Interview with Kokan Dimushevski: The works you create make you great and eternal
At a time when the collective consciousness is fed more by kitsch, and art is pushed to the margins, artists become "straws for drowning people" looking for inexhaustible sources of authentic artistic expression, which few have. Fortunately, we still have musicians like Kokan Dimushevski, composer, keyboardist, arranger, sound master and producer, who with his 50 years of musical creativity and priceless life experience has crystal clear views on art, music and about the conditions in which our artists live and create.
1. You are one of the most productive and deserving musicians on our soil for the development and affirmation of the quality Macedonian original sound in many different musical styles and genres. Do you think that such rare musicians are sufficiently and adequately nurtured and preserved in our country?
- The shamelessness of stupidity has reached epidemiological proportions, especially in these areas, so nothing strange and spectacular that our values have been totally erased from the collective memory. Evolution and technology is supposed to bring smarter, more intelligent, more educated generations than us, but unfortunately, somewhere along the way, the sequence of creation breaks and we end up with dumbed-down, dumbed-down, dumbed-down masses of people who are touched by nothing but quick profit, many times. and in a very dubious way acquired both quick and cheap entertainment for the reptilian primary senses. Has humanity irretrievably lost the war with humanity, I think yes. We have become a world of fake pandemics, identity theft, great tragedies have become our everyday life drinking coffee in some fancy cafe and scrolling endlessly on the phone reading only the headlines, thousands, ten thousands dead, it passes us by as if nothing is happening, but it is probably a good and long thought out plan to create slaves without emotions and feelings. And now how can I answer the question you asked me, and who will be interested in it. We (the rare ones) recognize each other by a simple "Good day" on the street with a stranger, a greeting that can rarely be heard today on the street, in an elevator, in life.
2. What does the affirmation of Macedonian authors and works mean to you and do you think that the state and competent institutions help with appropriate platforms and conditions for any kind of affirmation?
- The state and institutions have always known to grab from artists only when they need to show off in front of foreign delegations. Very often I feel as if we are in a circus where you are shown as a strange exhibit with six arms and five legs in a room of monsters and this is where the state institutional assistance ends. According to some secret and impenetrable code, big projects go to the semi-literate and untalented. They probably protect each other well. Everything is so pointless that even my speaking becomes unnecessary and crazy. Catastrophic bad taste is the focus of interest, real art is locked up in some room of the 'monsters'.
3. Considering the historical importance of your author's oeuvre in our musical culture, the general impression is that the Macedonian audience very rarely consumes you on the concert stages here. Why is that?
- It is true that my concert performances are fewer, especially in Macedonia, because I really want to always have new material to present. When I perform, I want to paint a musical picture that is unique only to that performance. At the same time, it is a challenge and a pleasure for me to never repeat anything. Every concert should be like new music, unique. It is the slightly more difficult path, because I leave the safe and comfortable zone of the already mastered and rehearsed musical material. I like to improvise on my music, to be led by the moment, the space, the audience, the mood, I simply like to surprise myself, otherwise why would anyone go to a concert if they hear exactly the same thing they already heard on a sound carrier.
4. This year you were awarded an Order of Merit by President Stevo Pendarovski. How much does this recognition mean to you personally?
- It's a bit scary feeling, but in a positive connotation, when you will be awarded with the Order of Merit of Macedonia for life, when someone will make an effort to touch at least superficially and describe and enumerate the opus of created works which is really huge. The only defense against the embarrassing feeling that they are talking about you all evening is to think that it is someone else, that I am just a bystander at that moment. Of course, I feel proud of what I have achieved and of the award I received, but the euphoria ends the moment I put the award in a display case and ask myself my question again: "Will God continue to honor me with more inspiration and music?"
5. Do you agree with the general statement among our population, that our quality is more recognized and valued outside our country?
– Nothing new and nothing strange. In a small environment like ours, foreigners are always more interesting, better, better quality than the locals that you meet almost every day in a market or on the street. This is how we are as a people, this is our strain, to be servile to everything that comes from outside, while with resignation rejecting your own, domestic quality. We are witnessing the tastelessness that fills concert halls. The media are also to blame for this, because they advertise and talk about things that come from outside with such fascination, giving them a lot of media space. Perhaps part of the blame lies with ourselves, because this is not a time of modesty and achievement, but a time of shameless pushing, shoving and self-righteousness. But that's it, it doesn't deserve too much ado over this issue. But I have to admit that my concerts here, at home, are well attended and received by the audience, who want to experience something different from what is offered everyday, there are still, albeit in smaller numbers, art lovers who buy books, vinyls , they go to theaters and exhibitions.
6. We have universities at every step; have any of the music departments in the country for the benefit of the students asked you to reveal your "secrets" learned from almost 50 years of creating music? What is the experience in foreign countries regarding this issue for you?
