Dubioza kolektiv in 2012
|Origin||Zenica, Mostar, Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)|
|Genres||Rap rock, reggae, ska, dub, , funk rock|
|Labels||Gramofon, Ekipa, Koolarrow Records, Menart Records, 300 Producciones|
Orhan Maslo Oha
Dubioza kolektiv (also known simply as Dubioza) is Bosnian avant-garde dub rock group known for their crossover style that incorporates elements of hip hop, dub, ska, reggae, rock, punk, electronic music, and Balkan music, and for their socially and politically conscious songwriting with lyrics in multiple languages. By 2015, Dubioza kolektiv had emerged as the most popular Bosnian musical act.
Dubioza kolektiv was formed in 2003 by Brano Jakubovi?, Vedran Mujagi?, Almir Hasanbegovi? and Adis Zveki? with the merger of two musical groups, Ornament and Gluhog doba. The band originates from Sarajevo and Zenica. Dubioza kolektiv initially also featured a female vocal, but the singer, Adisa Zveki?, eventually left the group to pursue a solo career. The group's performances have been multilingual (Bosnian and English) ever since the band's inception.
Singer Adis Zveki? stated that he first set up a band that served as a forerunner for Dubioza in 1993, when he was 13 years old. Due to the war, there was no electricity; the band used to meet in the evenings and jam in the dark. All band members declare themselves to have had a working class background, being the children of workers and peasants.
Though the group considered contending to represent Bosnia in the Eurovision Song Contest, they eventually decided against the idea as they would have to sign a contract obligating them to refrain from making any political statements. Instead, they recorded and released a highly critical and political song; Euro song.
Dubioza kolektiv released their self-titled first album in April 2004. Two of the songs also featured accompanying music videos.
The Open Wide EP was released in December 2004, and featured four remixes of songs from the Dubioza kolektiv album, and two up until then unpublished tracks featuring English dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah, and Mush Khan of the Pakistani-British group, Fun-Da-Mental.
Firma ilegal (English: Illegal Enterprise) was the first album where all lyrics were written in the Bosnian language. The album addresses the social and political situation in transitional Balkan societies, discussing corruption, privatisation of social property, and the opportunistic political oligarchy.
Dubioza's fourth album, 5 do 12, was the first to be released online in full and for download free of charge. The album featured Plavi orkestar vocalist Sa?a Lo?i?, and Macedonian ska punk group, Superhiks. The CD release also featured remixes of the songs by other artists and recordings from MTV Live @ Skirlibaba Studio sessions. The work continued on the path set by Firma ilegal, featuring socially critical lyrics written in the Bosnian language.
Wild Wild East was the first album released for an international audience/market, marking the group's entry onto the international stage some 8 years after its founding.
Lyrics for the songs on the Happy Machine album were penned in response to events that unfolded over the 2 years prior to its publication, including the Gezi Park protests, the jailing of the founders of The Pirate Bay, and the European refugee crisis, and featured numerous collaborating artists from around the globe and lyrics in English, Spanish, Punjabi, and Italian. The album title is an allusion to the makeshift distillation apparatus used to distill rakija, a regionally popular variety of moonshine. The drink is also mentioned in the song No Escape (From Balkan), and a blueprint for the distillation contraption is also featured on the album cover (in protest of new EU regulations requiring a permit even for small scale spirit production intended for domestic use).
Dubioza's 2017 album, Pjesmice za djecu i odrasle (English: Songs for Youths and Adults) features songs written exclusively in Bosnian language. The album's singles include Himna generacije, Treba mi zraka, and Rijaliti.
Dubioza kolektiv has been described as a "band without a genre". The group's distinct eclectic musical style has been shaped by the members' dissimilar and varied musical influences and backgrounds. The group never attempted to define a genre, preferring instead to focus on the ideas they wish to communicate to the audience and tailoring their music accordingly.
The group's music often combines serious lyrical themes and content with satirical and humorous lyrical style and presentation, and a lighthearted melody and simple and dancable rhythm, attempting to appeal to as wide an audience as possible in disseminating its art and ideas. As keyboardist Brano Jakubovi? put it: "[Our songs] prove that people can dance and think at the same time."
The content of many Dubioza songs is addressed and especially pertinent to the wider Balkan region, addressing the shared experience of (post-)transitional societies, their collective consciousnesses characteristically marred by the perception of widespread corruption, of failed privatisation of socially owned property, and opportunistic political oligarchy. With their expanding reach, the band has also begun to address social and political topics common to all Western and global contemporary society, often with lyrics written in English. The group nonetheless consistently incorporates a "Balkan sound" into its music, in part to combat common prejudices based on stereotypes regarding the musical form of the region, and to make their music instantly recognisable.
The group has also adopted a distinctive on-stage image, featuring yellow-black dress replete with the band's, Ziggi rolling papers', and The Pirate Bay' logos, a tight stage choreography, lively and rambunctious performance antics, and proactive audience interaction.
Members of the group embrace a "DIY" approach to music, writing, recording and producing it in their own studio, self-designing disc covers and websites, and carrying out most of the remaining band-related work like administering the band's social media presence and producing music videos largely by themselves. The band has an internal contest where band members who successfully contribute lyrics receive a monetary reward so as to self-encourage the group's songwriting.
Dubioza has consistently embraced socially and politically conscious texts, speaking out about injustices befalling ordinary people, political corruption, and attempting to raise public political awareness. Band members believe that it is the duty of artists to utilise their media to promote positive ideas and values.
The group's activism against "right-wing parties, xenophobia and fascism" is in part based on their home country's experience with the repercussions of such ideologies.
Dubioza has supported various civic movements and non-governmental organisations (including by advocating them during live performances), having attended and performed at the 2012 Slovenian protests and 2015 Macedonian protests, and supported the Dosta! Roma awareness raising campaign, the Refugees Welcome campaign, a Slovenian environmentalist campaign to preserve the Mura River, and a campaign to revive the Bosnian Dita Tuzla laundry detergent factory wrecked by the Bosnian War and subsequent privatisation. Dubioza also actively advocates for the legalisation of marijuana through their lyrics and during live performances.
Dubioza kolektiv has made all their recent albums available for download free of charge on their website, also uploading them onto The Pirate Bay. Their song Free.mp3 (The Pirate Bay Song) pays homage to the peer-to-peer website and its jailed founders, lampoons global pop culture and political figures including Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, and Barack Obama, and explores copyright in the digital age, internet privacy, and freedom of information. The song and music video were subsequently featured on Pirate Bay's homepage.
Instead of monetising their songs through copyright, Dubioza has instead been committed to exploring alternate modes of generating income as artists, including promoting their live performances instead of record sales, marketing the group's merchendise, and soliciting cryptocurrency donations, while regarding the traditional mode of music industry income generation as "outdated" and unfair to the artists. Dubioza believes in free exchange of art, ideas, and knowledge, with the audience voluntarily deciding whether they wish to monetarily reward the authors depending on whether they like their work. The band has also stated they found releasing albums online has strengthened their bond with their audience.
Their album Happy Machine was shortlisted by IMPALA (The Independent Music Companies Association) for the Album of the Year Award 2016, which rewards on a yearly basis the best album released on an independent European label.