(interview with Gorazd Čapovski from Kismet)
Kismet, the only Macedonian band with the active publishing contract with foreign label – the L.A. Tone Casualties, published this days their latest album Dreaming (Avalon Production). It is the strongest and the most exciting album of this band, a material that resurrects the spirit of the cult band Mizar. What links this two bands is the name of the guitarist Gorazd Čapovski, one of the men with a great intuition, and one of the initiators of the essential movements of the brave Macedonian rock’n’roll story.
* With the new album, it’s like you say: Here, I’m back home finally, and now – I’m on my own, at last. I have an impression that you said goodbye to the illusions that you can be somewhere else and remain creatively just the same, although, maybe, the foreign-work experience you gained in the last few years was necessary for you?
– Somehow, I “gathered” ten years of “emigration”. Two years in England and eight in Australia, so I think – what’s enough is enough. And by the way, for all of that time I was here in my thoughts, and I was only waiting for the moment when I would be able to “cut” my foreign life. “Down under”, as they like to say about the Australian continent, was good for me, everything was secured for me, and everything was at my hand. I had easy & cozy life there. But now, I see that I lived in some kind of imaginary life of mine there. I was recording music there, I performed with my band at numerous clubs, and on the surface, it all seemed quite O.K. And now, when I listen the albums I’ve recorded there, it becomes clear to me that I was, in fact, a prisoner of that “easy” life there, a imprisoned by that imaginary world that was surrounding me at that time. It’s not that those materials are bad, or something. In contrary. At the end, with those materials I traveled through whole Australia and I reached the publisher like the American Tone Casualties. But simply, I think that they miss a certain important part of my soul. Look, I never cut my links – emotional or else – with my native land, with its rhythms and music… But, out is out, especially when it’s out of your roots. I’m home now, and everything that Kismet does begins and ends here, in Macedonia.
* Somehow, I seem that you required a little longer period to feel the home context in true manner, with its actual disturbance at this bad times, before you started this new adventure of Kismet, and before you started to make music, and to give a birth to the songs of this new album.
– This last year and a half, while I worked this album, I was a regular guest of those “barbecue to measure” restaurants in Taftalidze, and I socialized with the ordinary people. Practically, out of my imaginary world, I tried with all my efforts to “get down” to the world of the common man. I socialized with the artist of many profiles, but I also saw the world of the declined “working class”, the class of people that is an “endangered species”. Actually, in the latest period, as long as I’m here in Macedonia, I socialize with my old neighborhood friends, my “redneck” friends. I’m very proud of my “redneck”, my peasant roots. My father comes from the countryside, from a village in Aegean Macedonia. I dedicate my new album to my grandfather Boris and my grandmother Violeta from Bitola district. My grandfather Boris is a peasant, he makes vine. He doesn’t have even the elementary school. He’s in his vineyard all of his life. I admire him.
* What, actually, yours going back to the common man – means? What that need means?
– The album tells that really nice. It means turning back to the most normal things, my refusing to escape into experimental modes, and my denial to act as some “art”-intellectual. I’m well-read person, educated enough, but I’m not what I’ve just mentioned. I’m part of Macedonia, and part of the Balkans.
* Did the new situation here, this time when even a some kind of a war happened to us, helped you to see things differently?
– I wouldn’t say that the war did that most directly, but more – my neighborhood atmosphere in such circumstances – people that were around me, their destinies and their very common lives.
* In one period, I seem that it was after the not-very-lucky project – the “tribute to Mizar” album, you practically remained alone in Kismet. There were a lot who actually thought that the band is terminally dead. Knowing what fighter you are, I personally didn’t believe that you’ll leave “the story to the history”. In meanwhile, the things have changed indeed. Now you have a real band, like in the Mizar times. What – actually – happened?
– Even when I remained alone, I did my thinking how to have a band around me. Although the half of the material is made on sampler machine, I did the arrangements as for the real band. The whole time I was with the thought that the music I make – must be performed by someone at the stage. That music had to be drawn from the very depths of the ones’ soul, and from the souls of those in front of them in the audience… It was always of the greatest importance for me in my whole work. Anyway, that is very essence of the rock’n’roll, and the music in general.
* What I liked the most was the fact that, when you worked on Dreaming, you gathered a team of musicians who are close to you in generation, and who are the important factors of the Mizar cult story: Risto Vrtev, Goran Trajkovski… Only Goran Tanevski is missing. Is that a coincidence or…?
