Home Interviews Milos Miladinovic [Interview]

Milos Miladinovic [Interview]

37 min read

In the first of a series of conversations with label managers, we catch up with Balkan Connection boss Milos Miladinovic. We discuss the imprint's early beginnings, it’s evolution and a host of other topics related to the day to day operations of the label. Enjoy!

Hi Milos, thanks for sitting with us today! What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

- Thanks for having me. I’m in a super exciting mood, as a lot of nice things have been happening in the last couple of months. As for what’s the last piece of music I’ve listened to, well, actually what I am listening to while answering the questions is The Soundgarden’s Winter Collection 2022.

What are your plans for the week?

- Ah well, with the world we’re currently live in, everything has became sort of routine for me, at least for now: wake up, go to work (radio station), when I’m done with that, I finish all the work I have at Proton distribution (since last May, I’ve became a part of their team), then I work with the labels, and if I manage in the evening, enjoy some movie or a tv show.

Tell us more about your story. How did you discover electronic music?

- My father played the guitar, so naturally, as a part of a musically oriented family, I developed an interest in music very early. Now, I know that this will sound cliché, but it is how it is: growing up with the music of Prodigy, Daft Punk, Underworld, Moby, Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and so on... my music taste was set on electronic music. I guess that’s the simplest way to say it. Probably a story as it probably is for most of us who are born in the 80’s. But yeah, there was a lot of back and forth, listening to House Music (disco/vocal/funky), then Techno/Tech House (tribal/funky), then for a little while Minimal, then going back to Techno and House with all it’s newly formed sub-genres, and finally around ’08/’09, after a solid 15 years (more or less) of basically exploring all the genres of electronic music, I’ve found myself in Progressive House world and stayed true to it.

How has growing up and living in the Serbia contributed to your passion for electronic music?

- With lots of amazing electronic music festivals held in our country, I can definitely say that growing up here had a strong impact on me and my passion for electronic music. Underground scene is solid here. I’m only sorry that you can’t really create a solid event in our country with some great, up and coming artists, as there is always a small audience response with these types of parties. Most successful parties here are only the ones with bigger and well known names lined up.

At which club or event did you experience electronic music for the first time and what memories have stuck with you from that moment?

- C’mon, starting to feel old here with all these questions about the past :) To be honest, I can’t really remember, as I’ve mentioned before, it took a while until I found myself in Progressive House. So, most of the events that I’ve visited at the beginning were Techno events, with performing artists such as Marco Carola, Billy Nasty, Umek, John Acquaviva etc… I’ve enjoyed most of the events that I’ve been to of course, as I wouldn’t go to some event “just because”, but because of the line up that I am interested in listening to. As for the “stuck memories”, well half of these events ended up with the police coming, stopping the party and taking away all the equipment from the Dj’s :) There’s something that stuck in your memory lol Of course this was something that was happening in the early 2000’s… which is not the very common thing nowadays.

Can you name five tracks that were influential in your musical development?

- I can name a few from the earlier stages that are at the top of my mind at the moment, but who could really remember everything :) DJ Rolando - Jaguar, Chicane - Offshore, Kris Menace & Lifelike - Discopolis, Valentino Kanzyani - Flying, Jakatta - American Dream and so on…

What led you to start the label Balkan Connection? Was your first foray into running a record label?

- Balkan Connection was actually founded by Ogi Gee Cash in 2007. For some time, until late 2009. label was led by Ogi (Belgrade) and Dimiz (Nis). I knew Dimiz, since he lives close to my hometown, he introduced me to Ogi, and both of them introduced me to the world of label management. And that’s how the label journey started for me.

In terms of DJs and artists who would say are the biggest sources of inspiration for Balkan Connection?

- Hernan Cattaneo & Nick Warren.

If you had to pinpoint a few tracks that you released which were crucial in the development of Balkan Connection what would they be and why?

- I prefer not to answer such questions. Simply because we release only what we completely feel and find as suitable for the label. So there is really no point in pinpointing anything. Love all tracks/releases equally! They wouldn’t end up on our label if we didn’t like them and believed in them in the first place :)

Later on you expanded by adding BC2 and more recently Balkan United, tell us about those and what led to their creation?

