Sometimes music is striking. Not beautiful, not emotionally stirring. disturbing, poignant or lucid like all good music adjectives decree…but striking. The debut album (see our review here) from Slovenian one man act Rush to Relax, was just that. All vibrant melodies counched in the not so homely bosom of tinny guitar riffs that strike through the very core of each track…it is alt.jangle at it’s best.
Naturally we at Janglepophub tracked down the man behind the sound (Damjan Manevski) to discuss attitudes towards non-english speaking music, the Slovenian music scene, musical influences, the brilliance of the track Drugari and everything in between and around!
Thanks so much Damjan !
Janglepophub describes your music as weirdy / alt.jangle. Correct our limited wordsmith skills…how would you describe it?
I guess it’s often very melodic, but not polished. At some points very layered, but it can be also based on a simple riff or a sequence. I like it when the guitars ring and are fully up-front, I think that’s also very characteristic. Basically, I try to catch that jangly DIY sound, which I really like!
What are the influences heard in the Rush to Relax sound?
Some of the songs are mellow, others take more of a punk attitude. I like guitar-based music from different eras and places, not only from English speaking countries (for example, lots of Balkan / Ex-Yugo bands have had a big influence on me).
I mostly identify with grassroots / DIY scenes, so many of my influences have come through that. Most of the songs I’ve chosen for this release were songs I thought that they wouldn’t work in a band setting, so that’s how they ended up here.
There is a definite DIY ethos in your sound. What is the songwriting and recording process?
I got a very nice practice space a year back and basically, almost everything on this release got recorded there. I recorded everything on my own. I’ve never really enjoyed recording in professional studios so this was the way to go.
It took me a while to figure out how I can do it by myself, but it was worth the wait! I have very cheap recording gear and some of the segments are very badly recorded. But it’s never about the quality of the recording, I just want to catch the right energy on track!
How vibrant is the indie scene in Slovenia? Are there any other acts of a similar nature to Rush to Relax?
It’s a small part of the world, but I think there are lots of people doing interesting music. One of the bands I’ve really liked and find similar is this band called balans.
They’re also from Ljubljana and have this very characteristic songwriting instinct, which gets even more apparent when playing live. I went on to book some shows to promote the new Rush to Relax cassette and we’re actually playing them together with balans, which I’m really looking forward.
For me, it’s all about working with friends and people you can trust and be honest with. That’s why I’m very glad that the boys from Look Back and Laugh chose to put out this cassette. They’ve been part of the punk and art scene for a long time and they’ve put some big effort in this release (especially with the physical aspect of it). It’s very nice working with such people.
Are there any frustrations you feel being a Slovenian act?
Why there would be? I mean, it’s just another non-English speaking country, which produces great music, but it’s almost completely ignored in the English speaking world. Apart from Jangle Pop Hub, obviously!
But that’s the way it’s been since forever, so no need to worry about that.
Drugari (below) is one of the tracks of 2019. What is it about?
Ah, glad to hear that, thanks! It’s just about being friends with people who start to change and then things don’t really turn out well. It’s a buddies song. Probably the oldest one on the release.
Which two tracks are you personally the proudest of from the album and why?
Hard to choose really. There aren’t any fillers, I put a 100% effort in every song. What I’m very glad is that I started writing lyrics without being frustrated about it and I think some of the songs turned out nice, like Bez oset or maybe Ne me biva (see below).
You are releasing the album in both digital and cassette form. Do you think there still a genuine need for a physical product and if so why?
Well, you gotta force people to put aside their laptops and mobile phones for some time in the day! Maybe the only way you can do that is by putting this cassette in your audio player, I don’t know.
How did you arrive at the Rush to Relax name?
I’ve always liked artist names that have a meaning or just make you think. Like paroles or something. I was looking for a band name for some time and listening to that ECSR’s album again after a while got me thinking a lot.
I had some hectic schedules at that time, so I thought maybe other people would also react when seeing the name and that was it. Plus, it’s a small ode to some of those great Australian bands that have had a big impression on me, which is nice.
In your Bandcamp bio, it states that Rush to Relax is born from the Ashes of other failed acts. How much has such failure shaped Rush to Relax, musically or in terms of attitude?
I just figured I can’t force people to come 2-3 times a week for band practice and this was the way to go. I still prefer playing with bands. I like the collective spirit and the power that you can process inside a band. But finding the right band members is so hard. I guess it’s harder than having a family or something.
Was releasing the album in a non-English language a brave and/or easy decision?
Totally easy. I mean, it’s just the way your thoughts come out in the sincerest way. Rarely do non-English bands sound good when singing in English, usually, it seems very unnatural and vague.
It’s a shame though that most of the non-English singing artists are completely ignored by international media and record labels. I love listening to music that’s not in English. You still feel the emotion, you can often check the lyrics as well. I still don’t know why such diversity is not grasped.
What were the last three albums you purchased (downloads count)?
Nowadays, I mostly buy music through Bandcamp when preparing my weekly radio show at Radio Študent (which is a totally rad community radio based in Ljubljana, apparently the oldest student radio in Europe). Anyway, Bandcamp says I’ve recently bought:
Mope Grooves – Desire [See My Friends, 2019]
Soft Walls – Not as Bad as It Seems [self-released, 2019]
Mothers Dearest – Rivercity Beef [self-released, 2019]
You are lent the famous Janglepophub time machine and can go back to any musical decade and be successful as a label? What decade would you go back to and what would you consider as success for a label in that particular decade?
Hm, I don’t know. In socialist times you were successful anyway, so maybe Jugoton in the 80s??? It’d be nice to properly release all that great emerging music from those times.
What are your short term and long terms plans for the musical future of Rush to Relax?
Well, I’m going to play some solo concerts in the region very soon! You can find the updated concert dates on Bandcamp. Long-term, maybe Rush to Relax is gonna become a full band, we’ll see! Still not sure how things will develop, but I definitely plan to continue recording. Thanks a lot for the interview!
Thank you Damjan…Good luck with the tour and keep in touch !