“Nothing was the same”: singer Ilda talks about joining the Rock School

“I made friends for life. The guy that scared me the first day is now like my older brother.”

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Ilda is a singer of great talent and skill. She sings in flagship band Proximity Mine. Although expected to be a good communicator since she comes from an ethnically mixed family and knows both languages, Ilda’s introvert nature seemed to make her a bit quiet and shy.

However, it is said that introverts make good writers, and this young lady’s lyrics are sure able to chill your bones to the core. She opened up to us about her struggles with mental health and how Mitrovica Rock School helped her gain the confidence she used to lack. Here’s what she had to say:

So Ilda, how’d you get into rock school and why?

As a child that suffered from depression and bipolar disorder, music was my main healer and an escape from reality. It all started three years ago when I joined MRS “by accident” at the summer school in Skopje. Till then I was just an introvert singing under the shower and annoying my family. A friend of mine that was already a student of MRS told me about this project and its idea to connect the youngsters of our divided city. He said that it would be great If I’d go with them in Skopje plus as a child of an ethnically mixed marriage I could communicate with both sides and improve my social and music skills. I wasn’t sure about it at first but then I was like “Let’s try it, I have nothing to lose because the summer was shitty anyway”. So the day came, and I remember sitting in a bus and watching the list of  new bands. I literally didn’t know any of my new band members. I heard someone calling the name of my new guitar player… I looked at him and he was a metal head, with some chains on his jeans. I was already regretting my trip because I had no idea how am I going to communicate with him, or them in general.

…And then?

So the next day we presented each other, and surprisingly I realized that one day prejudice is really going to ruin us, and our culture. My band members seemed really cool and friendly and even though they all had that rock and roll, metal, “always ready for your funeral” style, they were really sweet on the inside. Half of them were Serbs, half Albanians and because of that we communicated in English, but the language wasn’t really important when we started creating our music.

So tell us something about your band and it’s music. How does it sound like?

We named our band “Proximity Mine”, a pretty complicated name at first, but so are we, and we can also name our music genre “complicated”. It’s a mixture of everyone of us. At that time I was a fan of indie and electronic music, so we added a glimpse of these sounds too, a little bit of metal, pop, drum and bass, psychedelic rock etc. But it represented us, our unique sound and everyone was amazed. That amazing reaction of the crowd on our first gig made me realize that these people that I met, this band, this whole project is about to change my life. Even if I’d wanted  to go back where I was, I wouldn’t have been able to.

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Proximity Mine at Hamam Bar in Prishtina

Proximity Mine’s Set Me Free, recorded in Vienna by film house Hatched-MV

After meeting my band member, I decided to continue my education on the North side of Mitrovica, because I lived in the South for eighteen years.

Since you’re talking about the ‘’change’’, what was that most significant change that being a member Mitrovica Rock School brought to you?

Nothing was the same after that week, and that summer. I decided to work more on my songwriting because I was more inspired than ever, and worked with my band on our new songs intensively even after the summer school.  And I must say we made a pretty big success, one of them was our gig in Vienna, but the most important one is that I made friends for life. The guy that scared me the first day, my guitar player is now like my older brother. By meeting him I decided to continue my education on the North side of Mitrovica, because I lived in the South for eighteen years, and a few months ago I moved to the North too. So I must say, except for music MRS affected me and changed my life and the way of living in the most positive way.

Ilda’s band Proximity Mine performing in Vienna

Kids from school were pretty skeptical about the Rock School.

What about other people? Were your friends in school fond of you joining the school?

It wasn’t so bright for everyone. Kids from school were pretty skeptical about this project, and they were mocking me like “Oh so you’re a rock and roll, punk girl now, a real savage huh… we’re not important to you anymore are we”? But there is this thing called “self-confidence” that I gained also thank to MRS, and learned how to accept criticism and negative comments, so my only answer to all that was a smile.

That’s a thing of the past now, so tell us about the future. What are your plans when it comes to you and your band’s music?

Now three years after my first summer school, we’re still working on our music and hopefully our first album. Our band members changed a few times, but it was also a good lesson of how to let go people, good songs, good projects but never give up. I could literally talk about MRS for days, and that’s why I’m just going to call on all the youngsters that want to share their art, music, understand other nationalities, religions, cultures, make new friends, but most importantly grow as individuals that they’re gonna be proud of. So once again, thank you MRS!

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Ilda and her ‘’older brother’’ guitarist playing at KRIM Club for the Tenth Anniversary of Mitrovica Rock School

By Mitrovica Rock School communications trainee Marina

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