Jegulja (Jure Gašper & Jan Kozel)
Instrumental stoner freaks Jegulja, based in Slovenian capitol Ljubljana, has been around for seven years. With their devotion, distorted sense of humor and unpredictable derivatives of progressive and stoner rock sounds, this trio definitely won the hearts of their loyal followers. Their new album titled »Exit Sandman« just came out in March 2020. I’ve been interrogating two permanent members of the band, Jure Gašper (baritone guitar) and Jan Kozel (Fender Stratocaster).
For the start let’s talk about your beginnings and your musical background. You and Jan also played in other bands before Jegulja.
Jure: If we put aside the early atempts and stuff, I started my band thing around 2000 with Abattoir, death metal band from Črnuče. It was a blast and a joy when a group of individuals resonate in a sound, a song, it hooked me. As the passion in the band fainted I startet to jam with Gapi, fellow from country side who played cool stuff. We were one of the few, who were passionate about other instruments and sounds that aren’t polka or an accordion. We got along realy good personally and musically, so we formed band Uroš in 2006-2008, joined by Marcel and Luka. We had our share of misfortune with drummers, I don’t know what is with that lol. There was Luka, Marko, Oybl and the last and still remaning member is Anže Šemrov. Well, the things got sour in this fellowship also, when Gapi joined band The Canyon Observer and side project Masses, Uroš kind of began a side project too, and I started to miss that magical band moments. That feeling when a group of individuals are in total focus for one thing. In 2012 or something I started to jam with an old friend from Črnuče, Wuko left band Lene Kosti and we hooked for a jam. The chemistry was there. In 2013 Jan joined. And from then on things started to work. It’s been bumpy, but it still works.
Jan: I’m self-taught. I started in 2004 as a bass player in Carnaval. We had some problems with drummers so I also played drums for few years and finally became a solo guitarist before I got kicked out of the band because I fell in love with bass player’s girlfriend. We recorded three albums together with at least two songs that I’m not ashamed of.
You’ve also been cursed that every single drummer is leaving the band. How many were there? Would you be able to keep the new one?
Jure: It’s not a curse, it’s dedication and character compatibility. I realy hope this will work forever, because loosing a band member is as hard as any intimate brakeup. Serious band is no joke. We still are friends with all the guys that played drums in Jegulja, we share mutual respect for each other and work we did together.
Jan: Jure Kolšek is our sixth drummer. I was crying to my friend guitarist Dejan Lapanja the other time about how hard it is to find a drummer and he cheered me up. He said: »Yes, it’s hard to find a drummer.«
I’ve heard that you actually have a bass player. Where is he hiding???
Jan: He is a mistery man. He was in a band for one day. God bless him.
Jure: Pendeho is our not yet revealed bass player. He hides in Postojna, go and see him and the Predjama castle over there 🙂
Where did you find Jure Kolšek? Was he familiar with your work and reputation?
Jure: As I found my woman, she has a sister and that sister found Kolšek, and than we found each other. What a “santa barbara” moment. This must last, dont you think? 🙂 He knew about us…he knows about anybody in the music scene. 🙂
Jan: He was not familiar with our work and reputation, that’s probably also why he eventually joined the band.
He is not just a drummer, he also produced your new album »Exit Sandman«. Where did you record the new album?
Jan: In Kolšek’s rehearsal place in Zabukovica near Žalec.
Jure: Yes, he sure did. We did it in Sipex in Zabukovica. We went there for a week, we slept in the studio in sleeping bags and shit, you can check it out right below.
What about songwriting for the new album? How that process looked like?
Jure: Kozu came with most material written, it was his year, very productive, there was even more material, but with new drummer and old stuff, the new stuff suffered. When Kolšek learned the songs, he did his own thing on drums and we both loved it.
Jan: We make music mostly through jamming but since we had complications with drummers this album was more composed than previous one.
»Exit Sandman« was released in the middle of COVID-19 lockdown and you weren’t able to promote it properly, at least not live. How are the responses so far?
Jure: Responses are all good for now. Fuck promotion, we want gigs! 🙂 😉 Soon!
Jan: I’m very happy that Jure Gašper seems to like what we did together. I’m not sure for Jure Kolšek though.
There are some strong messages behind the song titles. Could you tell something more about it?
Jure: If you put 1 and 2 together, you get 3 🙂 Yes, there are messages, many layers, much weight. Check them out!
Jan: Yes, sure. »Amber Eyes« is for my wife. I love her very much.
Do you consider yourself as a »political band«?
Jure: Once you have followers, your doings are political, if you want it or not.
All of your coves has been done by extremely talented artist Sara Koncilja. How came to this collaboration?
Jan: She’s our friend. We never tell her what to do. She listens to our music and makes her own ideas out of it. She also made our logo. We’re extremely lucky to have her.
