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Artist of the Week – Elitsa Todorova

February 15, 2009 by · 7 comments

Vanya Nikolaeva’s interview with Elitsa Todorova

Translated from Bulgarian by Velina Vateva

Earth and sky meet, and water embraces fire – this is the music of Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov, music that fascinates your senses. You feel as if you are in some other dimension, and the experience is gorgeous!

Elitsa, what is the message of your music? The emphasis is not on the text as much as on the impressive combination of vocal and musical style (folklore, jazz, drum and bass…).

The message of my music is LOVE! I love my audience and I am on the stage to give people LOVE – love for them, for nature, for authentic folklore, and for drums as a source of inspiration and energy. What I do is based on folklore in songs, which I have been searching for and gathering for years. I then mix my musical finds and improvisations with African rhythms, ethno motives, and drums and bass from all over the world.

I have always dreamed my work to be like a folklore fairytale, told with the help of modern ways of making music. Electronic music and the full orchestral sound have influenced my musical taste, as well as the years spent on the shore of Africa when I was a child…

Where does your passion for percussion come from?

I find its origin, again, in the years spent in Africa. The atmosphere there breeds natural tribal rhythm in you – the warmth there, the sun, the smiles – everything makes the wild spirits in you come to life! At the age of five I tried for the first time to play on cans of milk – I played with spoons, just like my friends.

There I was, on the African shore. Later, passing along the music school in Varna with my father, I heard drums and told him: “I want to play the drums!” He smiled and said: “Well all right, let’s go inside and give it a try!” Not long after that I was in the music school, playing percussion. Some time later I started studying in the Conservatoire in Sofia, continuing to study percussion. Through all these years my connection with folklore has been very strong. My mother is Pavlinka Todorova – a famous folk singer.

Together we have been singing all these years, all the time. I am really happy that while studying in Varna I managed to graduate from the Music school in Kotel, where I studied folklore singing. The school in Kotel is a great place where people have a real chance to develop.

Together with Stoyan Yankoulov, you connect your music with the elements: water, earth, even the universe – as in the video Cosmos. There are other videos to come – what is the source that nourishes your imagination and inspiration?

I love reading fairy tales and watching fabulous and cosmic movies. I believe in goodness and beauty in relationships. Sometimes I think I have invented a beautiful fairy tale world of my own and this world gives me strength. But my belief in God gives me the greatest strength!

I have already written a lot of scripts for videos. They come into my mind all of a sudden, when I walk through woods or along the seashore. I am really happy I work with directors who feel close to my conception of the world and who manage very quickly to visualize my ideas.

Elitsa Todorova and Valya Balkanska

We are now up to making the videos of Fire and Wind — after that, the cycle of the four elements will be complete: Water, Earth, Fire, Wind. These videos are all dedicated to respecting the elements of nature and are connected with our Ecologic campaign We, Stoyan, and I, are the faces of this campaign.

Do you consider this campaign successful? Do you think it has reached people’s consciousness?

I think it has very strong influence. We afforested areas in Sofia and Plovdiv, and in the present year we plan to afforest areas in Varna, my hometown. All the funds from our Ecologic show will be given for buying trees. We will plant a whole forest! Always when we meet our fans, they tell us what they have done–they followed in our footsteps and planted a tree near the block of flats they live in, near their county house, or in their hometown, which is wonderful! A cause is sensible only when it comes together with real deeds.

What does Elitsa Todorova look like when she is not on the stage? Which element do you feel as the closest one?

When I play and sing I feel like a GIANT! (She smiles) My friends tell me I bring comfort and smiles. That is how I feel – shining and loved. I am happy with the talents God has gifted me with. My elements are Water and Fire. Stoyan’s elements are Wind and Earth.

What keeps you being a person who needs to create?

What keeps me going is the love and beauty in simple things–also silence, meetings with children, nature, and my friends full of positive energy.

People are really fascinated by the music you and Stoyan create. Is it hard to keep being all the time on such a “phenomenal level”?

Not long ago I was asked what it is like to become a legend at the age of 30. Without any doubt, our success in Eurovision made us very popular artists in whole Europe. To represent not only yourself but also your country, to be a kind of ambassador of Bulgarian music all over the world, is an honor and great responsibility that obliges you to keep a high level of professionalism and to make every next step stronger than the previous ones. I look straight ahead without any fears and work patiently.

I believe in myself, in the energy I can give and do not take so serious a view of myself. This is very important – it keeps you from the danger of feeling too high because of all those compliments.

How would one of your days without music look like?

I adore horses and often spend my time near them. Recently I started riding. I also do yoga and swim. I can hardly imagine a day in my life without music because I sing very often – my voice is everywhere where I am. I am in love with long walks through gardens, flowers and greenery, or along the seashore.

Is the music the best approach to life?

Music is the art that gives you the chance to most quickly, directly, and with a clear purpose enter people’s consciousness and unconscious. That is why I like artists and musicians, who have their own style, whose music holds a message and who go with what they create – like a tank, which keeps going straight ahead and up.

When you have to make improvisations or do something new and different, what is the main thing you rely on so that you are successful?

The most important is your music schooling – your knowledge of all of the music styles, and feeling free and having the courage to express yourself!

What has been the most interesting and unusual experience in your life so far?

I have experienced a lot of extraordinary meetings–for example, on our concerts in Japan, our visit with the Royal Family in Sweden, the meeting with Prince Albert, who was very fond of my songs and tarambuka. However, there is one meeting, which is the most special. It is a meeting with an old man in a little town in Bulgaria. His name is Dobri and he is 94.

He is like a saint to me. He is the purest and most natural person I have ever met in my life so far. He has a white beard and hair, looks like a magician from a fairy tale, and wears sandals and clothes that look like those in folklore. There is something very pure, like in a child, in his appearance. He gives off light and love. We happened to be at a bus station and there we were sitting on the floor, talking about the true, meaningful things in life. Then I wished to give him a present.

I had nothing I could give him, except a song. That is why I sang for him, I sang and sang. He listened the whole time with his gaze somewhere up in the sky; it seemed as if he was looking for a message that was beyond the text and music. When the song was about to end, a tear was born in his eye. This was the purest tear – out of joy or out of sadness, I do not know… but I thought this was the greatest of my concerts ever! Later I found out this same man has built churches and chapels in Bulgaria. I happen to meet him in a very special and important moment in my life.

Which sounds would not bring a positive response in you?

The sounds of war would never bring it.

Which is your favorite kind of literature? Do you have favorite authors?

I love fairy tales, poetry, fantasy, haiku, I love reading proverbs and wise thoughts gathered from all over the world.

What can we expect from you and Stoyan Yankoulov in the present year?

Our new album, Water, will come out soon. You can also expect our Ecologic spectacle Cosmos, and hurricanes of smiles and love!

We wish health, love and sunshine in the 2009 to every person who reads your magazine!

Here you can find more information about Elitsa Todorova and her musical work with Stoyan Yankoulov:

I wish to express my thanks to Elitsa Todorova for accepting my invitation for an interview. We all wish her and Styan Yankoulov happiness and success!

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