Q&A with Croatian musician Miroslav (Miro) Dimic, one of the most important cells of European music scene

"Without music there is no love, without love there is no world. Music is the foundation of survival, music is the foundation of youth development, without it as I said there is no progress and survival. Every dollar invested in music returns tenfold, not only as a material value, but as a cultural, sociological, philosophical one, and in the end we spread only positive energy and emotions through music."

Miro Dimić: Keeping The Blues Alive

Croatian musician Miroslav (Miro) Dimić born on May 19, 1954. After finishing primary and secondary school in Zagreb, he finished high school, majoring in instrumentation. He has been involved in music since his earliest youth and founded his own band in primary school. From then until today, he has actively dedicated himself to this profession. After passing the state (professional) exam in Croatia Concert Zagreb. (then the leading association of pop artists) and attending several professional camps in 1975, he achieved the status of a professional musician-artist. His professional orientations and status give him the opportunity to perform on the most elite terraces and clubs throughout the former state, the Republic of Croatia, Europe and America, as a music promoter of Sisak and the Sisak cultural scene. Today he works on the education and promotion of young musicians as the artistic director of the poprock school and drum teacher in the places where the poprock school operates, namely: Sisak Kutina, Petrinja, Ivanić-Grad, Čazma and Zagreb.                                                   Photo: Croatian musician Miroslav (Miro) Dimić

He is the winner of the permanent HBS license, which allows him to represent the Republic of Croatia with young musicians of the Poprock School at the world's largest blues festival in Memphis - USA, which he did in 2013, 2017 and 2019. He is the organizer of the Sisak Blues Festival for twelve years in a row, the leader of the International Blues Camp, which is held in the heart of the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park. He is currently finishing his second book "MY FIRST RHYTHMS" (ISBN 978-953-59309-1-4), which will be promoted next year. He is the author of the documentary "FROM LONJSKO POLJE TO MEMPHIS", made during the seven-year International Blues Camp. The film premiered in Zagreb, Sisak, Čazma, Zelina, Kutina, Petrinja, Shanghai and Memphis, as well as at the leading regional music documentary film festivals in Belgrade and Zenica, where it received a festival plaque for an inspiring story.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Rock n' Roll Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

First of all, with blues or rock music, I profiled myself as a person. Gained new knowledge, broadened life horizons, but gained great and lasting friendships around the world. Thanks to the way and the distinctive lifestyle from the earliest youth, I try to transfer my experience and knowledge to young future musicians.

How do you describe your music philosophy? What touched you from the sound of percussions?

Like I said at a very young age I started to be actively involved in music. I was lucky to be born at a time of the world’s greatest blues and rock accomplishments, big bands and musical names. Certainly they are most responsible for my love of blues & rock, they also determined my future life, for which I am very grateful. Starting with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, etc. As a teenager I decided to play drums, I had my idols like Buddy Rich, Ringo Starr, Ian Paice and other percussion masters. I was fascinated by the sound and the rhythm, and their art. All my musical life, I have been trying to build my own style of playing drums and other percussion. I think it is the pinnacle of a musician, no matter which instrument he plays to be recognized by his style and way of playing.

"I was lucky as I said at the beginning that I could learn from top musicians. Their advice, which didn’t always apply only to music, but to life in general, helped me build my own style as a rocker. Work, work and only work. I remember that well and I try to pass that quality on to my students." (Photo: Miroslav Dimic and his students in Pop Rock Skola, Croatia)

How started the thought of Pop Rock Skola?

Now I can say that these are long ago (last century). The late sixties and early seventies when I was starting my music career. We had everything in abundance, but we were getting blues and rock on the dropper. Namely, only thanks to Radio Luxembourg, which released the English charts on Sundays, we had the opportunity to hear what is happening in the world of rock. Despite that, in those years there was a rhapsody of bands in Sisak and Croatia. After all, I also wrote a book about the history and origin of r'n'r in Sisak. We have one interesting fact that our Sisak VIS "DIAMONDS" were founded a full two months before the legendary Rolling Stones were founded. Diamonds were our local idols from whom we learned a lot about blues & rock. I am happy to have grown up musically with them. Maybe even the guys from that band directly influenced my decision to open Poprock School.