– It al happened somehow – spontaneously. It wasn’t my intention to gather at the recording of the album the people whit which I closely worked at the time. I didn’t plan some “Deja vue” situations. Simply, I’m a friend with those people, we’re constantly together. As for example, Goran Trajkovski was my guest even at my previous album. Now, his presence had only a different function. Dreaming is deeply Macedonian album. It’s made in this country. The team for this album gathered spontaneously. I didn’t had such a concept before, or any concept about that matter, at all. In the September last year I had only some non-defined ideas. Goran and Zoki (Zoran Spasovski – Anastasia, former member of the band Mizar) help me in my work always when they like the material I have. Goran liked this material a lot, and he doesn’t hesitated at all to do what he did – to do the vocals so beautifully and gracefully in the song Izvor. Risto Vrtev, at the other hand, is different story. He’s my teacher. If the very beginnings are the most important for everybody, then I really had a Teacher, then. When we started the first revelation of Mizar, I had only 17, and he was 22 – so he endlessly influenced on me and on my music style.
* How come you made the connection with the Avalon Production? It’s a word that you were offered the best conditions for a contract and that they were the swiftest in the decision to publish the album.
– Well, I work with them for quite a while… The first concert of Kismet in Macedonia was organized by Avalon. Before I even started the recording of this album, I called Boban (from Avalon Production) and Ivo Jankoski (from Third Ear Production), and I told them that I work on a new project. The team of Avalon Production didn’t hesitate, they contacted me very soon and they showed high interest to work with me, so it was a really easy done collaboration.
* The title theme on the album – Dreaming, is a remake of the song by Sarajevo band Indeksi. You and Indeksi – it’s a little unusual for a man to make a connection between you and this band…?
– It is much unusual. My interest in Indeksi came after I saw, in Australia, the film Pretty Villages, Pretty Flame (Lepa sela lepo gore). The leading music theme in this film is the song She threw everything down the river (Bacila je sve niz rijeku) by Indeksi. After that, I went, carefully, through the whole repertoire of this band. About the song I Dream (Sanjam), me and Biljana started to work on this song almost two years ago, and even that song is completely minimalistic, with only two couplets, we worked on it very thoroughly to find the true dimension of the song.
* And, of course, the relations of all of your generation toward the ethnic roots of the folklore tradition is incredibly fruitful. What do you think of those people who reached that ethnic musical source via the rock’n’roll – do you think that you’ve chosen the right way, the true path? And how and where further now?
– We experimented with kavals and with zurlas around 1985/86. What Dautovski plays in the song of Makis Ablianitis, Zlatko Oridjanski played with his Lola V. Stain a long time ago. The intention of my generation was to fit into the new flows of the new century, and not only to remain stuck to the tradition, frozen.
* Unbelievably large amount of energy, even dispersing of the whole folklore structure can be noted in the song Slaga se s’lnce… sang by the divine ethno singer Vanja Lazarova. Here, in this album, you didn’t preserve the version from the Ritmistika, but you went even further adding riffs that sound so natural, that they even seem to burst out of the origins of this beautiful elegiac song. Why is that?
– I want to emphasize this here: “aunt” Vanya is a contemporary artist. To adjust a song for her to sound modern, it would take you a period of at least two years, and certainly we wasn’t given that period at the recording of Ritmistika. Compared to her, the great people’s artist, we are nothing but amateurs. To get even close to her vocal zenith, I really needed whole two years. And I think that I still haven’t reached the point as in the original version of the song, I even think that I’m a whole quality level beneath the real maximum of it. But, this is my vision of Slaga se s’nce… that song in which so much depths of the soul and so much energy interlace.
* On this album by Kismet can be noticed some kind of an atmosphere that dominates in the editions of Mizar, the spirit of that time can be sensed, it seems as some dark moments from that period are even copied, in a way. How do you see that?
– That probably comes from the maturing, and with the age. And also from the people I’m with. I didn’t intentionally copied the past, or the atmosphere of that time. All that came somehow spontaneous. Simply, that’s how the mosaic created itself.
* On Dreaming are used samples from a bands and musicians as Led Zeppelin, Killing Joke, Sintezis, Massive Attack. Did you intentionally went for some recognizable threads of the bands that left some traces or influenced you and your work?
