Stefan Kristinkov is an eclectic composer, known primarily for his work in independent films and a clarinetist with extensive performing background, based in New York City.

His compositional work has been greatly influenced by his extensive knowledge of ethnomusicology, jazz as well as Eastern-European minimalism and postmodernism. His music is characterized by fluid architectural design, focused motivic textures, stylistically eclectic compositional techniques, a highly expressive melodic, rhythmic and dynamic language, as well as imaginative developmental strategies. Regardless of being an accomplished musician, music producer and an ambitious composer with years of professional experience, Stefan retains a profound curiosity allowing him to consistently explore new ideas and pursue unique creative solutions, blurring the boundaries of styles and genres.

What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?

Eclectic. Or maybe, Eclectic Fusion.

I consider myself lucky of having opportunities to learn and work in many different situations and in many different styles of music throughout my life. I was born and raised in a big multicultural city, immediately having access to at least four different cultural traditions. I studied classical (or academic) music theory, history and practice in the school and in the conservatory. At the same time, I performed with jazz and pop ensembles. Jazz music had a big influence on me and I studied the jazz tradition, harmony and improvisation very thoroughly. Later in life I have learned and come to love many more cultures and musical traditions, including African and Caribbean, Gipsy of several gipsy nations, Arabic, which I was actively studying and analyzing for several years while working with a world-fusion project in Berlin; other southern European and middle-eastern traditions, as well as some Northern-European and northern Asian. It is my belief that the one most important thing a composer can do is to learn as much folklore as possible.

Now, I believe, fusion is the main path the music development is taking. It can be seen in the pop culture and in academic tradition with all the recent cross-overs, film music and electro-acoustic experiments. Especially in the USA, where it was always a defining feature of music tradition. With my eclectic background and passion for classical, ethnic and jazz music, my principal idea is that music must always possess an entertaining value. Of course, different people are entertained in a different way. So, what I am trying to accomplish with my music, is finding the perfect balance between entertaining and intellectual, in a way that it would be engaging to listen for anyone, but still sophisticated enough to be of interest for professionals. I could say, that my model here is the music of Mozart. It is fun and very accessible, but no one would ever say that it is too simple. Complex, but not complicated – that would be my motto as a composer and musician.

How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?

My parents named me. That’s the whole story.

What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?

Everything I do musically is influenced by my knowledge of classical music, ethnomusicology and all forms of jazz and pop music. If I had to randomly pick a few names: Herbie Hancock, Skryabin, Philip Glass, Björk, Peteris Vasks, Stravinsky, Mica Levi, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, NIN, John Adams.

What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?

Right now I am working on a score for a short film. Also slowly writing an oboe concerto; collecting ideas for my next album and thinking of releasing a single soon, which will be quite unexpected, I believe.

What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry? What Is Your Plan Of Action?

An “Ultimate Goal” implies that there can be an ultimate conclusion to my music making. Well, apart from dark and sad thoughts, I do not believe in that. It is just a continuous process with an open end.

What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far?

People seem to have a hard time categorizing my work. But that is okay. It’s Eclectic!

What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?:

Curiously, it is always different. Actually, I believe, no one can say for sure where the musical ideas are coming from.

What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?

I have a playlist on Spotify, which I called “My Desert Island Collection”. It is as eclectic as you can imagine after reading this. Some names from it: Björk, NIN, Al DiMeola, Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabliel, Peteris Vasks, Dave Grusin, Ivo Papasov, Anthony McGill, Grover Washington, Shakatack, Mezzoforte, Al Jarreau, Kate Bush, Igor Stravinky, Kalevi Aho, Dominic Lewis, John Williams, Johann Johannsson, David Krakauer, Buddy DeFranco, Jeff Russo, etc.

What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?

I started studying and making music at five. Before that? Well, learning to walk, learning to talk, learning to skate, learning to read, learning to play piano. Something like that.

Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?

If you feel an insuperable necessity to express yourself through music, to make art with sounds – please do, please don’t stop no matter what, and make sure nothing distracts you from doing this – or you will not be happy in life. But if you see successful musicians and want to make (big easy) money, like they do – forget about it – one cannot make music their handicraft, a way of making money; one must make art, be able to make art, to think of making art first and to love what they create (not the money) and be convinced that what they are creating is needed.

What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?

I would spend as much time and resources, as possible, on finding and promoting the folklore music. The one that comes naturally from the necessity of making art. And therefore, must be preserved.

How Do You Feel About Originality?

Yep, that’s about me!

Is There Anything Else We Should Know About You Or That You Would Like to Add?

Was it a boring read? I feel that it turned out maybe a bit too serious. Some may feel the same about my latest album, called “A.M.A. (Ask Me Anything)”. But it is more about a light-hearted look on serious things. And there is much humor in it, if one looks closely. I liked the phrase in a recent review in The Clarinet: “Kristinkov’s work perfectly exemplifies the manner by which traditional clarinet playing can be combined with mainstream music, a truly laudable outside-the-box approach” – this means that I am on a right path to my goal of “finding the perfect balance between entertaining and intellectual”.

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