Interview with Risto Vrtev

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Interview with Risto Vrtev

Somewhere in the first half of 1998… Radio show “The Blues Brothers”… Program host: Igor Isakovski. Guests: Risto Vrtev and Gorazd Čapovski. Here comes the first part of that interview, slightly rearranged for BLESOK Sound.

sound excerpts

“Years of Love or Death”

I.I.: “Years of Love or Death” lyrics from the title song of the latest album of Archangel – “Heartcore”. Risto, if the things should be contradicted that way?

#4 R.V.: Not necessarily… You know, there are millions of compromises between those two things, and the life we live force us to make compromises. However, on last instance one is always proud when he pushes the things to the end. At least, I’m such a man and that is why I think of last instances. Because the Love, I am talking about love as a general category, for me is constructive and the death is destructive, if you force it to come. Death of something, a political system for example, when you destroy a good political system – that is death. Let’s imagine those who fell out, in the transition, those in Bosnia who at age of 60-70 were left without the property which they struggled for all life, do they have time for another life? In that sense, in that one belongs this, we do not have to take the life so generally and philosophically.

I.I.: In the context of the Love, of the Death, of the Destruction, of the construction of some new values and the proving of the old ones: “New bible, now faith”. What is your comment to this song?

R.V.: This song in its form is about what I have appreciated, i.e. it’s based on a rock’n’roll – Balkan provinciation, a communist who transits itself, in fact he is copied from such destiny and from that point of view I came to that breaking point: “Instead of a heart I had a star, I didn’t have Jesus, Allah…”, you know how it was before and how everything disappeared and you are left on the winding crossroad, where everything that was your support: mental, moral, you name it – is torn down. In your life you are in a clear position where all of this has crumbled, the king is great and the only value (if it is a value) becomes the money. You have only the money as a support for your fear, it’s all the same, that’s the reason for this transitional condition in this country, everywhere the people live in fear about tomorrow, and for a penny more. They become worse parents, the sons become worse sons, the managers become worse managers, the workers – worse workers etc. There is a general chaos.

Transitions and Heart Core – Poetry

I.I.: What is it (if there is such thing) that becomes better in such times?

R.V.: The better thing, the best of all of this, is for the one who has taken up art with a real reason, but our artists have gone away now. It is a good transition also, to feast all of the communists, all those people that are talking bad about it now, and they are into politics, business… Because they’ve made their careers on politics. It means that it is also a good time, i.e. if this transition becomes something useful. I regard it as something useful. Let them be politicians; the artists, especially the younger generations which are coming, which are different from my generation, with more style, with understanding for global things, a little more impatient, but the young want everything to be happen at once, but some of them, if not more, would be much better than their antecedents.

I.I.: “New faith, new bible”, the album is titled “Heartcore”. Is it less heart or more heart?

R.V.: It is all of heart. Heartcore – it is infect the core of the heart. We go from the micro cosmos, the human – poetic although if you consider it chemically, it is molecules. But, the poets take it from a different point of view and name it heart, the source of feelings and it that sense the title is used.

I.I.: The young today want everything to happen at once. You were much younger when you started the rock’n’roll adventure. What happened until now – does it make you happy, pleased, hungry for new challenges?

R.V.: I am very pleased with my life. If it was different, it wouldn’t have sense. I do not regret for anything I have done earlier, except for some mistakes I have made. I think it had to be like that. I was very patient from the beginning because I want my things crystal clear, to wait for the truths to come and to go into their own life. I do not think that the artist has to be understood, that is what we’re learning in school: “Somebody wanted to say something, so the theme and the idea”, blah blah… I think that the relation between the author and his work is not the same as the relation between the audience and his work; it is more independent, the way the audience takes it all because it is the author’s creative act. Maybe the author didn’t think that way, but something else came out, something of what he wasn’t aware.

I.I.: Some interaction happens: creating a new work through rereading, rehearing or checking… On the second album of Archangel, a song by Pasternak “Words of Magic”, on “Heartcore” – “Vladimir” for Vladimir Mayakovski. Risto Vrtev and Russian poetry, the Russian poetry of symbolism, Russian modern poetry…?

