Photo: Press (Gabi98 & Fujita Pinnacle)
„You can always rely on the residents. They know the club, the crowd, the sound system, and they are a pillar of the musical identity of a club, just as important as the architecture, the acoustics or the interior design,” Nick Höppner once said in Groove. Our monthly Resident Podcast aims to give the residents of clubs and collectives working locally and internationally the attention and respect they deserve.
At first it is a little hard to parse Nimaš Izbire, the Ljubljana-based collective behind not one, but three different event series—Krom, Štrom, and Rosišče—at five different venues in the Slovenian capital. The group had originally started out as a fashion brand and has since also become a record label and community online radio show while never really abandoning fashion—plus, they do a few other things here and there, too. It’s a lot, frankly.
Gabi98 (Gabriele Steffe) and Fujita Pinnacle (Staš Kramar) are two of the core members of Nimaš Izbire, which musically is dedicated to all kinds of things—from bass music events to something called “ambiental trance.” They stress the collective’s dedication to a “post-internet” aesthetic while also underlining that their endeavours also have a social dimension to them: “It’s about having fun while also being conscious and responsible with our extended community,” says Steffe.
The two DJs have different interests and styles, but teamed up for a B2B set for our Resident Podcast. It’s a veritable tour de fun, with more than 40 tunes in quick succession—stylistically open, highly energetic throughout, and maybe a bit confusing at first in true Nimaš Izbire style.
Nimaš Izbire was originally started as a DIY fashion brand that existed between 2018 and 2019, co-founded by lead designer Dorijan Šiško. How did the two of you first get involved with the collective?
Gabriele: I believe we’ve met at an underground event organised by one of our colleagues and local scenemakers in Maribor, Slovenia’s second biggest city. I’m pretty sure that we’ve clicked by discovering a mutual interest in obscure scenes of music, art, memes, and the whole umbrella of internet culture in general. I was still a teenager with big ideas, just moved to the capital, while Dorijan was already well on his way of becoming an experienced designer and visual artist, but it seems I’ve convinced him enough to create a collection of designs which I would then screenprint on different pieces of clothing and sell at different community events. The idea was to create a project dedicated to merging niche internet-influenced design with urban culture. From there on it went on as a spontaneous creative collaboration on all sorts of stuff!
Staš: I first came in contact with Nimaš Izbire online while producing music and events as a part of another collective. Ljubljana being such a small city offers an unique “networking” experience as one quickly gets to know everyone else in the scene. I came to hang out at a few of the fashion markets and community events and we started working together a few weeks after I was booked to play at one of their Krom parties in K4.
How did it come about that the collective pivoted to music?
Gabriele: When I moved to Ljubljana, I started to explore the vibrant underground communities of the capital and met lots of interesting people, so I instinctively joined different groups of creatives and got involved more and more in the scene. It had a lot to do with hanging out and connecting with people on different occasions, especially at parties. I’d already been DJing for some time and was always interested in music, as were the other members of the collective, so we kind of just merged our interests and started working together! It’s excruciatingly hard for young people interested in the underground or alternative scenes to find a footing in our small hometowns, so as you can imagine Ljubljana, despite still being relatively small, is a huge revelation for outsiders coming in from all over. Most of our members are not Ljubljana natives, what united us was flocking here chasing our dreams, learning a lot and refining our tastes, also always trying to be constructive in the communities which embraced us. In the beginning it was Dorijan in the designer and VJ role, me as the organiser, promoter, and DJ, as well as some other friends helping out—we’ve formed a small team and soon enough managed to gain some more traction around town, so the club K4 invited us to be residents in early 2019—that’s how our public presence began, really. The initial success further fuelled our enthusiasm: it felt like for the first time in my life me and my friends could really be heard.
A term that is often used as a descriptor for the collective’s style is “post-internet.” What does that actually mean?
Gabriele: We took the definition of what post-internet means, being an art movement heavily influenced by the internet and its impact, and morphed it to fit our needs. A lot of art and designs we create and use feature heavy internet references. The music we play and produce is a hybrid of different influences and tastes formed and acquired with the help of the internet and a lot of our promotional activity and also just communal socialising is based online likewise, with a noticeable presence of social media specific formats like memes. That’s why I believe it is safe to assume that for many of our generation the experience of growing up and also establishing an intellectual and career path is strongly affected by the advent and integration of the internet into our society and culture. We are aware of this to some extent and enjoy exploring the possibilities within the current zeitgeist, so I find it somehow fitting to label our diverse artistic output as “post-internet.”
