Nemanja Petkovic’s promising career in electronic music production and DJing has further molded and defined his artistic persona as Coeus, and as he learns more about the meaning of his moniker, the young Serbian artist, doesn’t seem to mind. Growing up in the culturally rich city of Belgrade, where old traditions dance with the new, Coeus draws on fateful interpersonal connections, poignant memories and his passion for the melodic sound, to cultivate his distinct style and pave a scenic path along the cinematic course of simulated rhythms and emotionally driven melodies. Nemanja takes Torture the Artist for a walk around his hometown, and revels in nostalgia as he talks about his artistic journey, as well as the people, places and things that have inspired him along the way. Find out how the young DJ/producer made his way into the music scene, and how he ended up so precisely within a style that reflects not only his artistic approach and comprehension, but mirrors his his personal development as well. Discover the inspiration behind Coeus’ latest release, ‘Forgotten Love,’ and learn a bit more about his artistic process and, in this exclusive (intercontinental) interview.
Torture the Artist: Good day, Coeus. Greetings from NYC. Whereabout in the world can we find you at the very moment and how did you jumpstart your day this morning?
Coeus: Hello guys, and greetings from the sunny Belgrade, Serbia. Drinking coffee and listening to some downtempo beats are usually the way I start most of my days lately. It’s a good way of setting myself in the right mood for other activities throughout the day.
Torture the Artist: First things first, have you gotten used to being addressed as ‘Coeus’ or do you still usually go by your name?
Coeus: Most of my friends actually started calling me Coeus already. I guess they can’t really help it, so I just go along with it.
Torture the Artist: For sure we’re not the only ones curious, your moniker is quite intriguing. How did the idea of ‘Coeus’ come about? Did you start off your career in electronic music testing out other ‘personas’ or did you enter the scene as ‘Coeus’ from the get-go?
Coeus: The idea for the name was actually figured out in a hurry. One of the labels I really liked wanted to release my tracks, and I didn’t have a name to release under. So I tried to find a name that could best describe me as an artist and represent my music most accurately, and I ended up with ‘Coeus.’
Before Coeus, I was working on a project with my friend, Ilija Djokovic – who ended up pursuing the techno route, and is doing quite well producing within that genre. We experimented with a lot of sounds and styles and had fun making music together. I still like to listen to some of the old stuff and reflect on how we have both grown from this phase in our lives into the artists we are now.
Most of the time, when it comes to art intuition is never wrong.
Torture the Artist: Uranus & Gaia’s son embodied rational intelligence, query and knowledge, and was counterbalanced by his wife Phoebe’s wit and intuition, does Coeus’ strength resonate with you just artistically or personally as well. Was there a certain point in your growth in which wit and intuition made an impressive and significant impact?
Coeus:Even though I picked the name without considering all that, it’s fascinating that some of those strengths really do resonate with me artistically/personally. Intuition is such an essential part of being an artist – sometimes, you just have to trust in what it’s trying to tell you, in order to move forward. Most of the time, when it comes to art (in my case, music) intuition is never wrong, and even when it is, it’s for a reason.
I never really had my parents’ support to pursue my dreams.
Torture the Artist: Alright, so you’re not a Greek titan, then tell us. Where did you grow up and how has your local scene help bring you closer to (or deflect you from) pursuing your passion and later on, a career, in music?
Coeus: Being an artist in Serbia is hard. Growing up, I never really had my parents’ support to pursue my dreams. The scene in Belgrade on the other hand is really awesome! The community of upcoming artists and those who have made it through, helped me develop my own style in just a few years. They opened doors for me and exposed me to the much larger world out there, as well as the endless opportunities and possibilities it has to offer.
Torture the Artist: Walk us through your town for a little bit. What’s the best meal does it have to offer, where would we sit in the afternoon and chill, and which is the best club to hit on Saturday night?
Coeus: If you really want to taste Belgrade, there’s an old Bohemian quarter called ‘Skadarlija’ which is full of traditional shops and restaurants. Famous Serbian poets and artists used to meet in Skardalija to drink and discuss everything from art to politics. Belgrade sits on two rivers so the best place for an afternoon chill, of course, if the weather is fine, is by the river. Summer breeze, water splashing, and a cocktail… what else could you ask for. When it comes to clubbing, the city has a lot to offer. But my personal favorite is 20/44.
