Interviews with Nikolo Kotzev

Interview from Highland Magazine (


1.Can you introduce you to us?
I was born on June 6th 1961 in Bulgaria in the family of musicians. Started playing the violin at the age of five. Worked as a studio guitarist for a couple of years and played in few cover bands.Since 1989 I live in Finland where I have an own recording studio.

2.What are your musical trainings?
I went to music school for 5 years and Music Academy for 4 years. Now I have a Bachelor's degree of music arts.My major is violin and a wide range of teoretical disciplines.

3.You are playing guitar and violin with the same facility, what can you say about these two instruments?
The violin helped me a lot for the guitar playing , since I had developed good technique during all the years of playing the violin.The two instruments are quite different and that gave me a wide range of knowledge in all areas of music styles.

4.NOSTRADAMUS is your most ambitious work to date. How long didi it take to write it? Can you tell me the process of its writing?
I started writing in the summer of 1997. Spent a couple of months researching on Nostradamus on the Internet. Wrote music for about 6-7 months . Worked on the concept and the storyline for a couple of months. Scoring and arranging the orchestral parts took me two months too.After all that I had to do a proper casting for all the roles and ofcourse record the material.Recording took 6 - 7 weeks , but was spread over a longer period of time , since I had to wait for everybody's availability. The record was ready mixed in March 2000.

5.Why did you choose the character of NOSTRADAMUS?
The fact that he was a rather interesting person and had extraordinary abilities made him a thankful personality to write about. I myself am very interested in the supernatural phenomenas and like watching movies and read books on the subject. All this gave me a grat musical freedom - I could write in different styles and still have a large area of unexplored ideas covered. Nostradamus lived in the past , predicted about the future and there is a great deal of mystical feeling around him which is a very strong starting point when one wants to write a rock opera.

6.The main story took place in the France of the Renaissance. Are you fond of its periode (as Ritchie Blackmore)?
Not particularly.I was only interested in the story - everything else came with it.

7.You have worked with lots of singer this time. What can you say about each of them?
I can't really go into details about the singers. I respect all of them equally much - they are all great proffesionals and performers. They all have different characters , which was important for me when I casted them for different roles. All of the singers are world class and I wouldn't settle for anything less than that.

8.You use to work with JOE LYNN TURNER and GÖRAN EDMAN before in BRAZEN ABBOT. Why these two singers?
I worked with Glenn Hughes also - on the first BA album. Obviously , when I needed singers I had to check the rock scene and choose the ones I thought would fit my project best. Joe , Glenn and Göran are all incredible singers . All of them have been in some of the greatest bands in the World and helped to make Hard Rock what it is today. I like Deep Purple and Rainbow a lot , so the choice was obvious. I am thankful to all the singers who worked with me - without their talents I wouldn't have achieved much.

9.What are the other singers you would like to work with ?
I am a fan of David Coverdale. I hope I'll have the chance to work with him in the future. Ronnie Dio is one of my favourites too. There are hundreds of very good singers out there and I am constantly looking for new people. The future will show......

10.You are an instrumentalist, but you seem to adore the vocal side of things, why?
Singing is what brings songs to life.I see no reason for trying to shine with my guitar-playing abilities when I can achieve good results by writing good songs. My guitar playing only comes as a complement to writing good songs.

11.For NOSTRADAMUS, what did you compose first. The script, the lyrics, the music? Did you know at the beginning which singer would sing these song?
I started with the script and the music at the same time. It was extremely difficult in the beginning , because I didn't know what I really wanted and how everything would turn out. It all was a time consuming puzzle for quite a long time. There were many elements of the opera I had to count with and it was very difficult to imagine everything on the right place in the beginning.After a while things started getting shape and everything became much easier. Yes , I did think of certain singers when I wrote the songs for each role.

12.You haven't done a lot of records: 3 with BRAZEN ABBOT and NOSTRADAMUS, I suppose playing hard rock is not your only job?
I teach , produce and engineer for other bands ( in my studio and abroad) and so on. I live on small island in the Baltic sea - the music life here is not exactly rich..... I am planning to take the Brazen Abbot on the road next year - hopefully that'll keep me busy for few months.

