1031 CL Amsterdam
A group of friends find out they like the same bands. Some of them play an instrument, others have wanted a reason to start learning. One friend realizes they could start a band – so they can play their favorite songs, or maybe even write their own.
The first rehearsals take place in a parents’ garage – the drummer’s practice room, who has tried to make the room soundproof so the neighbors will stop complaining about the noise. That first tryout is not great, of course. But they like making music together, proud when they finally make it through a song, and they keep playing. The band gets better. The guitarist starts coming up with catchy riffs that they turn into cool songs, until they have enough material to play for half an hour.
The bass player’s uncle owns a bar with a small stage in town. When he hears about the band at the bass player’s birthday, he offers them a spot at his open mic that month. Sure, it’s a local venue, with an audience of thirty friends and family, but every band has to start somewhere, right?
This is not how it works for Mitrovica Rock School’s mixed bands.
These band members weren’t friends before they started playing music together. In the divided city of Mitrovica, Serb and Albanian musicians don’t normally meet – for their first rehearsal, they’re playing with strangers. There’s one thing everyone can be sure of: their love of music brought them together.
Mitrovica Rock School’s first mixed bands had to travel all the way to Skopje in neighboring North Macedonia to rehearse, as there was no place in Mitrovica where Serb and Albanian musicians could safely meet up. Hometown shows weren’t possible either – back then, at least.
All change takes time. Each generation of musicians was brave enough to try something new – to open up more space for the new generation, who in turn would overcome new boundaries. About 10 years after that first band formed, Mitrovica Rock School organized their very first hometown show: ethnically mixed bands played their music in front of a mixed audience.
Watch ElectraHeart guitar player Tringa explain what that night was like: