Since the mid-80s, many music fans across the globe have been fascinated with Bulgarian music. While Western music, including classic rock, was mainly bootlegged throughout the old Soviet, the music in Bulgaria was influenced by Middle Eastern pop-folk artists.
Many independent bands and musicians started to carve their names after the nation had surfaced under the Iron Curtain in 1989.
Pop artists such as Desi Slava and Roma singer Sofi Marinova became familiar names as Western sounds also became more accessible throughout the country. The proliferation of Bulgarian music became even more evident when Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007.
Martin Lukanov, who, together with Angel Simitchiev, managed the Sofia-based experimental label Amek Collective, said he started getting sporadic emails from touring artists to set up shows for them in Sofia.
“There weren’t any noise shows in Bulgaria in the late ‘00s. Since I was starving to experience as many performances as I could, I decided to set them up myself,” Lukanov told Band Camp.
Bulgaria is now home to many alt-rock, pop, hip-hop, rock, and other experimental sounds.
Here are artists and bands who redefine Bulgarian music
Description: Б.Т.Р. – Забравената Нежност
B.T.R. is a Bulgarian rock band founded in 1984. The band members included Atanas Penev – Nasko (vocals), Slavcho Nickoloff (guitars), Ivan Kalfov (bass), and Georgy Milev (drummer), who Ilian Dikov later replaced.
They released their first album, Feel the Life, in 1993. The band’s success made them as opening acts of other Western and European rock bands like Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath, among other prominent rock artists.
In 1997, B.T.R. released the album ’97, featuring famous tracks like Diamond and Glass, The Golden Fish, I don’t know, Dune, and Hey Girl.
B.T.R is one of the respected rock bands in Bulgaria. Their music earned recognition in France, Japan, England, and other parts of the world.
Description: P.I.F. – Nevidimo Dete
P.I.F. is an alt and pop-rock band that is known for its experimental music. Its district sound has surprised Bulgaria.
Their composition and lyrical content showed a theatrical effect. The band is also known for its superb live performances.
Kayno Yesno Slonce
Description: Kayno Yesno Slonce – Thalassa – Mare Verborum
Kayno Yesno Slonce’s music is melodic, moody, and mesmerizing. Since its formation in 1998, the band, currently composed of six members, showcased Bulgarian folk history and 14th century Hesychast monastic vocal style, using a bagpipe known as gaida.
Description: Ekzitus – Love / Любов
Екзитус (Exitus) is an indie rock band founded by Andro Stubel in 1995.
The band released their single Сърцето ми от камък е in 1999. The track ranked 1st in the Bulgarian Radio Top 100. However, the band split in 2002.
Mary Boys Band
Description: Mary Boys Band – The Sunflowers
In 1994, the band won in Bulgarian National Television – Hit Minus One, which led them to record their first original song, Where has the wind gone.
Aside from playing in live nightclubs and television shows in Sofia, the band also played during the presidential elections.
In 1996, the band won Art Rock Center’s award for Best Band. Mary Boys Band released their first album, Distant Streets, in 2001.
The record-breaking song Distant Streets made it to the Bulgarian Top 100 – radio world music chart. The band was nominated in the Bulgarian Radio Awards for five different categories.
In 2002, the band won first place in a live music festival part of the international television festival in Albena. They released their second album, Only For You, in 2004.
They continued to rock in big radio stations in Belgium, France, and Holland. They released the Belgium album Distant Streets – compilation in 2004. The following year, the Mary Boys Band was nominated as the Band Of The Year for 2005.
Description: Oratnitza – Vitosha
Oratnitza is a fantastic band with its distinct and colorful rhythm. They incorporated kaval, synth, and other instruments in their music. The band produced a unique sound with a mix of contemporary jazz, folk, and Bulgarian folklore.
ЖЛЪЧ / ГЕНА
Description: ЖЛЪЧ / ГЕНА – Немилост
Bulgarian rapper Matyu Stoyanov continued to play cool hip-hop songs with the Sofia-based rap collective So Called Crew. Singing under the name ЖЛЪЧ, Stoyanov released his most recent album ВЯРА.
Description: Сигнал – Може би
Signal is one of the first and the most famous rock bands in Bulgaria. It was formed in 1978. The band members are comprised of Yordan Karadjov (vocals, bass guitar), Christo Lambrev (keyboard), Vladimir Zakhariev (drums), and Alexander Marinovsky (guitar).