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A Conversation with Boris Hrepić Hrepa of the Sunnysiders Band From Croatia



The Sunnysiders are a rockin’ blues band out of Croatia. This is their 10th Anniversary celebrated by their new release The Bridges. The band was founded by singer, guitar, ukulele, harmonica player and songwriter Boris Hrepić Hrepa, a long time Croatian professional musician who was a member in one of the Croatian most famous bands Daleka Obala, and the singer , percussion and guitar player Antonija Vrgoč Rola. This band will grab your attention from the first note and you better bring your dancin’ shoes along.



Ken Wallis talked with Boris Hrepić Hrepa for the radio show Blues Source International. The following are excerpts from that interview.



Ken Wallis

The album is The Bridges…It's the Sunnysiders and this band knows how to play some heavenly blues. Joining us is Boris from the Sunnysiders all the way from Croatia…Boris thanks for coming on the show.


Boris Hrepić Hrepa

Ken it's nice to hear you and see you all the way from Croatia.


Ken Wallis

It's wonderful with zoom being able to talk to people from so far away. First of all, where did you guys get the name Sunnysiders from?


Boris Hrepić Hrepa

When we started 10 years ago…me and Rola…our first name was the Easy Bluesy Band …but we wanted something else. A friend from my childhood…he was always good in finding names and he gave us a couple of names. We really liked The Sunnysiders because we are from the city of Split…the sunny side of Croatia…and we wanted that positive vibe in our name… so we chose Sunnysiders.


Ken Wallis

You guys started off as a duo is that correct?


Boris Hrepić Hrepa

Yeah, we started as a duo 11 years ago. We won The Croatian Blues Challenge here in Croatia… Rola and me. And then we went to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge ten years ago and we made the semi-finals. It was for a Croatian band…even for a European band… it was so great and we were so happy. With all my dreams as a blues musician when I was 16 in Split I could never imagine that someday I would play our songs in Memphis. We had a great time during the challenge and a lot of years after that because I come to Memphis almost every year…but not last year.


Ken Wallis

This is your fourth album and it's your 10-year anniversary. Do you feel the new album The Bridges is different from your first album?


Boris Hrepić Hrepa

Yes…we always want to make every album different than the last one. The first one we played with a cajon…we didn’t have a bass or drums. We had a cajon and electric guitar acoustic guitar a lot of ukulele and harp and everything. But the second…the very next album was different. But his one The Bridges was a full band but with a lot of guests. We wanted to celebrate our anniversary and we called a lot of our good friends from Croatia and all around the world to join us in our songs and they all did. So we are so satisfied with the record and everything and so happy and I’d like to thank them once more time for helping us in our celebration.


Ken Wallis

And how would you describe your music to someone that hasn't heard you before?


Boris Hrepić Hrepa

We are blues musicians but we don't have lots of you know 12-bar shuffle blues because I came from one of biggest Croatian pop rock bands…we have that kind of little popish in our songs because we want to have nice lyrics and a refrain and something catchy in our songs. So, we mix that southern American sound with our Croatian style of making songs. Magazines wrote about that kind of originality we have in our songs so we are satisfied with that and we are already preparing a fifth album.


Ken Wallis

And how do you go about writing your songs?


Boris Hrepić Hrepa

I always have a guitar in my lap during the day and then always when I'm starting to write…I never start to play old songs…I always try to play something new…with riffs and everything…some chords… melodies. Rola my colleague from the band and also my life companion. She is always around and she throws some melody in a rhythm in the riff and then I'll write the lyrics. When I write the lyrics…that's for me. I do love to write the lyrics. The very first time in Memphis everybody was stopping us on the street saying we have funny catchy lyrics and we like your stories. I think that blues must be a story because that's the way they started. We must be telling a story and our songs have a story behind them. It’s some kind of diary for me when I'm writing the lyrics. I want to put something in the song to remember it for and to put it outside of me for all people. All songs have a story behind them so on this album The Bridges we put our lyrics on the sleeve of the album because we want people to read it and be more introduced to our songs. I hope that you understand me…I'm speaking in English…It’s not much on grammar but I think that you will understand it.


Ken Wallis

I certainly understand it. Let me put it this way…your English is a lot better than my Croatian that's for sure. [BOTH LAUGH]. The significance of the title of the album?... where did that come from?


Boris Hrepić Hrepa

We started the album before that corona thing. We wanted to mix it in Memphis and we had a lot of our friends who recorded parts of the song from all around the world and sent it to us and we put it all together in Memphis. We mixed it at Ardent Studios. At first the name of the album was to have some kind of celebrate in the name but when corona came we found that the music is the best bridge during corona. Music is the fastest and the toughest bridge amongst people because music is so easy to connect people…never mind language or race or age or male or women. Music is one of the best things in the world to connect people together so we gave the album the name The Bridges because of that connection between people through music.


Ken Wallis

I don't know much about Croatia but what I'm really curious about is what's the blues scene like there?

Boris Hrepić Hrepa

When we're talking about blues in Croatia I always have to talk about one guy who died 9 years ago. Drazen Buhin. He was like the father of Croatian Blues Forces. We have a Croatian Blues Forces...it’s our blues society and he started that and us going to Memphis. We have the Croatian Blues Challenge as all Croatians want to go to Memphis. So, we had the Challenge and we had a lot of concerts. We have now a lot of festivals and I think the blues scene in Croatia is better than ever. We have beside the Sunnysiders a couple of bands that also have new albums outside of Croatia. We have a couple of festivals…we have the Thrill Blues Festival that I’m art director of. It’s close to Split…it's a great festival with five thousand people. I hope that we'll be able to have the festivals again in Croatia soon. A lot of our friends from all around the world want to come to play in Croatia so I think that after corona we will have just a great time for blues everywhere and in Croatia.


Ken Wallis

I sure hope I get to see you over here in North America sometime…I'd love to see you guys perform. Where can our audience get your album?


Boris Hrepić Hrepa

We have our record label Dancing Bear…we have links on our website. We have a vinyl which is great because vinyl is coming back. Here in Croatia people who love the blues love the vinyls. Go to our website and connect with us and we will help you.


Ken Wallis

Terrific…well it's a great album…I'm thoroughly enjoying it and Boris i really thank you for your time…it's been a pleasure meeting you.


Boris Hrepić Hrepa

Yeah Ken me also and hope to see you sometime if you're in Croatia or in Canada.



Website: hrepa.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/boris.hrepa

Instagram: www.instagram.com/_sunnysiders




 

 

 

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