– The bands you mentioned are those which I like and which I often listen to. Of course that would be those from whom I’d take a sample. They did inspire my actual music expression. Maybe just two years ago I would say something different, but at the moment, this is my thinking. These are the things that “got under my skin”, like it is the case with Majakovski.
* Yes, the cover of the album is somehow “overdone” (Majakovski and the Sun!?!). With Sergey Damovski – were you after the aesthetics of the kitsch, or…
– Majakovski is the favorite poet of Vrtev and he introduced me to his poetry. As I said, while I was recording the album, I constantly went to those “barbecue to measure” restaurants, and the conversations about Majakovski in such places seemed very “overdone” and kitsch to me. That’s why the cover of the album is like it is – Majakovski and the Sun – kitsch. The whole album has kitsch echo, the Mediterranean characteristic. Majakovski is the symbol of two origins, both for the Russian (so close to ours, as we are large part Slavs) and the Anglo-Saxon origin. The Sun, then again, is the symbol of the Mediterranean origin. So, the cover is the symbol of the interlacing of the Russian (the Slav), the Mediterranean and the Anglo-Saxon. It can be seen what I listen to: Jimmy Hendrix, Doors, Joy Division… and what I’ve grown up with.
* Besides all the people from your own generation that helped you with the album, you, in the meantime, succeeded to consolidate the band. How did you came in contact with those people?
– Last year, when the war started, I had a thoughts to stop my music work and to “retire” the band. The thought that art is worthless and unnecessary, almost torn me apart that whole summer, although I had some materials already. And one day, I took the sampler machine and my computer, and I went down to the cellar in which we used to practice with Mizar, and – that “moved” the things. What concerns the people that are now members of Kismet, I knew them from the underground circles. Here, I knew Biljana from Prilep, where I often played. Ilija Stojanovski (the bassist) is my old friend; I know Dimitar from the performances of the Last Expedition and Bla Bla Bla where he played the drums; Zoki Oridjanski was always around… Otherwise, the official team are: me, Ilija and Dimitar. Biljana will probably be in the band, and may be she will go on with her own project. Many musicians are interested for the female vocals from Dreaming and are interested to use their voices.
* The album is already in distribution. How do you plan its promotion?
– As first, we are just about to finish the video-clip for the title theme, and then for the song Spring (Izvor). At 22nd of May we’ll perform at the “Skopje Burns” Festival (“Skopje gori”)… During the summer will perform throughout Macedonia. I don’t believe that we’ll do a classic concert promotion of the album. Anyway, we never actually did that. What’s also certain is that this summer will perform in Croatia, as well as in Greece, probably in Solun (Thessaloniki) and Athens.
* Beside the Macedonian edition, there will be an American edition of Dreaming. Will that be different somehow?
– Yes. The album will be published by our publisher, the label Tone Casualties in September. The mastering will be done by David Ekles, who has worked with Smashing Pumpkins, and besides that, on the American edition of Dreaming will be the song I’m so sad, written and sung by Risto Vrtev. Otherwise, all remains the same.
* Did you ever had a thought, now especially, when you work with the former members of Mizar, to invite Goran Taneski to be your guest in the album, to sing a song, or something?
– When our misunderstanding and dispute appeared over the author’s rights of the Mizar material, Goran claimed that the first album of the band was made by 40 people. I don’t think so. It was made by three men. At the albums is written who made the songs. But, regardless of our misunderstandings, I always wanted and I want him now also to participate as a guest in my albums. I say this with wide open heart.
Mizar – Mizar – Helidon/Dallas 1988 Slovenia
Mizar – Svjat Dreams – Helidon/Dallas 1990-91 Slovenia
Kismet – Dormant Dire – Paritor 1994 Australia
Kismet – Damjan’s War – Paritor 1995 Australia
Kismet – Wake up Gods – Tone Casualties 1997 USA
Kismet – Red Ball (soundtrack) – BMG 1998 Australia
Kismet – N.A.B. Express – Tone Casualties/Pinnaclle 1999 USA/Great Britain
Kismet – Toxic Avengeriu (soundtrack) – Troma records 2000 USA
Kismet – Dreaming – Avalon production 2002 Macedonia
Tone Casualties/Pinnacle September 2002
Translated by: Petar Volnarovski