Last week, Bulgaria officially announced Intelligent Music Project as the country’s 2022 Eurovision representatives. With the release of its entry, “Intention”, on the horizon, here are five things to know about the supergroup:
It’s the Brainchild of a Renowned Physician
Dr. Milen Vrabevski, the mastermind behind Intelligent Music Project, is a prominent physician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. His philanthropic and business ventures have earned him numerous awards. He is the founder and CEO of Comac Medical, a medical research company with branches in Bulgaria and seven other Eastern European nations. In 2020, the company played a large role in distributing Covid-19 vaccines to both Bulgarian and North Macedonian citizens at mobile vaccination centers. In 2007, he created the Bulgarian Memory Foundation, an organization with numerous programs meant to bolster a Bulgarian cultural identity, increase access to quality education, and strengthen relationships with neighboring nations.
In 2010, he opened Intelligent Music, a recording studio in Sofia, Bulgaria, in hopes of supporting contemporary Bulgarian music and opening up the country’s music scene to a wider, more international audience.
It Has an Unorthodox Creative Process
The songwriting and recording process for Intelligent Music Project‘s albums is unconventional and international. While Dr. Vrabevski is the lyricist and composer behind all of the supergroup’s songs, he works closely with a number of in-house producers and musicians to perfect the band’s output. He then records a demo version with his own vocals, despite, by his own admission being a terrible singer. That demo is used as a base to build the production of the song around and as a reference point for the professional demo singer brought in to re-record the vocals.
Once this version of the demo is completed, it is pitched to a select group of celebrated Western rock musicians, many of whom will record their contribution to the songs from their homes in The United States. The band’s most recent album, for example, features additional percussion sections that were recorded by musicians in both Los Angeles, California, and Austin, Texas.
This entire process is documented in behind-the-scenes documentaries released alongside the band’s albums. You can watch the newest album, The Creation, come to life in the video below.
Its Lineup is Constantly Evolving
Though there are a number of Bulgarian musicians who consistently perform as members of Intelligent Music Project, five of whom will be taking part in Eurovision this year, the recruited lead vocalists vary. Over the course of the band’s six albums, lead vocals have been provided by front men of classic rock acts like Toto, Asia, and Nazareth. In Turin, the band will by fronted by Chilean singer-songwriter Ronnie Romero.
Romero, who has collaborated on the band’s past two albums, is better known for his stint as lead vocalist for a number of American and English rock bands, including Rainbow and Sunstorm. He will be joined in Turin by guitarist Bissar Ivonov, keyboardist Ivo Stefanov, and bass guitarist Dimitar Sirakov.
Providing backing vocals in Turin is Slavin Slavchev, a singer-songwriter who won the third season of The X Factor Bulgaria in 2014. As previously reported, the final member of the band will be Stoyan Yankulov, a percussionist who previously represented Bulgaria at Eurovision in both 2007 and 2013. He performed alongside Bulgarian folk singer Elitsa Todorova on both occasions, placing 5th in the 2007 Grand Final and failing to qualify out of the second semi-final at the 2013 contest.
It Has a Complicated Origin Story
Intelligent Music Project’s first release, the 2012 album The Power of Mind, was originally conceived as part of a comeback album for Diana Express, a well-known Bulgarian rock band of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. That album, 2011’s Sineva Square, was released on two discs. The first disc featured music and arrangement by the members of Diana Express, while the songs on the second disc were composed and arranged by Dr. Milen Vrabevski himself. The album, though well-received, was quickly caught up in Diana Express’ ongoing legal battles.
This reincarnation of the band had been formed by guitarist Maxim Goranov and drummer Tsvetan Banov, two musicians who were members of the legendary rock act in its heyday. However, they had not been founding members. When Goranov and Banov began releasing music and performing concerts under the name ‘Diana Express’, two of the band’s original members sued, and, after a two-year-long legal battle, those original members won exclusive rights to the band’s name.
While this case was making its way through the Bulgarian court system, however, Vrabevski and his collaborators recorded an English-language version of the second disc and reissued it under the moniker … Intelligent Music Project. Titled The Power of Mind, the album featured vocals by English rocker John Lawton, most notable for his stints in legendary rock acts Lucifer’s Friend and Uriah Heep. And thus, a supergroup was born.
(Fun fact: In 2011, shortly after Sineva Square’s original release, Vrabevski and Diana Express developed the album into a stage musical of the same name. Footage from one of the show’s production numbers can be viewed below.)
Its International Fanbase is Growing
In February of last year, the band’s song “Every Time” topped the rock charts in Greece, overtaking songs from legendary acts like The Rolling Stones and Deep Purple. That song also featured Ronnie Romero as the lead vocalist.
The band is currently in the middle of its second European tour. Over the last two years, it has played gigs in Romania, Germany, The Netherlands, and Greece. Though they have yet to perform in Portugal, a sizable fanbase for Intelligent Music Project has recently developed in that country as well. Will televoters from those countries throw their support behind “Intention”? Only time will tell.
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