A few weeks ago I met Nemanja Kojic, better known as reggae artist and trombone player Hornsman Coyote, in Berlin. He played a tune during the warm-up for Jah Mason and I though: That man must be known worldwide. Here comes an interview with the Hornsman from Serbia.
You were born in Belgrade in 1975. At the beginning of the 1990s the former Yugoslavia was in a state of emergency; tough times for a teenager to start a musical career.
Hornsman Coyote: Well, music was our outlet from tough surroundings. At that time the local underground music scene was much bigger and organized than nowadays, because we treated music as a spiritual healing, faith was much stronger than today. I was very active in that period, had 3 bands and started a first sound system in Serbia.
During the NATO bombing we organized reggae bashments in a place very similar to YAAM (well known reggae club in Berlin), on the river bank from 12pm till the first sirens. It was serious but very creative times, like in many oppressed societies around the globe, when the times are ruff art is growing.
In 1994 you founded your own band called Eyesburn.
Hornsman Coyote: Yes, that was the first time I gathered the band by myself. Before that I was just a passing through member for many bands. I wanted to create a new musical expression. The main influences for gathering Eyesburn were crossover bands like Bad Brains, Fishbone, Living Colour. So with full horn section on one side and a rock influence on the other we were something special, indeed.
Why did you choose a solo career after seven albums and a successful European tour?
Hornsman Coyote: Well, I founded the band but the other members were equal when it comes to decisions. We were active for 15 years. It’s very hard not to change your life for such a long time. I become tired of playing in a band. I wanted to be free and on my own.
How did you get into reggae music?
Hornsman Coyote: I was invited to play trombone for Serbian reggae pioneers Del Arno Band. The band leader Yo Van recorded the first mixtape for me; vinyl and cassettes were the only formats than. When I heard the mystic sounds of Burning Spear, Misty in Roots, Israel Vibration I could see the vast horizon before my eyes, a blessing, godly music. I was aware that this was my music. Rastafari.
You play a lot of instruments but you are best known for your trombone styles, a European Don Drummond – without been mentally ill, of course.
Hornsman Coyote: Yes, I play guitar, bass, sing. But my first instrument was trombone, given to me by my uncle Ljubomir Dimitrijevic, a famous Serbian flute player. Aaah, I am not sure if I am not mentally ill. I let the others decide.
A few years ago you recorded your first vocal album “What Next?!” for the Polish label Karrot Kommando.
Hornsman Coyote: “What next?!” was my first vocal release after Eyesburn records, actually it’s a compilation of my works with different producers like Neil Perch,Wikluh Sky. These recordings are collected in period from 2003 till 2007. It’s more like a showcase than a one concept album.
Would you agree that singing is better to spread messages, while playing trombone is better to express feelings?
Hornsman Coyote: Messages and words are very important, that’s why we as reggae musicians need to be very careful about what we are singing. We are Jah tool and our words subconsciously come in people minds. I don’t sing a song if I don’t have the right message in it. Maybe I used to do it before, but as I grow old I am very careful about it.
Trombone is played by the breath of life. I can cry, weep, smile, be angry, be rebellious, majestic…all kinds of emotions.
I have read that you are a constant traveller. Where do you feel home?
Hornsman Coyote: Mama Earth is that place. Where ever Jah love moves with me, some places more, some places less. But I love mama Earth.
What can we expect next from you?
Hornsman Coyote: I have a 2 new albums just released, “Brass Roots” for Jah Works (UK) and “Self Defend You” for Karrot Kommando. Also check out my vinyl releases through labels like Roots Injecton, Jah Works, Greeyard Records, Irie Ites, Repentance Music and Unitone. In summer and autumn I will perform on several festivals in central Europe, so be there.
How far will Serbia get in the World Cup 2010?
Hornsman Coyote: I think they are pretty ruff this year. Wish dem luck.