How would you describe the philosophy of the collective beyond the visual aesthetics and music?
Gabriele: The collective was founded with the idea of collaboration and getting the opportunity to develop a skill we’re keen on learning in a niche scene we enjoy, rather than implementing these diverse practices in more formal or professional environments. It’s about having fun while also being conscious and responsible with our extended community. We are always working on creating an inclusive and safer environment in the sense of ensuring equal representation, mutual respect and zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, be it directed against the LGBTQ+, ethnic, religious, or any other minorities. Besides that, our main principle is contributing to cultivating an interest for alternative and underground practices through our whole presence, in contrast to the prevailing consumerist mainstream. There is no official party line or anything like that, so every individual brings their own perspective to the table, but I’d say we all have a similar set of political opinions and we’re not afraid to express them! What worries us most right now is the gentrification and loss of communal spaces in our city, where the young and other marginal communities could form their own grassroots communities.
Staš: I’d say that one of the important aspects we’re addressing as a collective is also communication, cooperation, and symbiosis between all the actors in the scene locally and regionally. Instead of competing for respect and capital individualistically, we’re trying to combine efforts with other initiatives in Ljubljana and the Balkans to push for a healthy and united underground scene.
Nimaš Izbire runs two different event series in Ljubljana: Krom, launched in 2019 and currently happening only semi-regularly, and the somewhat monthly Štrom events. What concepts do those series follow, respectively?
Gabriele: Krom (meaning chrome in English) was originally our residency series focusing on alternative hip-hop and trap music when we first began organising events in club K4, but our interest very quickly shifted towards more eclectic and underground scenes. We always practiced a wide variety of tastes and genres, so musically the policy of the series was more of a fashion fad and lucrative opportunity at the time. After a year or so, we already started shifting it significantly to include a wider range of contemporary, more experimental musical expressions—but then the pandemic began and our plans fell through. Ecco2k was supposed to come play and open this new chapter of Krom, then during COVID the whole rise of hyperpop or digicore—or however you like to call it—happened and we included this sprawling scene in our playlists. The concept and programme of Krom is rightfully puzzling to the public right now, as the events include varying and unpredictable line-ups and don’t take place as often. It stays true to its original idea of showcasing a wide range of local contemporary urban and internet-influenced musical talents however, a lot of them are still characterised by the new-school rap and digicore approach.
Staš: We came up with the concept of Štrom (pronounced as Strom in German, with the same meaning as well) ahead of my 21st birthday in early 2020, just before COVID-19 started spreading in Europe. Nimaš Izbire were doing merch pop-ups and events under the Krom name in K4 at the time already, while I had just stopped throwing parties with another collective, so I wanted to team up with Dorijan and Gabriele to create a series of events covering the 1990s UK bass and rave legacy in combination with the fresh wave of productions from a similar musical spectrum. Not many such nights were on in Ljubljana at the time and we felt capable of filling that gap. Initially, our plan was to host and promote local artists were producing the kind of sound we were seeking, while also embracing the values we stand for. During the pandemic we remained active, providing online streams and open-air events and slowly gaining recognition. After the restrictions were lifted, we started hosting club events again and inviting over our friends from abroad to perform. The series got a brand new look in May 2022 and since then we have produced twelve events, hosting 24 foreign artists. Similarly to other productions of ours, we strive to always create a safe and relaxed clubbing experience providing engaging and provocative audio-visual ordeal.
There’s also the Rosišče listening events hosted by Nimaš Izbire. What focus do they have?
Gabriele: Rosišče is the latest event concept we presented: it focuses on the listening aspect of music, be it SoundCloud ambient-pop, field recordings, or noise performances. There are different dedicated communities and events for listening music in Ljubljana, but none include the younger generations’ take on this type of experience. With Rosišče, we really want to emphasise the so-called ambient-pop scene and producers marrying atmospheric elements with a diverse range of other genres, like ambiental trance, which is a really playful and creative niche on SoundCloud in my opinion—or the wave scene: atmo beats with trance and UK influences. Then there are also experimental avantgarde-pop vocal performers who also produce their own music … All these niche creatives are very rarely given the opportunity to perform in Ljubljana because of their unconventional approaches, so the idea of Rosišče is to provide a platform for these fresh projects, who have mostly only been present online in many cases.