Jure: This band is surounded by happy people and coincidences. And I believe, if you do shit from your heart and you arent a selfish prick, same things find you.
What about the shows? Are there any shows coming up in the near future?
Jure: Oh yes, they are! Very happy 🙂
Jan: For now at least five in the summer. Unless COVID hits again.
You’ve been playing live here in Slovenia quite a lot. Is there any small village/city that you haven’t played yet?
Jure: Yes, there is! Metaldays 😀
What about the other countries? Where have you already played?
Jan: Hungary, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Italy, Croatia.
Jure: Yeah, we toured Europe and Balkan and Ukraina a few times. We are doing it this year again, if Covid piss doesn’t emerge again.
Tell me about your best live expiriance.
Jan: Electric Meadow Festival in Ukraine. We played there twice. It’s a psychedelic stoner fest with lots of loveable and crazy people from all over Ukraine, also people from Russia, Belorussia, Estonia, Latvia… Stoner heaven on earth.
Jure: It’s the best when you have great feeling, sound, energy and the crowd gets it and gives it back. We had quite a share of that 🙂 😉
You also supported bands like Kvelertak, Yawning Man, Philm, Nebula, and more. How would you describe experiences like that?
Jan: All those bands have really nice people in them. Some did a little bit of heroin in their lifetime, but so did Janez Janša and his flock of intelectuals I suspect. And that’s fine I guess, as long as you come out as a survivor.
Jure: It’s great to share the stage with some of your idols and icons of genres. Down to earth guys. Usually those concerts are the thing, the stuff, the kryptonite, the holy grail, the shit! 😉
We could also see you recently on live stream from Glasba iz delavnice, kinda »Slovenian answer« to Tiny Desk Concert. How came to this collaboration?
Jure: What can I say, we have a scene going on. 🙂 Guys with new ideas and passion that lasts. And it’s not collaboration, it’s fellowship! 😀 😉
What do you think about Slovenian alternative scene? Many clubs are shutting down because they have no support of the local authorities. And there is not much better on the national level either. Except some people like D. Brlek are getting fatter and fatter 🙂
Jan: Darko Brlek sucks big time, haha. I used to work for him three months as a student. Clubs are shutting down mainly because of neoliberal mentality of local authorities. I can even see tendency among some »alternative« people to think in neoliberal terms. It’s utterly idiotic. It’s important to know that in Yugoslavia neoliberalism started with artists. In Yugoslavia concepts like self-employment that we now take for granted started with artists in sixties. You know, status of independent artist and all that bullshit. Romantic stuff. As a librarian I would suggest two books on this theme: »The Paradox of Unpaid Artistic Labor: the Autonomy of Art, the Avant-Garde, and Cultural Policy in the Transition to Post-Socialism« by Katja Praznik and New Music in New York (Slovenian title: Nova muzika v New Yorku) by Ičo Vidmar.
Jure: I don’t know local authorities. 😀 I don’t want them to know me, and I don’t won’t to know them eater.
Jan, what’s with your »fascination« with Slovenian rock icons Siddharta? It seems you really don’t like them at all.
Jan: There are two things that need to be clarified. First, »alternative people« do not care about Siddharta because they’ve got their own scene. And second, I don’t have that many friends in »alternative scene«. If I am talking about Siddharta, I am not talking to »alternative« people . I am talking to »usual« people that mostly listen to radio and follow mainstream media. I would like them to listen to Jegulja. If by some miracle they do listen to Jegulja, they usually like it. My »fascination« with Siddharta is a joke that helps me to reach those people, to provoke them into discussion about music. And it’s working. Janez Janša style.
You are also known as »a man who have spit MZ Hektor in the face«. Do you still remember that incident?
Jan: I remember. It makes my heart smile everytime I think of it.
Is it true that Gal Gjurin also don’t wanna hear nothing from you? 🙂
Jan: No. It is not true.
You are one of the bands that really take care about their »ratings«. In other words, you’ve been active on social networks most of the time. Is that helping you in any way?
Jan: Yes. It helps a lot.
You are absorbing all kinds of strange music around you. What would you name as your strongest influences?
Jan: Black people’s music.
Do you already know what kind of music landscapes will you explore in the future?
Jure: No, will let you know when we get there.
How did COVID-19 lockdown affect you as a band?
Jan: I became a better person.
Jure: We had some rest from everything. But it was enough, it’s party time on the rise! 🙂
Thanks a lot for your time! Do you have any last words or some message for SDS supporters… and Mitja Kralj?
Jure: SDS is maybe good for you, but is definitely bad for your children! 😉 SDS will make America great again and Mitja Kralj is great!
Jan: Let’s get together.
Bojan Bidovc // music enthusiast, promoter, misanthrop and sometimes a journalist as well