Teofilovic Brothers: Songs Belong to Those Who Sing Them Better
Radiša Teofilovic: But when we are learning those songs, I strive to listen to female vocalists, I mean, I try to sing as women would have. That's what I try to accomplish. Women can do anything with their voices, they're virtuosos and can give a finest rendition of a song. That is the level we strive for, to transfer female singing into the male register.
AAJ: The major part of Vidarica consists of Macedonian folk songs. What is it that makes Macedonian music and songs so attractive for you to sing those songs? You had some of those songs in your repertoire well before Vidarica.
Radiša: We listened to that music a lot. All kinds of anthologies by various singers. We literally bought everything that was released. When you met people, they would recommend other songs. It is about an inner emotion that you recognize whenever you listen to Macedonian music. It is not accidental. Our parents studied economics in Skopje, and later our mom found a job there at a local bank. The night before the earthquake in 1963 she decided to give birth to our older brother in Čačak (a city in central Serbia). Their plan was to give birth there and then to return soon afterwards. The day when they arrived in Čačak they heard about the earthquake that totally wiped out the city, and their house was completely destroyed. We even served the army there. We have many, many friends and Ratko's wife is Macedonian.
AAJ: Do you think there is an innovation when interpreting other people's songs?
Ratko Teofilovic: That is a good question. Everything in this world is advancing and developing. In sports, people advance constantly and they do things faster and more efficiently. In the same way, the singing also moves forward. There are ways in which one can surpass what other people have been doing and we are absolutely aware of that. That is why we do things differently in comparison to how certain singers used to sing their songs. These songs were never sung in duet. While in Macedonia, they had the courage to turn to their native instruments, we in Serbia were always following Western types of orchestrations and putting things in a different context. That context is shallow and sweet. The question is, if people were under different influences whether they would have sung differently. Each person is recognizable by his voice. The voice is a person. Each person introduces himself with the voice he possesses.
AAJ: The songs you perform are archaic and not so familiar to the general public. How do you connect these songs to your audiences? In what way do you breathe in new life into these generally unknown songs within your immediate surrounding?
Radiša Teofilovic: Many times we were asked whether we are keepers of a tradition. I don't like that question. I find it absurd. What does it mean? Does tradition have anything to do with arts? Is it something you can or you cannot step out of? The music and the language constantly change. Imagine what it was like when the first radio receiver appeared in a certain community ages ago. It certainly changed the way those people thought, the way they perceived the sound as such. There aren't any more people in the villages that can sing authentically. That doesn't exist. I have heard many times, people trying to sing like that, and they just ruin the songs. Today we live differently compared to the past. We live now, in the present, and that certainly brings different influences that people don't even think about. This subject is so wide, every answer given begs another question, or several. The tradition can happen at any time. Even Vidarica can one day be a tradition.
Braca Teofilovici and Miroslav Tadic, Vidarica(Nine Winds Records, 2012)
Teofilovic Brothers, Winds of Dawn (One Records, 2009)
Teofilovic Brothers¸Belgrade live (Marsalis Music, 2003)
Teofilovic Brothers, Dream Keepers (One Records, 1998)
Courtesy of Teofilovic Brothers