Let me introduce myself… By Ivona Bogner
I was born ″In a land of farmers on Hilly Balkan, far, far away″ Bloody Fairy Tale, Desanka Maksimovic) and I still live here. I did not change my address but I have been living in four countries so far.
I come from a multinational family. What a curse! In Serbia, if you are not a Serb, if you are not religious, if you are not Orthodox, if your family name does not end with ić, your life can turn to hell. During the war(s), my family faced with extreme nationalism when followers of radical politic party tried to throw us away from our home. A home my great grandparents built. I still clearly can hear their savage screams: ″Go back to Croatia!″ I was trying to explain to my great grandmother we lived with, why the toothless people smelling like hell, are screaming in our yard. When she understood, she screamed back: ″I will go back to Hitler, stupid idiots!″ Yes, she was German…
And yes… If you are Catholic, if your name is bit a different, in Serbia, everyone thought you are Croat. Nothing against Croats, but as far as I know, I have no Croatian blood. Only German, Austrian, Polish, Slovenian, Macedonian and French. I was raised by one rule: never judge people by their name, nationality, religion, skin colour…Judge them by their deeds. And that′s why I still can’t and I never will understand why when I recall my childhood memories, I recall war, hate, pain…
I was always a social person, so madness was only excuse to isolate myself and hide behind writing and music.
In my early childhood I was exposed to punk music. My uncle (mother′s brother) was a punk rocker. That word did not exist in my vocabulary. I knew I loved his hair, his needles and pins, his clothes, his boots, his friends, his music, but I had no idea what that was. He passed away when I was six years old…
Grandmother locked away his belongings, but I was too curious to find out who my uncle was. So, years later, when grandma wasn′t at home, I have opened the world of the unknown. I still keep his The Ramones pins and audio cassettes. As a tribute to my uncle and punk roots, I have had short hair cut till the end of highschool.
My parents decided to move from house to apartment in golden age for Serbia… 90′s. We had war, hyperinflation, embargo… And we were moving… Since there was nothing much to do during that crazy times (basically we were searching for a survival formula), my world was our basement. There, in my father′s old books, I have found newspaper article about Black Sabbath. And I was instantly hooked. One Ozzy Osbourne photo was enough. When I asked my father to tell me more about the band, he told me his father has an LP collection. And that is how I started.
At the end of 90′s, sweet, melodic and glam metal bands were mainstream. Even here, you could hear on the radio Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Motley Crue, Cinderella, Europe, Gorky Park…
We were buying audio cassettes on the black market. I knew nothing about the bands, except how they sound. No booklets, not band photos… Nothing. Who they are, where do they come from, how do they look like… Music was all that matters. And even today, 30 years later, I am proud to say: ″I still love Skid Row! I still love Europe! I love metal!“
What about writing and music journalism?
I was in the first grade of highschool. My father had part time job, as an engineer on the radio, so once I went to see his working place. While we were talking, one of editors heard me and asked who I was. I jumped and said: ″Sorry, sir, I just came to see my dad, I am leaving now!″ Next I remember: I was in a studio, reading some news. Together with fifteen girls and boys of my age, I was working our own radio show every Saturday morning. And no one knew my name! I was only a kid with great voice. I sound myself like drunk Donald Duck, so how could anyone like my voice?! After a year in on the radio, and three months on TV, I decided to leave. I am not a voice! I have a lot to show!
The next step was school magazine on senior year of high school. I had a chance to learn from amazing people and I am grateful to opportunity they gave me.
After I signed up for university, I had no free time to write.
The year of 2004 came. The hardest year of my life. My mother passed away, so sudden, so unexpected… I still remember the moment and horrible scream I heard under the shower. In a blink of an eye, I was in our living room by my mother who obviously had brain stroke. Sister was in panic, dad was on the phone, and me? From that moment, my life will never be the same. That day, part of me died. Next thing I remember: I was a choosing casket, I was choosing clothes, arranging funeral. Just because everyone thought I am the strong one. I quit my education, because in that chaos I just couldn′t organize my life. I didn′t know how. It was expected from me to cook, clean, pay bills, take care of my younger sister… Dad locked himself in the room for three months, what else could I do? How to save my mental health? Writing is the solution! Music and writing! Then you create the sum: music + writing ═ music journalism. Over the years I was writing for several European magazines, but there is only one I want to mention. Polish Sepulcros. My friendship with the magazine owner who moved to Sweden, led me to few more magazines, and today, you can read my reviews, reports, interviews and now this columns in three European magazines.
In the meantime,. I am proud owner of not one, but two university degrees, two specializations I have regular job, but most of all I am writing, traveling, I′m still in the front line or even step closer in photo pit searching for the best angle, best stories, best interviews… I have met amazing people all around the world and searching the way out of this doomed country. I am searching for freedom.
I progressed. From my neighbours typewriter to lap top, from rock and metal books to internet, from LP′s to digital albums… And if you would ask me, I would always get back to the typewriter, because, if you have never felt that pain after numerous attempts to type an article with no mistakes, you learnt nothing!
Writing and music remained my psychotherapy.
Now, when you know me, join me on my journey behind the scenes.
And if anyone still wonders who I am: I am a metalhead with a punk attitude!