- Actually, after the great success of “Balkan Connection” main label, came “Balkan Connection South America” which is being completely managed by Nicholas Van Orton (Argentina), but is still part of the Balkan Connection family of labels. Then came “Balkan Connection Tech”, where we released everything non related to Progressive House, such as Techno, Tech House, Deep House, House… This label is on hold for the moment though. Later, since a huge amount of quality demo submissions were arriving at our inbox, a quality music that we didn’t want to miss out on and be able to present it to the world the best way we know, we started “BC2 Records”, as one label can handle as many releases. “Balkan United” represents a label group, consisted of all the mentioned labels above, with a goal of further exposure of previously released music from these labels, releasing VA’s titled “Compiled”, featuring top tracks, selected by each label’s A&R’s. Additionally, on this label we have a very popular “Novus” compilation series, releasing some of the finest sounds by aspiring artists around the world.

Organic House has become quite a trendy sound in electronic music this past year, you’ve done a little bit of this on Balkan Connection with artists like Marnier & Domingo for example. Would you ever consider creating another label to focus on this sound? And what are you thoughts on the rise of this sound?

- Sadly, with the current amount of work, it would be impossible for me to start another label. One can handle as much. But if the situation changes in the future, the idea of having a label for this genre sounds pretty good. Because I personally enjoy listening to Organic House. The artists you’ve mentioned in your question, Mariner + Domingo are Progressive House veterans, and even though they’ve switched to Organic House lately, you can still feel the progressive vibe in their works. That's why I love the music they create and find it suitable for our label. They are unique, futuristic, not afraid to experiment, to do something that hasn’t been done yet. All I can recommend to them is: keep it up guys!

Running three labels with a consistent release schedule like you have is a daunting task. Are you solely responsible for the A&R on all three labels? And if not, who else contributes to what gets signed or helping with the weekly duties?

- Indeed it is. As for the Balkan Connection, yes, I am solely responsible for everything on this label. Lately though, since I’ve started to work with Proton distribution more intensely, I’ve brought in well known Fabri Lopez on board to help out a bit, and he already arranged some great EP’s and some excellent remixes for the label. As for the BC2 Records, this label was started with huge help by some of close friends of mine, such as Ivan d-phrag Filipov, who is responsible for many amazing releases that you could hear on BC2 over the years. He is also a proud designer of the label. Also, a couple years back, Ivan brought Sasha Skiff a.k.a. Ultraverse to the label, to help out further with the A&R part. Sasha has brought the label to an even higher level, arranging so many stunning releases and sharing his unique taste in music through the label. Can’t express enough gratitude to these guys! Thank you!!! Lastly, as for the Balkan United label, well… the concept of this label is pretty much self explained few questions above :)

Do you have someone who you get a second opinion from when it comes to signing tracks? A significant other perhaps?

- For Balkan Connection, I make all the final decisions, no second opinions. On the other hand, at BC2 Records, since this label is run by the team, naturally we consulate between each other, from time to time, when in doubt or something. It really makes things easier. We rely on each other and have high respect for each other's opinions, so when in doubt, we consult in order to make the right decision for the label.

Do you have a special spot to listen to demos? Outside of the studio I mean, a place where your mind resets a bit and you have fresh ears in a way.

- No special places really. I love to listen to everything properly, completely focused on what I’m listening to and in the highest quality possible. Practically, while I’m listening to the track, I am analysing it as well. Therefore, where my preferred setup is, I listen to demos there. But yeah, since you’re mentioning fresh ears, this is a good point as all of us are practically most of the day with headphones on. Many times when I like something, but still not 100% sure about the quality, I like to leave it for a while and then listen to it first thing next day, with freshly rested ears, and then make the final decision. It helps, at least me :)

What advice do you have for artists hoping to get signed to Balkan Connection?

- First and foremost, before sending a demo our way, a small research about the label would be appreciated. Check out our Beatport page, Soundcloud page, hear what we release, and if you think that you have produced something within the style of the label, feel free to approach. We are happy to sign any quality music that is within the style of our label, no matter if the artist is established or not, it’s the way it always has been, and will be with Balkan Connection.

