Happy 4th of July Friends!
I’m fittingly paying a heartfelt (unsolicited) tribute to a couple of artistic firecrackers I’ve had the great fortune to know and work with. Some people are life-changers; some are game-changers Wandering Kotka and Boyan Boiadjiev (aka Boyan Bo) are both. I think of them as the quintessential modern Renaissance couple. A typical conversation with them reveals their extensive knowledge of music, art, technology, business, cinema, world travel, philosophy, epicureanism, and politics; their delivery is uncompromisingly witty. They’re an enormously positive influence in my life; I’d be a different person today if I’d never met them.
My first hint of Boyan’s genius was in a college music theory course we took together. Intensely curious, and knowledgeable about all genres of music (and I mean all), he unknowingly began to influence my musical path more than a decade ago – unraveling complex rhythms and compositions (chord progressions, scales, modes, etc.). He gave me a sophisticated comprehension of music on a level I was only beginning to appreciate when we met. He is one of the top 2 musical talents in my repertoire of friends that possesses stellar agility as guitar virtuoso and composer.
In the past 3 years Boyan earned his MA from Indiana University in Performing Arts Center Management, returned to Bulgaria, traveled extensively throughout Europe, applied his business acumen as a manager and coordinator for world music festivals and has returned to the states to do what I love most about him: make music! He’s just released his first full album “..Prime?”
..Prime is a wonderfully complex mix of world, pop and folk music. Folk music is ‘music of the folk’ and in Boyan’s compositions, ‘folk’ can run the gammit of Celtic, Spanish, and numerous other ethnicities. ..Prime? is a beautiful fusion of Boyan Bo’s extensive influences; striking familiar chords and journeying through new musical territory. it’s at once familiar and compelling. I have many memorable musical ‘moments’ – something stops me in my tracks and forces me to recognize the exquisiteness of music. Thank you Boyan Bo for giving me such an experience this week. I’d been working furiously to meet a deadline; I matched my music to my pace – after several hours of EDM to push me beyond my limit I was ready for a break. I left my office exhausted; eager to put the hectic day behind me. I settled into my car and turned the key, ..Prime? was in the CD player. My space was instantly and unexpectedly filled with grace. The stark switch from EDM to ..Prime? was startling , in the best way ..Prime? transformed me from weary worker to refreshed soul. I sat in my car, laid the seat back, turned it up and let the power of musical genius refresh me. I sat through several songs before I ever turned out of the parking lot. It was one of those ‘moments’ when music stopped me and forced me to appreciate it..I had no choice. I urge you to give ..Prime? the chance to drop your jaw and luxuriate in Boyan Bo’s talent.
One more note (pun intended!) about Boyan Bo. His versatility includes powerhouse rock (as I like to call it) and heavy metal (jazz & classical, too). You can visit his Facebook page, Website, YouTube, or Blog and check out his “Heavy Metal Rhythm Series” instructional videos and notes.
Check out Boyan Bo’s “Heavy Metal Rhythm Series”
When Boyan Bo married Kotka my first thought was, “I hope she likes me!” I knew I’d be crazy about her – how could I not adore whoever Boyan Bo was marrying; she had to be extraordinary. I flew to Bloomington, IN to attend Lotus Fest with them; it was the first time Kotka and I met. They graciously met me at the gate, she gave me a big hug; immediately took my arm and welcomed into the fold. It was like a scene from a movie…our meeting happened just the way I would have scripted it. Little did we know then that we’d be collaborating on future projects; she’s such an integral part of my ventures that I couldn’t imagine going forward without her.
Kotka title is ‘free-lance illustrator and graphics designer’, but her own words describe her passions and abilities more appropriately:
“The truth of it is that I enjoy making things, especially pretty things or things that make people smile! My tools of choice happen to be pen, paper, and Photoshop. Unfortunately “compulsive doodler, maker, and beautifier” doesn’t fit well on a business card, so “illustrator and graphic designer” it is!”
