Discom: Could you tell us something about your beginnings with Max, starting Max & Intro, making songs, recordings? … How everything started?
Intro (Zoran Calic): I met Max in high school: we were studying music, he was in first grade, I was in the second. It was in 1981, but I think we began to work in 1982. Actually, it is very difficult to say when we started exactly. It happened gradually; we had mutual interest for synthesizers and electronic music. He heard that I had a synth, I heard that he had a synth and someone from school introduced us.
Discom: Can you recall a moment when the first song was created? What was the first song anyway?
Intro: The first song was “Ostavi sve” (in English: “Leave everything”). Max had some ideas before that, but the first completed song was “Ostavi sve”, which was created when he made main melodic line and lyrics that we didn’t change till today. Considering the fact that we didn’t have enough instruments and the fact that the process of recording is the key factor when someone is making electronic music, we made our first song step by step, gradually adding our own lines and ideas through the recording. Our first lineup included Mladen (Klaus Corpse) who played main synth theme in “Ostavi Sve” and Nikola (Intro Johnnie) who sang in “Beogradska devojka” (in English: “Belgrade’s girl”). Mladen had the Moog Prodigy, one great analog synth, which we had used for the most of our sounds in the first demo “Ostavi sve” from 1984 (Discom is releasing this version). It is interesting that Max had created and played first matrix of the song on Roland TB-303 Bassline which was connected with Roland TR-606 rhythm machine. Later, I transferred that compose to better Roland TR-808 rhythm machine which we used in our friend’s studio where those demos later resulted. It was studio of Nikola Bezek who had inherited large sum of money and bought a lot of good synths and gears. Back in that time, we didn’t have too many synths, so I played Nikola’s Korg Polysix and Roland SH-101 in our first demo “Ostavi sve” from 1984. Likewise, we used the same equipment for recording “Beogradska devojka” demo. Later, when we signed the contract with RTB to record 7″ “We design the future”, we used different equipment which is referred on the back cover of that edition. For the most of time, while we’ve been working together as Max & Intro, we had a lack of gears. Max had Korg Poly 800 and I had SCI Pro One, which we used for recording “We design the future”. Later, both of us bought Casio CZ-101 synths, which we used with Casio SZ-1 and Roland TR-909 rhythm machine to record “Los je Dan” (in English: “Bad Day”).
Discom: How it happened that you made the contract with RTB? Tell us something about releasing the Max & Intro single “We design the future” in 1985?
Intro: Frankly, I can only credit Max for that contract. Max’s father was a famous musician and he had a lot of colleagues who worked for RTB, so that is how we got the contract. However, the complete recordings for the single “We design the future” were funded absolutely by our side. There wasn’t any advertising at all, and we didn’t receive any money from the selling of that single. Moreover, we got suggestions from RTB to find a guitar player, drummer and a singer with big boobs and then to make some recordings. Of course, Max and I were astounded by such comments. Despite the fact that we didn’t have any advertising at all, the single was quickly sold. But, somehow RTB refused to make a new printing, since they planned to print more folk music. From the very beginning their policy was to invest as little as possible and to get as much as they could. Originally, we had recorded 4 tracks and with this material, we went to negotiate with them. They refused to release Maxi single with 4 songs, since the price of making it would be the same as the price of printing LP, what was unprofitable for them, so they chose a cheaper option which included only two songs.
Discom: In which extent the music scene in Belgrade was able to understand or accept what you were doing? What was the reaction of the audience, critics and colleagues?
Intro: I’m aware that there were people who liked what we were doing, despite we didn’t have adequate support from RTB label, nor we had any managerial support. When it comes to radio and tv stations in Belgrade, no one called us to appear in their shows. We were the ones who called, asked to play one of our songs, or simply to appear in a program. Also, we never had a concert in the usual sense, yet we had occasional appearances on a TV / radio show or club, discotheque where we had matrix or playback. During these performances we often sang with Tanja, former Max’s wife (female vocal in the song “Los je dan”). Apart from radio stations, our colleagues far more respected what we were doing. We were huge friends with Pedja D’ Boy, as well with Djole from “Laki Pingvini”. We worked together with Rambo Amadeus and Dejan Kostic from the group “Du Du A” with whom we recorded one song- “Ere Vulgaris” (!) Furthermore, we worked a lot with Jewta and Wratch (the pioneers of the electronic scene in Belgrade, known as the leaders of the bands: Data, Master Scratch Band and Sizike). I have collaborated with two of them before I started a band with Max, when they worked as Data. Also, I’ve been playing on the album Sizike – “U zemlji cuda” in several compositions (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0JbBXDTjtQ). On the other hand, they helped us a lot: Jewta was the sound engineer of the demo “Ostavi sve”, which you are going to publish, while Milutin Stojisivljevic (also member of Sizike) was audio engineer of the single “We design the future”. We called Milutin wizard of electronics since he constructed the devices, which we used as substitutes for sequencers. Back in that time, we actually didn’t have any sequencers. We have been only using the sequencer of Roland’s SH-101 synth, which has about 100 notes. That sequencer we used to connect to previously programmed Roland TR 808 rhythm machine and use it as a trigger (like in the chorus of demo “Ostavi sve”). It is interesting that only Data from the entire electronic scene in Belgrade tried to make the live performance in the “Dadov” theater. But they had a lot of sound problems and I remember that Wratch was trying to set up the sound all over and over again, since the timbres of synths were not the same as they were in the studio. Anyway, we remain very good friends, and we stayed in touch and after they moved to London.