My idea was to provide young people nowadays with a music education that we could not even dream of at that time. That's how the Poprock school came about twenty years ago. Although there is no blues in the name, this basic music style is very much taught in Pop rock school. Blues scales and various rudiments and paradigms are mastered. During these twenty years, more than a thousand young people have gone through the various workshops of the Poprock school, some of them have become top musicians after all, as have their mentors. Best of the best. We have represented the Republic of Croatia three times in the cradle of world blues, in Memphis-USA. We have received a lot of recognition and praise, and I am especially proud of "KEEPIN THE BLUES ALIVE", I like to say that it is the blues Oscar, which is awarded to associations and individuals working to preserve and develop the blues in the world. That's exactly what we at Poprock School do. We also have a unique International Blues Camp in Europe, which is held in the heart of the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park, and gathers an increasing number of participants every year. Our goal is to turn the International Blues Camp, ie Lonjsko polje - Selo Čigoč, into a music educational center of blues & rock for young people from all over the world in the coming years. We hope for greater support from our blues brothers from Europe and America.                   (Photo: Miroslav Dimić, Memphis TN / The Blues Foundation)

"My mission as an artist and musician is to work, create and transfer my knowledge and experiences. Just one of the reasons I want to influence people is that I wrote two books about music THE MOMENT I WAIT FOR  (Trenutak koji čekam) and MY FIRST RHYTHMS, (Moji prvi ritmovi) released the album Poprock School MUSIC IS THE KEY, made a documentary music film "FROM LONJSKO POLJE TO MEMPHIS". I think that is the way that marks us and that we mark ourselves in this earthly life. To give our contribution to world art. And a message for all people around the world. Work, create Listen to music and spread love!"

What was the hardest part and what do you love most working with the new generation?

I have to say that I love working with children and that I don’t have any difficulties with the new generations. I approach blues education with great love. The moment I feel it’s my job I’m sure I’ll stop. Precisely because of such an approach, I do not have any difficulties, maybe some administrative ones, but that is negligible. It is certainly my greatest pleasure to work with beginners. And special luck to see them master the initial exercises and various rhythms. Their sparkle in their eyes when they sit down for drums with their bandmates is the biggest reward for us mentors.

When and how did the idea of Kids Blues Camp come about? What characterize camp's philosophy?

The idea of organizing the Children's Blues Camp was born ten years ago. The original idea was for the blues camp to be held on the Adriatic coast, but as we know the blues originated in the Mississippi delta, so I decided to organize this unique European camp for children in the Lonjsko Polje Nature Park. Lonjsko polje is a wonderful setting, it rests on the delta of the rivers Lonja and Strug, which are surrounded by the river Sava. It must be admitted that this is a natural environment for true Posavina blues. Working with children is enriching, especially when you see their progress in mastering the blues. This is precisely the task of us mentors to work on the preservation, development and animation of the blues.

Are there any memories from the International Blues Camp which you’d like to share with us

The long-time president of the Blues Foundation Memphis-USA, mr. Jay Sieleman, who stayed at our camp a few years ago and actively participated in working with children, was delighted with the place and the mentors of the Blues camp, declaring it the best in Europe. Thanks Jay! For our work, we received prestigious awards from the Republic of Croatia and Sisak County, we represented Croatia four times at the world's largest blues festival held in Memphis-USA. This is why Poprock School, as the organizer of the children's blues camp and blues festival, won Keeping The Blues Alive in 2019.

"Working with children is enriching, especially when you see their progress in mastering the blues. This is precisely the task of us mentors to work on the preservation, development and animation of the blues." (Miroslav Dimic & Boris Hrepić Hrepa with students of Pop Rock Skola Sisak in Memphis TN, 2013)

Why do you think that the Blues music continues to generate such a devoted following in Croatia?

The very fact that the Poprock School has been operating for twenty years and that our main task is the education of young people based on the foundations of modern music, which is BLUES. In this way, we have already raised generations of blues lovers, as well as future top blues musicians. I am sure that we are one of the main actors in the promotion of blues in Croatia. EDUCATION and only EDUCATION.

What were the reasons that you started the writing of book: Trenutak koji čekam?

