Vlatko Stefanovski: Until I Satisfy My Artistic Appetite
AAJ: Tell me about your last solo recording, Tower Of Cards. There are performances by many top musicians from around the globe. Please tell me who participated here and what sort of emotions and ideas went into making it.
VS: On this record there is a plethora of interesting musicians and there are plenty of interesting songs, which I think are going to have a long life and are yet to be really discovered. One of the world's leading drummers Manu Katche plays here, I also had a mega popular singer sing two or three verses, and that's Gibonni from Croatia, then the legendary keyboard player from SerbiaKornelije Kovach (Korni Group), a programmer from Skopje, Vasko Serafimov. There is a guest appearance by the late great trumpet player Goce Dimitrovski (known as the trumpet player on the "Otpisani" TV series theme), the brilliant violinist Gazmend BeriÅ¡a (Project Å½lust), Nora Poloska sang backing vocals, and some keyboard parts were played by an old friend of mine Valentino Skenderovski (one time keyboard player of Leb i Sol and a renowed producer).
This record is truly a diverse one as it took me almost a year to finish it, and I had enough time to invite people or to pay them a visit to do some recordings. It was a slow production process and during that period the songs took different shapes, and some of them were made even 3-4 years prior to the album's release.
Tower Of Cards is a collection of my impressions i.e. it is a collection of my songs and impressions during the last 5-6 years. I had to write and sing about all those things that have haunted, frightened, delighted me and warmed my soul in the meant time. I had to tell about all those things that preoccupied me and I guess not just myself, but also the people from my generation. Of course, what I just said refers not only to people of my age, but even to people older or younger than me.
I was born in the middle of the previous century and we went through many things, as we saw two or three political systems changing. My generation is quite interesting since we were born in one era, grew in another, while we are raising our families and living our lives in totally different era. One day should I decide to write a book I'll put into words my thoughts on this issue. Not only that this period is interesting, but we are living in a very interesting part of the world. This is a period when one political system hasn't entirely gone while the other one still hasn't arrived. We are living in a period of an endless transition.
AAJ: One of the bands that you perform with regularly is the Trio. Not long ago it grew into a Quartet. The first time I heard about it, to be honest, was at an open-air festival in Å tip [a city in mid-Macedonia], in the mid 90's. What made you decide to form a Trio? For a time there, even Leb i Sol functioned as a trio.
VS: The Trio is like a tripod and it can be very steady and at same time very unsteady. The electric trios are also known as power trios, and it should be that way in order to function properly. In 1996, I received an invitation from a friend of mine from Stip, who happened to be organising an open-air festival there. He invited me to perform on that festival, but at the time I didn't have a band to perform with. But he gave a suggestion to form a band for that occasion. Then I invited MiÅ¡ko (Mihail ParuÅ¡hev) and AÄek (Aleksandar Pop Hristov) whom I've known from the Skopje's club scene. We had 2-3 rehearsals, we played there on that festival and in retrospective I think we gave an excellent performance although it was our first. I like playing with the Trio as I've been endlessly inspired by Jimi Hendrix's TrioJimi Hendrix Experience (as well as by another band of his, the Band of Gypsies), for which I think is one of the best trios of all time. Cream was also a very powerful rock trio.
The Trio has room for everyone i.e. it gives enough space for everyone to express themselves and to use their instrument to the best of their abilities, both as a rhythmic and melodic instrument. There is enough space i.e. tapestry for improvising as much as you need. As formation, the trio is very slippery because if the groove isn't right and if the music isn't as it should be then the music will stop, i.e. the machinery itself will stop.
I really love playing with the Trio, but recently we welcomed another member, Damir Imeri on keyboards, who is a real revelation for me since he is truly a talented musician and is someone who is not really affirmed as a player. He does arrangements for all kinds of singers, but that's not his true affinity. His true affinity is jazz and jazz-fusion and I think he jelled fine with the existing trio where in the meantime the personnel changed.
Now, I play with Djoko MaksimovskiDjole on bass and Dean Milosavljevi'Dino on drums. I've been working with this personnel for the last 4 years. The musicians from Macedonia know certain things by default i.e. you don't need to explain much when it comes to uneven rhythms. If someone doesn't know them you cannot explain them to him in plain words. To a musician from France or Sweden you can count those rhythms but you won't be able to make him play them. Even less of a chance to get him to play them properly. The musicians from here know what they are all about and without much fuss we just agree on the rhythm and onward we go.