Kodagain formed in 1985 in Knjazevac, SE Serbia, where it’s hard to be alternative but easy to be alone.
Kodagain writes and records songs with English lyrics because English is more musical than Serbian.
Many of the lyrics have been provided by the existing poetry of famous poets such as Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, Chu-I Po (Bai Juyi), Lord Byron, Ogden Nash, Sara Teasdale, Louisa Stuart Costello and Robert Creely.
Since 2007, however, Kodagain has also been using translated poetry (e.g. Kaneko Misuzu) and original lyrics from the writer Quentin S. Crisp; since 2012, Kodagain has similarly collaborated with the writer Brendan Connell. They have also used the poetry and lyrics of other writers, including Loha Connell, Alberto Nessi, James Aronhióta’s Stevens and Justin Isis.
Kodagain has a miniaturist approach to pop music, channelling influences from Henry Purcell, through Dean Martin, to Roxy Music, into short compositions combining a bubblegum-pop concern for melody with lo-fi experimentalism, resulting in songs as soulful as they are playful.
Not unlike the old Reggae studios in Jamaica in the 70’s and 80’s, Kodagain produces songs in enormous quantity – the musical equivalent of a cottage industry, where craft and feeling remain intact.
At the core of Kodagain's creativity are the songwriting skills, sinuous melodies and haunting, layered vocals of Saša Zorić Čombe, who also plays keyboards, bass, drum and guitar.
Many musicians have been associated with Kodagain:
Dunat Dobrica 1984 – present (occasional) on bass and synths.
Aneta Zorić (née Milosavljević) keyboards, 1984-1987.
Janković Goran on drums, 1987 – 1993.
Bojan Ristić on drum programmes.
Between 2005 – 2007 the line-up was as follows, for the album Commercial: Slaviša Jelenković on drums, Ivan Todorović on electric guitar, Vladislav Dopuđa on bass and Joksimović Miljan on keyboards.
However, the core musicians, from 1987 – present, are:
Vladimir Ristić on guitar.
Vladislav Dopuđa on bass and keyboards.
Saša Zorić Čombe.
Recently, there have also been musical collaborations with Alexandar Manojlović and Aldous Register.
Kodagain's music has been played regularly on Gistro FM and The Power of the Witches on Radio B92, and on Pop Depression on Studio B. Their songs and videos can be found in generous supply on YouTube and SoundCloud. Albums include: Speed Up, The Nowhere Land's Echoes, A Drink With Something In It, 000, Vranje, Letters From Quentin, Time to Get Ready for Love, My Fear of His Fear of Death, and Supernatural.
A word or two from the lyricists:
Quentin S. Crisp says: “My pop music hero, from a young age, was David Bowie, but I’m afraid that his avowed adoption of the Burroughs cut-up technique has bequeathed to pop music an unfortunate legacy, whereby lyricists now equate being incoherent with being especially meaningful and groundbreaking. I remember reading a pop journalist lamenting that the trouble with poetic pop lyricists is that have all read the same handful of poems by Rimbaud, and don’t bother reading the more disciplined and understated verses by the likes of Larkin. I thought this was very true. I hope to write lyrics that are actually about something – to me, this seems the innovation of which pop is in need.”
Brendan Connell says: “My ultimate goal is to write a vast number of lyrics about natural wonders, public parks, lost watches, Indian villages, hidden love, birds, trees, mountain passes, fake Taoists, imperceptible colors, rhetorical mysteries, and flowers. Ideally these would be compounded into a ‘Guide for Modern Life’ which could be used to build better relations between workers and their bosses, the various sexes, and those whose religious beliefs differ.”