Torture the Artist: When did you first realize that music was not just a simple ‘phase’ but a critical component of your life? At that point, did you have to give up something that meant quite a lot, to get on the road where you are right now?
Coeus: Music has always been a big part of my life since my father and uncle are both musicians, but I never thought I would be able to make a living out of it. I started experimenting with production back in my high school years, and I got so obsessed with it. At some point then, it became clear to me that this is my passion, something I love so much for which I can dedicate my life to.
Torture the Artist: Through your growth as an artist, name a few artists who inspired and motivated you to pursue this lifelong commitment. Which artists’ style influenced your first few releases? And which ones pushed you strongly to drive ‘home’ more confidently to your current ‘sound’?
Coeus: I would say Adriatique really inspired me and influenced my development as an artist from the very beginning. They were also one of the first artists I admire who supported my work so I have the deepest respect for them. Nowadays, the support I get from Tale of Us is quite reassuring, it tells me that I seem to be doing something right and things are moving in the right direction.
Torture the Artist: You’ve released on quite a few labels – from within different strands of the electronic music spectrum – was there a particular project that brought you much closer to the producer you are now and always wanted to be?
Coeus: When I listened to Lehar’s set for the first time, live in Belgrade, I made up my mind – I want to go into more melodic sound. I still remember the party very clearly and all the thoughts that went through my head that night. Just a few months after this epiphany, I finished my track ‘Palladium.’ This particular project started a new chapter for me.
I decided that the best way to let go is to let my emotions out by making a song about it.
Torture the Artist: We just premiered the title track, which is stunning by the way, from your upcoming EP on the french label, Mimesis. Is this ‘forgotten love’ a person, place, or thing? Rather deep emotions manifest throughout the track, would you call yourself a romantic person?
Coeus: First of all, thank you for the compliment. ‘Forgotten Love’ is about a special girl. It’s a really nice story about us randomly meeting in Greece, connecting, then staying friends for 5 years without realizing that we both have feelings for eachother. The story doesn’t have a happy ending though, so I decided that the best way to let go is to let my emotions out by making a song about it.
Torture the Artist: Your productions flow naturally, well-crafted yet unpretentious, how do you boost yourself when you feel your creativity running dry? Do you have a few tricks up your sleeve you can share with aspiring producers?
Coeus: It really depends on the situations. Sometimes just listening to some artists I admire get me back on track. I also learned that traveling and exploring different cultures always bring something new to my production and give a fresh new perspective or approach for when I get back home and start working again.
Torture the Artist: How much of your time do you spend in the studio? Do you enjoy the intimate sessions equally, less or more than, setting atmospheres and curating narratives through your DJ sets?
Coeus: Producing music came first, so being alone in the dark room working on tracks is still my favorite thing to do. I never know how much time I will end up spending in studio. Sometime it’s more than 15 hours. Other days when I feel less productive I give up after only a few hours of work and do something else with the rest of the day.
I’m not much of a dancer so I prefer staying in the DJ booth, doing what I do best.
Torture the Artist: Describe one of the most memorable sets you played? Was there ever a time in a gig when you said to yourself: ‘I wish I was on the floor dancing’?
Coeus: My debut set in Silver & Smoke, Sarajevo was really the best moment of my career so far. I remember crying a little at the end, blaming the smoke for it. <laughs> I’m not much of a dancer so I prefer staying in the DJ booth, doing what I do best.
Torture the Artist: List 5 of the most played tracks on your playlist.
- Rex The Dog – Korgasmatron [Kompakt]
- Agoria – Remedy (Frankey & Sandrino Remix) [unreleased]
- Talaboman – Dins El Llit (Superpitcher Remix) [R&S Records]
- Marvin & Guy feat. Perel – Idra [Life And Death]
- Peter Pardeike – Love Supreme (Love over Entropy Remix) [Connaisseur]
Torture the Artist: Is there a current track are you dying to remix next? Which artists would you love to collaborate with, in a heartbeat?
Coeus: Hmm, I’m not really a big fan of remixes, so I can’t think of anything right now. As for collaborations I would have to say Adriatique, again. I just love their style and productions, so I could just imagine how much fun it would be working with them.
Interview by Marie J Floro