Tejka Vasiljevic is our friend from Skopje,
Macedonia Macadamia’s capital. She is a kindhearted person booking DIY hardcore punk shows with Coffee Mug Booking and playing drums in Skopje’s Dischord influenced emo band YÖU. This talk is the first in a series of interviews with people booking DIY gigs on the Balkans. In the next parts we will give it to hardcore punk promoters and booking collectives from Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Greece.
Hey Tejka, how’s life in Macadamia? Please introduce yourself and let our readers know where are you coming from?
Aaaaaaa, so happy that you’re using the word Macadamia.
Hello everyone. I’m Tejka Vasiljevic, the person that steals your food, talks about pizza, music, coffee and poop all the time.
Life on the Balkans in general, is crazy. I don’t have words to describe it, you have to feel it. So anyone having second thoughts about coming here, don’t think too much. Just get here and the rest of it, leave it to us.
Skopje is very interesting city, what do you like to do the most? What fascinating things yo could find there, if you’re a passionate hardcore punk kid looking for adventures? Tell us about the bands, places and gigs happening there?
Skopje is the most wicked place I’ve been to. I could say that I have mixed feelings about this city. I love it, but I hate it at the same time. Fascinating thing is how this city changes but I wouldn’t get into that.
I’ve been in the scene for 10 years now, I don’t know how I got into it and what was the first band that I saw in live, or when, it’s like a blackout to me but a good one. Comparing the scene back then and now it’s really different. We used to have a lot of bands, more shows and more people at shows. Now people barely show up, actually depends on what kind of shows, we don’t have a decent venue, and most of the bands are gone. We currently book shows at Bravo (Macadamian CBGB’s) which is a bar and not a venue. There are few other venues like MKC, Havana, Kino Kultura, Vox but what they offer doesn’t fit our pockets.
I’m happy that me and other people are still into bringing bands and not giving up. We try to keep this alive as much as we can, but it’s not like that nothing happens here. Skopje is full of different kind of events so don’t worry people, we are not for pity, we actually party over here (JK).
The only thing that makes me sad sometimes is that I don’t see kids, teenagers at shows or maybe they are somewhere but are not informed for what we do. I haven’t heard an angry high-school band that plays punk and has lyrics like “Fuck the system, I hate my parents ’cause they make me go to school, Beer beer beer, You suck – Anarchy rules” or something like that. I guess kids these days don’t have a reason to be angry about.
I also thought that social media helps about informing people about events and stuff but still not happening. Back then you would see there’s a show from a poster on the bus station or some friends will tell you. However, I’m not totally disappointed and I will keep doing this with my friends as long as I can and try to stay positive and motivate more people to be involved in this.
How challenging is to be vegan in Skopje? Where would you recommend us to go if we want to stuff our face with vegan food in the Macadamian capital?
Being vegan in Skopje is not as hard as it looks like. You just have to cook stuff or eat ajvar every single day if you’re lazy to cook. We have few (kinda) vegan places that are more into raw stuff but we don’t have like a decent vegan restaurant where you can get anything you want.
Also we have places with vegan options but not many of them. I would recommend vegan burgers from Nino and Burger Friends, vegan pizza from Pempele, and falafel from Domaskino and MKC restaurant.
Maybe there are some vegan places that I haven’t heard of since I have a “personal chef”, my best friend Nikola Isailovski aka Fat Cacko that cooks the best vegan food and we cheer for him to open a restaurant and offer the best vegan food in town. #prayforcaci
What’s the story of Coffee Mug Booking? What are some of the most exciting shows you have booked so far? Are there any challenges you’d like to talk about?
Well, Coffee Mug wasn’t planned to happen. I’ve been booking shows for a long time now and I’m just Tejka, the person that can help you out with a show in Skopje or wherever she can.
So, I was doing a show in this youth center and on the tickets it had to be written what “agency” books the show, so the people who were printing them, they called me and I was like “Can you just – not?”, so I had to be fast and I just told them to write Coffee Mug Booking, because I love coffee and Descendents are like the best band ever. So it stayed like that and yeah, still here.
With Coffee Mug Booking I did so many different kinds of bands, I’m not picky. If I like the band then it’s on. I don’t care if it’s a big band, or small or whatever. If I like you, I like you.
