Branko Galoic dances to the sound of freedom.
To the Croatian composer, who composes and writes alone, the creative process
remains a rather mysterious zone. When he began Danse de la Liberté - his 8th album,
some two years ago, he had one relentless idea in mind: to bring together, on one record,
one same collective adventure, several of the talented individuals who’d previously
crossed his path. Having spent the first half of his life in a country that no longer exists,
and the next decades regularly uprooting himself and his heart, in some way, Branko
Galoic reached out to those he’d loved working with, in the past. Singer Théko
Paradjanova and accordeonist Merima Klujco can be heard on Magic Carpet, for
More than 15 musicians, recording sessions held in Paris, Amsterdam, Silvolde
(Holland), Novi Sad, Sarajevo…: Danse de la liberté is, above all, the result of
connections made across time. First in Serbia, and later, with the members of the
Amsterdam Brass Band. With musicians encountered during his Berlin years. And in
Paris, of course, the city where he came for work and chose as his permanent base. This
eighth album is also the result of his reunion with director and producer Thomas
“I am exhausted, but happy. This is my most ambitious, but also my best album, I think.
I was able to select each track, and making it was a wonderful experience. I also had the
opportunity to work with Jean-Christophe Vareille, a master in his field, and Thomas,
whose ear is thankfully unforgiving. We had enough time to work, for once, and a little
budget too, at least enough not to feel pressure, which is increasingly rare. Thomas really
supported the project in every way he could. The studios were really good, and so was
everyone involved. "
Galoic’s inspirations draw, much like himself, from a variety of worlds. His roots are in
Balkan & Brass music. Goran Bregovic comes to mind, of course, because he’s the
master, but one can definitely feel the musician’s affinity with film composers such as the
great Nino Rota.
The album overflows with a nervous, tightly-wound rock vibe, thanks to Galoic’s early
influences: Hendrix, Santana and Clapton, amongst many others.
The delicacy of Leonard Cohen comes to mind, especially in the song If you want to
love me. Amongst the songwriters known for the way they master a subtle mix of love,
poetry and humor. Branko Galoic holds dear to his heart a few Croatian artists whose
names have not made it to our side of the world, but he also mentions Aznavour,
Jacques Brel and even Tom Waits. They live within these songs, seeping through the
single Million Ways, for example, was recorded in two versions. In English first, Branko’s
main language of communication, and in Croatian. "I needed to share this song as widely
as I could, and the chorus came to me in Croatian easily. A poet friend helped translate
There’s another piece of Galoic’s early Croatian years to be found in the unexpected and
ever so charming cover of Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood: “My brother and sister
were older than me, they’d grown up in the 70s. They were obsessed with their
gramophone, and they had a vintage record collection. Santa Esmeralda’s version of that
song was the one I knew as a kid. One day, I was watching a Tarantino movie and bam!
There it was. Years later, I was just playing it on the guitar, and decided to rework it
through the Balkan influence… Touching this sort of masterpiece is dangerous, so I
wanted to give it my own personal touch.”
The title of the album, Danse de la Liberté, borrows from one of his instrumental tracks.
No statement there, just an echo of what the songwriter feels when he listens to Danse
de la liberté. While his music draws from all his experiences, he doesn’t cultivate politics
in his songs. And though the rise of nationalism around the world is a constant cause for
concern for Galoic, who has been an irregular immigrant for so long, composing helps
him forget about - at least for a while.
Another thing that takes his mind off politics is playing live which, like every artist in the
world right now, Branko Galoic sorely misses these days. When asked about it, the
guitarist can’t help but laugh: “Being on stage is the best part of my job. Lots of people
actually tell us we’re better than live than in studio…!” The band can’t wait to get back
in front of an audience, where they always get powerful reactions, wherever they
perform.Galoic has played over a thousand concerts, from the smallest to the largest
audiences. The band’s most memorable gig was in Germany, in front of ten thousand
people, in Rudolfstadt. One can only hope for more concerts in France, once everything
is safe again.
“My music reflects my vision of the world. That this album was made with Serbs and
Bosnians, is a spontaneous occurrence, not a premeditated thought. But it comes,
nonetheless, as an act of revolt against the rampant nationalism at work now, against
anti-immigration actions and against the manipulative political current at work in the
About Branko Galoic
Croatian composer, guitarist and singer-songwriter Branko Galoic combines his powerful
brass sounds with a voice reminiscent of Dylan and a fondness for gypsy jazz. Deeply
rooted in Balkan traditions, he explores and mixes a variety of styles and influences, from
rock to film music, from reggae to swing, and even latin,
arabic and mediterranean moods.
Galoic was born in Zagreb, adopted by Amsterdam and applauded in Berlin, before being
welcomed in Paris, which has been his homebase for a few years now.