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 sch interviews                                                      In Bosnian

 StartBiH, March 26, 2002, no. 86, Vol. V,  (pg. 59-63)

(By: Selvedin Avdić)

Senad Hadžimusić – Teno is the only authentic Bosnian underground figure. Although always marginalised by the media, he had managed right from his band's inception in 1983 to become a cultural phenomenon. Nine records later, Teno claims he wouldn't mind SCH becoming a mainstream band. Their new album, Vril, was the reason we caught up with him, but it's naturally impossible to speak to Teno without politics making an appearance.



Your previous record, The Gentle Art of Firing was released in 1995. Soon thereafter you moved to Prague and no one has heard of SCH since. How would you characterise your stint abroad – vacation, creative isolation? 


- I had a very strong reason for leaving, namely I was undergoing medical treatment. There were other reasons but once the treatment was over, these other reasons weren't strong enough to keep me there…


In Prague you published a book of songs?


- Yes, but regardless, I can say I basically rested for four years.


You've been back in Sarajevo three years now, but you're seldom in the public eye. Why? 


- Simply because the band wasn't there. And besides, things are not the same, we all know that. The atmosphere, the people, working conditions… Nothing is the same. The old impulse is no longer there. Spirits are in a desperate way. I'm sorry things have come to this, although I never believed in these ghostly tales about the soul of Sarajevo. In the final analysis, if this spirit really did exist, I never liked it. I know a few good individuals here, people who might in the future lay the foundations for some new kind of Bosnian spirit, but we should be realistic, it's all pretty feeble stuff. If you step outside the country, even just a bit, you'll immediately realise that Sarajevo and Bosnia are relevant to none but to ourselves.


In one interview, shortly following the release of The Gentle Art of Firing, you said the future of Bosnia rests in an Islamic spirit with a Germanic spine. What's your view now?


- Well, the theory that Bosnians have two souls, a western and an eastern one, is quite an old one. In principle, I don't like this, it's some sort of schizophrenia, it confuses people, no one knows quite what they are here. Seeing how circumstances have changed, I would not stress the Islamic part of the definition. The Germanic code means organisation. Germanic here could stand for European, although within that European model it is the Germanic peoples who have accomplished the most, the highest level of organisation. In that sense, they should be our role models. The Islamic code intimates a level of spiritual development. I realise many people may not like what I'm about to propose, but I believe that the time has come for some sort of Protestantisation of Islam in Bosnia. I don't expect it to happen any time soon, the forces of resistance are too great, but in the future people here will have to face difficult choices when it comes to the definition of certain essential elements of our being. Should such a decision be deferred endlessly, we may face a further degradation within an atmosphere of antagonism towards the western world. Bosnians are a European people, this should not be underestimated.


In 1990, following the release of During Wartime, you were described in the press as a political visionary. Critics wrote how you successfully anticipated the atmosphere of our future cantonal wars on that record. SCH was dubbed "future noise".


-          Well... I wish things had gone differently, I wish we never experienced the atmosphere of cantonal wars, any kind of war, evil… In our latest incarnation I've distanced myself from all this and have completely entered the sphere of the aesthetic, touching on politics indirectly only. Politics is always there, but we've basically said what we had to say on the subject on White Music, released in Zagreb just before the war. I believe I had to distance myself; I was too soiled with it all.


During your promotion of The Gentle Art of Firing you described this as music for peace in Bosnia.


- Not quite. What I said was that perhaps in 30 years time, if there's a status of peace here – by which I mean a cool situation – this record will make sense. I never meant to say that people will be making similar music, but that they miht be finally relaxed enough to absorb such music.


Each new record sees a change in the SCH sound, setting the standard for Bosnian underground music. Where are you taking things with Vril?


- You could say that the sound is the same old SCH sound, only now it's produced using different means. This is a new time, there's no reason to struggle with old methods, there's no reason to front a cumbersome line up of five, six members, always worrying about inter-human relations… Now I'm into electronics.


One view has it that computers enable people to avoid spending long hours rehearsing, allowing more time to explore music.


-          Well, yes, it's a great relief. Inter-human relations is one of the worst things that befalls bands. I was fortunate for a while to work with very individual people, so things functioned. But such people are no longer around, not just in music but in any area, by which I mean people who think in the same way. So I decided to produce music with just one or two people, and using technology. Basically this is electronic music, although the mysticism and dramatics of SCH are still there. Some fans are forever hankering after the same old sound, but if anyone snubs the electronic elements, well that's their problem.