R.V.: Well, I am a Slav. I am working on a musical form that came from the West. Also, the football came from the west, but it made its home here. The Macedonians play it their way, the Germans play it differently. I’ve never thought that if you take rock’n’roll you take something strange; It is an universal dictionary and it’s on you what you‘ll do with it. If you like the form, you will say what you have in its frames, respecting it. The rock’n’roll, at least when I started and when I listened to it, was very phallusoid, with electric guitar, which looked like a lengthened penis, which didn’t fit my artist drives, I didn’t like to do it, but I like it much as a form, I consider it a perfect form, which took me away from my theater background, my parents have been working in the theater for all of their lives. That’s why my house was always full with writers, directors, actors, painters… I wanted to be a painter at first, then a poet… And in my eight grade I became a cloned Kosta Racin. Than I have noticed that I have adopted something from those artists. Moreover, what I have adopted? I understood that it is an interesting madness, where a man wants to be a god, above the folks, above the destiny of the people, and that’s why the writers usually take, those who pretend to be the fathers of the nation, can you imagine a writer – father of the nation, than the roots, the mother… That was driving me mad. Well, that way in the dictatorship, which we went through, the Serbian memorandum, Čosić with the gang, Milošević was the one that produced it, it is terrible. I think that I understood it in the early childhood, in my teenage years as well, so I chose the rock’n’roll. If you try to make fun with it, you will not last, you are gone, kiss your way good bye. It is very honest form, if you try to cheat here the new generation will come and that will be it. The pop-culture is very honest, because you are never gonna be in an Academy, never with a white beard… You can never end up like that. But, it has made an influence in those great literal aims, lines; especially the human line of the literature has excited me much. For the good of the people, but not as somebody who will say how will be OK.
I chose Pasternak accidentally, I had prepared music for a song, and I didn’t know how to make a text which will end my album, when you are working on a text you need something strange and I found that brilliant translation by Gane Todorovski; it fitted perfectly, as if they were made for one another. I was thinking that is what I need, I was astounded how good it was. There is something true in the fact, I belong to the Eastern sensibility, downstream of Drina, as they say – that is for sure. I do not belong to the west. I do not “get on well” with those people. They imposed the dictionary of the pop, and we understand each other, we listen to the same music; anyway, deep in the heart we are very different. The other ones, you know them that they are different, you’ll quarrel, beat one-another, then make peace, kiss and hug… I like that, that’s healthy for me, I don’t like what happens there, on the other side.

I.I.: What about Vladimir?

R.V.: Well, Vladimir… I felt very empty and I didn’t have an ambition to make another album; after the second one I was fulfilled and I started setting up my private life, intimate things and when it came to it (because the band still existed, there was a need of album) I started looking for an inspiration, I took something to read. I rushed into Mayakovski, which I already knew but differently than in the school. As I had his complete works, I read everything from the beginning to the end and I admired him; then, Tsvetaeva, some of her thoughts exactly about Pasternak and Mayakovski, where she says that it rarely happens that in one country and in one era there are two big poets, and she considers the two of them biggest and you can read between the lines that she is bias to Pasternak, the other is too rough to her, and dearer to me, because his poetry is a speech, and not metaphor, I don’t like metaphors, I think it is vain poetry where the metaphor precedes the things, he makes it and puts it on the margins and I think that the poetry must be a speech and in that sense I consider Mayakovski the king of the poets, Mayakovski – gap – than the others. He talks that man talks, you can say that a recitator doesn’t have to come out and give him a meaning, simply you say it and it stays it’s powerful and it shakes one, when Brick in a “Cloud in trousers” says: The corridor behind him leaned on the door… And he starts… And everything and everyone in the room has fallen down; everybody has the feeling that something extraordinary happened. As well with his appearance: he was a two meter man; I simply like him, his reflections about America. In the 1920s he went to America and described it thus: “everything here is built to last for short; everything is for money; there is no “how are you”, but “how much money have you made”, not “look at him how nice and clever is”, but “he is very rich”. There is a trend going on in America which has conquered Europe also, especially the countries in transition, which means that we are experiencing Americanization which is not something good. Nevertheless, like everybody who wanted to become the ruler of the world, there is always some contradiction when the time comes, that was the idea. He inspires me, I wrote a song and used two of his verses: “I didn’t live mine on the earth, I didn’t love mine on the earth” and I started going backwards writing a song dedicated to him, a projection of my possible life and I think that his destiny is a destiny which talks about itself in some other life, his life. Therefore, when the revolution was abandoned by everyone, he still believes in it, “you will not take it away from me”, he was left all alone, a true believer. It is wonderful. He is a great man.