Kotka’s imagination and creative energy can be experienced through a myriad of platforms in several places. Kotka’s website details her design services and products which also includes CD art covers. Kotka’s Facebook includes 2 digital art books both of which I am a gigantic fan of. All sites offer a feast of original design…
When I met Kotka and she showed me some of her artwork, I was duly impressed and never dreamed we’d be collaborating on projects together. When I started Jen the Music Maven, the first thing I wanted was a logo. I had a general concept but needed to see it played out artistically so I could envision the artistic side of the marketing campaign beyond just the logo. Kotka came to mind right away. I’m an artistic visionary but unfortunately, not an implementer; I can barely draw a stick figure. This is the drawing and notes I initially sent to Kotka about my idea for a Jen the Music Maven logo.
Jen’s original notes for Jen the Music Maven logo
Kotka’s interpretation of Jen the Music Maven!
Do I really need to point out that Kotka is incredibly intuitive? I added a note to my original design that said I wanted the logo to reflect my personality so people could see that I incorporate fun into my work; she came up with the playful ‘Kick-Up Maven’ as we call her. What’s not to love?! She changed my original color ideas (thank the stars!) and created this striking palette. I knew I’d made the right decision when she showed me this and we’ve been collaborating on several projects ever since including social media campaigns, logos, websites, tee-shirt designs etc. for over a year now. Kotka is the rare person who combines artistic abilities with exceptional inter-personal skills to create a joyful work environment for our projects. Opening her emails is like Christmas – don’t know what to expect but I know I’ll be delighted.
I can’t leave this entry without calling special attention to two books she’s written that have created a unique and special bond between my and my granddaughter, Jeannie. I have an affinity for all cultures; I love learning about them, experiencing them, and incorporating them into daily thoughts and practices. It’s helped shape me as an individual to have a variety of experiences and ideas from which to choose to channel my world through. I was ecstatic when Jeannie showed interest in other cultures at an early age. How do I nourish this? My first encounter with different cultures came through books at a very early age – pictures, myths, fairy tales and fables from around the world were daily reading fare in our home. While the internet is an great source of information, Jeannie needed to be exposed on a more intimate level, holding a book in her hands, running her fingers across photos, taking the book to bed with her, sitting in my lap while I read and explain to her. I needed books! At the same time I came upon these realizations Kotka finished her first book: Girls of the World (available in beautiful paperback at Lulu.com). It teaches youngsters the letters of the alphabet by showcasing a different girl dressed in native costume to the corresponding country representing that letter. Pictured on cover is “R” for Russia.
Jeannie was so enthusiastic about this book and rightfully so. Each girl’s costume was painstakingly research for accuracy and gorgeously detailed in vibrant eye-catching colors that race to the hearts of little girls. So when Kotka published “Divine Dames” (also available at Lulu.com) I was thrilled. Another alphabet book that explores goddesses and divine female entities from around the world. Each entry comes with a detailed, memorable explanation of the female that represents each letter. Finally – I had the perfect way to relay to Jeannie not only the visual differences in cultures, but their beliefs and myths, exposing her to a broader way of thinking at a very early age.
Featured on the cover of Divine Dames is Durga, a Hindu warrior goddess that represents the power of divine, fierce compassion. The book includes more explanation of Durga and examples of her famous combination of humor and ferocity.
Divine Dames impacted Jeannie – she wanted to know more, she made me read every word of the book including the bibliography – I’m not kidding. She started to see herself as a goddess, (as opposed to a ‘princess’ in the modern ‘spoiled’ sense) a female who is brave, courageous, compassionate and exemplary. For the next several days when we ran across any differences I’d ask her: Do you think a goddess would eat her carrots if she knew it would be good for her? Or, “A goddess might be brave enough to get her head wet in the pool”. I could see the light bulbs firing as she changed what she ‘could’ do from what she was comfortable with and frightened of. Jeannie and I are indebted to Kotka for envisioning such a powerful book. It has my highest recommendation. I wish all little girls could begin to own their strengths and influence at a very early age.
I’m so thankful to have been a part of Boyan Bo and Kotka’s life thus far and I’m looking forward to accompanying them upward and onward for the rest of their journey. I hope you’ll come along. You can follow their creative output here:
Please comment and let readers know your thoughts about this dynamic duo!