Romanian Music "This Ain't A Scene": An interview with Andrei Bucureci from Crowd Control.

Occasionally music can help us cross borders and bring people far apart geographically, closer together. Andrei Bucureci is in the heart of the Romanian music community as a musician, poet, promoter and writer. He is currently working on documenting several bands who are from all over Romania that share his love for spreading positive messages through music. From Cardiff to Bucharest!   

EMW: Hello and welcome to EMW. Could you perhaps introduce yourself and the work that you do?

AB: Hello there good people of EMW! Very sweet idea and cool initiative to link international artists and music!

My name is Andrei Bucureci, I’m originally from Ramnicu Valcea, but now I reside in Romania’s capital, Bucharest. In the daytime I’m an art director in a small responsible advertising agency called Creionetica, we’re so responsible that we work mostly with NGO’s. In the nighttime meanwhile (not only in the night time, but that’s when most concerts take place) I perform and write music as Intimidatah with two brothers in a electro-fusion band called Crowd Control. My aspirations go further than making the music, into the field of design, so to speak, I “control” the audio-video-visual concepts and materials that represent this trio. I handled the production of most of the videos, interviews, merchandise, making-offs and kept the connection with media & promoters. Its a very DIY attitude around here. Now i’m building the team to help me do all the things above so i can concentrate on the music and direction.

EMW: I see that Crowd Control have just had their latest video ‘Airbow’ posted on Vice Romania. This is big news! 

AB: Indeed! Its actually the third time around one of our videos has exclusivity on Vice. Its some sort of partnership. We’ve got an eclectic sound and they’ve got an eclectic approach on things. Right now we’re quite happy about working with a spanish label called False Flag Operations. It is a subsidiary of Dubkraft Records. A very special and talented man, calls himself Alien Pimp, is doing a whole lot of good work and now we’re taking this, Crowd Control music, to another level. Such cool people overall! We’ve just finished our third EP called LOADING PLEASE. Also, our song Brixton Riot is right now on some online radio stations: eclecticFM, Radio Cooperativa Urbana, Baraka & DelaHaze. It was actually our first single locally. We’re now working on a video for this song. Airbow is the international single. A song composed by our synthesizer player Razvanescu and I fused in the title two of his favorite bands, the french duo AIR and the prog-brit-popers Elbow. That’s where Airbow comes from. It’s a tune about the way generations pass and nothing seems to change for the good. I hope it’s just apparently.

EMW: The visuals come across nicely with movement going backwards and forwards. I see how this could be a way of saying ‘one step forwards, two step backwards’ if you have heard that saying? How long have you been performing with Crowd Control? 

AB: Yes, I know the saying, we have in Romanian too. But it also involves the fact that it’s usually crabs and lobsters that walk that way. I think my message in this song is about the circling, the cycle of life and the way society acts in patterns, most of the time in predictable patterns. I’ve been performing with CC for about a year and half now, but I’m playing with the brothers in different bands since 2009.

EMW: Would you say that all of the music you make has a message behind it like ‘Airbow’? 

AB: Yes. The step forward I made with CC, and that separates it from other bands I’ve played with, is the social message. A side of me that approaches more openly activism and responsibility for the environment is now on the loose. I try to make music that means something in a cultural way and conscious way. I’m a big fan of Gil Scott-Heron, Fela Kuti, Ian Dury, The Spaceape and Linton Kwesi-Johnson and the way the bridged the gap between the social and the sonic innovation perspective of life.

EMW: It was a great loss for music and culture when Spaceape passed last year. 

AB: A great loss actually. The Spaceape gone is depressing. Such potential wasted. 

EMW: Is there many other bands in Romania that you could point towards who are on the same circuit as you?

AB: I have a few bands in mind, let’s call them peers of ours: Fine Its Pink and Noisecode from Iasi, Harlequin_Jack, Temple Invisible, Moebius, GOLAN, The Dream Diggers, Yoon, The Bridge Committee, Secuem, Plurabelle & Fierbinteanu, Liar & Elektromekanik from Bucharest, Lights Out, Baba Dochia & Kaleidonescu from Cluj. Some of them are older bands playing for more than three-four years now and on different levels of popularity, but i don’t know why i view them as comrades in arms.

EMW: It seems that you are in a great place to document this and I believe that you are working on a documentary at the moment about music in Romania? 

AB: Yes indeed. Most of the artists mentioned above I’d like them to appear in a documentary. It’s the perfect time to document this new wave. It’s an eclectic one too. I’d like to call it, the Documentary - “This Ain’t A Scene”, but who knows when it will be done and how it will be called. I hope it will be done next year and released in autumn!

EMW: I am reading the press release/concept that you sent me and this jumps out - “The bands appearing are not the only alternative or the most experimental. They’re 
nowhere near the most original, virtuous or talented ones, but they feel the need to 
connect and collaborate in any way.” - Is there a strong community for musicians in Romania?

AB: There are quite a few perspectives. With some of the bands above I like to call myself friends with. Bands like Harlequin_Jack, we’ve done even music together, Fine Its Pink, we’re working on new music together, and I’m close to people like Fierbinteanu and members of The Dream Diggers and we surely will collaborate in the future. The others we’re acquaintances & I’m a big fan of their music. I’m also a music journalist and I like to write about them and the way their music is inspiring and should be better known internationally. I can’t say we’re a close community like some waves and scenes that happen in the UK, or in some circles in the States, let’s say New York. We’re respectful one to the other, but there are some sort of “small churches” and that’s a good thing for competition. We’re competing, constructively, sometime with very interesting and good results.