Most of your events take place in Gala Hala and KUD Channel Zero, however Nimaš Izbire is still somewhat nomadic. Why is that?
Staš: There are about five clubs in Ljubljana where we could currently host events, varying largely in size, availability, and specific attributes. When Nimaš Izbire stopped producing music events exclusively in K4 with the introduction of Štrom, there weren’t so many bass music-focused events happening in the capital. We could choose and book a club about a month or two ahead of the event, depending on the programme and the capacity that we thought was most suitable for it. There soon emerged new collectives and event producers hosting similar acts and arranging events of a similar kind, as a musically broader approach to clubbing in Ljubljana attracted interest over time and clubs began hosting bass events more frequently. There’s a lot more competition for venue reservations which have to be made even more in advance and a lot of time the event has to be planned out after the club has already been booked. Either way, we still feel like Gala Hala and KUD Channel Zero seem the best fit to what we currently put on, as having an appropriate soundsystem and tech, cooperative staff and club managers, freedom in terms of programming and a cozy environment for our crowd mean a lot to us.
You also run a monthly radio show on the komrad.net platform, usually each instalment sees one or more DJs step up to the desk for a set. How do you go about programming the individual episodes?
Staš: For now, we mostly host friends that we collaborated with recently, or the ones we are interested in working with in the future. Whether they’re from abroad or locals here in Ljubljana—we just hit them up and ask if they’d be down to do a radio set on our show, since what they do goes in line with what we want to represent as the collective. I want to give a shoutout to tiln and sin aspirin, the dynamic duo from our collective taking care of all the communication, representation, and promotion of the residency. It’s been a little under a year now since we started our residency and they’ve been running it smoothly so far.
Since Autumn, 2021, Nimaš Izbire also serves as a record label. How do you go about curating its releases?
Gabriele: Sadly this aspect doesn’t receive enough of our attention, as it’s hard to find compromes between all the different needs and ambitions of the collective. For now, it operates in a very unstructured and spontaneous manner: whenever we see an opportunity to release some music online, we arrange everything needed for the release and try to support and promote the creators’ work, but as I said this part of the project is very much in its infancy. Realistically what’s going on right now is us trying to convince our colleagues to release some gems they have been hiding and polishing for years! We’d like to contribute to shaping the identity of the Slovene underground and alternative electronic music scene, releasing everything from gabber bangers, post-club ballads to ambient and experimental compositions. Many colleagues in the scene stay away from wilder genres and like to keep it within the boundaries of the predictable, while we always had a more extremophilic attitude in the face of normalcy! There are already many outlets for “normal” stuff, so we try to generally promote the overlooked attitudes—that also explains our name, which translates to “you have no choice”, because we felt like there wasn’t really much choice outside of the conventional when the collective formed.
Gabriele, much like Staš, are involved with the local music scene in different ways and have also worked as a music journalist in the past. While cultural journalism can serve an important function for local communities, it often has to operate under precarious conditions. How would you describe the status quo of music journalism in Slovenia?
Gabriele: I’m pretty sure no one in Slovenia can live off of music journalism by itself, even when they write about mainstream stuff. I don’t know how it is abroad, but if you are interested in the leftfield music sphere, you have to diversify among many gigs if you want to have a chance for it to be a financially viable option, while still it’s a very fragmented and precarious position that a lot of times is dependent on project work. There aren’t many institutions dedicated to music itself in Slovenia, let alone to the alternative and underground scenes, so there’s not much space for music journalism to be frank. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot of great content though, mostly presented by Radio Študent, which offers an one-of-a-kind platform and community for young inexperienced people to enter and learn the world of music journalism as well as many other fields! A lot of insightful articles are also found on SIGIC, the Slovenian music information centre, a state-funded initiative. It’s kind of hard getting into these worlds if you don’t have a solid background that supports your effort, so if I may be a bit critical it’s a pretty “bourgeois” field in my modest opinion—the aspect of access is often overlooked, so that’s why I want to point this out. Radio Študent is doing a great job of breaking this barrier, because anyone can join and it’s completely free.
Staš, you were DJing under the Junker moniker until 2020, but nowadays perform and also produce music as Fujita Pinnacle. The name change coincided with you following a different path musically. What prompted this development?
