We're 24 hours away from the first Boyan release on Stereofox records and I wanted to take the opportunity to catch up with the Bulgarian producer. We had the pleasure to have him as a guest in one of our 2018 parties when we met in person. All-round cool dude with a really versatile approach when it comes to crafting music.
It's pretty awesome seeing someone who never pigeonholes into a genre and everything from his baile funk beats to the drum & bass project he's a part of sounds solid af.
Hey Boyan! Where do we catch you in those summer days?
Most of my weekdays I spend in the studio & home with my girlfriend, and over the weekends I'll be either playing at Carrusel Club, or at some of the clubs I'm a resident DJ at the seaside of Bulgaria.
You're one of the most active producers in the Bulgarian funk, soul and future beats scene - where does your love for those genres originates from?
Well, I think it all began when I started listening to hip hop. I mean classic hip hop, produced by names like Pete Rock, J Dilla, Premier, and others. I was really fascinated by the sample culture of music back then and to some extent all of the genres I produce share the same sample techniques as used in that hip hop era.
Besides, I was never really the “I like this kind of genre” guy - as corny as it sounds I really have only two genres - music I like and music I don’t. It doesn’t matter if it is hip hop, soul, funk, future beats, reggae, or whatever if it sounds good to me than I like it and I may try producing it.
You're a resident DJ at Carrusel - one of the best places in Sofia for funk and groovy music. I know you guys have a great crew there and throw some of the best parties - whats they key to create such a unique vibe when it comes to playing live?
You are absolutely right - we are one big family in Carrusel and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with such amazing people. And that is really important because being a resident in such a vital club in the Bulgarian nightlife culture means that you have to be there almost every weekend, and if you don’t get along with the people you work with it is a big problem!
Second, I really think there are two key words - consistency and responsibility. When you play in front of so many people, you have to be consistent in your music and in “reading” the crowd. There are no two nights that are the same and every time you have to be in your best mood because this really translates in the way you play music live and on the people in front of you. Also, you have to realize that you have a great responsibility in what you do, because Carrusel is one of the top 3 clubs in Bulgaria and you need to be the person who pushes new music, new artists and always try to stay original and not fall in the trap of repetitiveness.
A must-cover topic for everyone in the industry - how did the Corona change your plans - both creatively and in terms of daily routine? Do you have more time to create music nowadays?
TBH, for most aspects of my life, the pandemic changed my life for the better. Before the virus hit, I was really thinking I need a break from all the clubbing and gigging because I was getting really exhausted. With that 4 month break the virus gave me, I was finally able to get in the studio and work with my mind freed from all troubles. It was amazing. There were days that I would finish 2-3 tracks a day, something that never really happened for a loooong time. Also, I was finally able to start a stable daily routine with getting up early and going to bed early which is nearly impossible whenever I’m playing gigs.
Of course, as all of my fellow musicians around the world, I too was hit financially, but I told myself I wouldn’t stress about it and I’ve managed pretty well so far.
The EP we're about to release together Colors of Heaven is definitely looking into the instrumental / chillhop direction. Any producers or sounds that inspired you?
J Dilla is probably my biggest inspiration when it comes to this kind of instrumental hip hop music. His ability to find just the perfect sample and loop it in such a perfect way is amazing because I find that I can listen to a looped track of his for hours and not get bored with it. I really believe this is why his music not only sounds good but paints very clear feelings and emotions in my head. That is something I was looking for in my EP,. It's not just the way it sounds, it's the way it makes you feel.
We have the EP and a single with Lina Nikol planned for the summer, what's next ahead for you in 2021 as an artist and performer?
We are currently working on Lina's debut album which sounds amazing and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. Besides that, I'm just finishing my own album with Mariya Dimitrova which is a fusion between Bulgarian folklore sound and modern arrangements. It is something I have never done before and I'm super excited about that. I also work with several other artists on some different projects & different genres, so stay tuned for that as well.
What's the biggest sacrifice you had to make in the name of music?
Safety & stability by far. Most of us are not lucky to become an overnight success and we have to work really really hard to reach the next level in our music careers. That means going every day in the studio, staying late and having some times where you don't know when your next paycheck is gonna come. I can go on for a lot more sacrifices that are inevitable, but I always end with - if I had the ability to go back in time, I would do it again all over!
You also do drum & bass, tell us a bit more about your other project.
It is quite interesting how I started listening & producing drum & bass. I think it is one of those genres that need context to be understood fully. What I mean by that - back in the days when I first heard drum & bass, I didn't actually enjoy it. It just didn’t "clicked" in my mind as music I can enjoy.
Then one year I went to a big festival and the last act in the line up was a famous d&b producer. The sun was just coming up and the people were so hyped that I had my perception for that kind of music turned 180 degrees. I felt really drawn to the energy of the music and the people. Not long after that, I met Boyan Savov and we decided to try making music in that genre. For a short period of time, we managed to release track for really good labels, including one of the biggest - RAM Records. We are currently working on a lot of new tracks so stay tuned for that as well.
Bulgaria is home to quite a lot of up-and-coming talented producers, who are the people you enjoy working with / interacting the most?
There are truly a lot of amazing musicians/producers in our country! I won’t get into names because the list is gonna be a long one, but I encourage people to start digging in our local scene because there is so much quality music out there from some really talented local artists.
For someone who is thinking of visiting that part of the world, favourite places (both out of Sofia and nightlife)?
As I grow older (haha) I feel that I get more & more connected to the calmness of nature. I love going away from the city and just visit random villages or go on a mountain trip, I just love being surrounded by nature. It inspires me with its calmness and stillness. In a way, whatever problems you have, no matter big or small, they just don’t matter in a place like this.
My whole life I thought that I’m a strictly urban person, give that I grew up in the center of Sofia, but nowadays if I don’t get away from the city at least once a month, I start to feel really tired and a bit depressed. One of my main goals is to be able to live in a calm village and have a house with a studio and a big garden. Check out Rick Rubin's studio called Shangri - La if you want to get inspired!
If you could record with any artist, who would that be and why?
There is an extensive list with names I would love to work with one day, but just to name one I would probably say Justin Timberlake. His early music was a great deal of inspiration for me to this day, and I think it’s gonna be super interesting to work with an artist like him. Like, what is his workflow, how professional he goes into recording, is he open to experimenting and going with the flow? So many questions…
Thanks for the interview, Boyan! Any famous last words?
Well, firstly and most important during these troubled times - stay healthy and stay safe! And always be openminded about music, you never know what track can change your whole life!