I’ve been tempted in life to go to certain extremes, but it’s not my style. I have found enormous satisfaction in music. I have found in music such great satisfaction… and cure… and salvation from various situations that I cannot leave it now. There is no need to. I’m still searching for something in it. I’m still searching for some solutions. Music solutions. Emotional. I’m searching for answers to my question. I answer some of them through music. And for others – I will never find an answer – Vlatko Stefanovski says in an interview for BLESOK.
Vlatko Stefanovski has been more than a regional guitar hero for a long time. He is definitely the most engaged Macedonian musician with international career. He is one of the few who, since the adolescent BREG, through the missionaries LEB I SOL, his trio… the collaboration with virtuosos such as Miroslav Tadic, Teodosij Spasov, Jan Akkerman, Tommy Emmanuel, Stochelo Rosenberg… established himself as a prominent artist, desired musical fellow thinker and artist who enters the narrow circle of those who compose the real and unlimited sound image for the rhythmically colorful Balkan in global terms.
This Vlatko Stefanovski, the former teenager from the Skopje “Mexican” street, who in the past fanatically plunged into discovering the secrets of the instrument, finding himself “torn apart” between rock-and-roll, fusion music and Macedonian music language and tradition, is the last laureate of the state award “11 October” for his overall oeuvre in the area of culture and art, and the author who signed one of his most mature achievements – the album with a symbolical title “Macedonian Tongue”. The conversation with Stefanovski was recorded on his terrain, in his Taftalidze. In the restaurant “14”, where even the walls contain the positive energy of his music. Of our music.
You were present in the audience at the performance of the improviser Fred Frith in the chamber hall of the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra. Then, at the one of the TOTO group, at the concert of Scott Henderson, SOFT MACHINE… and we have seen each other at many other events where you follow attentively what your colleagues in instruments do. What is it that even today, after so many years in this music story of yours, makes you curious and dedicated to listening to other musicians’ performances?
STEFANOVSKI: First, I want to see how far my colleagues have come in their personal development. Second, how far the guitar trend has come, and, third, you can learn a trick or two from everyone. See the way in which they play. See what kind of equipment they use. How they resolve certain music challenges and problems. Everyone has their own way. I am not the only such guitar fanatic. If Jeff Beck can practice at the age of 70 something and be interested in how other guitarists play, why wouldn’t I. I do not think at all that a person can discover all secrets of a craft in one lifetime. There are constantly new ones that you have to discover, and see how far you’ve come. A few days ago I was at TOTO… I watched Steve Lukather. I was looking at how far he has come. We are almost the same age. Van Halen was born in 1955, the following 1956 Steve Lukather, while I was born in 1957. Although I am not from California, we do have things in common. Things that we treat similarly because my whole generation of guitar players was fed with the same music. With the music of the end of the 1960is and the beginning of the 1970es. And if you ask Lukather what his favorite LP is, he will tell you “Band of Gypsys” by Jimi Hendrix. I have grown up with that LP, too. Not only that one, but also the whole fusion of the seventies, John McLaughlin, Jan Akkerman, all that interesting music that was taking place in that period. We were teenagers back then, and we soaked it like sponges. We were feeding ourselves with what was current.
Taking into consideration my age and experience, and the mileage I’ve passed, I know that projects happen only if they want to happen. I cannot force anyone – please, we have to collaborate. If the collaborations do not happen spontaneously, then there is no sense.