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Toni Dimitrov: We can freely say that the dystopian authors anticipated everything

You prefer to be called a sound artist, not a musician. Why? What's the difference?

A musician is someone who plays music and in this sense, I don’t play music or an instrument. I work with sound, natural or computer generated, not always with music, and mainly all this is in art context. Sometimes the result is pure field recording, sometimes sound art, or radio art, that are presented as a (sound) art piece at a festival, radio or in a gallery, and sometimes the result is experimental music that is released as an album. Therefore, in my music I don’t play any instrument, but experiment with sounds, so I rather define myself as a sound artist than as a musician.

How did you get into sound design and music?

That is a very good question that I guess requires a very very long answer. I’m into music as long as I remember. And when I say ‘music’, I mean music from all perspectives. I used to listen to radio a lot as a kid. As a teenager started buying tapes and CDs, of course, and consequently, I started DJing very early at the age of 14. I started writing about music when I was 18 and the same year I started working at the radio. Later at the age of 21, I started a label, and then a few more labels specializing in various aspects of sound. I also organized concerts, festivals, and events for other artists as well. Naturally, I started experimenting with sound and making music too. My first releases were at 2001 (age 21). In the meantime, there were a huge amount of releases (physical and digital) released under several nick names for various labels around the world, lots of collaborations with other artists, performances at festivals and events, residencies, sound exhibitions, radio art festivals and conferences, tons of DJ performances, 20+ years of radio programs, etc., etc... At the moment I'm a director of a city cultural center with music venue, where I’m connected with music through the music program and the open-air festival we are organizing.

Your whole life is connected to music, impressive. But I know you also have other interests that are often get reflected in your works. For example, the theme of utopias and dystopias in your music is certainly not accidental, is it?

Music was my guide since the early age, but as a teenager, I became interested in philosophy and got a degree in philosophy studies (after I studied law for some time). I wrote my thesis on dystopias and the modern society. At that time, the topic was not well researched, except maybe in the literature, so I tried to give it a philosophical edge. Now people have no doubts that we are living in the completely materialized dystopian society. We can easily say that the dystopian authors anticipated everything that we are living today; and that the contemporary society is a complete realization of the darkest anticipations of the dystopian authors. In order to overcome this, we have to find new solutions. That is why this topic is closely related to the topics of utopia, social theories, new political systems, anarchy, socialism, etc. that I’m also interested in and explore. It is natural to try to link all these interests with my music, as it is all related, at least in my life. Also, this is the way to present these philosophical notions in a more accessible and artistic way. This is also the reason I like to say that my music is political. Certainly, these connections are not accidental.

In your music, you use a lot of field recordings, and put a strong accent on the sounds of nature. Do you see the salvation of the humanity in unity with nature?

This is the only way for the humanity to survive in these conditions of complete degradation. A human is part of nature, but his consciousness (or ego) made him do things against nature (and himself). Humans are the only creatures that destroy their own kind, other species, and the earth itself. One of the problems is that we make a focus on materialism and science only, excluding nature, empathy towards other living beings, and spirituality. And yes, I want to emphasize this relation in my music through the sounds of nature. I avoid urban field recordings, as living in the city we are immersed in the urban noise all the time anyhow. So field recordings of nature are more provoking in this sense, inducing calming effect (as we are part of nature). On the other hand, it is more challenging to get these field recordings, especially in these times of heavy sound pollution. Although I myself live in a city, I'm lucky enough to live at a base of a mountain, where I can take a 10-minute walk and find myself in the woods. It only takes me an hour to hike to the peak and a few hours to get to an astonishing canyon with a lake. I’m glad I have such option to be connected to nature.

Can you tell how you make your music? At what point do you realize that you need to record a new track? What tools do you use besides field recordings?

I don’t have a particular procedure for making tracks. Usually, there are two ways how I go about writing a track: when I have an invitation to submit something for a compilation or a release; or when I’m inspired, I improvise, or have new field recordings that I want to experiment with. So there is no strict recipe. Some tracks are made live when I’m just recording at a performance or improvising at home. I also love working in collaboration with other artists, as their sound inspires me and gives me another direction that I cannot predict. This is what I really like about working in collaboration. As for tools, most of my tracks are made with field recordings, digital processing, or digital instruments; with some bands/projects we use acoustic instruments as well.

Interviewer – Dionis Afonichev (Dionisaf)

Photo by Sašo Dimoski

Edited by Iuliia Rychkova

More ambient music with sounds of nature in our Spotify playlist


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