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Articles Home » Interviews » Nostradamus - 2001 Interview with Nikolo Kotsev
Nostradamus - 2001 Interview with Nikolo Kotsev
INTERVIEW: Nikolo Kotsev (Nov 2001)
Predictions and Nostradamus.. Let Nikolo tell the tale.

Cursed and feared, and yet revered..
The future foretold from the past..

In The Spotlight - Nostradamus
Interview with - Nikolo Kotsev
Written by: Gdazegod (November 2001)

September 11, 2001. It just seems like yesterday. Those events mirrored across television sets, etched in everyone's memories forever. A bad nightmare surely? Not so. In an attempt to find reason behind the madness, many of us in the western world tried to find solace in different ways. Some looked to the Church, some gravitated quite naturally to their families, while others looked for answers in the mysterious and obtuse ways of the universe. Not long after the New York tragedy, the word 'Nostradamus' became one of the most sought after items of subject matter on the Internet. Perhaps another one of his cryptic quatrains came home to roost on that fateful day? Who knows, but plenty of people were out there looking for a sign or a message. However, just months beforehand, guitar supremo Nikolo Kotsev was delivering a message of his own. Albeit a musical one, interweaving threads of tangled history relating to that famous French Physician Michel Nostradamus during the 16th century.

Nikolo has turned this intriguing slice of history into a 2 CD rock opera of severe magnitude, including a talented array of singers such as Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes, Jorn Lande, Goran Edman and Doogie White. Notwithstanding, we are held in the presence of the Canadian female duet of Alannah Myles and Sass Jordan, plus the backing band of ex Europe members: Mic Michaeli, John Leven and Ian Haughland. Four years in the making, and deliberating carefully on a record label, Nikolo's efforts eventually paid off, signing with the German label SPV/Steamhammer, and releasing 'Nostradamus' to a series of glowing reviews all around.

Just having returned from his birth country Bulgaria to his home on the Aland Islands between Sweden and Finland, Nikolo took a brief respite out to answer some of our nagging questions. Thanks Nik, and welcome back to GLORY-DAZE, and congratulations on a teriffic album. 'Thanks George. It's nice to be back!' I notice on the nostramusic.com site that there's a unanimous thumbs up from just about every publication that's heard it? 'Well, let say most of the publications liked it very much. Of course I have seen some reviews that aren't that nice, but then again, people are different and it would be too much to ask everyone out there to like it. It is about personal preferences'. This is an inspired effort, and on a subject not usually associated with rock music. Has Nostradamus intrigued you from an early age? 'You could say that, yes' hints Nikolo. 'I am very interested in the unexplained, paranormal and supernatural. Choosing the subject was quite easy. I am extremely fascinated by people with such abilities'.

The man himself: Nikolo Kotsev

I asked Nik about what significant twists and turns occurred between then and up to 2001. Considering this piece of work had been in the can since 1997. 'Well, it was a rather long period of time I know. The problems were of all kinds. From not having money to not having found the right singers. Obviously I needed financial backup, which I got from my record company USG, but things were not always flawless' Nik admitted. 'On the other hand I had to wait for the singers availability, sometimes it took months. I did not have all the singers I needed and I couldn't just have anyone. I needed singers who would work for the roles. There was major interest in the whole concept from an American production company. The ideas were to make a movie, a stage show and a CD record. Negotiating with these people took time, finally too long for me, so I simply moved on on my own'. Initially you were going to release the thing independently, but eventually you settled with SPV in Germany. How has that arrangement worked out for you? 'Well, the company which financed Nostradamus went out of business. Since I had a product and no record company I decided to release independently in the mean time and wait for a suitable deal with a company I liked. SPV came in the picture faster than expected, so I just went on with them. So far it's working great'.The Rock Opera and stage production thing. Anything firmed up on that? 'This is very important for me and I am working on this as we speak. However I cannot confirm or guarantee anything at this point'.

Most of the other guys have played with you on the Brazen Abbot albums. Did everyone have to immerse themselves in the material and the history as well? 'Only the singers. Obviously they needed a detailed guidance through the whole thing, and believe me they got it. I wouldn't let anyone sing without knowing the storyline. The players just worked the usual way. Of course they knew the story, but not in such a detail as the singers'. I think Jorn Lande was a great choice as the Inquisitor. But what about the other roles? Was it a case of best singer suited to the role or was there some other process? Nik explains this for us. 'When I casted the singers I made sure they fit the roles as people too. I always imagined every singer in their respective roles and wanted to get the feeling that they are similar on a personal level. Obviously the quality of singing is of a paramount issue, but I wanted to make sure the cast is great also'. He goes on to say.. 'The biggest problem was with the role of the Inquisitor. It is a relatively short role but very intense. I spent three months looking
for a singer. Jorn is just perfect for it. My other ideas were Ronnie James Dio, Tony Martin and Bruce Dickinson. I am sure all of them would have done a great job, but now it is difficult to imagine anyone else other than Jorn for the role'.

Too right! Someone did mention to me that though all the assembled male singers were great, most of them tended to sing in a similar vein, the exception being Jorn. What would you say to that comment? 'I personally think all the male singers are very different from each other. Obviously, the style of the music is bringing all performances in a similar musical colour or interpretation which of course was intended, otherwise I would have ended up with a Frankenstein of different styles without a connecting moment. Jorn's parts were more or less written by Joe Lynn Turner, so I can't see how only he can be different'. Thats a fair point. How difficult then was it to find female singers in Europe for the roles of Anne Gemelle and Catherine de Medici? 'My first choices were Alannah Myles and Sam Brown. Sam couldn't do it, so Alannah recommended Sass Jordan. It is kinda hard to find female singers in Europe. I am sure this is due to my own ignorance though. I am very bad at checking the scene for new people'.

