Sunday at Bob’s – an interview with [ ] by Maisa Imamović

Besides the previously mentioned filter mainstream (which eventually applies to monetised human experiences), what I’ve been concerned about lately is the increased professionalism in contexts where a bit of anything(work) is done. If we look at the current modes of music production, one finds it hard to caress pure affinity towards music without the need to become an expert of its production. The hierarchical order begins behind the club’s bar, moves behind the DJ booth, and spreads to all the DJ booths. Sunday at Bob’s is of a slightly different nature. Originating from the need to share a good narrative about magical moments in the history of music production, a simple blog has been made for the person ([]) behind the project to express one’s passion for music. Whether it will grow professionally or not, is unknown at this moment; and the reason for me to approach the person behind it, is to capture the purity it currently exists in. Tune in, read on.

 

M: Let’s start simple: What is Sunday at Bob’s?

[ ]: Sunday at Bob’s is a bi-weekly blog where I can release my urge to make people listen to the music I stumble upon, without annoying anyone. Instead of being that friend who forces you to listen to a song from beginning to an end, while scrutinizing every nuances of your facial expression, exaggerating enthusiasm and hoping it will make it contagious, I can now link you to a blog and if you have time and interest you can have a listen. In the meantime, you can tell me about what you’re listening to, which good concert you’ve attended recently, and who knows: maybe you will end up in Sunday at Bob’s soon. Bob is not really a person, Bob is a place where I happen to be almost every Sunday, and from where I write the articles I post on the blog. It is a place that triggered my need (I am barely exaggerating) for that blog. It is a hostel and I am its receptionist.

M: Can you tell me something about the very first blog post and what triggered it to appear online, with text and music in its body? Have you nourished the idea for a long time or was the gesture purely intuitive?

[ ]: The idea of somehow putting down what I collect, musically speaking, from conversations and human experiences, has not only been cultivated for a long time before making the blog, but I was actually doing it for myself for as long as I can remember. When was the first time I asked you to enlighten me with Bosnian folk? Well, I think all the people with whom I was lead (for one reason or another) to talk about music have gone through that request of me asking, whether they fulfilled it or not (lol). I also think that roughly everyone collects music, in one way or another. However, when I started working at Bob’s, the material I could collect in terms of music, and most importantly in terms of “raw” information (nowadays with a bit of dedication, a lot can be found on the internet, but you won’t find a physical encounter with someone telling you from experience what music is in a specific place. E.g. a discussion with someone who attends lilas in Moulay Brahim, panigiria in the mountains of Epirus, or someone who was instructed to play the sitar in remote areas of India) endured a significant boost. Practically, and to give an example, I was introduced to Anatolian rock by Turkish guests who recognized Erkin Koray being sampled by Gonjasufi while checking in. They slowly lead me to treasures such as Âşık Veysel, who allowed me to make a new bridge between what I was researching on in my personal art practice and the more casual musical research. To answer your question, while formally being rather intuitive (I was a bit bored at work and thought: let’s try to use this free time to make something), the first post was really a way to spit out what I had been ruminating for years. Wait, that’s not completely true. As a matter of fact, the form of it came up because the guests would ask me once in a while if I had a playlist, right after asking me the name of the song which I was playing. I wasn’t sure what they meant, but still tried to make one which I could give to the next guest asking.

M: Upon entering the blog, we see a specific choice of visual language. Can you tell me something about the digitally crafted aesthetics? Did you make them? (images for Mixcloud, header image, etc)

[ ]: Yes, I roughly made every image that is there, except for a couple which were made by a friend who follows the blog since its beginning and who contributed to it as well (big up to him, Mr.B where are you? I tried to call you). I recently changed the header for something less digital. It was like that mostly because I work on the blog while I am at work, where I don’t have access to manual ways of producing images. Apart from that, all the images come from archives of my own work which I have at hand’s reach (I am a painter prior to being a receptionist). I don’t think it participates to give the whole thing a really consistent aesthetic, especially since I didn’t think that anyone would listen to the playlists in the first place. On top of that, I also have to work for what I am actually paid, which prevents me from being totally focused when I post. I think you can sense it while reading the texts. I rarely edit, once it’s out, it’s out. So the look of it is kind of by default.

M: Why did you choose the blog template for the “project”: descriptive writing + playlist?

[ ]: Apart from talking with people, going to the discothèque municipale, record shops and to concerts, blogs is where I always found most of the music. The treasures waiting to be found on blogs are truly immense and the mystery of it makes it so exciting. You won’t find ads promoting good music blogs on Youtube videos, it’s for you to go and find them. When I was younger I had a “skyblog” where I would post irrelevant stuff. I think that, for the people of my generation at least, the blog template is just the most appropriate one when you want to put something out there. Without too much care about its form, nor the intention to develop it into something lucrative. While I doubt that what I post now is as irrelevant as what I used to post in my skyblog (sadly no one ever wanted to ask me questions about it), they have this in common: they are places where I share what I want, and you are free to visit them or not. Blogs are almost like hyper-forums where people can write for a lifetime and get comments or not. It’s like a discussion with someone where you sit down and listen, take time, go deep. On the streets you have websites and youtubers who scream out their sponsored top fifty albums of the decade, while deep in the gutter, you have blogs, forums and pirate radios who whisper dusty vinyls of a forgotten Sudanese musician and his tambour. I am exaggerating a lot and I must apologise to all the great websites, labels and journalists who are doing a fantastic job which needs retribution without a doubt, and without whom a lot of the music I love would be unaccessible. But I really think that the volunteer aspect of blogs makes them priceless, magical (and I am more talking about the ones I frequent, than the one I handle). I am currently working on a list of blogs I can suggest to visitors of Sunday at Bob’s.

