“The audience is a real being in a search for a little fun, or – who knows – maybe some kind of e real bondage with us. They stand in front of us and they wait to hear something from us, they expect to be told something. What we tell them – they seem to like! And maybe we are kindred souls with our audience, maybe we really are. And they really seem to like what we are telling them. Who knows, maybe this is a start of a wonderful friendship? And if I contemplate this further, either that’s the case, or we’re just good for circulation”, says Branko Nikolov, the leader of the band Foltin, the band that managed to raise from the local art-attraction into one of the original sound phenomena in the widest global plan.
#1Branko Nikolov (vocals, guitar), Pece Nikolovski (clarinet, harmonica), Pece Trajkovski (harmonica, acoustic guitar, typing machine), Petar Dimitrovski (electric piano, keyboards), Goce Jovanovski (bass) and Slave Jovev (drums and percussion), in 2005 signed Lo-Lee-Ta-Too. the album that presents the creative peak of the one-decade long creative life of Foltin. It is an album that not only marked the last-year’s contemporary music production in Macedonia, but also speaks of the vivid and creative imagination of its music authors. With an unseen easiness, those musicians created an album that erases the boundaries between the studio jam-sessions and the highly-energized concert performances. It is an album that enchants whit its spontaneity; and also, it’s an album in which every single song (as Milice, I’ll Die If You Touch Me, Pssst, Garneta and Fingers, fingers, etc.) would be a full-blooded hit – of course, in a circumstances of a normal discography market.
The interview that follows comes in a period when Foltin relentlessly continues its successful serial of concerts and in a period of finishing their new project – the cover-versions songs of the legendary David Bowie.
How Foltin happened and what was its first concepts? Who were the people that were in the original band? How you decided the name of the band and what were your ambitions then?
– Dreamers, adventurers, possesed by the need for creation. That’s what we were then, so the sympathetic character of Karel Čapek’s – Composer Foltin imposed itself as a name of the band. That is the spirit of the band. We are the same today. At the beginning, a lot of people got “in and out” of the band. Everyone of them gave what they had to and (also) took what they needed from the band, and after that they would leave. And that’s ok, I understand that. Not everyone is prepared to a high sacrifice… And when we talk about the past, Oliver Josifovski is the only one who is long time out of the band, but still, somehow, he still belongs to the band, he has a special honorary place in the band. He has that Foltin spirit within himself – to dream the dream to its limits, to the very end.
How did the material for Outre-mer and the colaboration with the Skopje Jazz Festival took place?
– Well, it was the long time ago and I have to admit that I don’t really recall the details of it. But, it’s the fact that we made a lot of hard and thorough preparations. Here we first used those ready-made instruments. A lot of kinds of whistles, pipes, pots, bells, ringdings and a lot of other “toys” of various kinds. It was a lot of fun. Cartoon music. Looney tunes. Whatever – we made a concert and luckily, somebody recorded it and sent it to Kokan Dimuševski. He invited us in his studio and everything was done in three or four days. Here we have a classic plot: finished and done music material, ready to be published, we already hooked on it, but without any finances and with no idea how to find it – and, of course, in a Deus ex machina kind of a finale (of the plot, hehe), the Skopje Jazz Festival appeared out from nowhere and it solves all of our problems… It’s interesting that – although in the meantime we had several great concerts (The Ohrid Summer Festival, The Days of the Macedonian Culture in Slovenia, etc.) – we still felt the coming out of the album as a great relief, so we immediately dedicated ourself entirely to this new material. So, with an exception of two remakes from our last concerts with the album Archimed, we never really (fully) played Outre-mer, not even at the promotion.
#2What was happening in the period between the two albums and why you chose to work with Goce Dimovski for the second album? How did Archimed happen?
– In the meantime, in the period 1998/1999, we began to work for the theater and normally, we were intensively preparing Archimed. A mutual friend sugested Goce Dimovski. He, on the other hand, sugested recording and publishing of the album as soon as possible. In such a situation, we didn’t want to miss the oportunity. So it happened.
Further, between the second and the third album, some drastic changes happened what concerns the members of the band, you made a few replacements in the band. Why? Was it some kind of a crystalization of the band concept? What was your accent on in that period, and is that recognizible in the album Donkey Hot?
– The problems started when we realized that we are alienating among ourselves. It has began right after the Outre-mer. So, we had drastic changes between the first and the second, as well as between the second and the third album. We were getting more and more nervous. Now, from this time-distance, I look at that as at some kind of natural selection, or maybe we were too young to solve problems of that kind, who knows. Any band is a complex and sensitive phenomenon, or even a some kind of being, and it requires special attention and love from all of its members. Especially fom the band leader… And, Donkey Hot is a completely different story, because it’s a very liberal album. The accent was on the production mainly, but I personally think that the best of this album was its specific and profound humor.
FOLTIN – DISCOGRAPHY:
1. Out Re-Mer (1997, SJF RECORDS)
2. Archimed (2000, MAG)
3. Donkey Hot (2003, Kukuzel)
4. Lo-Lee-Ta-Too (2005, Ding Dong Records)
And while many thought that in the production label Kukuzel те you’ve found the ultimate executive producer, you chose another producer for your next album – but it seems that you’ve faced the same problems again. On what grounds you based your cooperation with Ivo Antov and in what way it resulted? Is Foltin “cursed” to produce and publish every particular album with a different label?
– Oh, no, it doesn’t matter, it isn’t like that at all. It is just an unfortunate and complex context of circumstances. And finally, they are – really – only producers. When album is out of print, the relation between the authors and the producers goes in fade-out, and that’s normal. And I must say that we publish “not very often” – three years per album. It’s a long period of time: people loose contact, somehow. On the other hand, maybe the half of the producers we had worked with, aren’t in this line of work any more. Finances are always a problem, arent they? But anyway, all of the producers’ work should be more dynamic and more immediate. We are tired of the unnatural postponing of the events and resources, and of the marathon-like recording of the album in the studio. What concerns Ivo Antov, we are friends first, and because of it this case is very different from the other ones. Ivo joined this project out of love, he just wanted to help us, and he was actually caught by surprise. But he really helped us a lot, and we endured bravely up till the very end.