Interview with bass player Ivan Stepic from Serbian blues band of Cotton Pickers -- The Blues is life

"Every culture has its own sense for the Blues... Blues is packed with emotions so, every music, if it's strong enough can be called Blues no matter where it comes from... As long’s it comes from the heart."

Cotton Pickers: Balkan Blue(s) Cotton

The Band was formed in 2004, in Mladenovac, Serbia. The original name of the band was, “Unregistered Feedback”, but that was later changed into COTTON PICKERS, a name that would remain current to this day. In 2006, the band members were forced to put their music on hold for a while, until 2008 when their drummer returned from USA, where he had lived for two years.

In 2008, the band members started taking their music more seriously and the result was instant success! Continuous playing, devotion and effort brought them numerous awards. After four years of hard work they just have finished their debut album called “SLAUGHTER HOUSE BLUES”. Slaughter house came as an idea, ‘cause “Cotton Pickers”, are using abandoned Slaughterhouse as their rehearsal area. From the very beginning, the Cotton Pickers are: Jovan Stepic on guitars/vocals, Ivan Stepic on bass; and Uros Ugrinovic on drums. Ivan talks about the band, blues and local scene.

Interview by Michael Limnios

When was your first desire to become involved with the music and special with the blues?

We started playing by accident... Everything from that point on was coincidence... And destiny.

What characterize Cotton Pickers philosophy?

Well, it’s kinda hard for us to describe. It's simply Cotton Pickers. Of course, we had some influences over the years, but somehow, we managed to create the sound of our own. And that seems to be a point.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams and studio which you’d like to share with us?

We had lots of fun I can tell you that... (We're still do...) So it's not an easy task to pick something up...

Maybe one time, during sound check, our drummer fell of stage and came back like nothing happened... The funny thing was that we didn't even noticed he's gone... Until people gave us photos…

"You learn about blues your whole life... Because, the Blues is life... And in that case, it means a world to us." (Photo by Jean-Francis Nicollet)

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

We had quite a number of experiences over the past ten years… And every single one of them helped us form our music… So it’s difficult to say, but every experience is a good one, if you know what you’re doing. Probably, the best possible advice for every man is to do things he loves….If inspiration comes from the heart, and then it’s alright.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

We miss music, we miss people, and we miss magic... The digital era is killing everything soulful in music, therefore, it's very hard for us musicians to live and create in such conditions.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

The things we want are quite simple and quite impossible.... At least in this point of time. We can just hope that people will listen our music.... And we'll take it from there…

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

You learn about blues your whole life... Because, the Blues is life... And in that case, it means a world to us.

"We miss music, we miss people, and we miss magic... The digital era is killing everything soulful in music, therefore, it's very hard for us musicians to live and create in such conditions." (Photo by Dragica Andric)

Make an account of the case of the blues rock in Serbia. Which is the most interesting period in local scene?

We don't have any blues rock in Serbia. What we do have is bunch of guys hating each others guts over something that should be a great bond for people all over the world, not just in Serbia... If you love, cherish and respect people... You will know your music eventually... Everything else is false.

Music is love, Love is music.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues Rock from United States and UK to Serbia and Balkan?

Well, we grew up listening songs and music that came out of those countries...And we make music that is based on their musical roots, so therefore, the lines are tight and unbreakable but there are still rooms to express yourself. The music has no boundaries.

What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the local music circuits?

This question is easy... Nothing!!!

Are there any similarities between the blues and the genres of local folk music and forms?

Of course!! Every culture has its own sense for the Blues... Blues is packed with emotions so, every music, if it's strong enough can be called Blues no matter where it comes from... As long’s it comes from the heart.

Why did you think that the Blues Rock music continues to generate such a devoted following in Serbia?

We live in hard times... Blues/rock is kind of logical choice…For me at least.

"Well, we grew up listening songs and music that came out of those countries...And we make music that is based on their musical roots, so therefore, the lines are tight and unbreakable but there are still rooms to express yourself. The music has no boundaries."

Cotton Pickers are: Jovan Stepic on guitars/vocals, Ivan Stepic on bass: and Uros Ugrinovic on drums. 

(Photo by Jean-Francis Nicollet)

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

This is an easy one... 1960's, America.

Cotton Pickers - Home

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