When speaking of electronic music in the Serbia or Croatia the name Kristijan Molnar is mentioned in the same breath. The Belgrade resident runs one of Serbia’s most important radio shows, ‘Christallization‘, hosts events at famous nightlife institutions such as Klub 20/44, Drugstore in Belgrade or Masters in Zagreb. Last year Kristijan even left his mark at the Boiler Room in his hometown and made clear why he is seen as the crowd’s favorite DJ. His eclectic sets depict Kristijan’s versatility when it comes to music as well as his preference for taking its audience on a journey through various styles – just as he does with his latest art:cast. Aside from mixing us through the next hour, Kristijan also spoke with Torturture the Artist about his past, present and future.
Torture the Artist: Hello Kristijan, tell us something about your day.
Kristijan Molnar: Hello, Torturers. Nothing big happening today, I’m just having my late morning coffee and fresh orange juice, answering your questions and listening to the new LP from Wolf Müller & Niklas Wandt. But, yesterday took away a good person out of our lives. Unfortunately, the last few days in Belgrade were very sad, and we had to say goodbye to one of our greatest actors. A person who everybody admired for not just his great acting in the theater and movies, but also for his personality and points of view. When I say everybody, I really mean there isn’t a person around me who thinks the opposite or that doesn’t feel a connection with Nebojša Glogovac. I hope you find time to watch at least two or three movies he stars in and if I can help, my favorite is „Ubistvo S Predumišljajem“, or you can check „Ustav Republike Hrvatske“. A lot of older people, our parents are talking about it these days as they haven’t seen it before, it’s one of his last movies that wasn’t in the cinema for long. Keep in mind not to expect Sunday relaxing movies, they will touch you. But life has also brought me some small, but wonderful joys. I recently met one young and talented guy who is doing great things with wood, his family just started a small business, and he made me a stand with a little surprise on it (check the picture). Also, yesterday’s news that Daphni will be playing all night long at Drugstore later this year made me very happy!
Just imagine a big-long-haired-guitar dude among ravers for the first time.
Torture the Artist: How was your first date with electronic music?
Kristijan Molnar: I’m not quite sure when it happened, it might have been when I was a small boy listening to cassettes on the Walkman and when I heard synthesizer sounds in Oliver Mandić’s songs for the first time. Maybe it happened when I wandered into other stages at the festivals where I had gone to hear my favorite bands in the first place, not the DJs. Let’s say it was in my teenage years, it sounds funnier. Just imagine a big-long-haired-guitar dude among ravers for the first time. But, as I never cared about the genres, I loved the energy of this loud bassy music.
It’s kind of a guerilla radio show, I record it everywhere.
Torture the Artist: You’ve been running your own radio show, Christallization, for many years. What triggered you in the first place to set up your own show?
Kristijan Molnar: Today it looks like it happened naturally. I ended up on air quite unexpectedly, but I always loved the sound of the radio, the most! I won a local radio’s DJ contest and entered the station. Firstly, I was doing some top 10 lists, and that was great practice for me, but as I got addicted to it, I wanted and had a chance to start something on my own. It is still not 100% how I want it to be, but after all these years I plan on finally changing a few things in the coming months. A lot of sad things happened to the radio in Serbia in the last few years, and I’m working with one that is based in Novi Sad, so everything is a bit tricky. At the moment, it’s kind of a guerilla radio show, I record it everywhere I can and that makes it great fun. Thankfully, you can hear this radio in Belgrade and they are great colleagues.
Torture the Artist: Which ideas and visions regarding Christallization have you been able to put into practice and are there any notable ones that have failed over the years?
Kristijan Molnar: I wanted to expand it to a more internet kind of magazine thing at some point, and that required more people to work on it. I never wanted to invite someone to volunteer for it and, as it was hard to find a way to return any money for that crew on the small Serbian scene, it never happened. It stayed what it should be in the first place, a one-man machine radio show that connects people with new music. As people spend a lot of time on the internet, I hope the songs they hear on the radio show will lead them to explore more on the web or maybe to visit a few of our vinyl shops, or to come to the club at least. It’s only a little filter in front of the big doors that lead to the unknown sounds of the future.
Torture the Artist: What’s the next step you want to take with ‘your music’?