Discom: Do you remember some interesting anecdotes from that period?
Intro: Yes, there were a lot of anecdotes, because Max was a bit extreme in behavior and he often knew to shock. I recall, we were guests in one appearance on the radio when he was asked to explain why our bandmate Klaus Corpse didn’t come with us. He told to the presenter that our pal was hit by a train, and he was killed. Then, he showed some bags with meat he brought into the studio and said: this is all what is left of him.
You can check that interview on the following link
Discom: You have collaborated with Max on many projects. What do you think about him as a musician? What do you like about him, what not?
Intro: First of all, he was tremendously creative, he had all sorts of original ideas, but somehow he was extreme. I tried to coax him to stand still on the ground, because our market in that time couldn’t bear extremes. It also happened that if you were an extreme, then something what you’ve done simply remained unrecognized, or nobody was interested for it. Somehow, I was trying to get him back, not in the sense that he should be purely commercial, but that he should do something interesting for someone who will find it to be attractive. While we’ve been doing something what he really liked, he used to say that he doesn’t care whether someone will or won’t like it. In this sense, we were a good combination. If I were like him, that would be a problem. For instance, when you hear some of the things I’ve done, it wouldn’t be as dark as something what Max would do. I’ve always inclined to make something commercial (that is why Max used to call me Intro Logic).
His inability to adapt started to be obvious when he was supposed to do things and arrangements for other artists. Max wasn’t able, creatively nor mentally, to fit on the same level with someone who is different, who comes from another world. It often happened that he would start to collaborate with some artist, and then he would quickly withdraw, after what he used to call me to finish the project. He had even made some arrangements for one local folk star, but he did them entirely in his own way, which was quite a shock for a local star. In addition, if there were too many people working on a song, which he liked anyway, it happened, again, that he wouldn’t be satisfied. Necessities for originality and independence were highly dominant. I have to mention, there were situations where his timbres or lines were similar to Yello or Fairlight. Course, I would warn him on that fact, but he wasn’t often aware that a line reminds of them. For him, those sounds were the most natural ones. He was stubborn for sure; you had to explain him a lot why something is not right. Max was convinced what he does is the best, and he used to say that he doesn’t care if something is wrong. I was totally different.
Discom: When we speak about Fairlight: Have you ever been fascinated with Fairlight synth as Max was? What you think in which extent technology affected his process of creating?
Intro: I was fascinated by Fairlight, but Max was even more. He was dreaming of having that synth since he was 14. When Fairlight appeared, it was a miracle of technology, of course, unaffordable for us. Later much better samplers became available, but Max was still fascinated with it. One thing has influenced his style in a great extent – he liked old school synths. He didn’t follow development in technology as many synthesizers players did. For the most of synth players, the sound had a great influence on the whole process of creating: you hear new timbre or some new sound, and that reminds you or initiate you to do something, like- you play a new line. Max wasn’t so much fascinated with new hi-tech synths, he’d rather experiment with sampling, especially with human voice and artificial sounds and he was incredibly good with it. It is an interesting question how would his music look like if he had an opportunity to play Fairlight or to make samples on it, or on any other expensive synth.
Discom: We are very curious about your artistic name ”Intro”. Why people call you Intro?
Intro: Well, our friend Nikola which studio we used for recording of our first demos was a ”godfather”. He really adored Logic System, a musical project found by Hideki Matsutake, a sequencer programmer and modular synthesizer operator for the Yellow Magic Orchestra, (he wasn’t the member of YMO). Logic system has one opening theme in their debut album called Intro. I knew to play that theme and Nikola was astonished by my knowledge and my playing skills, so he gave me that nickname: Intro. Since then, it remained: all my friends- musicians who belong to early Belgrade electronic scene call me Intro. I can’t remember when Max took his nickname, his real name was Miodrag. After we disbanded, he didn’t exploit the name Max Vincent, therefore the most people know us only as Max&Intro.
Discom: For the end, after 30 years, when you look back on that time now, what kind of feelings, memories, and thoughts it awakes?
Intro: For me it was a wonderful period of time, especially since I was very young beck then. I have experienced the most beautiful things from 1981 till 1987, musically and personally. I am still listening music from that time and I have a collection of synthesizers from that period. After that, everything has collapsed both creatively and musically: MIDI was invented, technology has changed, and suddenly everything took totally different direction. That early electronic period was outstanding, unrepeatable and above all: lighthearted.
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