Balkan Brass & Eastern Groove is a siiick dance party. Sooo much incredible music from a wide variety of places and styles, but it all fits together perfectly thanks to the efforts of DJ Baron von East-Infection. We’ll interview him in a second, but hit play on this jam (my favorite discovery from last month’s party) first:
Where’d you get your name?
Baron von East-Infection just fit. Friends in Kyiv, Ukraine suggested my DJ moniker be my last name with the word baron, as my last name sounded similar to a Dutch military officer. The east’s music is infectious, the music has a fury, Baron von East-Infection is chief officer spreading the infection!
How did you become interested in Balkan Brass and Eastern European music?
I used to be really into punk and at some point of growing more normal and listening to new things, Balkan Brass intrigued me. It has an energy, intensity and soul that is like nothing else. I liken the intensity to punk, it translated over seamlessly. In 2008, I was traveling in Eastern Europe and found myself at a music festival in Hungary where I saw Leningrad, Goran Bregovic and Kocani Orkestar. I was converted. The music was so deeply authentic, it had a romance that was contagious, infectious. In 2010 I moved to Ukraine to seek out this romanticism I had acquired, not to say that I found what I thought I was looking for, but I was wholly not disappointed.
What was your experience there like?
It was incredible. I got hit on by this punk-looking guy during my first week there, I didn’t know anyone, within five minutes we had bonded over Black Sabbath, Slavoj Zizek and Ukrainian Girls. I moved in with him the next day for $125 a month and we shared a his flat for six months. I dated a super hot model and got a job teaching English. I got really lucky when I tapped into the underground scene there. It’s nuts, they party harder than anyone else I’ve ever seen. There’s a kind of nihilism towards the new democracy, it’s super corrupt, everything’s sort of fucked “so lets just drink a lot of vodka; пей, даваи!” I fell in love.
And what brought you back to San Francisco?
After two years of living the dream, my liver and lungs felt broken, I craved stability and security; cops that would yell at me in a language I understood. I was always broke, there were visa issues, once I got kicked out. In short: superficial bullshit.
How do you pitch your show to the uninitiated?
The best part of every show is when someone approaches me and says “This shit is incredible! And I’ve never heard any of it.” Expect to hear exotic sounds that will move you. Get super drunk on a weeknight, lower you inhibitions and let the music guide you on an far-out journey of an evening. People, mostly commonly white people don’t have much know-how in how to groove to this stuff so they usually pogo and flail their arms like apes, that behavior is welcome folks! Just drink a bunch and have a good time is all we request.
Your flyers are always awesome. Can you tell us more about this month’s?
The flyer for the show at the Elbo Room is one of my favorites. It’s a collage of a bunch of pictures I took while traveling in Eastern Europe and some others I gathered. There’s some dirty things written in russian like “first time, you’re not a faggot…” There’s a pair of tits pasted on a teenage boy, and his friends dancing, a photo I took in Baia Mare, Romania. There’s a man on a haystack on a horse, a picture I took while hitch hiking in Transylvania, Romania. There’s some Romanian villagers near a horse, a babushka drinking vodka, an insistent russian man telling you to drink. We love all people in all forms, it’s a celebration of life, “c’mon to dance, baby!”
The show is called “Balkan Brass & Eastern Groove.” The first part seems self-explanatory but what exactly do you mean by Eastern Groove?
The first part covers the main theme, but I didn’t want to just play high-energy Brass music from the Balkans. The Eastern Groove allows for an eclectic mix of weird ‘eastern’ stuff that includes but is not limited to: Soviet new-wave, Turkish Psyche & Disko, Bollywood jazz & funk, Eastern European Rap & Hip Hop, Russian Ska, Blatnaya Pesnya, Punk & a bunch of weird music from the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union. Hell, I might even just play a Wu Tang song for fun.
Thanks! See you Tuesday!
Yes, come say hi/ привет, если ты можете! I’ll be the one with the flamboyant dance moves in the tracksuit, slaying the Balkan fury and DJing. If you like it, I’d like to meet you, see you there!