Fighting the odds with Serbian Soulstress Eeva

Eeva, or better known as Iva Pletikosic is a Serbian soulstress who got her break through a talent show in Serbia as a semi-finalist last year. She stood out by doing a rendition of Erykah Badu’s song “On & on,” so well that she even received a compliment from Miss Badu herself. Eeva succinctly infuses hip hop with R&B, by doing this in a country that is heavily influenced by techno-pop, she’s also paving the way for other female soulful musicians’ to come out as the men are currently dominating the genre.

We chat to Eeva about her first EP ''Part of the plan,'' why she jokes that there are just enough Soul/R&B performers to fit one band in Serbia and why releasing her style of music was a risky move in her country. Margaret Tra writes.

You got a nice compliment from Erykah Badu, how did that make you feel?

Erykah Badu is one of my all time favourite artists and huge inspiration. I admire her personality and artistry; it felt amazing to hear a reaction from her. Coming from Serbia, I definitely didn’t expect that to happen, I mean, what were the odds?

You started off from a talent show in Serbia, how did that shape you as an artist? Were you singing before the show?

Yes, I have been singing and creating music as far as I can remember. I decided to participate in this talent show to let myself go from some fears that were holding me back from fully expressing myself. I wanted to finally show my face and get my music out there.

What is the urban, hip hop scene in Serbia like?

The hip-hop scene here is small but strong, we’ve got more than a few rappers who flow really nice over here, and actually some of them have been in the game for over a decade too. There’s more and more of them, but it’s mostly all men so far, hip-hop is not really a girl’s thing yet. I’m the first and only female to get on Bassivity Digital team, which is the most influential hip-hop label in this region, and I’m not even a rapper (laughs).

You just released your EP, tell us about that. What has the response been like?

It’s been going really well and people are showing more and more love my way, here in Serbia too, in spite of the fact that Serbian folks are not too crazy about R&B. Most music that is popular here is some mixture of national music and techno-pop, so people are not really used to the kind of dynamics that this R&B brings, the flow, the vocal runs, etc. Releasing this type of music over here was a crazy move to be honest. Everyone’s been telling me that all my life, too. I still don’t really care. I love it and I enjoy creating soulful vibes and I always will. 

What's next for you? Do you do shows in your country? 

Yes, I perform with a funk/soul/neo-soul/hip-hop band consisted of the beat maker/keyboardist Mystee (“Out of this world “and “Backup plan” off my EP) ,myself and – whoever plays soulful music good and wants to join, the members change all the time. Sometimes I joke by saying that there are just enough Soul/R&B performers to fit one band. It’s really like that though, we’re all family, and who ever truly feels soulful music is welcome on our team. We were the opening act to the NYC based soul/house trio Tortured Soul last summer in Belgrade, after that I took some time off to finish this EP, but Mystee and I have more things on the way.

You've said the best music you've written has been done in 10-15 minutes, can you elaborate?

I believe the best things that we create are the result of our instinct and our emotions. I am not talking about polishing and editing here, but the development of an idea. Ideas must flow, and the more naturally they flow, the easier it will be for audience to follow and feel them. I have never been one of those people who see music as math, music is freedom to me. My freedom works best in 10-15 minutes before I start writing from the analytical part of myself I guess.

Do you sing in Serbian? 

Actually I do, but only when I am being a guest on a track of some hip-hop artist. It can be interesting, but I don’t really sing in Serbian on my own songs because I feel it is limiting. I want my music to be able to communicate to people of different nationalities and be borderless. English is still the most spoken language in the world, so I guess I’d want my music to be able to communicate to the world too.

What stimulates your soul?

I love travelling; travelling inspires me the most and makes me feel free. I love getting to know different people, places, cultures, languages. Authentic and honest music stimulates me, creative and original people do too and I enjoy being around them.

Want to hear more from Eeva?