Is big DJ play a factor in signing something? From someone like Hernan Cattaneo or Nick Warren for example.

- Not really. Maybe some small amount. The main factor is always the quality of the demo and whether it’s within the style of the label.

What is your thought process behind remixer selection on a given project and how many is too many in your opinion?

- It all comes down to the concept/style of the original track. When I sign something new, I listen to it carefully, if needed, several times on repeat, while at the same time I am going through my label roster, in order to find the most appropriate remixer for the project. In some cases, I work with the artists themselves, asking them to give me a list of potential remixers that they would like me to check with, if they are available for the remix duties, and we finalize the release like that. It usually takes up to 10-15 remix requests, in order to end up with two or three confirmed remixes. Releases with two remixes are the best in my opinion, in case of single+remixes release. In the case of a 2 tracks EP for example, then one remix for each track makes the release perfect! So, to finalize the answer for the second part of your question: total of 3 tracks in case one, total of 4 tracks in case two is perfect, in my opinion.

What is your biggest pet peeve about receiving music for the labels?

- As I’ve mentioned before, when submitting a demo, first and foremost, before sending it our way, a small research about the label would be appreciated. With the situation as it is, statistics are not so bright. For example, out of 100 submitted demos, 1 track or EP gets signed. So you can imagine how much time is spent to check out all the demos, in order to start development of 1 release. And all this, if you’re lucky and reply back with the offer first. Because, as we all know, many artists are practicing to send out demos to multiple labels at the same time. So you can imagine the feeling after spending 8-10 hours listening to demos, finally come across the one that you’d like to sign for the label, and then get a response - it’s already signed.

Looking back over the Balkan Connection discography, which one of your early releases / tracks still puts a smile on your face when you listen to it now, and why?

- Another ungrateful question to answer to :) There are a lot of tracks that always put a smile on my face. Music is a unique thing that we have, that binds beautiful memories instantly when listened to, no matter the release date. To try to answer your question, most of my favourite tracks in the past 11 years can be found in a special mix series that I did for Spotify - Balkan Connection Mixed. You can listen to the whole story here: https://spoti.fi/3xlaNMy

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

- Resident DJ (22h-00h), Guy J (00h-02h), Hernan Cattaneo b2b Nick Warren (02h-05h), Cid Inc. (05h-06:30h), Petar Dundov (06:30h-End).

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

- Not much of a book reader here, sadly. As for the movies, I watch them for entertainment. I enjoy movies and tv shows a lot, and have watched quite a few. I don’t usually watch something because of high expectations or something. For me, it’s all about good entertainment.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

- I am sort of a “play it safe” guy. So, I haven’t really risked much in my life. I am simply a hard working person that believes that hard work pays off. And for me, it did. As I’ve mentioned before, Proton distribution has noticed how well organised and responsible a person I am, and so, I’ve started to work with them last May, which was my wish/goal for quite some time. I mean, I’ve started working with them on some smaller projects back in 2016, and all that lead to almost a full time work nowadays. I work on many projects with them now. Proton Pack, Spotify & Apple mixes, support stuff. One of the latest things for example is that I have become a label assistant of The Soundgarden label, which recently switched to a Proton distribution, so I’m assisting Nick with finalization of label’s releases (contracts, schedule, updates etc.) So yeah, exciting times ahead for sure.

What is your favourite food?

- I am a big burger lover. I know it’s not the healthiest choice, but I do combine with the home made healthier food, naturally :)

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

- Spending quality time with family and friends makes me happy. As it has become sort of a luxury nowadays, because of the tempo of life we all live. We all tend to overload ourselves with lots of work. So, any quality time spent with family and friends is greatly appreciated.

What can we expect from Balkan Connection this year – any special releases we should be looking out for?

- Naturally, a lot of amazing music releases are lined up and waiting to hit the stores. I prefer not to separate any, simply because they are all special to me. As I've mentioned before, we release only what we truly believe in, so there is no point in separating some releases from the others, marking them special or else, as they all truly are special to me.

Check out Balkan Connection's Beatport catalog here: https://bit.ly/3rgxI7W

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