The Balkanics Podcast

No CommentsMarch 24, 2011 by John

Listen to the entire interview with the Balkanics, conducted by folklorist Jason Morris.

Part 1:

Balkanics member, Varol Saatcioglu talks about growing up in Turkey, where he studied piano and music theory at Istanbul Municipal Conservatory. He also recalls moving to North Carolina with his mother at age 10 and how he got drawn to Bulgarian folk music and the gaida instrument. (6:29)

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Part 2:

Varol Saatcioglu continues talking about his immersion into Bulgarian folk music and Balkan culture in North Carolina. (3:38)

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Part 3:

Varol Saatcioglu recounts visiting his home country of Turkey and explains why he stayed in the United States. (2:21)

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Part 4:

Balkanics member, Bryndyn Weiner explains how he became interested in Bulgarian folk music and Balkan culture from his military father, who was once stationed in Italy. He also recalls attending Balkan camp with his father, where he learned many of the Bulgarian dances. (5:21)

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Part 5:

Bryndyn Weiner recounts learning the Bulgarian dances with his father by attending social functions at the University of Delaware.  He discusses learning to play the tupan. (5:12)

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Part 6:

Bryndyn Weiner talks about dancing at Balkan social gatherings and playing the tupan. He also talks about studying Balkan dances in Hungary. (5:05)

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Part 7:

Bryndyn Weiner explains why he adopted Balkan culture and distanced himself from popular American culture. He recounts meeting his wife, Tzvety, and how the two of them decided to start their own Bulgarian wedding band. (4:54)

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Part 8:

Bryndyn Weiner recounts the origins of the Balkanics. (5:08)

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Part 9:

Bryndyn Weiner explains the components of a conventional Bulgarian wedding band and how the Balkanics differ in instrumentation and sonic amplification. Bryndyn also recalls the loudness of traditional Bulgarian wedding bands. (5:34)

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Part 10:

Tzvety and Bryndyn Weiner explain why traditional Bulgarian wedding bands play so loudly. (3:08)

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Part 11:

Tzvety Weiner talks about growing up in Bulgaria and about the pressures of following her parent’s musical footsteps. She also recalls attending a music conservatory and how the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe opened her up to more professional aspirations beyond music. (5:06)

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Part 12:

Tzvety Weiner recalls abandoning music at age 13 to embark on language studies. She tells about how she eventually missed singing and formed a pop band during her final year in high school. Then she tells how she moved from Bulgaria to the United States. (5:07)

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Part 13:

Tzvety Weiner talks about joining Lyuti Chushki in 1999. Tzvety, Bryndyn and Varol talk about the stylistic differences and audiences between Lyuti Chushki and the Balkanics. (5:00)

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Part 14:

Bryndyn and Tzvety talk about the importance of nationalities regarding Balkan music and about the challenges of expanding the repertoire without eliminating the Balkan roots. (4:09)

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Part 15:

Bryndyn Weiner and Jason Morris explain the challenges of defining the Balkan region. Bryndyn talks about the process of blending the various styles from the Balkan region with jazz, flamenco and music from North Africa. (4:52)

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Part 16:

Bryndyn and Tzvety Weiner discusses their influences and what makes their music unique while at the same time remaining true to the roots of Balkan music. Bryndyn also talks about how the group is growing musically and improving their skill set. (5:23)

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Part 17:

Tzvety Weiner explains the influence of her mother on her singing and the taboo styles of singing that her parents heartily disapprove of.  Bryndyn recounts his father-in-law’s reactions to the more popular styles of Balkan music. (5:12)

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Part 18:

Bryndyn talks about the wonders of Skype and the way his father-in-law uses it to give lessons to people across the world. Jason Morris talks about attending the American Folklore Conference in Milwaukee and Bryndyn talks about Celtic music and the way it aligns with Balkan music. (4:58)

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Part 19:

Bryndyn, Tzvety Weiner and Jason Morris debate about the ways immigrants feel about hearing traditional music from their homelands being played in the United States and the importance of preserving traditions. (5:48)

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Part 20:

Tzvety Weiner talks about the influence of the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe on folk music and the way it broadened the musical horizons of the Bulgarian people. She also talks about how the influx of so many different types of music has led to an over-saturation and a resulting return to more traditional music. (5:20)

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Part 21:

Bryndyn and Varol talk about the roles of electric keyboards in Bulgarian wedding bands. (4:33)

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Part 22:

Tzvety talks about the Balkanics’ audience and the challenges of getting indigenous Balkan people to their concerts. Bryndyn explains how the Balkanics strive for a level of legitimacy with the Balkan communities. (4:59)

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Part 23:

Jason and Bryndyn discuss the intimidating factors of novices joining the Balkan dances. (4:43)

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Part 24:

Bryndyn talks about the popularity of Balkan music in New York City. Jason and Bryndyn talk about the appeal of Balkan rhythms despite their odd meters. (5:33)

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Part 25:

Bryndyn and Tzvety explain what distinguishes the Balkanics from other Balkan bands. (4:28)

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Part 26:

Bryndyn recalls the Balkanics playing at Balkan festivals in New York City. He also shares his desire of starting a Balkan music festival in the Washington, DC area. (4:46)

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Part 27:

Bryndyn, Tzvety and Jason think of ways of launching a Balkan music festival in Washington, D.C. and in Montgomery County. (5:23)

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Part 28:

Bryndyn, Jason and Tzvety continue talking about ideal venues and spaces to host a Balkan music festival in Montgomery County and in Washington, D.C. (5:18)

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Part 29:

Jason, Bryndyn and Tzvety discuss the misperception of some people equating folk music and culture with only older people. Tzvety and Bryndyn express the importance of highlighting young participates when promoting folk traditions. (4:18)

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Part 30:

Bryndyn mentions the Hungarian community in Washington, D.C. regarding its relation to Balkan music and dancing. Bryndyn talks about how the music functions in a social element of Balkan culture. (4:18)

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Part 31:

Tzvety and Bryndyn talk about the financial realities of being in the Balkanics and how they balance their other jobs with being performing musicians. (3:07)

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Part 32:

Tzvety talks about how her mother survives a career as a professional singer. Jason talks about ways of generating support for Balkan music and culture in Montgomery County. (3:06)

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Part 33:

Tzvety and Bryndyn talk about the challenges for the Balkanics to receive grant support and their desire to increase their performance opportunities. (1:30)

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Listen to part 1:

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John Murph is a renowned music/arts journalist and multimedia/interactive web producer.