M: I’d be very curious to dig into that. Is there any specific reason why the musician names are written in colors?

[ ]: From my experience, one never finds a good blog by looking for it, but rather by looking for a specific artist, genre, period. Only then can one end up in relevant blogs and once there amongst piles of information, one has to look for what they came for in the first place. While ctrl+F can do the trick, I thought highlighting the names could help the confused visitor.

M: Speaking of classifications, how would you classify Sunday at Bob’s if you had to?

[ ]: I never really thought about that to be honest, but I guess what I am doing has a lot more to do with archiving. I am archiving the knowledge I come across when it comes to music, which, I have to say is a complete mystery to me. It is probably somehow out of fear of forgetting. A bit like a diary.

M: Knowing about the project from external sources, the understanding that I get about it is that you’re “doing what you love” during the work shift at Bob’s. It’s quite fascinating that you are getting paid to show up at the working spot in certain hours; perform assigned tasks; and still be able to produce something out of the expected curriculum (reception-ing). For me, like you also mentioned before, this reflects on a certain boredom found within your working context, in which Sunday at Bob’s comes out as a gesture of resistance. Would you call this a dream job, or is there parts of my reflection missing out on something?

[ ]: I guess you have worked in service jobs before like restaurants etc., where what you have to do is a lot, although not only, related to customers flow: if there are any, you have to work, if not you have to pretend to be working. At Bob’s so far, I was never asked to pretend to work and I think that it is the main difference with my previous jobs. It is a bit caricatural because of course, I have to keep the place clean and there are other tasks, but in low season there is less work for sure. It is interesting that you interpret it as boredom because I think it is quite the opposite. It is due to the excitment of exchanging with people from all around the world that Sunday at Bob’s came to life. It is possible that if I didn’t have the time to do it at work, I’d do it in my spare time. As a matter of fact, the playlists themselves are recorded outside of Bob’s, where I couldn’t try out combinations or re-record after failing a transition, without pissing off the whole lobby. Sunday at Bob’s is made of music I play on Sundays at Bob’s so, in a way, it plays a role in the hostel during my shift (it is not what I am paid to do, but someone has to pick the music).

M: Haha, right: someone indeed has to pick the music. According to my previous question, do you think that Sunday at Bob’s is a break from the job’s draining repetitiveness?

[ ]: I wouldn’t call it a break because it can be a difficult task to perform on a busy shift, and I have done extra time because of it a couple of times. To link with the previous answer I would say that it is more of a testimony of the moments when the job is not repetitive and is actually exciting.

M: And to what extent do people who stay at Bob’s hostel influence the music you compile?

[ ]: You have to imagine Bob’s as a dark cave with young tourists rolling joints, trying out truffles, getting drunk, having a laugh but also with outcasts of a city more and more hostile to bumps, scratches and irregularities. People who have stories to tell, unusual curriculum vitaes. At the end of that dark cave is me behind a counter, in charge of many things, amongst which one is the soundtrack to your holidays (that could have been a name haha). I think we are all to some extent sensitive to music and that is why music is so mysterious ; there are some strings inside us it can play with. People who are intrigued, irritated or enthusiastic about the music played come and initiate a conversation. Most of the times, the discussion is fertile and I go home with new fields to research. Once, an old lady urged me to change the music because it was hurting her head and she threatened to call the police. I was playing Goran Bregović. Anyway, I googled “pleasing music” and played whatever popped up. She grabbed a croissant, dialled the police number on it and reported me. I got really lucky they never showed up.

M: Time-wise, is one shift at Bob’s equal to one Sunday at Bob’s?

[ ]: It usually takes a good five to six hours to post an article, counting the other tasks I have to achieve in the meantime, and knowing that when I start my shift: I already have the playlist ready. However I don’t post an article every time I work, I need to eat and pay the rent, so one shift every other week wouldn’t be enough.

M: I heard you’re shy about the project. If that is that, why is that? Are you waiting for the right moment to expose Sunday at Bob’s or are you living in the moment with Bob?

[ ]: It is true that I asked a few friends I shared it with, to not reveal my identity. I never thought about exposing Sunday at Bob’s either, as I said it is really about archiving what I come accross and I never thought it would interest anyone. At least it wasn’t meant to, everyone has their little secrets. Maybe I am also a bit scared of the responsibilities that would come with promoting it. I would have to defend it. Right now I write without thinking how it will be interpreted, since almost no one reads it (I shared it with my mum and even she doesn’t read it, I can see it in the statistics mum). If I would start sharing it as a project, I would really have to check spelling mistakes and triple-check every fact I got from a guest or a forum. I just don’t know if I am ready for that (although this interview makes me wonder, and will probably narrow down my choices).

