Zen Vox Darjeeling aka Jure Gabršček: positive and chilled-out guy from Slovenia. I discovered his music via a friend (probably over a year ago) and I'm so glad I did, cause he generates some seriously cool tunes. Y'all know how much I love easy, relaxed melodies with a spritz of airy surfer vibe. Add an interesting use of samples, a few upbeat pieces, and I'm hooked. That's also the case with Zen Vox: each song easily takes me away with its light story, catchy themes and engaging beats. Jure began his musical path back in 2012, when his interpretation of indie pop met a beautiful DIY approach, which in my opinion gives his music so much soul and really connects all the elements in the right way. The DIY, or, as he calls it, the "zero budget" approach, shines through videos, which are made by his very talented lady and I think they match his sound perfectly. Although I haven't met Jure in person yet I have a feeling that we could have interesting chats just about anything. Oh, and don't expect to see him performing live. Not gonna happen. Why? Read on ...
Hi there Jure, how are you? What was the first thing you did this morning?
Hi! I’m OK. Well, that’s easy. Scrambled eggs. Fun trivia fact: did you know that The Beatles' "Yesterday" had a working title "scrambled eggs"? No kidding, look it up. The story goes that Paul had woken up with the melody in his head and no words, so he just kept singing "scrambled eggs".
Can you tell us a wee bit about yourself? What's on your schedule beside music?
I'm a fairly average kind of guy. I try to be as chill as possible, some say I'm cynical and rude which I define as being honest. I'm kind of lazy, indoor type of person, but I do enjoy running - it keeps your mind fresh. I keep my mouth shut in company of people I don't like and talk way too much around people I love. My mood swings a lot. I can be super productive for a day and then do nothing for a week. I try to read as much as possible, watch movies and TV shows. The usual stuff, nothing fancy. Oh, and of course, I'm trying to finish my university degree.
Zen Vox Darjeeling. How did you come up with the name and what does it mean?
Yeah, everybody is curious about that. In reality there is no significant backstory to it. I guess I always wanted an off-beat name, a name that stuck in your head and took you places. Technically speaking, it is an alter ego I created so I could say: "You know what, this isn't you, it's Zen Vox Darjeeling. You can do whatever you want." It's a kind of thing I created, a creative blow-off valve, a creative mind set.
As far as the name itself is concerned, the story goes like this. One day I was watching America's Next Top Model (I'm lame, I know) and there was this girl called Ren Vokes and I thought to myself, "Well, this sounds like a pretty rad name for a band". And my favourite movie at that time was Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited. You can figure out the rest. The name itself is quite random, the story almost doesn't matter. But I do enjoy a cup of Darjeeling tea.
Looking back, each word represents something different from all around the world and time. I mean, Zen brings the chill vibes, Vox represents the voice and is linked to ancient Latin/Roman culture, and Darjeeling takes you to the Far East Orient and to the these 19th century British royalties sipping their afternoon tea. And it sounds cool.
What does your lyrics writing process look like? What inspires you? Has the way you write your songs changed since the beginning of your musical journey?
Musical journey? To me it feels like I'm only getting started :).
There is no specific writing process. You know, I'm kinda sensitive to the outside world and I have a pretty good memory for useless information. When you watch a lot of movies and reading lots of random articles, you get exposed to a ton of information that you need to process. With time, certain words/phrases/ideas get stuck and resonate in your head. Then I let them there to accumulate for a while and with time certain ideas start to grow on their own, almost unconsciously. And then one day, when I am high on caffeine or I'm just having a nice day because the weather is nice or something, all this random ideas start to grow into one homogeneous idea and it all makes perfect sense. But speaking in general, I'm inspired by these little moments, little stuff that matters the most.
I think that my writing haven't change one bit, but I am now more aware that people are actually listening to my songs. It was actually kind of scary when a friend said that she knew my lyrics by heart. I immediately started thinking about what the song was actually about and if it was any good. Now I would more often go "Does this make sense or is it just some bullshit?" Nothing's really changed but I am certainly more aware that there are people out there paying attention.
If you take a look back on your songs, do you think they share a common theme? I think they all work together so well – is that just my perception or do you carefully plan everything?
