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Tsar Stangra – interview

Leestijd: 5 minuten

Onlangs verscheen de nieuwe single van Tsar Stangra online. De toch echt uit Canada afkomstige band grijpt hier naar de Bulgaarse cultuur, inclusief het schrift. Dat is natuurlijk een bijzondere gewaarwording. Daarom had White Room Reviews een interview met Tsar Stangra.

In het interview met Tsar Stangra gaat het om meer dan alleen de Bulgaarse invloeden. Het gaat ook over de veelkoppige samenstelling van de band en de invloeden voor hun black metal. Lees hieronder de antwoorden van Stanislav Stefanovski (TS), de bandleider van Tsar Stangra.

Het interview

WRR.: “It is a bit confusing, because your name and titles are written in Cyrillic, but you are from Canada. So please introduce yourself.”
TS: “Hi there. Your questions are answered by Stanislav Stefanovski, the project leader, and one of the founding members. First, thank you very much for this interview. We are Tsar Stangra (Цар Стангра), a band founded by two Bulgarian metalheads in Canada. The purpose of the band is to create heavy Bulgarian
music, something that is not widespread worldwide. There is a reason for that. Bulgarian music often uses asymmetric meters, while most metal music consists of compound meters.”

Nieuwe single

WRR.: “On your latest single, you use a Bulgarian poem. What does this culture means to you?”
TS: “Actually, most of our songs use Bulgarian poems, since no one studied the Bulgarian language at an academic level. I am born in Bulgaria, but I spent nearly my entire life here in Canada and attended no Bulgarian school. So instead of writing nonsense with a lot of grammatical issues (like we did during
our second demo hahaha), the best thing to do was to use already-written material by very important writers of the Bulgarian literature or simply historians that translated antique pagan content in Bulgarian.”

“The Ukrainian Black Metal band Drudkh gave us the idea of using poems from the literature to build songs
around them. They build songs around the work of Taras Shevchenko and other Ukrainian poets while we use the works of Ivan Vazov, Dimtcho Debelyanov, and Hristo Botev, just to name a few. The main goal of the project is to promote Bulgarian culture through metal. Why would we try to write stuff if our history is
full of high-quality and very meaningful content?”

“In addition, the entire writing process pushes me to invest time in reading a lot of stuff in my mother tongue and permits me preserving this cultural heritage. After we come out with some riffs, a lot of time is spent searching through writings to find the best-suited lyrics. The stuff that is read is not Internet articles or
Facebook posts, but actual editions of Bulgarian poetry and historical books, for example, that I bought from book stores when travelling there.”

Tsar Stangra

Black metal en meer

WRR: “The base of your music is black metal, but you here more influences. Who is inspiring you to make this music?”
TS: “It all started when I heard bands like Nokturnal Mortum, Rotting Christ, Arkona, and Negură Bunget, just to name a few. I wanted to find a Bulgarian version with an equivalent quality, but the country doesn’t provide such artists and there are plenty of reasons why. First and foremost, the Soviet Union kept the country isolated from the Western World and it did not spare Rock and roll from this isolation. When the Soviet Union fell, rockers were discovering artists like 10 or even 20 years later. An artist that is already popular in the Western World will often become popular in Bulgaria like 10 years later.”

“The arrival of the Internet improved this a lot, and the gap is getting smaller through time. In addition, most Bulgarian rockers dig old school bands like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Dio, and Manowar, just to name a few. Extreme metal (Black, Death, Pagan, or whatever the label) used to be pretty unpopular in the country and still is. So no one invested energy into creating such a thing in the country when we started the project with Dobrin. So, instead of keeping on waiting and searching, we created our own version of it.”

“Finally, in Bulgaria, there is some kind of war between folk and rock (we include metal in Rock). The popular music played in most nightclubs and raves is called Chalga, which is, roughly said, a mixture of pop and eastern European folk music. Rockers tend to run away, as much as possible, from anything that is folk-
related because of that. This gives us more chance of establishing the grounds by experimenting with such ingredients.”


WRR.: “You are with a lot of people in the band. Is everyone involved in the writing process? Or how does it go at Tsar Stangra?”
TS.: “Of course, every band member is involved in the writing process and always was. The band faced multiple lineup changes, but nearly every time we hired someone, it was mandatory for that person to take part in the creative process. Canadian metal scene has worldwide attention for its high-quality bands. We
have a culture for music and arts. Canadians have very creative minds and it’s not a coincidence that the country provides high-quality artists such as Rush, Voivod, Strapping Young Lad, Exciter, and Razor, just to name a few.”

“Of course, it’s not always easy to work with people that have completely different musical backgrounds since the Bulgarian folk music follows a musical theory that is sometimes the opposite from what is taught in musical schools in Canada. But once a Canadian musician gets the goal, he can do miracles. The resulting
product will be different and exotic for both the Canadian and the Bulgarian scene.”

“In terms of process, everyone has its own song, that is revised by me. I also write songs that are revised by the other members to make sure it’s coherent enough. After all, it’s a band and not a solo project. The band’s mission is more important than ANY of the members, including myself.”

Tot slot

WRR: “What are the plans for 2023 for Tsar Stangra?”
TS: “We would like to finish the upcoming full-length album, promote the single, and play some gigs with the actual lineup, among others. We would love to spread the music even further and be heard as much as possible by people that are craving new and exotic sounds. Thank you very much for your time and interest in our band. Cheers and Hails!”

Tsar Stangra



Ralf W.
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