Bulgaria officially announced last week Smart music project as the country’s Eurovision representatives in 2022. With their entry “Intention” on the horizon, here are five things you should know about the supergroup:
It is the brainchild of a renowned doctor
Dr. Milen Vrabevski, the mastermind behind it Smart music project, is a noted doctor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. His philanthropic and business endeavors have earned him numerous awards. He is the founder and CEO of Comac Medical, a medical research company with offices in Bulgaria and seven other Eastern European countries. In 2020, the company played a major role in distributing Covid-19 vaccines to Bulgarian and North Macedonian citizens in mobile vaccination centers. In 2007 he founded the Bulgarian Memory Foundation, an organization with numerous programs aimed at strengthening Bulgaria’s cultural identity, improving access to quality education and strengthening relations with neighboring countries.
In 2010 he opened Intelligent Music, a recording studio in Sofia, Bulgaria, in the hope of supporting contemporary Bulgarian music and opening the country’s music scene to a wider, international audience.
It has an unorthodox creative process
The songwriting and recording process for Smart music project‘s albums are unconventional and international. While Dr. Vrabevski is the lyricist and composer behind all the songs in the supergroup, he works closely with a number of in-house producers and musicians to perfect the band’s output. Then he records a demo version of his own singing, even though he claims to be a terrible singer. This demo will be used as the basis for the production of the song and as a reference point for the professional demo singer who will be called in to re-record the vocals.
Once this version of the demo is completed, it will be presented to a select group of acclaimed Western rock musicians, many of whom will record their contribution to the songs from their homes in the United States. For example, the band’s latest album features additional percussion sections recorded by musicians in Los Angeles, California and Austin, Texas.
This entire process is documented in behind-the-scenes documentaries that are released along with the band’s albums. You can view the latest album, The creation, comes to life in the video below.
The lineup is constantly evolving
Although there are a number of Bulgarian musicians who are regular members of Smart music project, five of whom will be attending Eurovision this year, the lead singers recruited vary. Over the course of the band’s six albums, lead vocals have been provided by frontmen of classic rock acts such as Toto, Asia and Nazareth. In Turin the band is led by a Chilean singer-songwriter Ronnie Romero.
Romero, who played on the band’s last two albums, is better known for being the lead singer for a number of American and English rock bands, including Rainbow and Sunstorm. In Turin he is accompanied by a guitarist Bissar Ivonov, Keyboard player Ivo Stefanovand bass guitarist Dimitar Sirakov.
The provision of backing vocals in Turin is on Slavin Slavchev, a singer-songwriter who won the third season of The X factor Bulgaria in 2014. As previously reported, will be the last member of the band Stoyan Yankulov, a percussionist who represented Bulgaria at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007 and 2013. He performed with Bulgarian folk singers Elitsa Todorova on both occasions, 5th place in the 2007 Grand Final and failed in the second semi-final in the 2013 competition.
It has a complicated origin story
Smart music project‘s first release, the 2012 album The power of the mind, was originally conceived as part of a comeback album for Diana Express, a well-known Bulgarian rock band from the late 1970s / early 1980s. This album, 2011 Sineva Square, was released on two discs. The first CD contained music and arrangements by the members of Diana Express, while the songs on the second CD were composed and arranged by DR. Milen Vrabevski itself. Although the album was well received, the album quickly got caught up in ongoing legal disputes from Diana Express.
This reincarnation of the band was founded by guitarist Maxim Goranov and drummer Tsvetan Banov, two musicians who were members of the legendary rock band in its heyday. However, they were not founding members. When Goranov and Banov began releasing music and performing concerts under the name “Diana Express,” two of the band’s original members sued, and after a two-year legal battle, those original members received exclusive rights to the band’s name.
However, while this case was going through the Bulgarian judicial system, Vrabevski and his staff recorded an English language version of the second CD and released it under the nickname … Smart music project. Titled The power of the mind, the album contained vocals by the English rocker John Lawton, who is best known for his positions in the legendary rock bands Lucifer’s Friend and Uriah Heep. And so a super group was born.
(Fun fact: 2011, shortly after Sineva Square‘s original publication, Vrabevski and Diana Express developed the album into a stage musical of the same name. Footage from one of the show’s production numbers can be viewed below.)
His international fan base is growing
Last February, the band’s song “Every Time” topped the rock charts in Greece, overtaking songs by legendary acts such as The Rolling Stones and Deep Purple. Ronnie Romero was also the lead singer in this song.
The band is currently in the middle of their second European tour. For the past two years it has played concerts in Romania, Germany, the Netherlands and Greece. Although they haven’t performed in Portugal yet, they have a sizable following for fans Smart music project has recently developed in this country too. Will televoters from these countries put their support behind “Intention”? Only time can tell.
Are #SHE excited about Bulgaria’s artist choice this year? to be allowed to #SHE Do you think we’re about to get the first Eurovision song of 2022 ALREADY? Sound off in the comments below, on our forum, or on social media @ESCUnited.
Sources: Dnes-bg, Theater-Kunst-bg, Via Nocturna, bnr.bg