Do you have any interesting stories about the making of? One of the important reasons for writing the monograph "The moment I'm waiting for" is my autobiography, my musical upbringing, my view on the development of blues and rock in Sisak, but also the environment in which I live. The city of Sisak, apart from being historically and culturally rich, has existed for over 2000 years. It is also rich with top musicians, bands and artists. The rarity of the Sisak blues scene is the fact that VIS "DIAMANTI" was founded on February 15, 1962, and today's biggest band, The Rolling Stones, was founded a full three months later. For a city that was the industrial center of the former Socialist State of Yugoslavia in those years of the 20th century, it was somewhat unreal that it had a blues&rock band, one of the oldest in Europe.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I was lucky as I said at the beginning that I could learn from top musicians. Their advice, which didn’t always apply only to music, but to life in general, helped me build my own style as a rocker. Work, work and only work. I remember that well and I try to pass that quality on to my students.

"Music is a privilege for those of us who make a living from it. Doing what you love all your life and having a beautiful and diverse life is a treasure. It is a true privilege. These are values that I think few people have. That’s why I feel very happy and fulfilled." (Photo: Miro Dimić in studio)

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

The first thing that comes to my mind that I miss are live gigs. Today there are too few clubs left where you can hear real blues & rock- I think that is unfortunately a phenomenon and a problem all over the world. More and more young people are based on electronic music, which with due respect does not have the emotion and energy that the band sends us from the stage. After all, old musicians and bands "Old School" are still on the world's leading charts, despite the fact that the global industry imposes a musical style that is further supported by the situation and pandemic of Corona virus Covid-19. They literally prevent us from gathering, socializing and expressing emotions. that is, love. Without love and music we have no survival.

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

But I would take the music world back to the era of the CHILDREN OF FLOWERS movement. Today, as I said, young people lack close contact and love, which disappeared with the advent of smartphones and computers.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Music is a privilege for those of us who make a living from it. Doing what you love all your life and having a beautiful and diverse life is a treasure. It is a true privilege. These are values that I think few people have. That’s why I feel very happy and fulfilled.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want to affect people?                                   (Photo: Croatian musician Miroslav Dimić)

Without music there is no love, without love there is no world. Music is the foundation of survival, music is the foundation of youth development, without it as I said there is no progress and survival. Every dollar invested in music returns tenfold, not only as a material value, but as a cultural, sociological, philosophical one, and in the end we spread only positive energy and emotions through music. My mission as an artist and musician is to work, create and transfer my knowledge and experiences. Just one of the reasons I want to influence people is that I wrote two books about music THE MOMENT I WAIT FOR (Trenutak koji čekam) AND MY FIRST RHYTHMS, (Moji prvi ritmovi) released the album Poprock School (CD) MUSIC IS THE KEY (Muzika je ključ), made a documentary music film "FROM LONJSKO POLJE TO MEMPHIS". I think that is the way that marks us and that we mark ourselves in this earthly life. To give our contribution to world art. And a message for all people around the world. Work, create Listen to music and spread love!

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

A lot of gigs, concerts in clubs, hotels, boats have passed through my music career. I had encounters with big musical names. I was especially impressed by my first encounter with Memphis and a session with a band in which the bass guitarist from Albert King played. Luckily I also have a soundtrack. An unforgettable experience for me.

What do you think is key to a music life well lived?

In general, my philosophy of life is that we all need to mark ourselves in some way during our lives. As an artist, a musician who has been involved in music for about fifty years, it is logical for me to mark myself with my music, written word, texts, and finally books. My biggest and my favorite project is starting the Poprock school and working with children. It is a great challenge and pleasure. But also an eternal inspiration that pushes me to do more, better and better. I just released the first single of the future album "Mi nismo više klinci" ( We are not kids any more), but I also wrote my first rock novel "Mi nismo više klinci" ( We are not kids any more), which will be published in English as well as in Croatian.

Do you have a dream project you'd most like to accomplish?

Dream project? I wake up every morning with new ideas, sometimes I think. This is my dream project, but I already have a new one in the morning. Maybe the One, the dream project, will come along. I'm waiting for him. I'm not even seventy yet. Now I'm just starting to get creative ideas.

Long live blues and rock 'n' roll!

Pop Rock Skola - Home

Photo: Croatian musician Miroslav (Miro) Dimić

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