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Kal are a Roma band from Serbia. They were founded in 1996 by lead singer and guitarist Dragan Ristic. The musicians are originally from Valjevo in the southwestern part of Serbia, but they all now live in Belgrade.
The band mix Roma and Balkan music with elements of Western rock music. There are also South American, oriental, Turkish and reggae influences in what they play. The band often use the term “Rock 'n' Roma” to describe their style of music.
Kal (which means “black” in Romani) were founded back in 1996. The band at first released only a few singles which appeared on various Balkan and world music compilations. Their debut album entitled “Kal” came out in 2006. The album drew a great deal of interest in their home country as well as abroad and the band thus made their international breakthrough. The album reached third place on the world music annual charts in Europe in 2006. In 2009, their second album “Radio Romanista” was released which followed on the success of the previous album and was highly acclaimed by critics and listeners alike. Both albums came out on the German label Asphalt Tango and were produced by Mike Nielsen, who previously worked as a producer for pop greats such as Jamiroquai and The Cure. The band’s third album “Romology” was released in 2013 on the British label Arc Music and featured the single “Gadzo DJ”.
Apart from his activities as a musician with Kal, Dragan Ristic is also involved in diverse cultural and social projects. Since the 1990s, he has worked as a composer, producer and actor for film and theatre and has taken part in productions of the Roma theatre “Raidna” in Belgrade and the Roma theatre “Vareso Aver” in Budapest. Dragan Ristic has also published several books and other publications on diverse topics related to the culture and history of the Roma in Serbia or the former Yugoslavia. Furthermore, he is engaged in various political and social projects for the improvement of the situation and rights of the Roma in his home country.
On top of that, Dragan Ristic and his brother Dusan founded the Amala School in Valjevo that offers annual workshops in music, dance, culture and language of the Roma and attracts participants from all around the globe.
Kal regularly tour clubs and concert halls worldwide and are known for their rousing live performances. Kal have also appeared at major international music festivals including several appearances at the Sziget Festival in Hungary and at the world music expo WOMEX in 2006.
Dragan Ristic – Guitar and vocals
Milos Velickovic – Drums
Ivan Kuzev – Bass
Dejan Jovanovic - Accordion
Milorad Jevremovic - Violin


Text: Robert Lippuner / Gypsy Music Network
Translation: Jamie Davies


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