Kristijan Molnar: There is no ‘my‘ in music, I’m a DJ and that is what I want to be, but I ask myself a similar question every time I get into the club. Will I be able to make people happy tonight and make them go crazy like the past weekend or two? Will I achieve that moment when the party just clicks and everything just flows? You can call that a trance state and that happens on the boat pretty often, that’s how we call club 20/44. I’m slowly finishing my small studio setup with a workflow that I feel good at, but that doesn’t mean my priority is to release something for a label. I want to dedicate more time to music and use the knowledge I have got on the way, but producing and DJing are two very different things for me. I love combining various songs that other people have already made to create specific feelings in certain moments for 7 or 8 hours straight.
We are having damn good fun here and that must be the reason why I got this great love and support from the crowd, clubs and festivals.
Torture the Artist: Christallization as well as gigs at clubs in Belgrade or Zagreb have seen you play alongside artists such as Sandrino, Dixon, Ame and many more. Do you consider yourself an electronic music pioneer on the Balkan?
Kristijan Molnar: You could have heard electronic music here before I was on the scene and I don’t think there is only one person on any scene or in one club. Although I have a wonderful connection with Croatia, I can mainly talk about Belgrade and Serbia. I started playing at the moment when the scene was not so alive compared to the present, and party by party I influenced it in different ways, just like a few other crews and DJs. I brought some people to Belgrade for the first time and connected the crowd with different sounds. They were listening to many tunes from producers and DJs that are visiting Belgrade now, before they even knew who they were. I probably helped the clubs stay alive on some empty dance floor nights as luckily my parties were always packed. We slowly raised the ticket price over time so both clubs and the crowd can give or get the better experience as people were so used to free tickets that cigarette companies were giving away around the city. But, mainly, we are having damn good fun here and that must be the reason why I got this great love and support from the crowd, clubs and festivals.
Torture the Artist: What’s a story you experienced during all these gigs that stuck out to you, and why?
Kristijan Molnar: Here is one story that people outside of Serbia probably don’t know and it was a funny lesson, that I didn’t learn. I was in Novi Sad at EXIT Festival for the two nights and I returned to Belgrade on Saturday morning. It was already noon when I went to bed, to take a rest for a Sunday party at the boat where I was supposed to play more than 10 hours. Of course, I put my phone on silent. After 3-4 hours, I woke up and saw a few missed calls from the EXIT crew, so I called them, they didn’t answer, I waited and went to la la land again. When I woke up soon after, I read the SMS ‘Do you want to close ‘Dance Arena‘ or not!?‘. I didn’t sleep for the next 40 hours, had an amazing time and have a great memory for the rest of my life, but my phone is still on silent.
Torture the Artist: You are called the audience’s favorite DJ. What’s a current track to lure the crowd?
Kristijan Molnar: Marvin & Guy‘s remix for Sonns ‘Tame‘ in the later hours provoked lovely moments for the last few parties. Great one!
If you want to find more, you need to dig deeper and wider and you can’t expect to like every single release.
Torture the Artist: Running an own show sees you being provided with a lot of exclusive music.
With every privilege comes responsibility and rising expectations. How do you deal with the aforementioned and what do you dislike about receiving all the music?
Kristijan Molnar: It’s true that you can hear a lot of things that you won’t like and you won’t understand why people have to release everything, maybe just to be on Beatport. A lot of DJs are writing about that, but nobody is pushing you to listen to all the music on the promo pools. You can find out what you like, what not and skip some things. You can make your own filters. But, if you want to find more, you need to dig deeper and wider and you can’t expect to like every single release. It takes time. I gave myself a hard task, to find at least 12 new tunes for the radio show almost every week, to find new music for my club sets and my ears do get tired sometimes, but I obviously need a lot of music to keep it interesting for myself. I try not to repeat too much in the clubs and I think I never played the same song twice on the radio.
Torture the Artist: What’s three tracks ‘exclusively made’ to describe the personality of Kristijan Molnar?
Kristijan Molnar: As none of them are exclusively made for me, I would leave this to someone who knows me. <smiles>
Torture the Artist: Name an artist you personally admire but has not got the attention he/she deserves.
Kristijan Molnar: TAPAN. They just started getting attention, but let’s give them more!
Torture the Artist: What do you hope to accomplish with your art:cast?
Kristijan Molnar: I’m not a huge fan of recording the mix in front of a wall, I do it much better with people in front of me, so this one is more for a car ride and singing on the road. Let’s hope it gets you to start thinking about visiting Belgrade. You won’t regret it, nobody has.
Always spread love, it will save your day and night.
Torture the Artist: What has life taught you?
Kristijan Molnar: Never give up, never stress about small and stupid things, there are times when you will need your nerves to stay strong. Always spread love, it will save your day and night. Listen to your heart and take care of the people and things you live for.