"Some Girls": Reflections on Nekoi Devojki, the First Macedonian Female Artists Compilation

It's funny how things work out sometimes. I don't recall having initially received an email about Nekoi Devojki (which translates to "Some Girls") way back in May, but in June, someone from a website I'm not familiar with (Hey, Stench Radio, thanks for the happy accident!) responded to said phantom email, and happened to accidentally hit "Reply All"—so myself and nearly 200 others received their reply, as well as a copy of that original email, titled simply: "Nekoi Devojki - The first Macedonian female artists compilation."

I've always been interested in scenes from outside the US, and was intrigued, so I checked out the compilation and was very much impressed by its quality and diversity—from grungy indie/alternative/punk rock to folk to hip-hop to experimental electronica, and then some.

It was good. Really fucking good.

I knew I wanted to cover Nekoi Devojki in some way, but wasn't sure just how. I felt it deserved more than just a standard ol' record review, you know? So, almost four months later, I finally got in touch with Gjorgji Janevski—executive producer of the compilation and sender of the original email—with the idea of presenting an artist-by-artist breakdown of Nekoi Devojki, alongside a list of other Macedonian artists beyond the scope of the compilation that No Echo's readers might be curious to investigate.

What follows is a statement from each of the artists who participated in the compilation—in some cases followed by background tidbits provided by Gjorgji—and a quick interview with Janevski about how Nekoi Devojki came to be.

Nekoi Devojki, Artist-by-Artist

1. GreenFuzz, "Song No. 2"

You're supposed to breathe music, not write it, not read it... and right now everything you're reading about this band is unnecessary.

- Јана Коцева, GreenFuzz

Gjorgji: GreenFuzz is a new band featuring Jana Koceva. She's been around for a while in various bands.

2. Plava, "Honesty"

To me, music is not some drug I got hooked on, nor a questionable phase that I need to overcome, but it does work like a drug and I do look like I'm going through a phase that needs to be overcome. When I work, I work fast and impulsively. As a fan of "it was meant to happen," I create things with my capacities at that moment. I sang 90% of the album with my tonsils infected, because if I waited a bit more, it wouldn't have turned out that way.

- Марија Димовска, Плава

Gjorgji: Plava is experienced also. She used to be in a band called Parketi for many years. Now she's gone solo, with a band of her own.

3. Undone, "Hi Flowers"

I fall in love with music just like the seed falls in love with the soil. I give in to the soil, the sun, the water, and the muses. Then I watch how they transform my experience into flowers. When friends can do that together, it really is wonderful. Music is a vehicle, an unframed garment of transformation. It fits everyone who is inside of it.

- Ronit Bergman, Undone

Gjorgji: Undone is a project of Ronit Bergman, the most experienced of all. She is from Israel, married in Skopje, and has been in many bands since the '90s. Plastic Venus in London, then One of Us, and finally Undone.

4. June, "Hey Bobby"

Photo: Angel Angelovski

Sincere music about love.

- June

5. Devojka, "Smile"

When it comes to music, there are three things that I am at constant battle with:

  1. Believing that I have the right to make it.
  2. Finishing what I start.
  3. Writing a song that I think my parents might actually like.

Everything else is just showing up. Showing up and keeping at it.

- Билјана Мирковски, Devojka

Gjorgji: Devojka is a Macedonian girl raised in California, and you can can feel it. This is from her radio show appearance years ago. Now she's part of the band Operators. Completely different story...

6. Telemama, "Vale Tereshkova"

When I was a little girl I used to "play around" with the piano and the accordion, and while I was in high school I was preparing for a certain period of time to go study solo singing at the Music Academy. I never showed up for the entrance test. My husband gave me a ukulele two years ago and he said it was an engagement ring (the brand's name is Diamond). So that was the turning point: I started playing it for the three of us at home. In the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom...

- Драгана Заревска, Телемама

Gjorgji: Telemama is Dragana Zarevska, a visual artist, but now she has a child and plays music in her free time with a ukulele. She's a beginner, and wrote the song especially for the compilation.

7. G-Rough, "Vitrazh"

The word "boredom" is not in my vocabulary, because my vocabulary is filled with clumsy puns. I take photos when I can't memorize something; I draw when I can't express myself in any other way; I write when my mind thinks it's time for me to accept my own feelings, fears, desires. I'm reasonably competitive, and I successfully deal with stress by playing Tetris.

- G-Rough

Gjorgji: G-Rough is a teenage MC from Skopje. Very shy, in a way, for a rapper.

8. Sleet, "Od Prviot Grad na Vardar"

Soulmates, best friends. We accept each other as we are. Rap has allowed me to rest whenever I was left out of breath, and in return, I gave it eternal life through my tracks. We are in symbiosis. We give each other inspiration to create, to make new creations with an old sound and to say everything that—if left unspoken—could poison our hearts. It's an unbreakable bound, and I've chosen to be honest to hip-hop and through it, to be honest to myself.

- Sleet

Gjorgji: Sleet was the author of the first female rap album in Macedonia. It went unnoticed two years ago.

9. Prvata Dama, "L'zhgovci"

When we had nowhere to go it picked us up from the dirt. That's why I keep away from the crowd as far as I can. Hip-hop is more love than hate to me.

- Првата дама

Gjorgji: Prvata Dama means "The First Lady."

