An idea to make an interview with the two outstanding persons on our local guitar scene - Bane Jelic and Borislav Mitic - Borko – appeared at the time when both of them released their instrumental albums (aldough not in the same time), with dominating hard sound and virtuous way of playing. There is a lot of their mutual similarities, and by that, reasons for this double interview, but there are some different questions as well, which serve as a comment on actual life situation of both.
Borislav Mitic-Borko left for Canada only when he started to be known. It was in 1998. and he hasn’t come here since then. Before leaving, Borko participated guitar festival in Zajecar and similar performances, worked as a studio-musician, gave guitar lessons, become member of the “Instrumental Forces” and one of his compositions found place on “The Ocean” album. He releases “Fantasy” album for the ITMM house, but due to bad moves of the producer, didn’t have a good promotion. After that he leaves for Montreal. Then a phantastic tourning point happens in his career, mostly due to the album released for the american house “Shrapnel Records”, which had a phantastic success abroad.

Bane Jelic, who is better known to our public, with a long outstanding career in different groups, such as: “Victoria”, “Neverne bebe”(“Unfaitful Babies”), “Osvajaci”(“The Qonquerors”)… is promoting his new album “Universe” at the moment. It has been released recently for the PGP house. The video for the “From God’s Hand” composition just came out. It represents notably different creation, comparing to stereotypes present lately in our country. Bane is preparing his second solo album, with vocal compositions, this time; gives guitar lessons, and claims that his work, as a solo player, is not an obstacle for eventual collaboration with some band, if he gets an exceptable offer.

Bane and Borko gave their statements separately, I belive this will make this interview more interesting, as one can compare their mutual similarities and differences.

What is that a composer’s personality must have, in your oppinion?

B.M.: In my oppinion, a strong feeling for individuality would be the first on the list of “composer’s qualities”. When creating something new, or something which stands according to the composer’s idea, he very often comes into a conflict with existing trends, in certain existing prejudices. One should have trust in one’s own taste and abilities, as well as in one’s ideas, to keep on going. Sometimes it means to be right, even when you are not. On second place stands an esthetic feeling, or an inclination to esthetic values, in some form. Composer, as well, sholud also have some characteristics of a story teller. Music is often reflection of some mental pictures, ideas, messages… These are the ideas and emotions translated to language which is called music, as it is a language which can not be spoken by everybody, but, paradoxaly, understood good… That means that he has to tell a musical story.

B.J.: Talent and musicality, above all. Than, imagination and fantasy, depending on what an inspiration means for somebody. It is individual thing, the qusestion of one’s philosophy of life. For someone, like me, an inspiration was the universe, God, love, misticism, philosophy, psichology.. and some other things related to these profound subjects. For someone else, inspitarion can be something different – something that is in man’s environment, something he thinks about. I suppose this influence on his composition, and his lyrics. Whether a composition will be merry or sad, or both, depends on person’s character.

What lays in the essence of composing?

B.M.: Creation, a wish to make something nice. Technicaly speaking, composing could be described as invention of harmonization of melodic elements on harmonical and attractive way for the composer.

B.J.: Somebody writes music for purpose of making money, not becouse he is an artist. When speaking of my albums, I completely expessed what I am and what determins me as a person. So, business is in essence of composing, or something which man expresses, if he is talented, or may be both, if it is possible to make money out of art. This is the best variant.

How do you know when the composition is finished?

B.M.: When I think that there isn’t anything that is too disturbing, so that I have to work on it more, or when I think that I can’t find better solution from these I have already applied. A man must know when is the time to draw the line, as the process could last endlessly. In any case, there is always a comfort that the next composition will be more completed.

B.J.: When I know that everything is perfect (laugh). When I finish some composition, I usually think that everything is definitive, but when time pass by, I am never satisfied with anything.

What is your relation towards classical music?

B.M.: I am deeply impressed with classical music. Complete modern music is actually based on harmonic solutions and laws of so called classical music, only that it is often simplified or disguised form for the reason of commercial use, like: ”A single should last four minutes, becouse an average leistener’s concentartion falls at that point…” and similar. As for the theoretical and elementary pattern, nothing has much changed form Bach’s times up to now. Basically, these are the same acords and scales.

B.J.: In short, this is an opening of Heaven. I often visit “Kolarac” center and listen to classical music a lot. Of course, not everything. I am awfully oversensitive to music. It can destroy me. Nothing can touch me emotionaly so much, as music. As for my vocation, I am an instrumentalist, but I can also listen to some “house” music and feel fine, not think and be in a good mood. On the other hand, I can listen to Bach’s music and feel very depressed. I usually listen to music the way I feel in different phases of my life. Music can hurt me very much. I am musitian and am oversensitive on music. It is, probably, innate.

How do you experience Mozzart’s music?