EMW: Here in the UK and also more precisely in Wales there is a constant translation happening from external influences of different music from around the world being adopted and slightly altered making for very interesting mix of music. Would you say it is a similar story for you in Romania? 

AB: Yes indeed. So many people fusing electronic music with different other genres. Latin jazz with dance and house by GOLAN, trip-hop and post-rock with electro and soulful vocals by Fine Its Pink, industrial and indie with trip-hop by Temple Invisible. There’s a glaswegian indie-rock and dance feeling that comes out from Harlequin_Jack’s music, old-school and new-school hip-hop with some tinges of country music in The Bridge Committee’s vibes. Bass music, hip-hop and industrial are all over The Dream Diggers soundscapes, deathinvegasian electro-rock mixed with dub and dubstep by Baba Dochia from Cluj, rave and electro-funk-rock by Noisecode, post-rock and indie-folk by Moebius, psychedelic and jamband directions by Lights Out, noise-electro and glitch-dance by Kaleidonescu, weird-core and electro-dance from Plurabelle ^ Fierbinteanu, Future RnB by Secuem, and nostalgic-electro from Yoon. This romanian scene ain’t a very cohesive scene but it’s one aware of what taste is and what happens worldwide. Just like what you said some sort of a translation.

EMW: Let’s go back to your own musical influences, how did electronic music become a part of your creative outlet?

AB: That’s a good question. I’ve been originally just a lyricist and wannabee producer. Working with friends that had a musical experience and trying to construct a certain authenticity missing in romanian music back then. Romanian alternative music had a blast of inspiration and direction at the end of the nineties and beginning of the 2000’s but almost ten years later a crisis of originality occurred. In the middle of that I mutated from my visual art past towards writing my visions into poetic and spiritual lyrics. I had different periods of musical explorations tastewise: hard rock, grunge, indie, reggae, metal, hip-hop, spoken-word, punk and now electronic & afrobeat and world-fusion-music. I had crushes on bands like Uriah Heep, artists like Sizzla & Damian Marley, I’m still a great fan of punk phenomenons like Bad Brains, Ian Dury, Public Image Limited, John Cooper Clarke, poets like Mutabaruka, Benjamin Zephaniah, innovators such as Enter Shikari, Zach De La Rocha, Mars Volta and many many others. With experience in music-making I’ve discovered alongside Coshmelin & Razvanescu the two brothers I’m working with an affinity for synthesizers, piano and that electronic, contemporary feel. Beats, synths & rhymes are a solution, to all the musical pollution!

EMW: Does being involved creatively help with connecting the dots between the different ‘churches’ that you have described? 

AB: I think so. I have a better understanding of all the stress and creative processes and promotional strifes and tribulations. I can understand how much sweat and blood involves making music, making it some sort of a product and not just keeping it for yourself. The whole “churches” perspective is about connecting dots like you said, each of the people involved has initiatives, tastes and things in common with me and us. Having lived in the same country, under the same political regime, and in the romanian society is giving us inspiration, frustration and the necessary drive to have a daytime job and making good music.

EMW: If one was to go to experience live music in some of the places that you have mentioned what venues would you recommend visiting?

AB: Just as with bands, Bucharest, Cluj and Iasi has eclectic venues. We’ve played with CC in most of them also. There’s a very internationally active venue called Control Club, where i’ve seen some of my favorite bands: from legends like Swans, Stereo MC’s and Mike Watt to electronic-influenced things like Suuns. Rangleklods, Breton, Stubborn Heart and indie noisers like Dirty Beaches or Motorama. There’s also a smaller but more locally supportive and with an intimate feel venue called Question Mark. Some of my favorite local metalcore, hardcore and industrial bands have played there: Breathelast, The Boy Who Cried Wolf and Temple Invisible. Bucharest has most venues of course: punk-rockers go to Underworld, alternative parties happen in B52, Expirat, Energiea, The Silver Church, Atelierul de Productie & Fabrica. In Cluj theres The Shelter, where we played and had a very good time. When in Iasi in Underground the Pub we’ve had an awesome show and we’ve illegally projected the Holy Mountain by Jodorowsky. I don’t know about a real recommendation but if you ever get to Romania, take your time to really feel the tissue and veins of all cities, villages and venues. They’re warm and welcoming if you leave all preconceptions at the border.

EMW: Music crosses borders and all though EMW focuses mostly on music with links to Wales it is great to see other places around the world building great art to share worldwide. Is there much focus and support for rural (out of the city) music makers or is it important for musicians and artists to move to the city to take the next step?

AB: I actually know what you mean. I like Bondax and i know there’s a whole movement of rural electronic artists in Britain. I find that very very cool. That and the rural has such an organic independent approach. Sadly in Romania, from my limited point of view, most bands move to the city to make music. Life in smaller provinces is by default oblique and minimal. There are bands there i am sure of it, but most of them emulating big city sounds or foreign old ones. People there are making music as an episodic hobby. I hope i’m wrong and something comes out to prove me otherwise though.

EMW: Please could you link to some websites that can help us learn more about the Romanian music scene?

AB: Sure. I’ll make a random list here, in no particular order. For a direct listen here’s some online radios promoting these bands:

Sites and music platforms:

There are plenty more but I want to be realistic and give only a few so you can be able to browse through them not be overwhelmed. 

Cheers and thank you for your time and patience! Support local authentic bands, Jah bless less stress! Intimidatah out!

Update: Crowd Control have just dropped this massive track on Soundcloud.