Slovenian rock stars Joker Out: From high school band to post-Eurovision success

Joker Out in 2023, from left to right: Nace Jordan, Bojan Cvjetićanin, Kris Guštin, Jure Maček and Jan Peteh

Joker Out in 2023, from left to right: Nace Jordan, Bojan Cvjetićanin, Kris Guštin, Jure Maček and Jan Peteh. Photo by Wikipedia user טל ניסן, CC BY-SA 4.0.

This interview by Antonija Janevska was first published by An edited version is republished here under a content-sharing agreement between Global Voices and Metamorphosis Foundation. 

Slovenian band Joker Out had a sudden rise to fame after their performance on the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 and have followed up their success by heading on a big European tour across 18 countries.

Although they started off with the classic high-school-band story, today they are considered to be one of the most successful performers in the Slovenian music scene, while simultaneously spreading their music throughout the continent. The band has five members who together make a powerhouse ensemble with a unique sonic identity that seamlessly blends their dynamic sound, positive energy and self-written lyrics. The five members are Bojan Cvjetićanin (vocals), Kris Guštin (guitar, backing vocals), Nace Jordan (bass), Jure Maček (drums) and Jan Peteh (guitar). While on tour, they made a stop at Skopje for the PIN music conference where band members Nace and Kris sat down for an interview with to discuss their journey to success, their creative process, the tour and of course, their upcoming album. You’re towards the end of a big European tour, so has that experience changed you as artists and what have you learned throughout the journey?

Nace: The first thing we learned is to live more healthy.

Kris: That’s what we improved as people, but as artists we have improved our playing, we have never played this well and this in tune, especially since Nace has only been with us for a year now, and the improvement really shows. Secondly, our creative process has been getting a lot more energetic and explosive, we don’t have much time to create new stuff but when we do, we pour a lot of ourselves into it and something good always comes out of it. Since Nace joined later than the rest of the band members, how did you get in sync regarding the process of creating your music? Are there a lot of differences while creating?

Kris: You want there to be differences between the people who are creating music to make something truly unique, because if everyone thinks the same you’re never going to get something unique out of it. But there have never been any differences that we couldn’t bridge across. We have never argued over a song.

Nace: There are always differences, no matter what you’re creating but that’s not a bad thing. Your upcoming album is going to be in multiple languages, so are you going to include foreign producers and songwriters in the creative process, or are you still going to continue working with your tight knit crew?

Kris: So, we are not really changing much about our album regarding the creative process, we are doing it with out same producer, we are still going to be writing the songs just like we have done previously. The thing that is gonna change is where we are going to create the music. We are moving to London in January, and staying for two months.

Nace: We are writing the songs there.

Kris: Then in March we have a tour, and after that we are going to a studio, maybe in London, maybe not, we will see. So regarding the whole process I don’t think much is going to change because we love working with our producer, Žare, and we don’t want to stop working with him. The lyrics, we have always written a bit in both English and Slovenian. In our second album titled “Demoni” (“Demons”) which is now published in Slovenian and Serbian, at one point at least half of the songs were in English, the original demos. So writing and making music in English, is only new to us in the sense that now we are also releasing it in English not just writing it. Why have you chosen London specifically for the writing of your upcoming album?

Kris: It just kind of makes sense, I know it’s kind of cliché for musicians to go to London but we have an international team that has started to develop around us and they are based in London. We have also found London collectively very inspiring in the little time we spent there this year. So, we decided we want some more of it to completely change our headspace and environment and see what that brings for our music.

Joker Out members Nace Jordan and Kris Guštin in conversation with journalist Antonija Janevska in Skopje. Photo by, used with permission. Are there any Balkan artists that have inspired or influenced your music and sound?

Nace: Yeah, there are a lot of them. Bijelo Dugme, Parni Valjak are some.

Kris: Since we are in Macedonia, Bojan just mentioned that Toše Proeski was his top Spotify artist this year. So there are a lot of different influences but I guess the Yugoslav bands mostly. The classics. What song on your discography took the longest to make?

Kris: I’d say “Novi Val” (“New wave”) but not because the song itself took so long, but because the song we had in place of “Novi Val” we had been creating for at least half a year and we were dissatisfied with every version we tried. And then one week before the deadline, our producer said we have to decide what’s going to happen with the song. So then we scrapped it and Bojan went in a room and wrote “Novi Val.” The process of making “Novi Val” was quick but getting there took a long time. How do you decide which songs are good enough to make it on the album and which ones are going to be scrapped?

Kris: It’s hard to say what the objective criteria here is but if us five and our producer aren’t feeling the song, then it’s not good. That’s all I can say. After Eurovision, how do you think the perception of you has changed as a band in Slovenia?

Kris: This year was really special, not just for us but also for Slovenians who follow Eurovision, or didn’t follow it before this year. I’m super glad that we can say that we changed, or at least partly changed the perception of Eurovision there and kind of brought a sports atmosphere around it, where people from their country stood behind their representative in whatever they are competing in, which rarely happens for Eurovision but regularly happens for sports. So I think we definitely changed this perception in Slovenia and people have also changed their perception towards us accordingly, so at least I like to think that we are the band who kind of brought power and meaning to Eurovision in Slovenia. For your specific instrument, is there a song that is the most difficult to play live or has it all gotten easy while being on tour?

Kris: Music is never a done process, you’re always learning and improving. So since currently I’d like to improve my acoustic guitar skills, I’ll say the song “Padam” (“I'm falling”) from our second album. If there is any song from a Balkan artist, that you could add to your discography and say you’ve made, what song would it be?

Kris: Oh, there are infinite Balkan songs that I’d claim as my own, but I can think of one right now and it’s “Idemo do hodnika” (“Let's go to the hallway”) by Buč Kesidi. That was my most streamed song in 2023. I would have loved to written it.

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