B.M.: Well, Mozzart’s music is a broad consept depending on that what we are talking about – his piano concerts, simphonies, operas, sonatas, etc. My oppinion is that his works are one of the peaks of musical achievements of mankind. His aproach to phrasing is very charming and confirms the rule that the best solutions are exactly the simplest ones. Some of his works, like “Requiem” are timeless musical pearls, of infinite intelectual and emotional deepness.

B.J.: He is a man of incredible extremes. From one extraordinary joy till such a drama of “Requiem”. Mozzart – something perfect. I would define it that way in one sentence.

What kind of an influence made Paganini’s music on you, how do you understand him?

B.M.: I think that he had a very pasionate aproach to elegance of technical perfectionism. I would recommend everyone who plays some instrument to listen to his “24 capriccios” at least once.

B.J.: In technical sense, his merit is the most important for my work. From 90’ till now I deal a lot with his capriccios. They influenced my development a lot. Shortly, Paganini is something best that has ever existed in music till now.

Is it quite possible to translate violin language into a guitar one?

B.M.: I tried something like that in my album “Fantasy”, in mid ninties. But, today I don’t think it is quite possible. Electric guitar still has its own identity, and is different from violin in many ways, aldough they are both string instruments. For use of a bow, violine has much bigger register of dynamics in frasing, bigger expressive power. In its nature, guitar has more percussive character. But I think that classical music repertoire can enrich “the guitar wocabulary” and that is why it is usefull to search inspiration in that direction.

B.J.: Yes, it is possible. Today yes, which wasn’t case in the past.

To what extend does the instrument on which you play give specifity to composing? How much does the guitar shape your work and does it limit, in some way, your composing?

B.M.: Electric guitar is relatively young instrument, but still has its history and tradition. The way I will aproach to some composition is destinated in great deal by laying of my fingers on these six strings. Assotiations – Hendrix, Knopfler, Clapton, Van Halen, Blackmore, Malmsteen, McLaughlin… are inevitable. The mark that great guitarists of twentieth century gave to the sound of that instrument will always inevitably be present in my compositions.

B.J.: When speaking of an instrumental, a guitar replaces one vocal. If it represents only one part of the song, it is a matter of an arrangement, it is only one instrument in the range of instruments. In guitar’s instrumental, it is dominant and the first, as a vocal is the first in a song. As for the causality, it is the question of a composer. One makes a melody and put complete arrangement and form on it, other first makes a song and leading theme at last. I made different combinations in this sense. Either I have one melody, and after that an arrangement and a song, or the other way around. I even had a combination in which I took vocal from the composition which was over and made an instrumental out of it. It was sounded quite crazy.

How do you look on blending of styles in instrumental music, especialy on mixing of folk with rock?

B.M.: I don’t know on what styles you exactly mean. But if we speak about blending of different musics in one composition, like hindu and jazz, or techno and celtic music, to get something new, I regard this as right and positive. Under condition, of course, that the “operation” is done sucessfully. I often try to apply that principle in my works. My album made for “Shrapnel records” contains a lot of such combined elements. As for mixing of folk and rock – why not? In every folk song there are good solutions. It is only necessary to modernize them and take local traditional music as an influence. In anglosaxon rock, there often exist their local musical motives. I don’t see why this should represent taboo in our music. In fact, it turned out that works interweaved with ethno motives bear the time test most successfully.

B.J.: I don’t like that. I never liked to arrange other peoples compositions, or to use ethno motives. I think it is rather shabby. It can only be interesting to some Africans or Americans, for example, becouse they haven’t heard that. I don’t think I shall ever do something like that.

Were you ever inspired by the music of Renaissance?

B.M.: Yes, and still am. I like the way Ritchie Blackmore does it today with his new project.

B.J.: No, it wasn’t an inspriation for me. I was more interesting in some african music, for example. There were some segments in which I heard african women sing. One of these melodies was very interesting, I even used it in one of my instrumentals which will be published. In general, I try not to listen very much to this and that, I want to express something of my own. How much it is originally mine, it is a question, becouse I don’t know any more what is originaly someone’s. Everything is some extension of the old. For example, Yngwie Malmsteen first imitated Paganini and Ritchie Blackmore to become one Yngwie Malmsteen. He himself is not genuine, he represents just an extension of the work of some masters.

How many hours have you practiced before and do you practise now an how much?

B.M.: My approach to practising is different now, than ten years before. In previous times I overcomed some technical things, for which I don’t have need today. I never put a clock in front of me, but I know that I spent a great many hours with instrument during days in which I was discovering guitar secrets. Today I am occupied with nuances, sound, some refined things, and I don’t have so much time for practising any more. In some way, I made a full circle and I return to some things that had fascinated me at the beginning.

B.J.: I don’t practise in these last years, only sometimes, when necessary. But earlier I practised very, very much, specially if my task was difficult and I had to record something in studio. My maximum was twenty hours, becouse it was necessary in that situation, otherwise my everage work was ten hours a day.

What is the way to encourage young people to compose?

B.M.: I don’t know. It is an individual thing… One that realy wants to work, will find a way to encourage himself.

