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Origjanski Zlatko, Anastasia and 'Before the Rain'
Today, September 1, 2010, marks the opening of the Venice Film Festival 2010.
Let me take you back to a film that won the Golden Lion sixteen years ago. I'll never forget the first time I saw the Macedonian film Before the Rain (1994), which was winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1994. Well, I have always believed that the soundtrack makes the film, like frosting makes the cake. One just cannot go without the other. And the melodious music from Before the Rain, that always sends me into an ancient world atop majestic seas, is one case in point. The soundtrack is so good that I still listen to it daily, more than fifteen years after the film's release. The composers to this unforgettable haunting and enchanting soundtrack comprised of a band of three Macedonian composers who then called themselves ‘Anastasia'.
Today, the group Anastasia is no longer together; however, I have one of the band members here with me today. Origjanski Zlatko is here to speak with us about his new sounds and burgeoning solo career, and about the phenomenon that was Anastasia's Before the Rain.
ME: Zlatko, thank you for taking your time to speak with us about one of my favorite soundtracks ever! Can you talk about Anastasia and now your work as a solo musician?
ZLATKO: Anastasia was a band that put out three albums. Most important was that our approach to the whole thing was childishly innocent and with pure devotion to the music. We didn't even notice that we created new spheres, new paths that later on turned out to be very significant to us. I remember that period as one of the most spectacular in my music career. I think that the meeting with Milcho Manchevski and our cooperation with Before the Rain was crucial. Back then, I thought of it as fate. But, nothing is eternal...As artists we expressed everything we needed to express and moved on separately, but still as friends. My opinion is that Before the rain both as film and music was able to leave a serious mark to the thing that is called 'world art'. And yes, right now I am working alone. A man comes and leaves this world by himself only.
ME: Well, that is certainly true. And I am sure you are on to new things that will leave more serious marks in the world of film and music. Can you speak about what it was like to compose the music for Before the Rain? Do you have any stories, anecdotes you might have about the process of making the music for the film?
ZLATKO: Composing music for Before the Rain was very serious and difficult. But also very exciting...Milcho is a man that wants an order and discipline in everything. Many times he said :"You guys are Wolfgang, Amadeus an Mozart". Every day we worked on that film as if it was our last. We gave to the music so much love, so much energy, passion...And all that came from the desire to show the world this music with Macedonian origin. We felt no fear...We worked step by step, scene by scene. I can say that I've watched the film over million times. Even now, I know each word from the script. So, can you notice something? We were young and naive, without any experience. But I think that that was totally fine then. It was even better, because we worked by instinct, not with a concept.
ME: Well, the hard work certainly paid off. The music is simply immortal. Can you tell us about what you want audiences to know about your music and what you really hope to express with it in the future?
ZLATKO: Love...Grace...So we can forget that one day we will all vanish and be blown away as dust...So we can forget that we are all mortal...And to remember that the only thing that worth is fairness in everything.
ME: Incredibly well put, Zlatko. That is what all of us artists are striving for. Well, all of us have that driving need, to somehow leave our stamp on the world, which you no doubt have done. How has your recent music been received in Macedonia and around the world?
ZLATKO: In Macedonia, people could immediately recognize their music. It was the begging of the national music path in our country. Through our music, through Anastasia the Macedonian people sang. In Macedonian, but at the same time, in a modern and contemporary way. What were Beatles for England, Anastasia were for Macedonia. All around the world we met many wonderful people that gave us splendid critiques and were amazed by our work, which was a great compliment for us. I want to thank them for all the love that gave us...
ME: How did you get into music? Did you just fall into it like many say or did you always dream of it? Did you know since you were a child you are a musician?
ZLATKO: Macedonia is a place where singing and playing is more important than eating. I got involved in music very young. My parents took me to traditional weddings in their native village. There, the people were dancing with such lust and beauty, as crazy:)) There was poverty everywhere, but in that music there was a great spirit and for a moment could erase all that. Those were my first steps...It was very exciting...I think that when I was 10 I already knew that a great, beautiful story is about to come. I could see it as a motion picture. Though I was just a kid...My parents were strongly against my wish. They didn't want me to do that Satan's thing. But, my love was great...My instinct was telling me that I should be patient and that everything will turn out ok at the end. The music is something that makes me happy, vigorous and vivid.
ME: Wow, Zlatko, every artist should listen to you speak. You have so much optimism. It is right. You have an instinct and you must follow it. I have always followed that same voice inside which is stronger than any other voice. And look what you did by following that voice. You contributed in something beautiful that will never be forgotten. What will you work on in the future? Do you know this yet?
ZLATKO: Right now I'm working music for a theater show. The theater is a place that I'm very fond of. I also compose something new. Few new songs. About love and death...
ME: Thank you Zlatko. I am sure you have many exciting new projects in the near future. Time will show us what they will be. Your music is truly inspiring and I will be listening faithfully as ever.