13.Do you tour sometimes? Will you play NOSTRADAMUS on stage?
I am currently talking to people in the business , investors , producers etc. Playing Nostradamus live will be a huge task , but I guess all I'll need is the right budget. Nothing is impossible.

14.What are your main influences?
Hard rock of the 70s and classical music. I actually like all kinds of music only if it is good.

15.RAINBOW and DEEP PURPLE seemed to have a great importance on you. Tell me why?
I guess that's what we listened to when we started playing hard rock in the 70s. At that time I was in music school and good players were very influential for me. The guys in these bands were very good at their instruments and that's why we respected them a lot. On the other hand the songs were very good too , that's why I am still very attached to this particular style.

16.What do you think of progressive music? What are your favourite bands in that style and why?
I rarely listen to new music - I don't have the time. I still have it very hard to find interesting contemporary music and the record business carries the blame for that. There are thousands of good players and bands out there , but the industry doesn't care - it only wants to make money. So , the cool bands rule and the good bands starve.

17.BRAZEN ABBOT was more rainbowesque, more aor influenced than NOSTRADAMUS which is more symphonic. Are you going to explore the sysmphonic side of things?
You shouldn't talk about Brazen Abbot in past tense , cause it is very much alive and I am just starting to work on the next record. Nostradamus is symphonic because that is what it is about. Brazen Abbot is hard rock because it is a hard rock project. Nostradamus gave me the chance of exploring new areas of composing music and I hope it will stand on it's own. This is why I didn't release it under the BA banner. If future shows there is a need of another project like Nostradamus I will of course consider writing it.

18.On NOSTRADAMUS there are a lot of orchestral arrangements. Did you write them all or did you hire someone?
I wrote , arranged and scored everything myself.

19.What are you next projects?
A new Brazen Abbot album.

20.Give me your conception of music. What are you looking for in composing, in playing music?
Intelligence , taste , melody , originality , virtuosity , message , emotion.

21.NOSTRADAMUS is an hard-rock opera rock, but not a "metal opera rock" (as AVANTASIA for instance). You are living in the country of STRATOVARIUS and SONATA ARCTICA., who are using double drum pedal and metal guitar sounds: didn't you want to sound much metallic?

22.Why didn't you use the violin more in your albums (only one solo by album), when you can use it more (like KANSAS, UK or CURVED AIR)?
Well , it wouldn't fit as good in a hard rock project as in the above. I thought of using it just as a colour , as a "wow" experience rather than a instrument of the band. It wouldn't really fit on all the songs - I've only used it when it felt right. It is cool , I'm planing to use it again on the next album.

23.What are your favourite concept-albums?
I am ashamed to admit , but I haven't listened to any concept album form top to end. I've heard parts of JCSuperstar and saw the movie - that's all. I don't really listen to music at home.

24.What are you favourite classical artist(s) and classical piece of music?
Well it is very hard to answer that question.I listen to anything that's good. Obviously during my education I had a lot to do with that kind of music , but there are thousands of good pieces and it is impossible to just mention a few. I like Mozart, Beethoven , Vivaldi , Dvorak and many many more.

25.What are your favourite rock/pop today's artists?
I like soul music - W. Houston , M.Carey etc. C.Dione and Faith Hill are incredible . There are many actually . I like Aerosmith. Often I hear good rock music on the radio , but don't know who that is........

26.How much albums have you sold?
At this time , internationally I guess around 80.000 +

27.How old are you?
40 years old.

28.Can you introduce us the orchestra conductor of NOSTRADAMUS?
An old friend of mine. We palyed in the same band in the 80's . An incredible piano player. Has the same backgrounds as me - graduated as a conductor from the Music Academy. Very , very tallented .He was a great help , cause I needed a conductor who understands rock music as well. We talk on the phone very often actually - he is a great fan of Nostradamus..