I mean, I did notice that all my songs have that kind of summery road trip-ish feel to it. You know, when you're alone on a straight stretch of road with the sun high up and with your windshields lowered, with music bursting through the speakers. But it's all purely unintentional.
Sometimes I go into recording having a very fixed idea of how, let's say, a bass guitar should sound, but then if it doesn't sound right in the mix, I'm not afraid of completely changing the sound in the process. Generally, my songs, when finished, sound very different from the initial idea.
Maybe this "common theme" you hear comes from me as a person. I mean, I may use different instruments from song to song and the genres may change but at the end of day I record stuff I like and want to hear.
If I would point out one thing, it is that I try to stay positive and cheeky. Not overly positive in a cheesy way, but you know I hate when drama movies get all deep and depressing just for the sake of art. Movies are almost automatically considered more artsy if some character dies in it at the end, I hate that. True art isn't depressing. I mean, look up Andy Warhol or Dali or John Lennon. They didn't take themselves very seriously, did they?
Which song are you most proud of and why?
I always think that my best song is the one I am currently working on. But as for a song itself, I love listening to Road of Us, probably because looking from a technical standpoint, it is fairly well recorded and mixed, given my lo-fi zero-budget production standards. I just like the general feel of it.
I watched your DIY music videos and I got the impression that you're also passionate about photography. How does the process of making those epic videos look like? What's your favourite field of photography?
I started doing these videos because people seem to respond to music better when there is a video to go with it. A video can even change the feeling of the song itself. It's sort of the same with food, if it looks like shit, even the most amazing taste won't cover it up. It's the whole package that counts.
All my music videos so far were done mostly by my girlfriend (we are sort of in the band, except she doesn't play any instruments :)) and usually consist of some random footage, which is then edited to somewhat resemble a music video. Editing is fun.
I like photography, I usually shoot analog but it's all mostly personal stuff. It's more about keeping memories than making art. But if anyone wanted me as a photographer I would have no hesitation regarding the subject, except maybe for fashion photography; that's just weird to me, personally.
Well, I am an engineer by profession, so it would be something rather geeky. It would probably be called something like "Digital vs. Analog". You know, people think that analog processing is long gone but they don't realize that top big-budget blockbuster films are still shot on film and that some musicians prefer the sound of magnetic tape. In general, digital domain is used because it's cheaper and easier to use, not because it's better. And there are even tons of digital emulations of analog gear (Instagram, for example), so there is no denying that there is something magical about analog. Maybe it's not an in-your-face fun subject at first but I would make sure that the finished product is watchable and fun.
Where would you like to see yourself and your music 10 years from now?
Firstly, I don't consider myself a "proper" musician and I am not really fond of the idea of performing live. I am just some guy who happens to make music as a hobby. I've received some offers for live performing but I just don't see myself doing it, so good luck seeing me live :).
But I really do enjoy making music/art, the creative process itself and I've meet many friends who are involved in art one way or another. Some may paint, some make music, and others may be doing some crazy animations ... and so I have this idea to make some sort of a full length movie, collaborating with all these people. I love collaborating.
But one way or another I'd like to have a pretty little house one day, packed with cheap guitars, junk synths and vintage amps, and other junk stuffed in the garage.
I have a specially crafted mixtape folder, called Zlata Plata. I put a song in there if it's exceptionally good, but it must be pretty much perfect. It's a kind of a time capsule for music, to one day show it to my kids and to the future me. I listen to that mix probably every day. The last thing I put in there was Simon Kingston's "Pink Room".
But if you are in need of a good album to listen to on repeat, check out Alexander Ebert's record "Alexander". That stuff is pure gold, IMHO.
You've told me that this is your first interview ever – how do you feel about that now, has it been an absolutely life-changing experience?
Totally :)! The thing that is still kind of mind blowing to me is that I am in a position where people actually want to read my interview and actually listen to my stuff. I've been reading interviews my whole life and now there is one with me. It's weird and flattering at the same time, and extremely enjoyable.
The verdict: I'll definitely be listening to Zen even more + I can't wait for some new releases. You can also explore his YouTube channel and Facebook page if you want a bit more of Jure's music. Which bands/artists are you currently into? I never ask you guys, but I'd love to know!