B.J.: Everybody should express himself the way he is, to express what God gave him. I think that a man sould follow his gifts and path, it’s his cross. He might be rewarded, might not, maybe earlier, maybe later, maybe never. Van Gogh said for himself: “I can live without anything, I can be without God, but must paint.” This is so called grear tallent - when man can be without anything, but must express his tallent and gift. I think one should sacrifise for his cause. So, in the same time, this is my advice to young musicians, if they realy have love for composing, and love can be found everywhere, if sought.


1. How do you explain the composer crisiss in our country?

B.J.: Everything is so awfully materialised, the atristic form stopped playing some important role, specialy in our country. For that reason, some great guys like Futa and Zlaja, that once were rockers, made great business in turbo- folk. It seams to me that from 1990, since war has started, when many refugees came into urban parts, musicians addresse to them in nonartistic way. Everything is definitely subordinated to materialism and is adapted to this business principle. I can say that in this country there exist three forms – black, white and gray. There are dance, folk singers, and maybe some alternative music, but any other spectar of music doesn’t exist, or is invisible. A show-business principle, in commercial sense, is dominant on West, but a difference lays in fact that there is some place for everybody to express and to live on that, a bit. We have a lot of tallented instrumentalists and rock-musicians, but they simply don’t have opportunity to express themselves. Or, if they have expressed themselves, behind them there are some small publishing houses without money to provide them some good video, commercial so that anybody can hear for them.

2. Another album of yours will soon appear. It is a vocal one, for a change.

B.J.: It is something that I have recorded in 1997. and I finished it only now. Igor Vukojevic sang whole material, and we had a problem regarding publishing houses. That is why I had to rearrange existing patterns and to redo Igor’s vocals. In some songs, the intonations were adapted to his voice from the beginning and I couldn’t change that. That means that we will have four-five songs sang by me, three of them sang by Igor and two instrumentals. Everything was better at the end, and I am more satisfied now, than before. I think it is better now and I would regret if it appeared before.

3. Can you describe the sound on this album more specifically?

B.J.: As for the instrumentals, the two of them on the album are of better producing quality. Generally, everything is of better quality in relation to “Universe”. The compositions are similar, slightly moderate. In any case, the album is diversified, it has rock sound, there are some elements of pop, rock, fusion, etc.


1. Can you describe your success in Canada in more detailed way?

B.M.: It is, may be, out of place for me to speak about my work… This evaluation and description are in journalists’ domain. Informations about me are accessible to anyone on In short, the “Borislav Mitic” album is released for the american “Shrapnel Records” music house, which is specialised for guitar music and with which I have a contract. CD is published in America and Japan, and can be found in some european countries and in Canada. “Shrapnel” is the publisher of many famous guitar virtuosos, like Paul Gilberth, Greg Howe, Marty Friedmann, Michael Schenker, Frank Gambale, Scott Henderson, etc. Mike Varney, the owner of “Shrapnel Records”, and my producer, is also known for discovery of legendary Yngwie Malmsteen… Thousends of people all over the world have heard for this sebian guitarist – me, Borislav Mitic, who plays guitar like all above mentioned. Few years ago, something like that would be unthinkable for us in Yugoslavia. Everybody belived in absolute anglo-american musical superiority and that nobody from Serbia was supposed to be there.

2. Are you preparing some new album?

B.M.: Yes, even two more albums are in project. One will conitnue instrumental tradition, another will be a vocal one. I prepare this new material, at the moment. I have new crew : Eric Forrest (bass, vocal), who was previously the frontmen of the “Voivod” group (replaced by Jason Newsted from “Metallica” now) and Lewis Levesque (drums). Concerts and shows are planned when the new material is over.Otherwise, I will use the equipment which I endorse on my album. These are: ESP guitars, Rhino amplifier, Maxon and Guyatone effects and Dean Markley strings, so there are some plannings for shows related to presentation of these companies on some festivals later.

3. Can you say what is the position of rock’n’roll in the world, as you are better informed about world musical streams.

B.M.: I can’t tell about position of rock’n’roll in whe world, but I have quite a good access to what is going on in America and Canada. Story that begins in mid ‘90s is rather different from the one that was characteristic for the best “golden” days of rock. Glamure is gone, and the rule that applies is: the worse, the better. Companies are trying to enlarge production by forsing of bad bends, thinking that yuoung people will identify with them on easier way, bescouse they needn’t practice too much and can imagine “success, fortune and glory”. New style names have been invented like “NU”, or so. But all that is artificial and bad in musical and performing aspect and will crush. People who remember better times, are complaing and waiting for better times, like people in Yugoslavia complained on turbo-folk.

4. Do you plan to visit Yugoslavia soon?

B.M.: I hope so. Would that be a working visit depends more on yugoslavian promoters and other factors of interest in music industry, than on me. I would be glad to perform in Belgrade again, or in some other bigger city.

Intervew & translation: Ruzica Vrhovac
Intervew published by in January 2003.