Variously described as Macedonian ethno, gothic-Byzantine, psychedelic and electronic, the Anastasia trio emerged in the late 1980s and rose to prominence with its score for Milčo Mančevski's acclaimed Pred doždot (Before the Rain, 1994).
Anastasia's next, as-yet untitled album is in the works, but no recording date has yet been set.In the run-up to a busy tour schedule that included summer performances in Pamplona and Expo 2000 in Hanover and Thessaloníki, Austria and Belgrade in September, Anastasia's Goran Trajkoski exchanged e-mails with CER's Židas Daskalovski.
CER: Could you please give us a brief history of Anastasia?
GT: Anastasia is a life project of Zoran Spasovski, Zaltko Origjanski and Goran Trajkoski. As a result, I can't give you the exact date on which the group was formed. It was a proccess in the 1980s, when we met and joined forces to work, learn and explore as we made music. Our previos music experiments [in the groups] Padot na Vizantija (The Fall Of Byzantium), Lola V Stein and Aporea did not satisfy us, so the result was the formation of Anastasia at the end of the 1980s [and the] begining of the 1990s.
CER: You had quite a successful concert at the Third Ear festival in Skopje. Would you care to tell us about it?
GT: The performance was an event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Third Ear Music (our native record company), together with the Vlatko Stefanovski Trio and other bands. The concert was very successful—approximately 6000 people were there—so we had the opportunity to play for the first time in our city to such a big audience. Furthermore, it was a great opportunity to present our recent album Nocturnal. [Our prior performances averaged about] 2000 on out 1990 promotion tour for the album.
CER: You have had the opportunity to perform throughout Europe in venues including London, Athens, Stockholm, Belgrade, and Lisboa. Which was the most memorable, and why?
GT: Each of these concerts had its own beauty, and one or more specific thing to remember. The London concert is something every musician in the world dreams of; while Athens is very important for a band like Anastasia, because we've had our greatest success abroad in Grred. Stockholm was our best performance in Scandanavia. We always have 3000 to 4000 people at our Belgrade conferences. Lisboa, where we performed for Expo 1999, was also very memorable because we had our best technical (audio-visual) presentation because of the excellent Sony Plaza stage.
CER: You and the other members of Anastasia were active musicians in former Yugoslav times. You and Zoran Spasovski were members of the cult groups like Padot na Vizantija and Mizar, while Zlatko Orig'anski was part of Lola V Stein.
Given that the rock and roll scene in former Yugoslavia was one of the most vibrant on the continent, do you think musicians were particularly hurt by the break-up? Have the cultural ties with audiences from the other Yugoslav republics been "patched up" for your band?
GT: Macedonia was a province of the former Yugoslavia, so almost all the bands except Leb i Sol were treated in that way. Being a band from Macedonia in the Former Yougoslavia meant being far away from the record companies centralised mainly in centres like Belgrade and Zagreb, and far away from the main concert halls.
I think we actually gained from the discontinuation of the former Yugoslav state. On the one hand we lost the privileges of working in one big state without borders, but we were forced to directly "attack" the European music centres, which indirectly helped us win success in the main cities of former Yugoslavia.
CER: What bands had the greatest influence on you?
GT: The music of the 1980s woke us up (Joy Division, Killing Joke, etc); then there was the experimental and non-dance electronic music from the 1990s (FSOL, Biosphere). Most important, though, was Macedonian folk and spiritual (Church) music.
CER: Your music has been labelled by different music magazines as Macedonian ethno, Byzantine, gothic, etc. In a few words, how would you describe your music?
GT: You are right. Many journalists have different opinions about how to classify our music. It goes from ethno, gothic-Byzantine, psychedelic to electronic. Nothing is wrong here; it just shows how rich and colourful our music is. We have many musical influences and we (individual members of the band) are pretty different in our musical thought, but I take this as an advantage, not as a disadvantage.
CER: Do you follow the music scene in the region? If so, which are your favourite bands from East Central Europe?
GT: Of course, but unfortunately it seems that my favourite bands don't exist anymore. They were Stereonova and Avaton, great bands from Athens.
CER: Do you have any future plans to play in the region's capitals, like Prague, Budapest or Tallinn?
GT: We would like to. But right now, we have no particular offers there. I do hope that some local promoters in such cities will show interest in having us in for a concert.
CER: Do you think that the world music market is biased towards the Anglo-Saxon language and traditions? If so, what can small Central and Eastern European nations do about it?
GT: Yes it is. But there are a lot of opportunities for non-Anglo-Saxon bands too. It is up to them to make a serious attempt to produce original, quality music—which I am sure will not pass unnoticed. The thing is that they have to stop imitating the Anglo-Saxon mainstream and start thinking about developing their own style.
There is enough space and interest on the world market in non-Anglo-Saxon music, so the bands have to take a chance and do the right thing.
CER: When you perform outside of Macedonia, do you feel that you represent its culture and people? If yes, do you feel pressured by this fact?
GT: First of all, I feel that I represent myself. But if I am an original specimen of my culture, I automatically represent my culture (the culture of my people). If I am Macedonian in Macedonia, I'll be Macedonian everywhere in this world. This does not pressure or burden me. Nobody pays me for this, I am not an official diplomat for my country, but nobody can take it away from me.
CER: What are the chances that you will score Milčo Mančevski's Dust?
GT: We have not received such an offer, but if we were to we would probably accept to work on that movie.
CER: Your most successful CD, the soundtrack to Before the Rain, is said to have sold more then 100,000 copies? Is this true, and what about your other two albums? Which of them all you hold dearest to your heart?
GT: Yes, it is true. That album took us to global popularity and helped us to play all around Europe. This is not the case with the other albums, because they were published under a label that does not have the distribution power Polygram has. I think that all our albums are our own children, and we cannot distinguish beetween them.
Židas Daskalovski, 16 October 2000
Also of interest:
- Global Music, Local Trends
Apostol Apostolov on Anastasia and "Balkan conservatism"
- Archive of Židas Daskalovski's articles in CER
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Buy English-language books on Central Europe through CER
- Return to CER front page