Interview by Vanessa McMahon on August 31, 2010.
** Please read below for more words that Zlatko has to say about himself as a passionate and visionary artist from the ancient land of Macedonia and the phenomena that was Anastasia. This is fascinating stuff, so please read this interview between Origjanski Zlatko and journalist ‘Blesok'.
"In the period of almost two decades so far, Zlatko Origjanski has affected the public may times with his creative appearance. First with the members of Lola V. Stein releasing the albums "Icon" and "Mansard" for the independent Zagreb label Blind Dog Records not only did he waved the traditional folklore in the highly stylized urban ambience matrix, but he also wrote down the different treatment of the music in this part of the world - in the review of the former published in the prestigious English music weekly New Musical Express the uniqueness of the presented and its step forward in times were stressed. Not much later destiny brought him to Goran Trajkovski and Zoran Spasovski in the already existing Anastasija and together, signing the music for Milco Mancevski's movie "Before the Rain", "Melourgia", "Nocturnal" ... shape the New History of the modern Macedonian music, our unique sound sensiBality. In the meantime, the concerts of the band were seen by half the world, and Origjanski as a musician, author, and producer also signed the "Macedonian Love Songs" and "Rhyhmistic" - the editions that the unique voice of the folk singer Vanja Lazarova turned into a sound fresco of the present and future of the Macedonian. In the conversation for Blesok he speaks about himself, music, intellectuals, the time in which our only lives flow away without return."
Blesok: Anastasia, together with Avaton from Greece and Istihija from Bulgaria recently stood behind "Balkan Square", a project with which the artists memorably stress the reliance to each another in the time of survival and adding salt to wounds. Is there any room for the creation and its message now when hatred rules? Can the artist rise above the brutal everyday?
ORIGJANSKI: I belong to this people, my Macedonian people deeply, with all of my blood. Through them, or together with them, I have to say my song. If the measure is the daily politics, if the measure is the naive analysis with a taste of bad literature that I encounter in the newspapers, then where is our woe? My heroes are much above it all. Can you compare a funny fat politician with Andrich, Njegosh, Petre M. Andreevski? But, this is life. If one looks back, there is no human life that passed without a war, unfortunately. What is the characteristic of this time is the lack of wise heads among the politicians. The lack of great, striking figures, highly educated, philosophically and poetically shaped.
ORIGJANSKI:: I am a poet and my place is defined. My electoral unit is on the stage and at home, closed in between four walls, together with my loneliness from where I measure the world, and first of all myself. I am happy that I am not hungry. I am deeply unhappy that I am humiliated as a representative of this people. But this only gives me additional strength to express myself through what I know the best. Interesting, but I felt all of this at least two years before it happened. There was some provincial spirit that prevailed, things got mixed up. They made people tired. They killed them. To surrender, so they can play with them. It is shameful. They forgot that the people together with the only God is the judge even when they are spat in the face, no matter where they are from, to whom they belong. I think that the feeling of belonging is built, fed and cherished. I have spoken on these subjects many times. I was pronounced a nationalist, a member of some parties and similar nonsense. People can be cheap, sell themselves for small money. Does hatred rule? I don't know, I wake up surrounded by nice velvet love. I go out for a walk in the evening, it is a difficult time, but one has to take care of his mental hygiene.
Blesok: In which stage of its work is Anastasija? There is definitely music appearing with your signature (theatre plays), but as if this period of studio album abstinence lasts too long. Are you working on some new material?
ORIGJANSKI: Oh, this is one of the questions I get even when I do my shopping in "Vero". A new album is a new book. It demands one hundred degrees of emotions. Yes, we are slowly starting to exchange ideas. By the way, not to forget, the three of us also have some minimum life outside all of this. I am saying minimum because I use almost all of my time on music. In this life a man can get sick, divorce, get married, die. I know that the audience must not know any of this. I feel that we will reach the point of that album having clear contours this winter. Let the weather lay down, let the cold come...
Blesok: I assume you clearly understand the globalization of the modern music, but how much space is left for originality? How does Zlatko Origjanski, how does Anastasija understand the Macedonian music in the coming century?