We move on now into the classical side of the album. I inquired about the role of Nelko Kolarov as the conductor for the Orchestra. How crucial was he to the mix? 'Not at all' declares Nikolo. 'Nelko conducted the orchestra when we recorded it. The mix was done two years later. I was on place during the recording and it was a tough week. Nelko is an old friend of mine, we played in the same rock band in the 80's. We have the same background: classical education and hard rock hand in hand. Obviously having a good conductor during a recording is extremely important and Nelko did a great job'. Just looking at the photo of the 35 piece Orchestra, they all look so young. What was their opinion of assisting on a Rock Opera project like this? 'This is exactly why we chose young and talented people - they loved it!' a bemused Nikolo acknowledges. 'We spent a month on casting the orchestra and I wanted to have young and engaged people, who loved rock music as much as classical. Keeping in mind we only had a week for rehearsing and recording I wanted to have players, who could work for 15 hours in a row without complaining. Had I chosen older players I couldn't have kept them working for more that 4 hours. So, mission was accomplished within the timeframe'.

The album has been segmented into three Acts. Seeing as his life had so many interesting aspects to it, was it difficult to select which phases to concentrate on? 'Yes , it was really tough to choose what to concentrate on. I mean, his life was very interesting but I risked becoming too biographical, which would have been boring'. Nik continues on.. 'On the other hand, I wanted to write only about prophecies which actually happened (Napoleon, The French Revolution, World War II) and the most interesting ones for the future: World War III and The End of the World. It was very hard to make all this work together: making his life story and prophecies become a part of the same story. I also had to use the Storyteller and the Ghost roles as doubles for Nostradamus on many places, otherwise I would have ended up with an unbalanced appearance of the singers. It was tough'.

Act III focuses on recent prophecies, including references to World War II and World War III. That was a more interesting one. I suppose there could have many aspects to focus on, considering many of the quatrains are still yet to be deciphered. 'That's true. We actually tried to be very accurate when it came to using quotes from the quatrains. Obviously, we had something in mind, so we used quatrains which were connected to the subject directly or indirectly'. Overall though, you're pretty happy with the way the album ended up? 'Very happy, yes'.

Have you had any feedback from Nostradamus experts, or even from people with French backgrounds or French history about the album? 'Many have contacted me, asking about details, many bought books, went to libraries, started researching on Nostradamus etc. French people like Nostradamus (obviously!) and during my promo tour in France I got a very positive response. I haven't really spoken to any Nostradamus experts, but I did conduct some long research on Nostradamus before I started writing, so I am pretty sure the details are correct'. I asked Nik if he considered himself to be a Nostradamus historian. He replied 'No. I am just fascinated by the man'. Yes, I suppose it's quite timely discussing Nostradamus so soon after the September 11 incident. What was your overview on the whole situation of that infamous day? 'It was a big tragedy. I was paralysed for days. For me it doesn't matter if there is a Nostradamus connection or not - it wouldn't change or have an impact on any of those events'.

'All through the centuries
the world heard his name
his visions came at night
they came to haunt his life'
lyrics from 'Introduction' - Act I - song 4

And of those quatrains yet to come to fruition, have you read or seen any which intrigue you the most? 'I read many of the quatrains, but I would like to stress on the fact that I am not fanatical about Nostradamus' predictions: it doesn't matter if any of them will come true. Obviously 'Nostradamus' is only a musical piece and an artistic point of view has been applied to the story, characters, everything. On the other hand, most of Nostradamus' predictions were understood after the actual events took place, so it is quite pointless trying to make any sense of them now'. Regarding my intro piece about Nostradamus becoming one of the most searched for phrases on the Internet. Did that see a boost in web traffic and sales on the nostramusic.com site? 'Well, nostramusic.com doesn't sell anything, it only shows links to various Internet shops which have nothing to do with me or my company. Some people wondered where they can find Nostradamus, so of course we gave them the links. The traffic was incredible during those few days'.

You've just recently returned from a two week stint in Bulgaria, and returned with some scholarly accolades too? 'Yeah, a Bachelor of Music Arts, how about that!' Very cool. Just as well it wasn't a PHD otherwise we'd all be calling you Dr Kotsev. So then, what does the next six months or so hold in store for you? 'I will be writing and recording a new Brazen Abbot album'. Thanks again for the catch up, and I'm sure we'll be watching to see how the album fares in everyone's End Of Year Polls. Again, well done! 'Hmm, interesting. I hope it does well. Thanks and all the best.'

After reading this interview, one comes away with the impression that the music came first, and the subject matter second. As Nikolo eluded, 'Nostradamus' is a musical piece with an artistic point of view applied it. The fact that the subject matter is interesting, and certainly topical given the current state of world events, only adds to it's appeal. You could say that Kotsev is as much a maverick for releasing something like this as was Nostradamus in his day. Challenging, bold, daring, and non-conforming. Quite appropriate that the two should mirror each other. You never know, perhaps the old fella wrote a quatrain about this album that we haven't discovered yet. Nik, you'd better start digging through the books on that one!

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#1 | dangerzone on May 24 2009 10:54:19
I wonder if he has sued Priest yet. Mind you he might be too ashamed to after that piece of shit.
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