M: Let me Quote you here: “Although I am more interested in making playlists rather than DJ mixes it is interesting to try to make sense of the order of the songs and how they influence the listening experience as a whole.”—> This pretty much sums up the motive I’m fascinated by. First of all: Why are you still not a DJ? Second of all: (Although Sunday at Bob’s wasn’t massively shared-distributed-sent-out) how many people asked you the first question?

[ ]: I am really surprised you ask me this, I don’t see any connection between Sunday at Bob’s and DJing apart from the both being related to music. But I am probably wrong because I don’t know much about DJing. I think that what I do is closer to a radio show. Once, a friend told me that reading my text while listening to the playlist felt like listening to a radio host. I like the character of Senior Love Daddy in the movie Do the Right Thing ; I like his tone and his enthusiasm about the music he plays, how he talks about it in his show, it gives you meaning and a reason why you should listen to it, why it matters. I don’t have much in common with Senior Love Daddy, if I had an ounce of Samuel L. Jackson’s charisma I’d probably try to record myself in the playlists, instead of writing. But my point is, I would not see Senior Love Daddy being the DJ of a party, I think what he does is something else. On second thought, I might misinterpret the word DJ and therefore misinterpret the question. To answer the second one, I don’t remember anyone asking me that but you are right when you say not many people know I am doing this in the first place.

M: My reason for asking was based on current (perhaps even past trends) of pop culture: If you have a good taste in music, you should definitely become a DJ. We can agree that this can be a misleading fact. Personally, knowing that there is no DJ behind Sunday at Bob’s is what I deeply admire about it. Anyhow, here is another quote: “Enjoy and don’t forget, check out time is 10h30.” This, and other things I’ve encountered in your texts (like referring to plants) gives an image of you as a hero of dreaming away + civilian responsibility at the same time. It makes me wonder if your writing performance is affected by this, so my next question is: Who is your audience? How do they look and what are they wearing?

[ ]: I try to write as if I was talking to the guests who are getting high, drunk or just figuring out how to get a cheap canal cruise ticket. The guests who are literally in front of me while I am writing. That is why I always end with that formula, it is to keep that direction of playlists made for the lobby and because people tend to forget the check out time which is a real struggle for the cleaners. It is also to make the writing experience funnier and maybe bring an extra imagery to a reader who wouldn’t know Bob’s at all. However, if the guests chilling in the lobby are the audience (almost regardless of their will) of the playlists, they are not the audience of the blog. The audience of the blog is composed of two or three friends on regular basis, my mum and my sister very occasionally. They look fabulous and have very good taste in fashion but most importantly they are curious people who enjoy discussing and discovering, they often give me tips and advices on what to add or change on the blog. Recently I noticed new visitors from Italy, Sweden and Czech Republic, big up to you guys I hope you are having a good time.

M: Furthermore about the audience, do you think that they are listening and are you expecting an applause?

[ ]: Since the audience is composed of two or three friends who I see on regular basis, I can tell pretty confidently that they either listen once in a while, or that they are very good liars. In both cases I find their patience very impressive and I am glad that they are my friends. For the applause, there must be better ways to get them than secretly writing a blog with music I didn’t make.

**RADICAL/NOT SO RADICAL FUTURE**

M: We’ve entered one Sunday in two years from now. You’re setting up the mood when suddenly, Red Light Radio is calling you on the phone. You don’t recognize their number but pick up either way. After confirming that you’re the person behind Sunday at Bob’s, they offer you a one hour slot to perform a live session. They give you full freedom to improvise, be radical, expand it from its original, digital format. Do you accept the offer?

[ ]: I don’t think I could refuse something like that, but I would probably shit my pants and spend the next days figuring out how these machines work.

M: We’ve entered another Sunday in two years and a half from now. You’re setting up the mood when suddenly, Red Light Radio is calling again. They want you badly. They want you so much, they offer you to spend all your Sundays at their radio and on top of that, they allow you to call it Bob’s. They also offer to invest in you with a monetary award. Do you accept the offer?

[ ]: That would be very strange, but assuming that it would happen (which it wouldn’t, let’s be honest) I would probably accept without calling it Bob’s. That being said I wouldn’t stop posting on the blog (assuming it is still on).

M: Ok, my main question is: Were we to imagine Sunday at Bob’s out of its digital sphere and in the physical, where would it belong? (I’m thinking it would work great at a friend’s wedding, or a very random rooftop session untracked by media or something something similar)

[ ]: I can see on Mixcloud the amount of plays, and I have no idea where some of them come from. I think Sunday at Bob’s out of its digital sphere is where it is being played anyway. But damn a wedding, that would be mind blowing. It could even have happened and we don’t know about it.

If you are getting married soon and still doubting about inviting Sunday at Bob’s to be the god of music, listen to my favourite session by clicking on this session.

 

Maisa Imamovic

 

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