Petra Rakić describes herself as “Croatia born, Ljubljana bred, and Serbian fed”. However, the frontwoman of the band MANONO, whose stage name is Petrix, has been in Berlin since 2014. After coming to Germany as a part of an exchange program in her teens, she began learning the language and grew an appreciation for the country. On top of belting out tunes with her band she also runs her own business called BabySinging – a childcare program that features singing lessons – for kids ages 6-10. She enjoys giving back to the Berlin community and is proud to call the city her home.
What drew you to Berlin?
I was raised in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. After I finished my master’s degree in musicology, the country with 2 million people located beneath Austria, a two-hour drive away from Venice, became too small for me. Even though Ljubljana is equipped with everything a European capital city should have: an opera house, festivals, concert and cultural venues etc., it only has 280,000 inhabitants. It’s home to one of the best choral ensembles in the world, but there’s really no big scene of other music genres. It was hard for me to find fellow musicians and form my own music groups. I had to leave behind the most beautiful nature (both Alps and Mediterranean sea in the palm of your hands) to pursue my career here in the big world.
Where is your favourite place to visit in Berlin?
Fhain (Friedrichshain) is my hood. The cozy vibes of the Boxhagener Platz and Samariterstraße area really grew on me. Other than that, I love to visit the Berliner Philharmonie for me-time, the top of Humboldthain’s park for sunsets, and Commonground café on Rosethaler Straße for coworking. Also, you can find more than just burgers at the Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn station! Search for the hidden entrance of the Bi Nuu music venue. They have the funkiest disco ball in Berlin and an amazing concert program.
What inspired you to become a musician?
When I was 4, I was discovered by a local violin teacher who was scouting for young talents and that was the start of my extremely harsh and serious training in classical music. Eventually I stopped playing violin at the age of 10, partly because of my parent’s divorce and partly because I was told that music school was taking time away from the other, more important school.
The love for melody development and homophony still remained and I started composing vocal lines instead. Influenced by what MTV was playing in the early ‘00s, Yugoslavian pop rock, and my initial classical education, I developed a very unique music style. At 15, I formed a ska funk band with friends from high school. After that, I was active as a choir singer in semi-professional formations. We toured and competed all over Europe and Asia, while I was studying to become a musicologist. It wasn’t until a year ago that I started personalising and accepting the title of a musician and a singer. Before, I always though of it as just something I do.
“It wasn’t until a year ago that I started personalising and accepting the title of a musician and a singer. Before, I always though of it as just something I do.“
What is the biggest roadblock you’ve faced professionally? How did you overcome it?
Becoming a musician isn’t considered a serious career choice. I would be discouraged, told that I should find a “real” profession and stop fantasizing. I decided to study musicology, which is an academic way of researching music, because I love humanities and because it was something more tangible. I graduated with straight As and honours from Ljubljana’s scholarship for talented students.
When I couldn’t immediately find a job, I became depressed. I couldn’t believe I had nothing to offer on the job market. As I always excelled in everything I’ve put my mind to, I suddenly started feeling unworthy. At some point I was competing for a position at Universal Music, SoundCloud, and Native Instruments with 300+ people from all over the world, that were older and more experienced. The struggle was real.
The aha moment happened in the beginning of 2017, when I realised it was actually easier for me to earn my living making music than getting a real job. With my band activities and music coaching I had no competition at all. I didn’t know anyone else that was creating music similar to our style or singing with children. And I was doing that anyway, so why not form a business around it? The irony is that today I find it better to professionally present myself as a musician, not a musicologist.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
A friend of mine Super Ivi, who creates juicy productivity planners, introduced me to the concept called quick & dirty. I think as an early-stage musician you can get caught in perfectionism and never get across the initial demo period. You don’t want to launch your music until it’s perfect, so you end up launching nothing at all. I need to believe that good enough is the new perfect and keep on going. At the end of the day, the more we rehearse, perform and record, the better we all become. It’s amazing to witness how the band evolves through time. There’s no need for frustration. It’s nearly impossible to make everything sound perfect with basic equipment, limited studio time, and endless editing hours. Quick and dirty gets the job done.
“There’s no need for frustration. Quick and dirty gets the job done.”
What do you do when you need some inspiration?
I search for people that have done amazing things in their lives. I watch their interviews on YouTube and get inspired by them. Soak in their knowledge. Most musicians had to face problems similar to mine. It’s a tough industry, especially for women. We’re all familiar with the woman figure that is somewhat undressed. Lately, I’m noticing even more disturbing images of violent women. I’m neither of those two, so it’s harder for me to find role models. When in doubt, I watch Lorde, Janelle Monáe, Alicia Keys, and old stuff from Gwen Stefani and Joni Mitchell.
What do you have in the works for 2018?
It’s scary to think we’re almost halfway through! I’m in the studio, working hard with my band members to record the songs of our first album. We’re collaborating with super talented musician Cecilie Sadolin and the dBs Music School at Funkhaus Berlin. I got lucky with the team. Everyone is very supportive and dedicated to the project.
You can catch Petrix live with her band MANONO on June 21st and Junction Bar for Fête de la Musique and on June 30th at Privatclub Berlin for the Battle of the Bands. Keep an eye on our Calendar of Events for her upcoming shows on our homepage!