I.I.: Here we are going back to “New faith, new bible”, to the people in transition, to the way the artist can experience all that, to the fact that somebody talking about himself would talk about the whole idea which is inside of him, because the people are the bearers of ideas on a way, if not they would have been more empty or totally empty.

R.V.: Everybody has some ideas, big or small, which could be realized or not. There are people who are put down to making-shit machine, enter-exit, and always the same… What do I need… Ah, that… They are going around and round and it’s normal that such people exist. Also, there are people who shake the devil, thinking that there is something more in this life; they have to have something more as an excuse for the life, which is given to them, that this is not all. They are the real artists, in my opinion.

Über Makedonische

I.I.: Tell me what do you think on these days?

R.V.: Well… To get enough sleep and then to start working. I have to work on a film.

I.I.: For the film “Wake up dead man”?

R.V.: Yes, it is a film by Darko Mitrevski & Aco Popovski. Now, it is being mixed and when it is ready, I will have to continue my work. It is a big job, because some dialogues are missing and I have to fill them up with music. This is the first time I work on a film and we will see what will come out.

I.I.: So, you are filling the script, in a way?

R.V.: We work together, we are friends of the art, always ready, always near, doing a group work, educating…?

I.I.: You are talking about the enlightenment, about the mission, about the new values, which are to come and to prove the old existing values. That, in a way, connects “Über Makedonische” & “Wake up dead man”.

R.V.: Yes, they are connected. We are together with Aco & Darko for a few years. We have talked very much, they are people with whom I communicate the most about the production of ideas, thinking about some points… And everything was spontaneous, one day “Übermakedonische” came to my mind, and I was nervous about it, Macedonian song “A bre, Makedonče” (“Hey, little Macedonian”) – totally contrary to all of that, everything is trifle here, small car, little girl. In addition, I wanted to project all of that and the contrary, and to see how it will look like. I called them and Darko was at the office. When I told him he was silent for about half a minute and then he said: “Yes, yes, come here, at once!”, and we started talking about it. And I wrote the words as I did. The first part is in a life-play style like our playwright Risto Krle did, (which is not my habit), because I wanted to picture the provincial life, then comes the condition of the young, those who could take up this condition, and the thing that follows – a shot which would wake the people up, which would make the judgment. What is that? A war? A stream? I cannot say, we will see. However, we must be above afterwards, to accomplish ourselves, we must not be small and frustrated… That’s the whole idea and I think that the time has come, we should not waste our time in vain. The condition here is as follows: something from abroad is always better… The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. We are a nation, which was not able to preserve its tradition, to keep it, to admire it and to respect it. Our people have to prove themselves somewhere away in order to succeed… It is a provincial reflex. I think that many things exist on this ground. We did not succeed to preserve the tradition of Clement from the devils which surround us, you know our nation, and if we were severe, nobody would have been able to take that away from us. Our history is not clear, there were uprisings where Macedonians killed Macedonians, I cannot see that somebody else was killing them, and all that for a penny more. In this way, our work (with Aco & Darko) is educational. Darko wrote the manifesto of “Makedonska streljba” where there is a good deal of fun, but we will see if that is good. Our gathering will continue. In the time of Clement we were a big country, here lived some big people, where are they now? Fact is that they made students from that bishopric. Moreover, after Cyril and Methodius those students taught all of the others, before the Serbs, even before the Russians. The Russians have Vladimir in the X century and as Lenin imposed the communism, this one took a club, beated them and told them: from now one there is only one Jesus to believe in… We had the same thing in the IX c. And I think it is the only power we had. We cannot put a sign on the map on the world, we will lose our identity if we keep on going this way. At least three of us will not surrender to that, because of ourselves.

