Yugoslavian native Zlatko Zgombic, known as DJ Zlaya, counts himself very lucky.
“I got into music very seriously at an early age — it helped me to identify myself with the world around me,” Zgombic, 30, says.
Because Yugoslavia (now Bosnia) had the second best New Wave scene in Europe behind the U.K., and Zgombic grew up in a small town with its radio station a floor above his childhood home, he was only 6 years old when he made his radio debut.
However, the media’s focus was still on mainstream music at that time, and Zgombic made a promise to himself to change that.
“I wanted to expose them [the public] to something they had never heard and give them an opportunity to find the beauty and themselves in it like I did,” he says.
Zgombic, who has now spun throughout the Midwest, began mixing punk and hardcore when he moved to Serbia in the early ’90s. Soon after, a local nightclub allowed him to spin his real love: electro-industrial music.
“It feels great when you manage to join the crowd, music and yourself into one,” he says. “It’s an energy and emotional exchange and connection. It’s unlike any other ritual — political, religious or otherwise.”
Often sporting a 3-inch black Mohawk and a soccer jersey, Zgombic says he is a simple, natural DJ, with no sets practiced or prepared prior to a performance.
“My technique of DJing is very spontaneous and impulsive,” he says. “I know the material, and I live through it all the time.”
His current focus is original music at his studio, Cold Trinity USA, which he is creating in cooperation with the Cold Trinity Belgrade label, and his local project, Chasing Butterflies. Zgombic also continues to work on Motus Vita Est, a personal music project started in 2004, a hybrid of all electro styles he has been exposed to throughout his 15-year spinning career.
Through all of his spinning experience and travels, Zgombic admires international electro DJ Ferry Corsten most, particularly moved by his Right of Way promo party in February 2004. “That show definitely changed my whole perspective of music and how it can be presented to the people,” he says.