Thanks for coming to check me out. You must be really bored, and I’ve got a story for you.
I’ve been doing so many things simultaneously for so long that it has become difficult to put a job description on what I do. In a nutshell, I am a “drummer producer,” but I am an entrepreneur above all.
I am a very resourceful, self-motivated, and persistent individual.
My life has been quite an unlikely story, full of life-changing chance encounters, and I’ve often said that I had been alive three times.
For the past 7 years, most of my focus and efforts have gone into producing midi drum loops and sampling drums and percussion. At the same time, I have been working on getting the Handy Drums plugins off the ground and everything else that you see on this platform.
I love everything about drums and rhythm. I love playing them; I enjoy making them, recording, and editing them. Of course, just listening to groovy beats, whether they are played by great drummers or skillfully programmed, brings joy to me.
Still with me? Keep rolling.
My story begins in former Yugoslavia, at the end of the romantic ’70s and the dawn of the synth age.
As far as I can remember, I wanted to be a drummer. I would bang on my mom’s pots and pans as a very young boy while fantasizing about filling in for a drummer for my favorite band at the time, as my parents were trying to nap. The neighbors were also delighted with my performances.
At 12, I got hooked on drums for good by Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum. I spent the following three years hitting pillows and scissors using broken sticks while having an opportunity to sit behind a real drumset only a handful of times.
Finally, at 15, my parents spent 500 out of the only 900 Dauche Marks we had as family savings to buy me my first drumset. This was in Serbia amid the civil war, sanctions, and financial crises we were living through.
The drumset I got was a 60’s vintage Sonor with original, broken calf heads. Unfortunately, I only had a kick, a snare, and a single tom. There was no hi-hat stand, cymbals, snare drum stand, or other standard hardware.
The kick pedal would take a brief moment to return to the position when engaged. When I could borrow a hi-hat stand, I had to be careful at how hard I pressed the pedal as the top hi-hat would flip inside out like an umbrella in the wind. An old chair with a backrest but no bottom played a role of a snare drum stand. Practicing was challenging, but I was undeterred, much to the delight of my grandma, uncle, and everyone else who lived within half a mile radius.
Fun fact: A year later, with my younger brother, Boyan, we managed to pack a nightclub with 300+ people to hear our band play. They persisted despite the deafening feedback we were experiencing throughout our 1st concert.
After dropping out of the 2nd grade of high school, we migrated to New Zealand a few months later, where I completed the high school studies (sort of).
Fun fact: During the two years at NZ high school, I participated in local band competitions with 3 different bands, and we took first place with them all. I was even awarded a runner-up best young jazz musician.
I auditioned and enrolled in the Jazz Music program at Massey University, Wellington (which subsequently got incorporated into Victoria University).
In addition to performing with Jazz ensembles small and large, I got an opportunity to learn about music recording and to gain valuable hands-on experiences. After 3 years of hard work and countless hours practicing, I was awarded the Bachelor’s Degree In Jazz, majoring in drums. I was also a recipient of two merit-based scholarships during that time.
However, to this date, I’ve never ever had to show the degree to anyone, nor has anyone ever asked.
Fun fact: With a couple of close drummer friends, Kayuza and Glenn, we stayed up all night playing drums on one occasion. We played from 6 pm until about 7 am the following morning. I could hardly hold the sticks in my hands by the end, but I saw the sunrise from the practice room.
Upon completing my studies, I set sail on Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as an in-house drummer for orchestras. Being a proficient reader and playing a wide range of musical styles enabled me to share the stage with wonderful acts, excellent musicians, and exciting production shows. I had a blast traveling to incredible destinations, all while playing music.
Eventually, I got picked up by Ole Ole, a Flamenco act on one of the ships I was residing on. I joined the group as a headliner act, and the life and traveling got even more marvelous. That’s how I ended up in Miami, FL. After meeting the love of my life on one of the cruise gigs, we settled in Miami.
Gigging on ships with Ole Ole meant spending a week in Miami, flying to a ship, and staying there for a week. Then, fly back, rinse and repeat, over and over.
I rented a modest apartment in an old, small building in central Miami. I set up the drums in my bedroom to once again delight the neighbors downstairs. The speed of computers and affordability of recording gear was finally worth considering. My first modest “recording studio” was ready for experiments and recording of ideas.
Recording myself was a blast. Having unlimited access to a recording studio in a box allowed me to hone my recording, mixing, and production skills at a rapid rate.
I thought that there must be many musicians and artists worldwide who could use help with drum recordings. That’s how GoranGrooves.com was conceived. Through it, I had the pleasure of recording for independent artists from all corners of the globe.
Before I would wrap my cruise gigging career, I recorded my first (and to date my only) album, Rista World.
Fun fact: I had a train line pass 100 feet away from my window. I had to time the recording takes when the train was not near.
As I got more involved with recording and production, upgrading to professional recording gear came along. After purchasing my trusty Focusrite ISA828 preamp on eBay, I realized that the seller was also based in Miami, so I went to pick it up in person. The person from whom I had purchased the equipment was a local music producer.
I seized the opportunity to give him a demo CD of drum beat recordings I had made. He happened to be producing an album for David Packouz, who would later form the Singular Sound company.
So, when David came up with the idea of BeatBuddy, the world’s first pedal drum machine, he asked around for someone who could produce the content, and my name came up. My initial reaction to his email inquiry was “oh, fucking drum machine,” but the “pedal” part got the better of me.
My beautiful wife and I had just moved into our new house. I was getting ready to build a proper professional drum recording studio when David and I had our first meeting. For that meeting to happen and the idea of the BeatBuddy to be conceived in the first place, the universe had to bend on the other side too. David’s previous business engagement had to result in such an epic disaster that Hollywood made the “War Dogs” movie after it.
While David was busy getting the idea of BeatBuddy into motion, I was hard at work building my new studio. I finished it just in time to help with the crowd-funding campaign and produce all the content that would grace BeatBuddy units produced to date.
The pedal drum machine loaded with my content has been an enormous success, and the rest is BeatBuddy history. Think about it. Had I not gone to pick up that preamp in person, this entire paragraph would never have been written.
My motivation for recording drums remotely was to reach and help as many musicians as possible with their recording projects. With the BeatBuddy and the supporting Library we subsequently set up to offer additional content, I had reached nearly 100,000 musicians. In the process, I have produced over two dozen sample libraries consisting of tens of thousands of samples and around 13,000 midi loops. That’s a lot of work but a ton of fun for musicians!
Not everyone plays live or uses BeatBuddy, so I stayed on the course of my mission. I have tackled countless challenges through the years, but developing my own set of plugins has by far been the most formidable of them all. Over 3 years of hair-pulling and nail-biting efforts, we are finally ready to fully “groovify” the world.
Well, I hope that satisfies your curiosity. That’s the 6min 12sec you’ll never get back. And if you are still waiting for a train, head over to my page. Hear my drum recordings and see some of the people I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with.