ORIGJANSKI: I understand these processes. The world is interconnected, but nothing that came by force turned into something good. We can use various terms, but in all of those systems of living there is some other logic, some other laws, much bigger, much higher. I think that the world music will be changed, completed only by people, big individuals. It has always been like that. Small fish always move the water, but for a short time only. There will be a big wave and it will drown them. I think that the Macedonian music is in some second stage. The first one, thanks to Leb I Sol, Mizar, Arhangel and Anastasija is already finished. There are some trouble makers who mix with this nice and big company, they elbow they way so that they too are part of this golden team, but they do not change their socks so they would not be accepted. They think that they will hang bagpipes around their necks, take their leather shoes under their arms and... This big company that plays in the main movie, these are people who know the blood of what rock & roll is as a way of life, as an opinion, as a defiance, as pain, as happiness, mad happiness. In this respect I said that the things got mixed up. This country, this city have become a gray place. Dirty streets, lonely, desperate people, stupid soc-realistic ideas. Bad clothes, bad food, bad thoughts, point your gun. City guys like Risto Vrtev, like Goran Trajkovski, like Gorazd Chapovski have to hide in their holes not to get infected by this madness around us. Who do you serve to, Macedonian intellectuals, I ask myself loudly? To whom? The foundations that give you 500 dollars to clean shoes? Bravo Risto, bravo Goran, good for you Gorazd. There is still force in us, rare birds from Heaven. Here, in this direction the music of Anastasija moves. Very Macedonian and deeply urban.
Blesok: When you listen to "Icon" and "Mansard" today, do you think that because of the circumstances at those days they did not get the real chance. With the experience that you have acquired in time, do you think that you should have made a different step forward?
ORIGJANSKI: I don't think any of this. Only some malicious people who want to tear Anastasija apart think of that. Unfortunately, they will have to wait. These two solo albums that I had are my entry to music, before I met Goran and Zoran. Now the time is different, and everything is as I wanted it to be. Thank you Lord.
Blesok: With the whole author's credibility you supported our folk singer Vanja Lazarova and you signed editions that do not only glorify the Macedonian folk tradition but they also show how far one can sail, and still remain firm on the native ground? What is that strange alchemy between the artists of two generations and how far can its spreading go?
ORIGJANSKI: There is no age in this business. BB King also plays with U2 and nothing. Ray Cudder wit Buena Vista. It relaxes me. I want to play various games, understand?
Blesok: The projects in which you are included, the cooperation with Vanja Lazarova, the music for commercials... some say that maybe the frames of Anastasija became too narrow for you. Will you have the energy to cope with the serious arrangements on several sides? Is there something like a creative restlessness that you keep in yourself and that you want to share with the audience?
ORIGJANSKI: And who says that? Do I have restlessness? I have peace only when I work, everything else is restlessness. I am a sensitive man and it costs dearly among rotten and rational fools. I have the energy as if I was at the very beginning. I have the love to move mountains. Of course there are malicious people who measure whether I have big circles under my eyes some days. Aha, I must have had no sleep, now is the time to shoot him straight in the heart. My heart sleeps in another heart, you fools. That's why you can not shoot it. It happens that some cheep little journalist shoots and he doesn't know that nobody knows, and nobody feels the secret in the heart of the poet.
Blesok: The main word in the modern Macedonian music now belongs to your generation. Does Origjanski have the wish and time to hear the music of the generations that are coming, and does he think of standing up for some exciting ideas that he has sensed?
ORIGJANSKI: I listen to all kinds of music, from Radiohead to Beethoven. There is no help in this business, my brother. The heart either sings or not. In the adolescence, in the youth, everybody squeals and writes poetry coming from the pain in the abdomen. Then they get married, work in the Customs, at the clinic. Among bread crumbs they continue to write some non-sense, at the sunset, somewhere on Pelister, looking at the high skies they think that they are so close, almost at a hand reach. But. But - the heart is small. There is no help. It is cruel when you feel the world at hundred kilometers per hour, but who was made like that will carry his cross. There is no cure.
Blesok: And finally, in the time when Macedonia "evaporates" in front of our eyes, can the intellectuals, artists be even louder against the disintegration of the country? Is there still space for their scream to be heard?
ORIGJANSKI: There is one big difference between the intellectuals and real artists. The former are for the beach. To sunbathe and drink yellow juice. They create associations, forums, they get on their knees in foundations, they publish shallow magazines, they try to disclose God's secret, they read like crazy and remember even more. They want to memorize everything - a whole library. Then they nag us with some stupid editorials, in an endlessly bad Macedonian language. They make analysis on economy and politics, on military issues, and especially on culture. Hit there. They sit in front of their TV-s, with yellow juices again, they beat the shit from here to Bitola. Criticism on this, view on that. And if you can do it, why don't you sit down and do it yourself? I am asking. When I become the President of Macedonia (God forbid, I would never like that) first I will abolish the Ministry of Culture and then the rest. In the end I'll go to the mountain. I will get amnesty, and I will demand as a punishment that they were after me to buy me a basin to cool down my feet. People, wake up. We are in a big trouble. This is a labyrinth, but I will not surrender, you can go on having half literate speeches, steel from these good people who rot in the factories that you robbed, drive as fast as you can but my thoughts are faster and shrewder than you. I'll put The Beatles and Radiohead and Blazhe Koneski and Bob Dylan under my arm and I will explode like that. But I will not give in myself to you alive.
Interview between Origjanski Zlatko and Blesok traslated by
view Before the Rain trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uJkStUpB0M
new music by Origjanski Zlatko:
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