10. Nina Georgieva, "Makes Run"

Before I started making music I was deaf. I was completely oblivious to the sounds surrounding me, how they change, how they affect people. I wasn't aware of how people utter words and them being reflections of their intention, their habit, their emotions. Since I first heard the phaser effect which occurs after a plane flies over, I can't ignore it anymore. I wonder, how are all those people just casually passing by, ignoring the sounds of the construction site that's blaring out aggressive basses? Or the sound of the subway, shrieks that can't be compared even to the scariest horror movies. Probably the context changes everything. Everything's just a huge, lengthy song—which we ignore most of the time because it's out of the context we would normally expect. I'm afraid that I'm missing out on so many similar things, only because I'm not aware that they're right in front of me.

- Нина Георгиева

Gjorgji: Nina Georgieva is a very young and talented electronic artist. She used to be a drummer in various bands, and was later part of Disphilharmonia. Now she lives in Dubai and works as a designer and visual artist.

11. Galatheia, "Prag"

Photo: Galathea Crno Belo

Everyone probably needs to see some illusory enchanting to the dull daily routine in order to survive, and making music is probably the most honest and the most constructive way to do it. Paradoxically, to me this act is a cruel reality check as much as it is an ethereal escape from that same reality. But of course, it's a kind of a personal victory over ordinary life.

- Теа Шалдева, Galatheia

Gjorgji: Galatheia is a young electronic artist from Skopje, soon to release a debut album. She's also a colleague of mine from the radio.

12. Herzel & Genoveva, "Dark Flowers"

Photo: L. Temelkovski

Making music as part of a duo between a man and a woman is a very intimate process, but such a collaboration has the much-needed balance for creating music. At least in our case, I'm usually the rational part, while the intuitive part is the leading element of the other sex. A symbiosis which always leads to original results, as long as it's open and honest.

- Александар Гроздановски, Herzel & Genoveva

13. Future Cathedrals, "End of the Universe"

Stop... for a moment... take a look around you. Then, close your eyes and listen how your heart is crying because of your defiance. You are not like them. But you've known that for a long time now. It's been secretly smoldering inside of you... waiting for that moment when your dream and his... infinity. See, that's music for me... and love, at the same time... an everlasting duality, a symbiosis, my yin-yang...

- Соња Димитриоска, Future Cathedrals

14. Quiet Hiroshima, "Fragments of Innocence"

Photo: Gavrilo Milovanovic

The feeling when you sing something that's your own, that you made yourself, can't be replaced by any sonata that you play, by any performance of an opera aria, by any opera role—because there you're only an imitator, a transmitter of someone else's emotions which you can act out quite easily. The beauty of your own work lies in the soul-baring.

- Симона Петровска, Quiet Hiroshima

15. Bernays Propaganda, "Denot Koga se Rodiv"

Photo: Kristijan Teodorov

It seems to me that every lyric so far began like a man drowning in such an agony, and a fear, that I've had in me since I was a child, that tomorrow I'll disappear.

I don't know where it comes from...

Licking your own wounds... in public. Some call it courage.

- Кристина Горовска, Bernays Propaganda

Gjorgji: Bernays Propaganda is the best-known band from Macedonia abroad.

5 Questions With Gjorgji Janevski, Executive Producer of Nekoi Devojki

What inspired the idea behind the Nekoi Devojki compilation, and how did it come together?

It happened in a very spontaneous way. There was a big festival of Macedonian indie labels in February, and running a radio program dedicated to it on the radio, I noticed that in the lineup of 20 bands and artists there were only three girls a part of it. Then I talked with some of them, like, "What's the problem?" Then one morning I woke up with an idea: instead of talking about it, let's do something. So, that's how it started. I did my research and discovered some unknown music that people were keeping for themselves. Some of them are absolute beginners, some of them wrote their songs especially for the compilation. Even if I don't divide the music on a gender basis, I think it was a necessary step to be taken. On the concert promo there was already a female duo (there aren't any on the compilation) with their first ever performance, so that's one small goal achieved.

How long did it take to get all of the contributors involved and gather the tracks?

It was a very intensive and quick process... it took less than two months!

The material is incredibly diverse and covers a range of different genres. How do you feel this variety represents the Macedonian music scene as a whole?

I think the compilation is representative of the scene—even as a small part or segment of it—because the scene is diverse, very fragmented in a way, and it's difficult to point out any trends.

Can you share a little information about each of the groups who partnered up for the compilation—the Ako Nikoj ne Sviri radio show, the Kanal 103 station, and the Youth Cultural Centre in Skopje—and the roles they played in the project?

I've been hosting the Ako Nikoj ne Sviri radio show since 2005. We've produced over 100 concerts during these past years. Kanal 103 is a completely freeform, nonprofit radio station, since 1991. A little older than the state itself. Sort of a phenomenon, it would take pages to talk about it. You can listen to it here [and find the station on Facebook]. The Youth Cultural Centre is very supportive, which is unusual for our local institutions.

It's all part of the scene, in a way. I knew most of the girls from before, some of them played on the radio, so it wasn't difficult. Solidarity principles, you know...

Since it's pointed out that this collection is the first of its kind, I can't help but ask if you think you might put together other similar compilations in the future?

If there's enough material for another one, why not? We'll see. I'm also planning some more individual releases in the near future.

Here's an older one from six years ago [Ako Nikoj ne Sviri]. It's only from radio sessions [recorded live at Kanal 103, 2005 - 2007], but afterwards was difficult to compile them in a way that made any sense.