I.I.: There is still somebody. You are not alone.

R.V.: OK, we do not know them, ‘God give’, and we are not armed terrorist group, which has its membership and would change the systems, which is bad trip indeed.

Pieces of the Macedonian rock’n’roll history – Mizar, The First Revelation

(Gorazd Čapovski enters the interview)

I.I.: In ’81 the idea was born and you and Risto Vrtev formed “Mizar”. What did you have on mind then, what did you want to do at that moment?

#5 G.Č.: I have to say that Risto had great influence, he with his ideas was the leader of the band, he was writing all of our songs, and this is in a way one of my dearest periods. I consider myself lucky to have met such a person and learn some things about the art. Simply, “Mizar – The First Revelation” as it was at the beginning, is the base of our urban sound, of a new style, Dark style.

I.I.: The CD “The best of Mizar” that came our few months ago is very popular, What do you think about it?

G.Č.: I think it is a matter of copyrights. It is not authorized version and I don’ have anything to add to this. Badly recorded, badly packed and nobody is free to owe songs which are not his.

I.I.: What are you going to do about this?

G.Č.: If the judicial system was better… The Western Countries give you 20 years imprisonment and when you get out you wouldn’t think of it anymore. However, as I know, the judicial system here is not functioning properly… I will sue them, but it is still early for it.

I.I.: OK, I invited the two of you together here, as a continuation of a story from 1981, the ex-members of “Mizar” from 1981?

R.V.: Yes, you are right. It was a history. Now we are historical persons… Ha, ha, ha. It was a wonderful time, at least from my point of view. We had a feeling that we are doing something that is much bigger than our lives. There was some kind of magic, there was communication, there were some wonderful people around us, we were making music, in that small basement in the Gorazd’s house in Kozle which was enchanting us, we were going out from our rehearsals happy, we were going to the park, there we would get drunk… It was very cheerful, romantic and nice time. Then, the kids were not mature enough to go on, and everything disappeared, but it is the magic. However, when I go back, if we would continued… We were not caught by the business and that is why everything reminded so pure and nice. Such things rarely remain in your mind, rarely something which you were trying to push to the end could remain so pure and nice and I’m very happy to have such a thing in my life.

I.I.: OK, now you have something, which is different. Something which is commercial, concerts are in front of “Arhangel”, Gorazd has an album selling in America and around the world. How do you feel on a distance 1998 and onwards?

R.V.: Well, we are still alive and kicking, still working, we have sons, what more do you expect from us? Even this is too much, hahaha. If every Macedonian has done as we did this country would have functioned better.

I.I.: You have traveled much with Mizar, on many concerts. What have you learned?

R.V.: We went as soon as we started (we lasted for a year), we went through all those Yugoslavian selections and we made a great impact. Above all, as I have said, we worked for that. At least, I was feeling that way. I have traveled more with “Arhangel” if that is the question. Here and there, east and west, it is not too much, but it is enough. We didn’t go somewhere for one show only, but for example – two weeks in Denmark, and then Czech Republic and you will make a tour in one country and concerts in many towns. Not only the one night stands… It is more interesting this way.

I.I.: Looking at two of you, how long you haven’t seen each other?

R.V.: Not a long time ago, since last year. We are seeing each other frequently. We cannot miss each other, ha, ha, ha…

I.I.: There will be a concert on Saturday, the magazine “Grad” will organize it, and both bands will be there. What Gorazd thinks about it?

G.Č.: I think it’s great and it was about time for a magazine like that to appear. I feel I am please to be there.

I.I.: I meant, would you like to play together again?

R.V.: Why not? It is possible. The life will show. We would like to, but we are busy. Gorazd has plans with the American market etc. We are going slowly, we will see what we can do. Although, we do not have anything with it, we have a manager who cares about it… And we would like to play together, why not?

2018-08-21T17:24:02+00:00 October 1st, 1998|Categories: Reviews, Blesok no. 05, Sound|0 Comments