the eye, or happiness in the eyes or rebellion.
Just to note, it is a village near Bihać called Založje, so it was a bit of a wordplay, us fooling around.
But as for the beginnings of the band itself, sometimes in late 2015 and early 2016, we started rehearsing. We came up with a couple of songs that we thought would represent us well, and so we recorded it in the Pavarotti studio in Mostar. Then we did mastering here with our friend Nemdžad Alić, who has his studio in Bihać. We the recorded it together with some of our friends who really helped a lot in this, Đema Ćatić and Dinko Abdić, and uploaded it on YouTube and now people are coming to us. They find it very interesting and would like to talk to us, so here we are talking (laughter).
Hana: There are seven of you. Who else is in the band?
That’s right. It all started with our two members. They are the mastermind that made the band, and their names are Jure and Jasmin. Jure is a professor of French and Latin and the author of all the texts. Jasmin is my former student from the art school and now we are colleagues, now he works in branch school. He is very talented, and before this band we worked together with Haman Jazz. So, just around the time as we were doing the last recording of some songs, we were doing covers of some traditional sevdalinka songs from the Krajina area I genuinely loved what he did arranging one of the songs. Somehow around the same time, he started working with Jure. And we talked about it, and he told the story of how it all starts. I was really interested to hear how it sounds. After the first rehearsal, well Adnan had already started playing drums with them and they had another bass player. When I came to the first rehearsal I was totally surprised by the sound, totally different from everything I did until then. So now there are seven of us as we grew more. Our singer is Sanel Jušić. He is a teacher of fine arts and is very talented for languages. Probably through all these projects we’re working together he’ll end up speaking all sorts of languages. (laughter)
At the end we were joined by Elvedin Malkoč on sax. He is also a former student of art school, graduated from music academy, a great jazz lover, very talented guy and as soon as he returned to Bihać I immediately suggested that he be involved because the trumpet section and say sounds great all together.
I would mention that for these recordings in Pavarotti centre, our bass player was Goran Andreaš. Unfortunately, due to the situation as it is, we all know that people are leaving the country, he moved to Slovenia with his family so now we have a new bassist that we do rehearsals with, and his name is Marko.
Hana: Do you already have a lot of your songs?
Yes, we do. Jure and Jasmin are a team that brings a lot of musical output. They are really productive and apart from these five songs we’ve recorded we have some five more ready to be recorded. And also new songs come in constantly. The two of them as a creative team are really something and a lot can come from them. We do have some plans what to do it in the future. We would like to finish this first part of the band with an album and I think it’s going to happen early in the autumn with some of the first 10 to 12 songs we’ve finished in 2016 and early 2017. So in September it could somehow be brought together in our first works, the album by Jall Aux Yeux.
Hana: Do you play wherever you get invited or …?
We do play, yes. We’ll try to use the summer to promote this a bit but also through the radio and TV stations and online, but, of course, it is mostly live. We would like and we do have some performances and concerts agreed, including some festivals dedicated to promoting new bands. So here, I hope there will be lot of work in that sense this summer.
Hana: Is there a desire to have yourself presented in France?
Of course there is. These are some hidden desires in us, not only in France but … frankly when started all this, we didn’t have much ambition to tour the country. Not because we hate Bosnia or anything like that, but simply because we wanted to go beyond and festivals and so on. To get to know some other cultures as well since this is practically our hobby. I’m the only one in the band whose profession is music, while others have jobs that have nothing to do with music. But why not try to combine business with pleasure, travel around a bit, see the world, meet new people.
I think this music we are doing … is hard to put any tag on music and especially to say “this is Bosnian music”. What does that mean? It is the worst thing for me to hear people saying, as they do with writers, is Ivo Andrić Bosnian or Croatian writer? The man went beyond all these nations, he’s so much bigger than that and it’s silly to talk about it. The music we are working on is indeed an amalgam of various influences. Very European to say, even American as there is jazz in there, then also some Slavic themes and some folk themes. There are some dance themes, so indie, pop, rock, punk, everything is really there and I can’t say it’s Bosnian tradition. Why put limits to it? I truly believe that music definitely can’t be limited. It’s such universal means of expression. That language that we use happens to be French. It doesn’t mean I won’t have a text in English, say, or German, so we do that too. That would be quite normal, wouldn’t be anything unusual to express oneself in another language. Especially when we are in Europe, which is very diverse in itself and of course that we would like to send this music further and that people hear it and like it or not like it.
The first time we went to radio and for the first live performance on Radio Bihać, we were asked why French? The answer was “because we do not know any Czech”. (laughter)
Yes, all the knowledge we have should be used. In just so happens that Jure has that soul of a poet. I have a feeling that these texts are, well, they are very much related to French literature, and that’s where he gets lot of the themes and thoughts. He just expresses himself in French, maybe it is somehow … I think it has something to do with putting a mask on sometimes you are more free in your thoughts, and maybe that French language is just a mask for him that helps him say what he means.