WHEN DR. MILEN VRABEVSKI IS NOT BUSY SEEING PATIENTS, HE SPENDS HIS TIME MAKING MUSIC WITH THE LIKES OF DRUM LEGEND SIMON PHILLIPS and others of his ilk. AOR with hints of progressive rock is the order of the day. Top-notch musicianship and positive subject matter wind their way through Intelligent Music Project’s albums. Red Hot Rock Magazine took the time to discuss Intelligent Music Project IV – Sorcery Inside (and a little bit about Intelligent Music Project V – Life Motion) as well as the history and evolution of IMP with mastermind Dr. Vrabevski, an extremely thoughtful and kind gentleman who certainly lives up to the name that he has used to label his musical creations. Now if I could only convince him to take a look at my tonsils……
After the following conversation occurred, the industrious Dr. Vrabevski found the time to record Intelligent Music Project’s most recent releases, Intelligent Music Project VI – The Creation and Intelligent Music Project VII – Unconditioned.
RED HOT ROCK MAGAZINE: Hello, sir!
MILEN VRABEVSKI: Good morning. This is Milen calling from Bulgaria.
RHRM: Good morning. You are perfectly on time, which proves that your primary gig is not being a musician. Ha ha ha.
MV: Ha ha ha. Exactly. Not at all. I’m a doctor in medicine.
RHRM: Yes. Yes. I was going to ask you before we jump into the interview… Do we call each other by our first names, or do we use titles for each other? Because we both are in possession of doctorates.
MV: First name basis. It’s a very informal virtual meeting, so I am happy to virtually meet you.
RHRM: While we are on the subject, before we speak about your music, I want to mention that you are the owner and CEO of a medical center in Bulgaria and the founder and chairman of the Bulgarian Memory Foundation. You have also been recognized for your impressive work with young children’s education. You have received awards and been distinguished many times over for your research and other work. It is incredible that you still have time to create and release music. And quite a bit of it.
MV: Yes. Thank you very much. That’s very nice of you. I am, of course, a human being, so my love of rock’n’roll has to find a place in my daily schedule. I established a music production house in 2011 which is called Intelligent Music. It has a two-story studio in the center of Sofia.
RHRM: Please explain to me the genesis of your musical projects. The way that you put them together is very interesting. I have read that you do not really consider yourself a musician even though you do play several instruments and have played some stuff on your albums. But you compose these works, all the music on the Intelligent Music Project albums, and then recruit prodigies to record the music. Do you read and write music? And what type of training do you have that allows you to create all this music?
MV: First of all, I’m very grateful to you that you got so well-prepared.
RHRM: Thank you. Ha ha. That’s my job.
MV: Ha ha. It is impressive, indeed. I will briefly share with you all of the details. There was an album in the ‘80s of one of my favorite groups, Kansas, that was called Audio-Visions. At that time, I didn’t know what that meant. But with time, it appeared that I’ve got audio-visions myself. Very often, I wake up in the morning with a whole song in my head, knowing pretty well what I would like to say. And how and where to put the stress on, what to emphasize, what I would like my kids to grow up with, what are the ideas that I needed to share with them and my closest friends and the family, what kind of dialogue I would like to open with my wife, for example. But, you know, somehow indirectly, because it’s much more efficient. It’s like choosing the music instead of reading lectures. Avoiding the risk of having a few people fall asleep. So, my initial idea was to somehow materialize all that was happening in my head. And one day, in 2009, I decided to go into a studio and try it out and to see how it goes. So, in the early spring of 2010, I recorded my first six or seven ideas that appeared to be songs that weren’t that bad in my humble opinion. Little by little, I got the next six, seven, eight ideas. It appeared that I had a whole album. We recorded it. I recorded all of the songs playing the guitar and the piano. And sang all of the voice stuff – main vocals, backing vocals, vocal harmonies, counterparts, whatever. And obviously, it was worthwhile to work a bit on this album so that it gets to the world. Which meant it needs to be played very well. And I did not take myself too seriously, to replace myself with world-famous musicians that are real experts in their field. I am an expert in my field and I don’t consider a musician can do what I do. I thought that a voice that I’ve always loved ever since my childhood would do, like John Lawton, the guy that I started with. Then when I recorded the second album, it’s the same scheme. But I went to my studio because, in the meantime, I built my own studio to be able to be in command of everything, to hold everything in my hand. Not to depend on anybody and to have the personal responsibility about every single note that was written there or whatever is happening, including the guys I work with. Because it should have the atmosphere that you need to create it yourself. And to want for the people around you the same standards that you want for yourself. These are the prerequisites for success that I’m also singing about instead of reading lectures about. The formula for success. I’m just sharing my thoughts, my attitude about how to be successful, with good intentions, believing in yourself, with the simple fact that you have realized what it is like to live with a mission instead of vegetation. When I was recording my second album, I realized that we were changing our music style a little and John Lawton wasn’t sufficient. So I contacted Mr. Simon Phillips. He liked the material and he said he was in. Then I got another favorite vocalist that was Joe Williams. He was in personal contact with him because at that time they were still playing in Toto. They decided to participate together in this project. So, I went to Los Angeles. Simon invited me. And we recorded the drums for the whole second album. And Joseph Williams sang quite a few songs there in the presence of Simon as a sort of music producer and myself. Together with John Lawton, it appeared to be quite a good band. So I decided to create a sort of a construction for myself related to this type of inviting experts to do the whole job. And the third album was full of stars, adding Tim Pierce, John Payne and Nathan East. And again Simon, of course, Joseph Williams… and Carl Sentence, who is now the vocalist of Nazareth. Then for the fourth album, Simon Phillips directly proposed a band for me who recorded the whole album in L.A. based on the demo that we sent. And then we created our version here in Bulgaria. And when we mixed it, we got the best of both. This is why it sounds so convincing. There was a lot of energy with it because it was very sincere. All of the musicians liked the material. That was a prerequisite to get them in, in the whole thing. And they gave all of their hearts. This is called a full creative input. It is something that does not happen very often. It’s a super band from all parts of the world dedicated to the idea to teach the young people to be positive, to have constructive thinking, to avoid depression and negativism. It was a mission. This is why it was so easy to now record our fifth album, Life Motion. This is the first album Simon said he was very much in love with. Usually, Simon is a gentleman, apart from the fact that he’s a great expert. He would not work on something he wouldn’t approve. However, we had the chance with this particular album to have him in not only as someone who approved the material, but someone who’s a fan of it. And we start a very interesting tour in Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Germany. We were very much motivated by the interest of the fans in our project. And we like your magazine very much. So, it will be a great pleasure, honor and privilege to see ourselves in your magazine.
RHRM: You provided a lot of information there. Ha ha. If you don’t mind, I have a few follow-up questions. Ha ha ha. Better than the two-or-three-word answers I sometimes get.
MV: Ha ha ha!
RHRM: It’s great to hear that you are doing those shows in Europe. Do you think that there is a possibility that we will see any shows over here in the States?
MV: We are working on it. Provided we’ve got the interest of the fans that surprised us. Because, you know, we don’t consider ourselves people with media exposure that would provide the prerequisite to be successful and famous. But all of the fans showed us that people needed our music. This was a very good reason for us to work on our first tour and to think about going to the States. But if you are interested to see this live show, Mr. Simon Phillips will be together with the voice of Rainbow, Mr. Ronnie Romero, and the vocalist Richard Grisman from London with us, the Bulgarian musicians.
To read the rest of this feature, please order a copy of Red Hot Rock #78 at our online shop.