Romanian producer Monoir: Hold fast to your musical roots

The hit-maker behind The Violin Song visits Bulgaria for a new dose of tracks

Dear producers, please do not bet on ready-made pop formulas that will only take you down the road of anonymity. Your folk music is what will make the world notice you, says the super successful Romanian music producer Cristian Tarcea, better known as Monoir.

Hi, Chris! What brings you back to Bulgaria?

I am here for a music session and I have gotten two tracks completely done in less than 48 hours with Dara and Yoana, which are completely different from their usual sound. Personally, I wanted to hear a much better Dara because I know she is capable of so much more. All I am going to tell you is that the cool troublemaker in her is silenced for this new project. It is the same vibrant energy, but when it comes to the vocals - femininity takes over. I also did a track with Yoana that gets under your skin and makes you dance.

Over the past several years you have established yourself as one of the most respected hit-makers in Bulgaria. What do you see in Bulgarian folk music and how are you able to blend that style so masterfully in a dance hit?

Your folk music is incredibly beautiful and it is what makes you unique and instantly recognisable everywhere in the world. It has a magical atmosphere that transports listeners to another dimension. I am partial to melancholic vocals. Not the sad ones that sound depressing, but the ones with a beautiful melancholic quality that are infused with wisdom. It is that melancholy that is a perfect fit for dance beats.

You are very familiar with the Bulgarian music scene. How has it evolved over the years? Does it have the potential to produce an artist with international success, as Romania has done?

Bulgaria is full of talented artists and it is only a matter of time before one of them becomes a global phenomenon. Look at Dua Lipa, who is an Albanian, or her compatriot Era Istrefi, who does not even bother to sing in English and was still chosen to record the FIFA World Cup song (Live It Up) with Will Smith. Mark my words, you will have a European star soon. I see artists with great personality and fresh energy that the music industry abroad needs.

What makes Romanian pop music so commercially successful abroad?

It is the style. This essence of popcorn and carefree spirit that our music brings is what makes it different.

Many Bulgarian DJs use folk music samples in their tracks. Have you heard any of those, do you like them?

I listen to an awful lot of music and the last thing I care about is geography. I do not pay attention to whether it comes from Greece, Turkey, India or Bulgaria. What I hope that we have achieved with The Violin Song is to whet people's appetite for more experiments with folk music. Dear producers, please hold fast to your roots and use the music wealth at your disposal. Do not bet on ready-made pop formulas that will only take you down the road of anonymity. Your folk music is what will make the world notice you.

When did you hear a folk motif for the first time, and how do you manage to make these irregular measures sound modern?

I was in high school when I encountered that music through a dance track. I have always been drawn to Balkan rhythms. I want to create a successor to The Violin Song, even though I know how hard it is to surpass such a hit.

Can you count the number of hits you have created together with Romanian and foreign artists over the past years? In what part of the world is your music best received?

I know of 60 territories where my music is played regularly and I personally consider Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Albania, Poland, India and Russia to be key markets. I believe that six of the top 10 songs on your official airplay list are produced by me, including Alma's Perfect, which is at number one. Since I first started producing music, I have created 80 songs - for me or other artists. I am referring to released singles.

Pardon the question, but how old are you?

I am 25, an old man really. I started producing music professionally at the age of 16. I have 93 tracks so far, which is the same as the year I was born. There are no coincidences in life (laughs). All in all, I have about 100 demo versions waiting to hit the airwaves in 2019.

How was Lost in Istanbul, currently a hit in Turkey, born?

In the car. Brianna, who is one of my artists and whom I have been producing since she was 15, said, “We need to record a song with the title Lost in Istanbul.” I immediately started singing the phrase the way that it is in the track's chorus.

Last question, how do you wind down when you are not in the studio?

I play videogames, I like photography. I shoot all of my own videos and that invigorates me. It is a remnant of the time when I used to do everything myself and I had no money to hire directors and cameramen. I like riding a bicycle and I spend time in the mountain whenever I get the chance.

  

Close-up

The super successful Romanian music producer Cristian Tarcea, better known as Monoir, who is only 25, was once again in Bulgaria recently to write music for up-and-coming pop artists. He first rose to prominence with the hit single The Violin Song, which featured a Bulgarian folk sample from the album of composer Nikolai Kaufmann, performed by The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices choir. The single topped the Shazam Music Charts in Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Ukraine and other countries. Monoir has his own label, Thrace Music, with over 500,000 subscribers to its YouTube channel. Over the past year, he collaborated with Bulgarian artists on several projects that climbed up the charts. For the winners of the fifth season of the reality show X Factor Bulgaria - the girl band 4Magic, he created Together (Vecheray Rado) and Kolko mi lipsvash (I Miss You So Much). His latest works are Da ne spim (Let Us not Sleep), for the solo artist Yoana, and Alma's debut single Perfect, which is currently number one on the Prophon chart.

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