Sixth June Are Twisting History
We talked to the Berlin duo about art, killing chickens, and the ugliest thing they've ever seen.
Photo: Christoph Voy
It's exactly 3.03 p.m., and before I write the introduction for the interview below, I have to introduce the introduction quickly: When I went to my first Sixth June show in 2010, a colleague welcomed me with the words, "Ah, you're only here because you think the singer's hot, aren't you?" I want to state here that I indeed went to concerts out of low motives like that. But in this case, I was actually there for the music. Sixth June are from Belgrade, live in Berlin since two years ago, and make that thing you'd call dark synth pop. Although clearly orientated on '80s new wave, I immediately liked the clearness of their style, not only their music, but also in their videos and illustrations. On December 9, they release their new EP Pleasure on Mannequin Records. We talked to the man behind Sixth June, Laslo Antal.
Noisey: I looked up what happened on the sixths of Junes in world history. Tetris was launched in 1984. And Kennedy was shot.*
Laslo Antal: Really? No, he wasn't. I mean, I would know. But I'm glad you didn't come up with D-Day and all that stuff.
I skipped all the war stuff because it made me afraid. Are you obsessed with numbers?
No. It is a coincidence we met at six… but no, I'm not obsessed with numbers. I like the number six, but it doesn't guide me through life or something like that.
I watched your videos yesterday night and had the impression that, not only the songs, but also the visuals follow your unique aestetics. Is that intented or just coincidental because you're a film maker as well?
There is no concrete plan, I think it results from the way I work in videos, illustrations, and music. I never sat down and researched what would fit or is hip right now. Sometimes it's also just coincidences that happen during filming. Lidija is an actress, she works on films and theatre plays. That's an important part of the band, the performances and music videos are based on her and her acting.
The videos mostly contain simple scenes, nothing all too big happens, but still they create a very special atmosphere. Like in this video with the watermelons, when's that from?
That was two years ago, for our last EP. We filmed it here in Berlin in the middle of summer, although it looks rainy and dark, like summer in Berlin is. We wanted to do something in the sunshine actually, to do something that differs from our last videos, but it didn't work out. But I still hope I can do that sometime.
Did your arms hurt from holding up that sheet the whole time?
Speaking of aesthetics, what's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?
I once had a dream about a very colorful tree. That's the first thing that comes to my mind.
And the ugliest?
I don't remember ugly things.
What changed between your first album and this EP?
A lot. I always think it's interesting, in the first release everything's in it, all the twenty-something years, all the influences from before. Even if you record it within two months. That's why I was really happy with that album back then, but now it's different. It was like that with the last EP as well, and will be in future. You can always change and make something new and fresh.
… and a Best Of compilation in twenty years.
No, what I mean, our whole way of working, how we write, record and approach songs completely changed. Others can probably hear that as well, but for us it's really obvious.
There is this video of your grandmother killing a chicken. You're coming from a completely different context than the one you're living and working in now. What are the differences?
This might sound a bit cliche again, but its a lot more free here. People don't care what I like or don't like. In Serbia, you have this small town attitude, even in big cities. Here, you can do whatever you want.
And it's not like that over there?
Not really. I mean, the choices are so narrow you don't have any choice in the end. But I wasn't there for almost three years, so things might have changed. Here, you'd think about where to go out, in Serbia you have to think about making a place to go out to first. Art is one of the last things there, still. Nobody thinks it's important.
But do you see potential in the situation?
You know, my generation and the ones who are a bit older thought it would get better. Especially 2000, when there were all those changes to democracy. Before that, there were ten years of war. Everyone was against the system, but at least you were against something together. Now you don't even know what you should fight anymore. I think a lot of people are just tired of fighting and hoping that it might get better, especially if you're almost 30 already. You can't wait forever.
I heard that in Serbia, a lot of people around 30 suffer from major depressions, because they worked for this revolution and nothing really changed.
Yes, but they believed in that. And five or six years ago that stopped, a lot of them just gave up. It was an organized thing back then, even people who had completely different views on what this democracy thing could look like got together and said, "We don't want it how it is now." Maybe that's why it didn't work, it's not enough to erase the obstacle, you also have to know what to do afterwards. I was never really interested in politics, but if you're there yourself you have to know those things.
What song from your new EP you like most?
"Pleasure." It's the one that differs most from the stuff we did before. It's the song I would like to listen to. Next time, it will be something different again. That's why the release took us so long. We could have continued doing what we did two years ago. It functioned, people liked it, but it was supossed to be a step. I'm glad we changed.
You work as an illustrator as well. You made a series of really impressive portraits, are those real or fictional people?
Both. For some, I had models, some I made up. I was always interested in faces. That's the reason why I use them on posters as well. A face never gets boring. It looks different everytime.
* Robert F. Kennedy was shot on the sixth of June, so the interviewer wasn't completely wrong.