Some of your songs, such as those of Hristovski… are being played and sung in restaurants. They become popularized. How do you feel about it?
STEFANOVSKI: That gives me a lot of pleasure. When I enter a restaurant in Belgrade, they immediately play “Gipsy Song”… trust me… that’s a great compliment for me. “Gipsy Song” has been played in all Balkan restaurants. That’s the greatest compliment for me as an author. This is one of the songs that I was telling you about, which seem as though taken from a rock. You cannot add or take away anything from it… including the text. That’s how it happened.
I am not frustrated with what I have been doing. I think I have done a lot. I have recorded numerous records, played on numerous concerts, achieved many collaborations… realized many different projects with various orchestras, various musicians… significant musicians, great names. As a man from Skopje, from Macedonia, I feel pretty content with what is behind me. Regarding what awaits me, I will persist in the things in which I would need to persist as much as God gives me strength, enthusiasm, motivation and health.
ON THE DISCIPLINE OF SORTING OUT THOUGHTS
We know you as extraordinary guitar player, superb player, composer… but you have also given us a number of great texts. Did you ever see yourself as a text writer? Did you have and do you still have that need to write verses?
STEFANOVSKI: I did have it and I still do. In my phone, I have a bunch of phrases that come to me, and which are still as an initiation for some songs that will be written in the future… hopefully. I enjoy writing texts. I love the discipline of sorting out thoughts and rhymes. I learned that craft. I used to bother my brother Goran for the first albums of LEB I SOL, while later I achieved that discipline of writing. I have very nice texts. Few days ago Jan played for me “Nostalgija” (Nostalgia) from the album “Kula od karti” (Tower of Cards)… and I was surprised how good the text was. I can write a verse or two. Look, if you let me boast a little, I will tell you where my greatest quality is. At the same time, I had been listening to Allan Holdsworth, Bob Dylan, THE BEATLES, Jimi Hendrix… and Jeff Beck. So, at the same I was listening to fusion music, and I loved Dylan, Joni Mitchell… people who are songwriters… who wrote beautiful texts, beautiful songs. I’ve wanted to make a balance between these two worlds. I’m sure that Allan Holdsworth has not written a single text in his life… or maybe one or two in the group TEMPEST… I see myself as one of the better text writers among the guitar players. And as one of the guitar players among songwriters. That’s it. But I’m constantly trying to be flexible and draw from all those spheres.
Do you ever mind epithets such as “guitar god” or the like?
STEFANOVSKI: No, no. I don’t take that seriously. I just received information that allegedly Eric Clapton praised me to Ray Dorset from MUNGO JERRY… and on and on… That is another input in the mythology about me. Those are mythologies. I don’t take any of it seriously. They are all kinds of ranging, compliments… he said, she said… Pat Metheny said this about me, Mark Knopfler said that… none of it matters. I don’t believe anything until someone says it personally to me. I’m not interested. If someone like John McLaughlin says that to me directly, as he did, then that’s a whole different matter. The other things are just mythology, nothing more. Whether they said it or not… it makes no difference to me. People like to distort things and before they come to you – they take a whole different shape.