So we're no longer talking guitar noise?


- The noise is there, but it's not necessarily produced using guitars.


Do you follow the local music scene at all, anything worth recommending?


- At the risk of sounding arrogant, I've always been sceptical towards the so-called Sarajevo scene, always. And things are a lot worse now. I could hardly think of anyone worth mentioning, so I'd rather mention no one.


You've survived as the sole authentic Bosnian underground figure, others have faded away.


- I'd like to think so...


To what do you owe this survival?


- I don't know really, I think it's my lack of compromise, this image of honesty and truthfulness. Perhaps that's what it is, I don't know.


You once said that only a political conscious person can be an artist?


- That was a long time ago… I've come up with a million better thoughts, I've just never managed to get them across in interviews. Maybe in order to avoid unfortunate misrepresentation and connotations. That's quite a heavy subject, we should try and entertain people a little.


In 1988 SCH established a political organisation called “Phase One”.


- Let's forget about that one! That was a useful experience, but it became clear that you needed strong people for this, or lots of cash. We had none. That's when I understood it was pointless getting involved in politics. Political involvement is rather bourgeois, vulgar and beneath a true artist. One's political views should be expressed in an aesthetic way; that puts you in a far more comfortable position than when dealing with daily politics. In 1988 we felt that a great social crisis was imminent, we believed something could be done about it using the socialist youth structures of the time. We wanted to offer them our ideas, seeing as they had the masses. However, the whole thing was such a downer I'd rather just forget the whole episode. From today's vantage point, it was all so naïve.


Social tensions can often give rise to strong creative forces. Any such impetus here?


- That could describe the way we in the band thought, we truly believed that things would change so radically for the better following the war. This went on until spring 1994, that's when we realised it wasn't to be. We then understood it was pointless to die for such an idea. There's no creativity here because the war is not won, all the present confusion stems from that one fact, all this bad atmosphere…


So no new creativity until the state confusion is lifted?


- This confusion has many levels. Firstly, there's the confusion of a people who are constantly confounded by their leaders. We continue to experience this. Secondly, nothing is clear in Bosnia, politics is a rather murky affair. I cannot see this changing for a long while yet, I'm quite pessimistic about that, although I'm relatively speaking an optimistic person. I wish things would move on, I wish for satisfying things to happen. In such a state I'd do nothing, just consume. We were so naïve… We believed in a revolution of enlightenment and culture in the aftermath of the war. What we got instead is quite the opposite. If I had any sense, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing, releasing records and the like, but I simply feel it's my duty to do so.


Any chance of accelerating the subsiding of this confusion?


- When we were choosing a name for the band in the early eighties, we opted for SCH, short for schizophrenia, because we thought: fuck it, society refuses to acknowledge and accept responsibility for its sickly state, so we're going to declare ourselves sick. The sad thing is that the explosion of madness we witnessed ten years later proved that we were right, that out society was sick, that all these so-called normal people in their suits and ties, all these people who passed for respectable citizens – they were all raving mad. It pisses me off that this ailment remains ignored. That's why people like Danis Tanović [Oscar winning Bosnian film director] are just a singular incident, they can't change anything. I'd like society to publicly accept its disease, so that we can start working on it. Regrettably, political tools are required to achieve this, and I simply don't see such a political force.


So you believe all Bosnia's successes are singularities?


- Yes, nothing is organised, and organisation is the basis for everything. If you're well organised, you can win a war, and never mind if you're ill equipped materially.


What is Vril ?


- There's a number of meanings. Vril is the language of the people who allegedly inhabited Atlantis, the sunken continent. Vril is also a kind of cosmic energy inhabiting every living and inanimate object, a great and important force, if one can tame and manipulate it. Vril is also name of a secret occultist society which functioned in Germany between 1919 and 1945, reaching its zenith in the thirties. Certain researchers claim Hitler emerged from such a circle, having been versed in the art of manipulating Vril energy, making him strong enough and suggestive enough to manipulate masses of people. This secret society developed some morbid ideas and dabbled in very interesting things, not least of which were their construction plans for spacecrafts. They were involved in numerous levitation experiments as well as the development of alternative sources of energy, far removed from thermodynamic principles. Their most bizarre idea was certainly the construction of a time machine. Sounds ridiculous but I've spent quite a while researching all this. They had seriously considered making such a contraption, but due to lack of financial support from the state, this was shelved. In any case, their historical role in the development of rocket technology is beyond doubt. All this inspired me greatly while working on the album.

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