Vlatko Stefanovski is an incredible guitar player that was born in Prilep, Macedonia. There he formed the group LEB i SOL, one of the biggest in former Yugoslavia. The band played a particular style of fusion music, a blend of Macedonian traditional irregular rhythms and contemporary rock. While he is preparing for a new solo tour, he found some time to talk to V&R.
Could you please tell us a bit about how you got into playing music?
Most probably, those were my teenage years, when I was interested in everything exciting like basketball, photography, music, guitars etc. Forming local bands was so popular at that time, so I was one of those who had tried everything. I was listening to the records of my older brother, and was deeply impressed by the whole new word of rock’n’rol
Could you explain to us, why you initially got into the type of music and genre you’re playing?
I was not thinking too much of any genre. I was improving pretty fast with my playing, and some things just came to me naturally. I got into the fusion thing in the mid seventies, and started to play some traditional Macedonian stuff in a new and unusual way. I learned and composed just by endless improvisations. Of course that term is heavily overused, and very often misused, but that is how I work even today.
What musicians and bands have inspired you and why?
The Beatles of course, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Hendrix, Alvin Lee, Jan Akkerman, John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Joni Mitchell and many others, because there is a certain magic in their music, and image that they create around.
What do you prefer, playing solo and/or with your band?
For me everything is fine and exciting, playing solo, in an acoustic duo, trio, electric, bigger bands.But recently I discovered the beauty and the luxury of playing with symphony orchestras. I have already had such an experience, and I really love it!
Can you tell us about the gear your using, and why? What guitars? Any amps & Effects, if so what brands and types…?
The guitar that is my working horse at the moment is Leo Scala VS-1, el. Guitar that Leo had built for me 7 years ago. Great instrument. Before that I was playing mostly my black Pensa-Suhr guitar from the beginning of the nineties. My guitar collection is growing pretty fast because I receive many gifts form many companies and guitar luthiers. Mirza Kovacevic from Bosnia had also built a very fine instrument for me. I am also very happy with my new Lowden acoustic guitar that I found recently with the help of my friend Jan Akkerman.
Can you please tell us about your collaboration with DV Mark?
I don’t want to sound like and advert, but these guys from Italy build some great amps, pretty revolutionary with the feel of vintage. Great sounding, singing tones, in a compact and lightweight format, with some features that many big and famous companies could not invent or put into their products. I play those amps exclusively, whenever it is possible!
Does the gear you play live differ from the gear you’re using in the studio?
My home studio gives me the opportunity to experiment and to change guitars, signal chains and processors. For the road, and airplanes, my setup is very conservative. I carry four guitar pedals in a very small pedal board and that’s it. The red Fulltone overdrive is my favorite drive pedal and one guitar on my shoulder, to avoid customs and travel problems.
How important do you find the gear to be, in relation to the sound you’ re trying to produce?
For me gear is very important, especially having a great instrument. I am lucky to have more than one. But young guitarists these days show pretty big lust for gear, for more and more toys. So in a way, guys are drowned into different amps, pedals, processors, and spaghetti cable setups. What really matters is do we touch the hearts of those who listen to us? Do we give something? Those who play and produce great music are the good ones, not those who own 200 guitars.
Any famous last words?
Nothing famous, practice and progress. The tone is the combination of our hearts, minds, fingers, and of course our instruments!
Would you like to add something about Vlatko Stefanovski…? Please leave a comment…