I can say that every show was exciting and challenging because I don’t have a “style” except Macadamian style haha and I never know what to expect. Also challenging thing for me it’s to have the best food prepared for the bands because when you’re on tour you need to be healthy and eat good stuff so that’s pretty challenging.
Coffee Mug is about helping bands, animals, people in general. It’s not a profit thing, or becoming a job. It’s something that I like doing it and I like it this way. I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes I have to take a break from booking shows or tours ’cause I’m not financially stable to support bands and I know how much energy, money, time it takes for bands to make it all happen and I appreciate everything they do. So yeah, bands If I reject you sometimes is not because I don’t want to help you, I’m just not capable at the moment to do that. But I’ll help you with sharing contacts and spread the word.
For those who want to get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you.
How do the bands from Macedonia manage to release records, get visas to tour abroad, etc.? As you’re not part of the EU it seems pretty difficult, even PayPal services are not available in Macedonia if you were to order a record or merch from abroad.
We have labels that support our local bands and there are few bands that are supported by foreign labels. I don’t think anything is hard, so just have to dig a lot and go for it, also being patient and believe in what you do. I can agree with that if I band from here would like to tour the U.S., Canada or anywhere that they will need visa, it’s gonna be a pain in the ass, dealing with shit loads of documents but you would never know if you don’t try right? Also most of the bands tour Europe so we don’t need visa except for the UK, Ireland and etc.
We finally got PayPal and as far as I know you can pay stuff (order too) but you can’t receive money. I don’t use any of those stuff so maybe it changed in a meantime. There are also some debit/credit cards that you can order/pay stuff from the Internet. But as I said, I’m not too much informed.
Bernays Propaganda seems to be the most active and hard-working band from Macedonia, although there were some awesome records that were released in the last couple of years. Can you elaborate on that, I know you were stoked when Culture Development full-length came out in the end of 2015?
We have more hard-working bands, it’s not just Bernays Propaganda. But they are an example that you can achieve whatever you want if you are dedicated to what you do and love the most. The people in Bernays Propaganda are part of the scene since forever and from them we learned about hardcore punk, straight edge, girls as part of the scene, animal rights, touring, booking foreign bands and a world outside of Skopje and Macedonia in general because they would share their experience on the road and hearing that as a kid sounded impossible but motivating at the same time.
We have bands that tour at least once or twice a year like: Noviot Pochetok, Fonija, Hardfaced, Spank, June, Culture Development and etc. These bands work their asses off. They really do.
Speaking of Culture Development, they released the best album not just for 2015, ta life haha. I followed a part of the process and that album just drives me nuts, so much anger, sadness, rage, maybe anxiety, gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it.
Also “Mojot Pekol” from Fonija is mind blowing, “Leshinari” from Shock Troopers… Damn it, just the thought is insane.
We have amazing bands but I wouldn’t make a list ’cause I will forget some bands for sure (short fish memory). But If you follow my Coffee Mug Booking page on FB you can discover a lot of bands that I post, not just Macadamian ones.
What about the DIY punk scene outside of Skopje?
We don’t really have a DIY punk scene outside or in Skopje. We have these few cities (Kumanovo & Bitola) that are doing a great job keeping their cities alive. They have shows all
You also play drums in YÖU, is there anything you set out to achieve by the end of the world?
Yes, I play drums in YÖU for almost a year and it’s the best thing that happened to me in the last few years, except when I saw SOAD last year. That was jeezzzz (puta madre). So yeah, we are hitting the studio next week to record our first album that is called “We sing the blues”, that should be released beginning of 2017. So people that have labels, help these poor kids from Macadamia to make it to Hollywood.
After that we want to make a Balkan tour in May/June so we can start from somewhere and tour Europe in the future of course. We are organized fellas, you know haha. However, we’re taking it step by step.
The last is on you, feel free to share whatever you want, and whatever we may have missed. Favorite Dischord releases or you’d rather talk about Turkish coffee?
Honestly I don’t like Turkish coffee and If I choose to talk about releases I would go with Deathwish Inc. since they are supporting the bands I like. I would say make coffee, not war. Help each other without a reason to do it. You are capable of everything and find happiness in pizza, ’cause pizza is the key of a good life.