Staš: I’ve been exposed to UK styles of underground electronic music and their derivatives since an early age, but wasn’t told about what exactly I was listening to or how and where to find more of the sound that I liked. So I went through different phases of my taste developping naturally while always enjoying breaks, bass, and a less straightforward approach to music production, which I was incapable of when I first started making music. At the time I was also digging a lot of hip-hop, visiting turntablism workshops—big shoutout to Sunnysun, k-pow and woo-d for having me around and letting me scratch their wax—and trying to reproduce what I was listening to. It took me some time to get decent at it, but I decided to release some of what I was working on by then already, to get involved in the scene, get some exposure and gigs. As I learned how to actually produce the sound that I enjoyed the most and after we started throwing Štrom parties with the crew I decided to start from scratch, with a fresh new name that I stole from the lore of Starcraft, the game that has been accompanying me through the whole of “character development” phase .
What was the idea behind your B2B mix for our Resident Podcast?
Staš: We wanted to do a two-part separated mix at first, but decided to do one together in the end, merging our fairly different styles and selections and in this way showcasing the sound of our collective in the best possible way. The mix itself wasn’t planned ahead otherwise, we recorded it on the fly just like we’d do it in a club environment.
Gabriele: Exactly, we went with a spontaneous eclectic selection, just as you might hear it on one of our events! The idea is to merge many different styles and genres for a playful and unpredictable experience. I think I can speak on the behalf of everyone when I say that keeping it locked on a specific genre is rather boring!
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
Staš: To continue doing what we do best as a crew: push for more diverse and provocative leftfield music events in the scene, produce and promote exceptional music, fashion and other forms of art and connect with others who stand for the same values as we do. We’ve got a new merch drop in the works in the next few months and a couple of collaborative events lined up for the upcoming year as well.
Gabriele: I’d add that after so many events in the last couple of years we’ve kind of hit the roof so to speak, as Ljubljana is a very small city in comparison with other European capitals. That’s why we’re reconsidering our approach to making events, planning less of them for the future and leaving more space to be creative in the process, also focusing more on other content like music and merch as Staš already mentioned, finding the right balance. We’ve just gone live with our website as well and we’re working on expanding it—I’m mad excited about the merch shop!
Stream: Gabi98 B2B Fujita Pinnacle – Groove Resident Podcast 47
01. oxhy – outside
02. Zean – Off-key Reflections
03. Pixelord – Крутой Бит
04. Oddkut – Hammerhead
05. Ma Sha Ru – Fabricated Mummies
06. Mutant Joe & Onoe Caponoe – Terrifier
07. Braian & Imaabs – Doscomattres
08. Batu – For Spirits
09. Weird Baile Nao Morreu (Jaca Edit)
10. Bungalovv – Entre Chatarra
11. Swimful – Translation to Heaven
12. Moa Pillar – Melted
13. Frog Chaser – Rumble Remix
14. Klahrk & KAVARI – Wax
15. LOU KESSLER – HYPERSTITION
16. Aria Veil – Neoangel
17. A1ko – Arcadia
18. Nova Cheq – Post Mortem Exam
19. DJ RUSSIAN AIDS – Frucstose
20. R1R1R1R1R1R1R1R1R & Exieve – Ritma De Putaria
21. Locked Club – Dubai Girlfriend
22. waller – BUSINESS211
23. Toxe – Let Me Thru
24. Varg2TM – DNA PLAY (feat. Bladee & Ecco2k)
25. Stasya – Culpa ft. Odete
26. The Bug – Pressure (feat. Flowdan)
27. Bapari & River Moon – 1WINNA (SHYGIRL EDIT)
28. GATORADE50K – GEEKED UP OPTIMIZED
29. clope dj – baile in the clouds (dj tool)
30. Pantile – Run It (An Avrin Remix)
31. Semka – Ariana’s special request
32. MOM$ – Time And Space
33. Golem – Sea Monkeys
34. six impala – 6FINGERDEATHPUNCH (yandrel x gonzs ‘club’ flip)
35. empyrean tears – drum major
36. Nova Cheq – U Don’t
37. Terranigma – Dark Fin
38. 7200_L.E.A.K x @ColdBoYounGarv x Mr Flex OneUp – Just Dance
39. Phillip Jondo feat. DJ Plead – Whowhuwho (Moa Pillar Remix)
40. Yelzin – Basic Instinct
41. Amor Satyr & Siu Mata – Tachyon Particles
42. Chief Keef “Bussin” (DJ NJ DRONE edit)
43. Nahash – Illuminato
44. 100 gecs – Dumbest Girl Alive