Meet singer Sarah Bedak and drummer Nenad Radic Rroma. This passionate, strong-willed and musical pair are married to their band – and now to each other.
Like all good love stories, serendipity played a part in this one: a chance meeting at a friend’s house, gigs that fell through at the last minute and a spur-of-the-moment invitation all combined to bring Sarah and Nenad together. To spice things up there was a misunderstanding, a thwarted proposal and ‘Lolo,’ the ‘other woman’ they’re both madly in love with…
Sarah wasn’t looking for love the day she met Nenad, but Cupid had other ideas. The date – 10/11/12 – was auspicious for starters. Nenad had just arrived in Australia from Berlin and they met by chance at a mutual friend’s house in Newtown.
Mysteriously, two of Sarah’s gigs with her Gypsy fusion band, Lolo Lovina, fell through at the last minute and she found herself at a loose end. She was happy to oblige when Nenad needed a ride to his hotel. When he asked her to dinner to say “thanks” (as you do!), they discovered they had a lot in common: a Rroma (Gypsy) heritage, a love of music, and Nenad even spoke the Rromanes language that Sarah had travelled to Serbia to study a few years earlier. On top of that, Nenad was a drummer and Sarah’s band needed one for a gig the next day.
So was it love at first sight? “If I’d been open to the idea, it would have been, but I wasn’t really in that headspace or even looking for a relationship,” says Sarah. “I was really happy as a single mum, with my career, my friends, my life… and then along came Nenad! For him, yes it was. I remember him saying to me at dinner on that first night, ‘I feel I could trust you with my life.’”
Prophetic words, indeed, but the course of true love never does run smooth. Just three days later when Nenad was keen to, quite literally, tie the knot, things didn’t go to plan.
“He presented me with two bracelets and asked me to tie one on his wrist,” says Sarah. “Then he tied the other one on mine and said, ‘Now we are engaged.’ When he saw my horrified face he added, ‘A little bit?’ I told him that I needed to become engaged of my own free will, so I took it off and kept it safe… but I did ‘steal’ another bracelet of his that I still wear today. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get engaged, I just wanted it to be when I was ready!”
The official proposal happened later in a thoroughly modern way – over Skype – when Nenad had to return to Berlin for a while. “We were missing each other painfully, and he asked me if I was prepared to spend my life with him,” says Sarah. (She said yes.) “He did a live re-enactment when he came back home a month later.” (She said yes again.)
Just over a year after they first met, the couple tied the knot outside their Marrickville home. Lolo, the ever-present ‘other woman,’ was guest of honour… and the venue for the ceremony.
“We had an amazing wedding – we got married in front of our house in Lolo, our Gypsy caravan/stage,” explains Sarah. Yes, that’s right, Lola is a polka-dot covered 1978 Viscount Royale that Sarah and Nenad love almost as much as they love each other.
“I rescued her from Tamworth and towed her back to Sydney to turn into a stage,” Sarah recalls. “One side folds up to welcome everyone into her lounge room. She is warm, creative and inspiring and celebrates both our Rromani culture and the culture of Australian caravanning holidays.
I decorate her and dream up creative uses for her, and Nenad cares for her structural and technical wellbeing. She is like a member of the family, of the band and she has very loving parents!”
Following the caravan wedding ceremony, the couple had a party that spilled over into the backyard, the street and the park next door. “We had lots of musicians and performer friends to entertain everyone, a dance floor near the Hills Hoist and we self-catered Serbian Gypsy food. It was all very ‘us’ and amazing to celebrate with our community and friends. Our home feels blessed by the kindness of everyone who came to celebrate with us and by our commitment to each other.”
But what’s the reality of living and working with your partner, especially in a creative venture, like a band?
“We argue about music all the time,” says Nenad. “We are both over-exacting and have very high standards that neither of us will compromise.” Sarah agrees. “Doing what you want to do in life, with the person you love is actually a very difficult thing! We both have very strong personalities and we are passionate about what we do. This can lead to clashes. Still, Nenad respects my views and I respect his. So it’s more or less pretty constructive.”
And that’s one of the beautiful things about this creative and romantic union; the pair have learned a lot from each other and continue to grow together. “We rehearse every day, we talk about the band and our future plans constantly, which is great. I have grown vocally and musically as a result of Nenad,” says Sarah.
Nenad feels the love too. “Sarah has opened her whole life to me, her home, family, band and more. I guess that is normal in a marriage but somehow it feels like a bigger responsibility as she is my only family in this country,” he says. “Day to day, she brings me back things she knows I’ll like, small things like pumpkin seeds or Serbian delicacies. She sends messages of love when we are not together, picks me flowers and knows when I need a coffee. She also gives me the best bits of whatever it is we’re sharing!”
As their friends testify, Sarah and Nenad are meant for each other. They both have a grounded confidence, inherent sense of style, and a passion for life and love that is as infectious as their band’s high-energy Gypsy music. That passion and confidence is doubled when they’re together, particularly on stage.
“We sing a love song called Jastar Amenge Dur (Let’s go far away together). It’s a passionate Greek Gypsy love song in flamenco style that Nenad taught me, and we both adore it,” says Sarah. “When I sing it, I sing it to him. The emotion in the song fits with my feelings for him. The lyrics translate as ‘Your lips burn me, I love your beautiful big dark eyes,
you create in me such a big fire that I don’t know what to do…”
“It feels to us both as if we are on the right path in life and this is great for our band and our relationship. Like everyone, we still have challenges but the best thing we’ve discovered is that we are stronger together.”
Follow Lolo Lovina on Facebook for info on their upcoming album ‘But Mangav Tut’ (I really love you), due out on iTunes just in time for Valentine’s Day. It includes the love song ‘Jastar Amenge Dur,’ so you can play it to your sweetheart.
You can also see the couple perform live from their Gypsy Caravan Stage at Newtown Square on February 1st. After heading to Tasmania, Canberra and Melbourne in March, they’ll be back in Sydney for weekly gigs on Wednesdays at Manly’s Hotel Steyne.
Words: Kirsten Colvin, Photo: Ben Cregan