Photo by Adam Drvenica

The militant lyrics and the attitude towards the Big Brother oppression have formed a strong connection between punk and reggae. From the UK punk attitude of rejecting the establishment, to the squats of Berlin and the rasta hooligans in the Netherlands, the punk and reggae have formed an alliance in fighting the extreme right groups and promoting the freedom of speech. What seemed to be an impossible relationship, time showed how a strong message can bring together such distinctive sounds and people. In the 70s when the dancefloor was oriented towards uniting people, Don Letts was playing both punk and reggae in the legendary London’s club The Roxy. During the change overs of punk bands Letters would play reggae to the crowd. Of course, not everyone was ecstatic about the new sounds, but in time they understood the message and started to resonate. Don Letts was also the one who introduced punk to Bob Marley who then wrote Punky Reggae Party. Both genres where the music of the young generation and the energy of this music came from their rebellion. By the end of 70’s the marriage between these two musical genres was well welded and it was quite normal to see reggae bands opening for punk ones.

With a giant leap into nowadays times and music scene I am happy to present you an artist that mixes the above ingredients, the Serbian artist Nemanja Kojic (aka Hornsman Coyote). While his musical journey started under the influence of hardcore, punk and thrash music, in 1994 he formed one of the most prominent hardcore-reggae crossover bands in the Balkans, the band Eyesburn, where he played the trombone. The musical approach of band led Hornsman Coyote into a collaboration with renown Brazilian artist Max Cavalera. In 2005 Eyesburn took a break and Coyote went to London and met Jerry Lions (Twinkle Brothers) who was the first roots reggae producer to work with him on trombone instrumental songs. Not long after collaborating with Jerry he linked with Jah Works for his first full length instrumental album Brass Roots. That was his step into the dub/reggae international scene of today. From then onwards, Coyote started to deliver horns for many UK and European labels and productions. With his instrumental versions he reached a number of almost 40 vinyl releases with various producers and singers. He contributed with music and horn arrangements on albums of artists such as Lee Scratch Perry and Max Romeo. In 2005 Coyote went to Poland where he signed with the Karrot Kommando label. From Poland he toured Europe, Mexico and Ethiopia. In 2010 he performed alongside Jamaicans Jah Mason and Lutan Fyah. In the UK he collaborated with Dub Caravan on the double LP Breath of Peace.

In 2012 he formed his Serbian reggae group Hornsman Coyote and Soulcraft and recorded two albums: self-titled debut and Safe Planet. In the early 2016, he released Roaring Brass, a militant UK dub album produced and released by London based reggae producer Roots Hitek. From 2016 Hornsman is very often a session musician in Earthworks Studio from Amsterdam, working on vocal and instrumental songs with Jah Works, Bunnigton Judah and High Notes band. His latest project is the band Remedy, a crossover trio who mixes hard rock, blues, drum and bass and reggae.

I’m influenced by different music genres, from classic jazz to hardcore, punk and metal. Reggae though is the soundtrack of my life. When I’ve heard Burning Spear for the first time I had a divine experience, the sound of Spear horns changed everything and I saw it in my visions, before I even knew life.
I am curious if the name ”Soulcraft” you have for the project Hornsman Coyote and Soulcraft is inspired from the legendary Bad Brains?

Yes, the name "Soulcraft" comes from the Brains. I have witnessed so many examples of people getting into roots reggae through Bad Brains. The Brains did so much for reggae, equal to the Wailers! I know so many people coming from hardcore punk background, listening to Roots Reggae now because of the them and every reggae song they have made is serious spiritual music, in the right way. I praise Bad Brains. The Ruts are also a strong influence from the Eyesburn days, we even played Jah War live. I’ve met Benji Webbe in the Dub War days, I used to send him Cds with our music. Dub War was a masterpiece band too.

I was reading some time ago an interview with Max Cavelera of Soulfly and he was mentioning a dub-fusion album he wanted to create with you and Eyesburn. Did you guys tour together? How was it?

Max is a musical giant and those two Soulfly albums, where I’m involved, ”Prophecy” and ”Dark Ages” are, in my opinion, the peak of his Soulfly career. We toured the world together, played great festivals like Dynamo Open Air. With Black Label Society we opened for them on the 2005 Scandinavian tour of Black Sabbath. Because of Max I meet people like Tonny Iommi, Zak, Korn, Senser. I would love to see him and work again. By the way, I really like the new Soulfly record, ”Ritual”. Even thou I really don’t listen to metal anymore, I love to hear new albums of bands I used to grow up with. Max is still the man.

Does music mix with politics in Serbia? Is the Serbian Reggae Dub scene political or is just keeping it irie?

We have to be militant. We are the voice of the oppressed. But we have to make the people happy from time to time. Most of the songs we deliver are minor chord, serious deep roots reggae influenced stuff, yet from time to time we make a light song, but the message is always very serious.

Do you feel inspired by Serbian national cultural values?

Serbian brass music is strongly present in my musical expression. I love my country and my roots, but I love everyone too. I was born in a country called Yugoslavia which doesn’t exist no more and yes, I’m Serbian, but I’m very Yougo nostalgic.

You are a very prolific musician with a lot of projects ongoing? What releases can we expect to see from you in the near future?

Next year, 2019, I will come out with 5 different albums, the 1st one is Rootical Sojourn, a double LP in collaboration with Dub Caravan, the second is another instrumental album with the respectable London based Roots Hitek. Then there is a showcase official album of both vocal and instrumental tracks recorded in Earthworks studio (Amsterdam) with great musicians like Bunnington Judah, Ben Kingsway, Ras P, Jah Rej and I have also a digi dub banging album with Italian producer Pablo Raster and my stoner rock, post hardcore Serbian super group Remedy, where I play guitar plus the singing and trombone. Oh, I’m sorry I forgot a hip hop album I’m working on, the new album of Serbian hip hop pioneers Sunshine, where I play guitar and sing also... and that makes 6 projects coming out in 2019.

You have released a lot of music and your future plans show you plan to keep this ongoing? But how do you manage the distribution? Not being a part of European Union I believe it is a huge inconvenient. Nevertheless, last year when I visited Croatia I saw you had some merchandise at Outlook festival.

The only problem of Serbian music scene is isolation, unfortunately politic is involved in everything nowadays. I still have a problem importing my music released out of Serbia, because of silly custom laws, as you know this country is still not a part of European Union, so I struggle about every box of records coming in or out. Yet, I won’t give up. The merch you saw in Croatia is connected with the Safe Planet album, which was released by two labels, Ammonite (Serbia) and PDV (Croatia) and that’s why you saw it over there. My other albums are mostly done and released in the UK (Dread Camel, Roots Hitek...), yet I don’t go to England often because it requires a lot of paperwork, visa, etc.

My life will go with the musical flow. Music comes first: word, sound and power.