“Almost every underground DJ has a job on the side”

Luka Kostic (23) – who prefers to use his artist name Depra – is a DJ and producer in the underground techno and house scene in Belgrade. At age 15 he started experimenting for the first time with electronic music. Depra lives currently at his parents and can’t live off his work as a musician and producer. However, he keeps a positive spirit.

As a kid, Depra listened a lot to Rick James, a musician that mixed rock and funk together and was very popular in the eighties. His most well-known song is Super freak. At that time, electronic music did not play a role in his life and nothing pointed towards an interest to become a DJ.

“In high school some kids sold CD-ROMs with Fruity Loops and other mixing programs on it. I bought a copy and just started playing around with it for a while. It was nothing really serious at that time, but it was the start of my interest in electronic music.”

Depra’s music has brought him to all kinds of places, but particularly interesting is the time he went to the Netherlands for a couple of months.

“A friend invited me to help produce an album in Amsterdam, but he also got me some gigs. I played a couple of months in the Sky Lounge of the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton nearby the central station. It was a very beautiful place to work. I was also supposed to play one night at a club called Barkode, but it shut down the day before my performance.”

Working during day, playing during the night
It’s not easy being an underground DJ and producer in Belgrade. According to Depra, hardly anyone can earn a living with it.

“Almost every underground DJ is doing an extra job on the side to put bread on the table. Less than a year ago, the scene in Belgrade was really bad. There were only three clubs that played underground music. The rest was all turbofolk and that kind of stuff. Now, nearly a year later, we have six or seven places where you can play underground music. I don’t know why it became more popular, but I am glad it did.”

At the moment, the young DJ prefers producing other underground DJs over playing live-sets.

“I just entered a period where I almost solely listen to house music. It switches from time to time. I also enjoy producing more, right now. It would be great to be able to make a living with producing, but, like my musical taste, it switches from time to time. Who knows: maybe I like playing in club more again in a couple of months.”

It’s not necessary to be afraid of competition in the underground scene in Belgrade, finds Depra.

“Certain DJs play certain clubs. There are quite clear agreements in the community about who plays where and which style fits best at each club. The atmosphere between DJs is good and friendly.”

Depra keeps a positive and open outlook on the future and enjoys living in the Serbian capital.

“I might go live in Malta for a while, I got a friend there and the clubbing scene is really good on the island. I’ve got friends all over the world, so I’ll just see what the time will bring.”