When YUKU was launched, we had no idea about the existence of TRAKA. It was thanks to us being introduced to them by fellow Balkan artist, MISSIN, that this collective of creators appeared on the label's horizon, and they have quickly become one of the artistic projects at the heart of our concept in both spirit and their incredible output. When we heard their 'Start Taking Note' release as a work in progress, it immediately excited us. As we got to know more about these highly creative collective, that intrigue grew deeply, and we were delighted to manifest their debut release on wax. With their follow-up debut album on the horizon, and 'Start Taking Note' still reaching new ears around the planet, we asked them a few questions about their project and how their work together. Click play on their EP embed below, and enjoy discovering what moves these brilliant young and fresh artists.
— What does the name "TRAKA" mean and how does it relate to your project?
* Our visual artist came up with the name long before we all linked up, his original idea before all of this happened was to create a brand of some sort which would revolve around the concept of TRAKA, which would be TAPE or TRACK in most straightforward translation. After a while of getting to know eachother and hanging out, being productive and getting a deeper understanding of what we are capable of together, the name was just so adaptable to what was going on around our work and We decided to go with it. After some time it just keeps giving us more meaning to our work and reinventing the basic term of what TRAKA is.
— What's the music and graffiti scene like in Serbia/Belgrade, and how did you find yourselves doing this stuff?
* It's quite rich and diverse, and that's going for both music and graffiti. Half of our crew moved to Belgrade from smaller areas and at the time, the whole urban scene was overwhelming to feel, because there was just so much going on. Music wise - there's a bit for everyone. The club scene is pretty strong, a lot of dope producers and DJs have made guest appearances in Belgrade clubs over the past decade, and the good thing is that it's not just a single genre that is being pushed into the spotlight, so there's a chance that you'll hear your favorite dj/producer playing in a Belgrade club even if you're more into underground music, which just shows the healthy state and understanding of what the scene should be. Pretty much the same could be said for graffiti. A lot of dope crews doing their thing, a walk through the city would paint you a solid picture that there is a lot of diversity in graffiti here. You will find bombing, a lot of dope styles, a lot of silver work and also some amazing artistic approach to the craft, and as we see it it just keeps growing and progressing.
— You're quite a big crew, how did you meet and all come together?
* First link up happened at uni, one of our music producers (C47) has been involved in both music and graffiti, our visual designer (ZVRK) has been doing graffiti, and we would have to say that the passion that we share about that whole thing which is graffiti brought us together in the first place. Later on we met producer HABRA, which introduced us to another producer NMEE and that was the base for the upcoming works. As time went by we showed some results which got some of our friends interested to help and contribute to TRAKA, and the best part of it all is that everything that has happened with TRAKA so far was really natural "work enviroment" between all of us.
— You're a mix of producers and visual artists, how do you collaborate and who does what in the process?
* When it comes to the visuals we tend to get ZVRK direct the whole mood and approach whether it's a release or just a simple IG post - he nails the aesthetic just right every time We try to put something out. As part of us are both into visual and audio "department", we really find it important and want to pursue that whole package so that the audio matches the visual aspect and vice versa. Music just happens more natural in a sense that one of us has an idea or a sketch that's missing some parts, then we bounce the stems between eachother and make gumbo most of the time. Sometimes it's just one channel track that one of us finds dull an the other sees potential in, so even if the track has minimal effort put in it, we would share the sound between us and figure out is it worth working on or not. Sometimes one of us just finishes the whole track and we all agree that nothing else should be put in or that noone is allowed near that track just because it sounds right. We talk and discuss our work a lot, if something doesn't sound right between one of us, we go back and find that sweet spot where all of us are on the same page.
— Tell us a bit more about your sound aesthetic - should people expect more of the same in terms of what they've heard in "Start Taking Note", or does that represent just some aspects of your sound?
* "Start Taking Note" could be used as a foundation of what you can expect to hear from TRAKA, but it's just a piece behind a bigger spectre of sound that we are all into and work on. We wouldn't like to put a label on our sound, because there's just so much quality music and genres that we are into, and many bits from differents sounds and scenes inspire us to do what we do. We are mostly inspired by Half Time, Dub, Dubstep, Grime, Drum and Bass, Jungle, Breakbeat and Leftfield/Experimental music, but We never solely focus on making a track so it fits in a genre. With us, it's more about the vibe that the track will bring, and we tend to do stuff that will put you in a certain mood while listening to it. The elements of the track could be bits and pieces of everything we just find natural to create that mood. For now we could say that you can expect a lot of bass-heavy, quirky, aggressive tracks, and we will let the listener define that sound and put us in a bracket they want.
— Working with an iconic voice like Killa P must have been fun - how did that come about? Tell us about the journey of the track evolving
*For us, Killa P was one of the first artists to lure us into the whole UK grime/dubstep sound back in the day. He has a distinctive delivery and vocal capability which makes him unique so working with him was really a treat. Around 2018 We produced a track which was around 140, a bit jumpy, sounded more like a throwback club tune and it was missing one thing only which was the vocals. After a while we got in touch with Killa P. He was down to jump on the tune, and he killed it, it was the last needing ingridient to make the tune just right. There was a vocal sample in that tune which was "start taking note", and Killa P made it into a banger. After months and months of the tune just sitting in our PCs we started putting "Start Taking Note" EP together, and while all of that was going on We produced the current beat that the vocals are laid onto, it just sounded nothing like the original track, it gave it so much more power and tension We decided to scrap the original beat. Looking back at it, it would be a big mistake if we held onto the original version just because this one fits so much better with the whole package.
— Any other vocalists on horizon?
*We are really into working with MCs and vocalists because it makes an already complete track even a bigger banger or mood than it is. We sometimes find it challenging to pick out tracks that should have vocals on them so a lot of care goes into that. Currently we have got some tracks stashed with a couple of really dope MCs and vocalists and a couple more in the works.
— One of you is based in the US, and the others closer to Europe - can we expect to hear TRAKA in venues around the world in the future?
*Sure, expect to hear TRAKA on different venues around Europe and US. Personally we would love to come out to whichever venue calls us out and deliver our sound to the audience there.
— What's next for TRAKA in terms of releases?
* We got a couple down the road ready to be announced, that’s all we got to say—23.02.21 is an important date*
Get 'Start Taking Note' on wax directly via YUKU (with tracked shipping) HERE
Or via Bandcamp HERE