In this interview, I would like to introduce you to a Bulgarian DJ, producer and promoter. Georgi Mateev, known also as DJ Balthazar, is one of the doyens of the Bulgarian electronic scene. In the first part of the interview, we will talk about music, parties and the musical scene he will never forget. In the second one, you will understand why Georgi’s dream is to visit absolutely all countries in the world – a dream he continues to persistently chase.

Contents

Part I

Hello, George! First, I would like to thank you for accepting the invite to be my guest. Most people in Bulgaria know you by the DJ Balthazar pseudonym. How and when did it all begin for you and why did you decide to work specifically with music?

Thank you for the invite, too, the pleasure is mutual. Everything started in the middle of the 90s when techno had entered in Bulgaria for the first time. Ever since I was little, I have always enjoyed energetic music in all its varieties and I was completely keen on this new style, as well as on the whole DJ culture and I decided to try to work in this sphere. Everything began almost like a joke and like a big hobby that later on became a profession and a lifestyle. Actually, up until this day I still consider music a hobby, because I enjoy my work too much. I consider myself a really lucky guy because I “work” what I enjoy doing.

How did you decide to use the “Balthazar” pseudonym?

Somewhere in 1996, a friend of mine was reading a book for sea pirates and one time he showed me an illustration of the captain of the ship: “Look, this guy looks so much like you!”. The resemblance was astonishing indeed, and the captain’s name was Balthazar. In turn, I really liked my name and I “stole” it and this is the name that stayed till this day.

Who and what inspired you through those years?

The names are too many for me to mention each one specifically but as a whole, I can say that during the 90s I was inspired mainly by the German rave and underground scene.

How important is it for a DJ to build an excellent connection with the public? In this line of thinking, how did the listeners in Bulgaria perceived you during the start of your musical career?

This actually was probably the most important thing, along with the exact selection of the music. If there is no established connection between the DJ and the public, also there won’t be a good party atmosphere. In a certain degree, the DJ is a catalyst, who has to filter through everything negative and to transmit to the public only positive energy. And if he manages to do it, so he really has a sense for things. However, I was happy to be well-perceived from the very beginning of my career when everything had just started to grow. People had a huge thirst for music and entertainment, and everything new and/or different immediately drew a huge attention.

DJ Balthazar
DJ Balthazar

When was your first event on the international club scene and where?

It was in 2000, in a small club in Czech Republic. During that time through the years, I was going through hundreds of places and events of all calibres but until this day I remember this party, although it wasn’t such a long time ago.

Some time ago, you shared that you had a great party event in South Korea? Where, through the world, did you enjoy playing music the most?

Oh yes, the party in Seoul was really memorable for a number of reasons. People there were having fun in a completely different way and in the beginning, it was relatively hard to feel the mood but after I did, it went great. Otherwise, it is complicated to determine where it most enjoyable, I have had unforgettable sets in many places. I can mention at least separate countries that I have had marvelous impressions as a whole: Japan, Germany, Australia and the US. I am not trying to sound like a patriot but some of my best performances were at home – in Bulgaria, the home country public is great.

DJ Balthazar
DJ Balthazar

Is there a specific party event you are going to remember your whole life? An evening that was imprinted deeply in your consciousness?

This is always a hard question. During the years, there were so many great party evenings that it is practically impossible to stop myself at something specific. And, still, if I do have to choose – I would never forget a party in Egypt 10 years ago, when the stage was located literally in the foothill of the Giza pyramids (about 1km away). There was something so magical, when in the morning I met the sunrise in this background, while I was still playing music for a couple of thousands of people…

2 hours from a music set or a whole night behind the desk – pros/cons for playing a 120 min in a club and then go straight to the hotel or the so-called “all-nighter”?

It really depends on the specific event. There are more DJs on some parties but then everyone makes their own separate set that last maximum 2 hours. When the set has to be shorter, you have to make an impression in a specific time and then it’s somewhat more responsible. Another time, you are alone behind the desk the whole evening and in this way, you have the chance to develop your set more from beginning to end. Both options have their pluses and minuses and I like them almost similarly.

In 2008, in a mutual project with Deep Zone, you created the track DJ, Take Me Away, and you represented Bulgaria at Eurovision with the song. Could you consider that a certain peak in your musical career?

From a commercial point of view – yes. Plenty of people then heard my name for the first time, since all media were raving about our track all the time and that brought me huge popularity, and not only in Bulgaria. From a different point of view, I was always an underground DJ, and this project with Deep Zoon was intended from the very beginning as something on the side, and after that I returned to my underground roots, continuing the years-long mutual work with my colleague JackRock. But I most definitely do not regret the affair “Eurovision”, as in that specific time, it gave me a completely different perspective and it was more than an interesting experience.

According to you, did we “caught up” with the European scenes of electronic music?

In some ways we did, and in others – we most certainly did not. Whatever we say, the scene in our country is a couple of times less than the one in Western Europe and there is no way to compete with the huge festivals, for example. However, the more “boutique”-like scene in our country has cultivated a very interesting and devoted public that often outshines the Western one in terms of quality. This is a fact and I don’t say it only because I am a Bulgarian myself.

Balthazar
DJ Balthazar

And which is the foreign festival for electronic music that you like the most in terms of organization?

The one I like the most in the moment is Awakenings. Although, I have a huge weakness for the Mayday festival.

Tell us about an interesting story during the time of your travels, linked with your musical career? Missed flights – interesting personalities?

In my whole career, I have only one missed flight and it was for a very trivial reason. My party was in Brno but I was about to fly from Bratislava. Usually, this distance is not a big one and it is easy to travel but we were caught in a huge, unexpected traffic and by the time we got to the airport, the air plane had taken off. Since, this happened in 2000, when there weren’t many companies flying to Sofia, in the end I had to take the bus to Bulgaria, or I had to wait for 4 days for the next flight. 

I have met many public personalities – sportsman, politicians and other musicians. For example, a couple of years ago, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, was sitting on the row next to me on the flight to Athens.

What kind of advice would you give to people who have the wish to work with mixing and producing electronic music?

To do it with desire, complete devotion and with the clear consciousness that it can take a lot of time and persistence until they have a break-through.

What is the new thing coming up soon from Renesanz’s side and DJ Balthazar?

As a recording label – we put out a new EP every month, as in the last years, we considerably raised our level and immodestly, I can say that we are at a world-level. From promoter’s point of view – we decreased the number of events we organize, as JackRock and I focus more on our own music production that enjoys greater and greater success, as well as on our international events. Actually, in the moment, I am writing the answers to this interview in Berlin where yesterday, we had a party in a club, and in a couple of days, we are heading for Lebanon for another event.

What is DJ Balthazar like outside of the club scene?

An еxceptionally devoted traveler, who wanders the world not only for work but also in his free time. I have visited about 160 countries already and I can’t wait to see the rest of them as well. The constant movement motivates and recharges me. I know myself – if I stop in one place for too long, I would become bored quickly. 

Follow DJ Balthazar on Facebook:

Balthazar & JackRock

Renesanz Records


Read more: Georgi Mateev Interview: The Famous DJ Talks About His Travels

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