- The quantity of numbers of universities of all kinds in our country does not mean the quality of the education they offer. It is obvious that this is pure business and profit where just enrolling in a private university gets you a guaranteed degree from it at the end, normally for some (not small) financial compensation on your part. I think we are one of the few countries with so many master's and doctorate titles, which were not at all measured for expertise and knowledge. Imagine a concert poster that reads: MA V. A. Mozart, Dr. Igor Stravinsky, B.Sc. Eng. Richard Wagner, M.D. Dr. Maurice Ravel, etc., very funny poster it will be. Genius minds and artists do not need a title, it would be more appropriate to write alien he and he, because the universe speaks through them and their works. I know that many of the headliners will resent me for this statement of mine, but I find it very funny when I read on a poster for a concert titles before the name of the composer or performer. I have yet to come across a single poster or cover of any release by Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Frank Zappa, etc. to write some title before the name. Does the title also mean a genius pianist or composer - absolutely not, I even think that they cover up their mediocrity with the title so that the concert visitor or the listener expects something top-notch, but in reality they get mediocrity. And now what do we do, dear, exit? The works you create make you great and eternal, everything else is wasted time and talent (if any) in obtaining socially recognized titles, which at least in art mean nothing. Maybe Da Vinci and Picasso were wrong not to sign any of their paintings with an M.D. or Ph.D. (which I highly doubt they ever had), because creating art is the greatest title given to you by God and the universe. But let's not get it wrong, an academic education is not mandatory, but it is useful, with one hint, the better you learn the rules, the better you can break them and be unique. The desire to research and learn is individual and does not depend on academicism. To return to the question, yes, but not very often do younger musicians know to ask me about some of the secrets of production, recording, playing. I have never had the desire to put my knowledge in the role of an educational institution. The several international grand prix awards for tone-master give me the right to suggest to the less experienced but eager for knowledge about the technique of sound recording of live performances, studio recordings and I am glad that they approach sincerely with the intention of understanding as much as possible, but even here they slip through the cracks those who know EVERYTHING, but actually got the profession wrong.
7. As one of the founders of the most iconic Macedonian band "Leb i Sol" you have an exceptionally rich concert experience behind you. Has that narrowed your criteria in terms of quality concert sound and can Macedonia be carried side by side with regional and European music festivals?
- It has been very interesting and fun to play in "Bread and Salt" for the last ten years. The weight of the size of the name, which once knew to represent a kind of musical blockage among us, we redirected it into lightness when it comes to concert activities. We make each concert different from the previous one, we engage in improvised forms of the already less boring compositions that we created more than 40 years ago. There is no agreement on how we will start a composition, what will be in the middle and how we will end it. Such experiments are possible only if you have around you real masters of instruments and music lovers. I think this is how we extend their life, on the other hand, we put ourselves in a mode of total concentration while playing, we are happy on stage, and I see that the audience also recognizes the energy and enjoys with us. After so many concerts, you are ready to make your evening beautiful. The sound of "Bread and Salt" is unique and recognizable and independent of technical aids such as sound system, monitors, stage, etc. Nowadays, there is no longer any difficulty for solid technical equipment compatible with the size of the space where the concert is held. The magic is in the man, in the musical language and in his own and unique sound. Refined taste and strict criteria are created during a lot of work and experience, but you have to be born like that, unassailable in fulfilling your ideas and your inner music that you live with all your life. Until about thirty years ago, I worked as a sound engineer and producer at a dozen festivals, some of them I even recorded and played completely, but that passed. There are so many more interesting things to do in life that I have long lost touch with festival notes.
8. Does the young audience know how to recognize quality in the music selection among our creative individuals and bands and do you think we have a good enough music production both in quality and quantity?
- The decadence that has been imposed on us for decades, and especially the last one, takes its toll in the blood, and that where it hurts the most - among the younger people. Technological progress has erased the age difference between younger and older, if a three-year-old child can scroll through various social networks and music channels on the phone, where anything and everything is offered on a platter, and these are usually very critical and debatable, even terrible contents. , naturally the natural thing in man, the desire for beautiful things, will be lost. Sensations are imposed, too flashy and rapid changes of images and events on the screen that lead to an "overload" of the senses and you become a mute and dull accomplice in the damage, while totally unaware. The struggle for existence among the parents imposed the expensive smart phone that the younger ones get, at the same time ensuring peace in the house. The world has changed and is changing even more, but for the worse. Cheap culture, bad education, expensive cars and phones make a zombified generation, living in the world of social networks and digital likes. They need to understand that Mozart is not a betting house and Beethoven is not the dog in the movie. But fortunately, there will always be those more or less spiritual young people, who go to art concerts, exhibitions, read books, not to be seen by others but out of a sincere and primal desire to be part of the beautiful. But anyway, they inherit the world they create and will have to live in it, and we older people slowly leave this form of life and move to another, the energy does not die, it just changes form.