Straf_Werk Festival set Blitzkickers on a 'capture and keep' mission. We rose to the occasion bringing together retro Hi8 camcorders with the heist resolution technology and our severe intrigue of KiNK genuine spontaneity and contagious enthusiasm, both on stage and in the hot interview seat.
Anna Bogomolova: Every creation has a story behind it, how you meet people along the way and how things come together, spontaneously or at the very last moment. What is your very special story behind a record?
Strahil Velchev aka KiNK: It would be a story behind my first big record. Back in 2007, I met a DJ from London, Neville Watson. We met online on MySpace, started talking and soon it was clear we had similar taste in music. He sent me some sounds and I made a track out of it. It was pretty much like live jamming with his sounds and soon I had a raw version of the track. By a very big coincidence, the track (KiNK & Neville Watson - Inside Out) got picked up by a really good label, Rush Hour. It’s your local label and one of my favourites.
When they asked me to release the track, I said, “No, it’s not ready, it’s just a live improvisation. I have to make a finished version.” I spent 2 weeks polishing the track, bringing every sound to perfection. And they said: “We don’t like it. We want the first version, which is just a live jam.” And it was the moment when I realized that perfection is not everything. You can mathematically compose something but it doesn’t mean it has a soul. Now I’d like to say the moment I lowered my quality standard, my career went up. If I was programming music before, now I’m playing music, in the studio or live.
Anna: I always say there are no dreams obtained purely by luck or hard work, it is always a combination. So you do pay attention to these dashes of luck?
Strahil: In a way I do, because there is a sense of significance around something that comes as luck, same story with my first record on vinyl in 2005. Again in World Wide Web, I made an acquaintance with Craig Birmingham aka EvilJack, at that time based in Brighton. Starting a chat about music with a random guy, I could never expect it would result in my first release on vinyl.
So yes, luck is very important. You cannot make it without luck. Sooner or later, you always have a couple of chances. The question is, are you ready to take it from there? People say the success comes when luck means preparation. I don’t know how successful I am, but let’s say I am successful, so I think I managed to bring those two elements together.
Anna: It is also interesting to look back and see how everything is connected… really crazy that without just one ‘coincidence’, the further success wouldn’t be possible.
Strahil: Yes, indeed you need a distance to see the bigger picture. I used to think that in my case it took a long time to become successful. I used to complain that my hometown Sofia, Bulgaria, is not a techno capital and it is definitely harder to break-through. Maybe if I were based in London, Berlin or New York, it would be a different story. It took me such a long time to become an international artist. Sometimes I thought I’m not lucky. But once I opened my mind, I realized that we all have chances, we just need to have the ability to see them. So you need luck, but everyone has these windows of luck, you have to be able to see them.
Anna: You are Bulgarian and I am Russian, we are both Easter Europeans who are well integrated in Western Europe. Do you feel any influences of our culture in your career?
Strahil: Musically not. The music I make is influenced by North America, Western Europe and Africa. But on a personal level, yes. Now that I’ve travelled everywhere, besides the North and the South Poles, I can say that the quality of family connections in our Slavic culture is very unique; it is much stronger in a loving and supportive way. So it may not affect my music directly, but my personal life cannot be disconnected from what I create and my artistic career.
Anna: For me it is really difficult to imagine you not performing and composing music. But let’s give it a try for a moment — if not music, what else would it be?
Strahil: I would deal with visual arts. I am a painting artist by education; I also studied graphic design and traditional animation. I’m really into classical painting and visuals. Though in the last 10 years I didn’t have much time to deal with it. Music is my other big passion, so it took over. I feel lucky that I have success at the moment, but if I was not involved with music, it would be visual arts.
I have to say that both are related. I know a lot of painting artists who play an instrument, and lots of musicians who find themselves attracted to visual arts. Back in the days they would draw, now they just use a computer to make some sort of designs. And it’s not so strange: if you think about what music is, it’s just levels: loud and quiet. Or tones: high or low. With visuals, you’re playing with light, you have light and dark tones, you have colours, which are warm and cold. So I guess it comes down to having a good taste and sense of balance.
Anna: I agree. It’s also a very good definition of art. In one of your interviews you said that we perhaps abuse the word art and you weren’t even sure if you can call yourself an artist. You said it is for the following generations to decide if you are an artist or not. I think true artists are really sincere and they are able to balance ego with this childish naivety; they can just say: “Ok, I put my creation out there, take it or leave it.”
Strahil: That’s what we do. There is no recipe for success or recipe on how to make art. We just create our thing, we use the social media to promote what we do, we rely on a little bit of luck and we have to put it all out. So yeah, absolutely. But are you asking me the same question about the art? Did I change my opinion now?
Well, actually yes…
Hmmm I changed my opinion indeed. That interview was a year ago... And I changed my opinion for a simple reason. I saw a YouTube clip with an ordinary guy who was doing some kind of street performance. But the way he was doing it, with such a great skill, made me think: ‘Wow, that’s an artist’ And then I realized, ok, by my own definition he is not an artist, but come on, what I saw was art. So yes, maybe I am an artist too.