With their unexpected but strangely satisfying blend of hip-hop and traditional Romanian folk, Subcarpati is redefining the Balkan music scene. Political unrest continues to plague the region, but MC Bean hopes their music can play a part in reunifying the citizens and reminding them “people are still beautiful.”
How do you feel “Satele Unite ale Balcanilor” compares to previous albums?
The album is about breaking down boarders and discovering a new common sound of the Balkan area. It’s like the music has the same DNA whether if it’s from Macedonia, Albania, Greece, or Serbia.
Translate your favorite Romanian saying for us.
We actually invented a saying and I’m happy to hear people using it more and more, it’s from our song “Oamenii sunt încă frumoși” and it means “people are still beautiful.” I guess people relate to it because everyone needs to believe that despite all the wrong in the word there are still people that are beautiful on the inside, with good values and common sense.
And the name Subcarpati – what does it actually mean?
Subcarpati means tradition, it means common sense, authentic values, back to the origins. It also means literally under-Carpati (the mountains) so practically all of Romania is under-Carpati. Also our music is characterized by sub-base, so there you have it.
What’s the strangest thing to ever happen while you were playing a show?
Hmmm we’ve had a lot of shows but not so many strange things I can remember… oh one time I had a friend that got really upset because he was shouting and waving at me during the show and I didn’t respond. I found out after the show I was like, “dude, I was singing I didn’t see you I swear,” but he didn’t buy it.
What are your fondest musical memories?
It has to be back in my home village where I used to visit my grandparents and that’s of course with authentic folklore in the Moldova area.
Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
I used to sample a lot of rap back in the day; I used to listen to RACLA an old school rap band back in ‘97 and it was like a sort of a clash between the folklore my grandma was listening to and rap music. Somehow, somewhere, in between those two I fell in love with the sound. If I were to name a few right now from the top of my head would be: Liviu Vasilica and Funcrusher Plus
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Any new music you’re particularly keen on?
I listen to a lot of music, from trap to Gorillaz and from folklore to traditional, classic to Pink Floyd.
What’s different about playing in Berlin compared to other cities?
Berlin has a special kind of vibe; you can see the people are connoisseurs, that they go to concerts to listen to the music, and they do their research regarding the bands. It’s not only about having fun and getting wasted, and I respect that a lot.
Are big festivals or smaller clubs more your style?
We started out in small clubs, but now we enjoy more the festival scene, of course. This is the third year in a row we get to sing at a stadium at the biggest fest in Romania so that’s pretty great. Our plan for the future is to start playing at ethno festivals around the world so yeah bless for that.
If you could live in any city in the world, where would it be?
I don’t really have a favorite city but I suppose it would be somewhere between Barcelona and Lebanon. I recently celebrated Easter time in Beirut and I just loved it there; the culture, the people, the respect they have among themselves and the way the handle family and guests, oh and the food!
What’s up next after the tour?
Pfffiu we have a lot of work to do. We’re booked with Subcarpati twice a weak until the end of the year, and I’m also working on our grime project Frații Grime, we got some really hot tracks coming up. Then also touring with another band I’m MC’ing for, Șuie Paparude. the first and most successful electronic band in Romania, so, yeah, keeping busy and loving it, thank God for that. Bless you guys! Big up!
Subcarpati played last week alongside Iah Moontra at Bi Nuu. Iah Moontra are a Berlin-based band who are making waves in street music and now hitting the studio. Check out our interview here.