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Vasko Atanasoski, musician and cultural promoter
Vasko Atanasoski, musician and cultural promoter
Valentina Sandoval -

All Eyes on North Macedonia with Vasko Atanasoski

Vasko Atanasoski is a musician, and cultural promoter currently working for Password Production, one of the main professional promoters, event management, and music entertainment companies in Macedonia, organising the largest festivals in the country. In this interview, Vasko shares his point of view regarding the local scene, how he got started in the music industry and more!

How did you start your career in the music industry?

Password Production had an interesting and pioneering story. Also, the story between our company and me is unusual. Login Kociski, the founder and the owner of Password Production started his career in the mid/late '90s by booking some smaller events. We must notice that in that period there were very few professionals in Macedonia. So, the point of this production from the very beginning was to raise the professional level of the people involved in what we do.

I started working for Login in 2002, and I was his first employee. I come straight from the DIY HC/punk scene. I was a lost kid that the underground scene adopted in 1993 when I became part of Skopje’s underground music scene. The first show I organised was a small festival of high school bands in 1995 because I wanted to make space for my band and other bands of my generation. So, most of the concerts I organised were shows for bands where I played, and later in the early 2000s, I booked tons of small international DIY (mostly hardcore/punk) bands. So, I had a double life, working as a production manager in a big promotion agency and booking small bands, and performing with my own hard-core punk bands. Then, I stopped working full-time in the agency in 2006 because I started driving bands around Europe and touring with my small bands. In that period Password employed me part-time when I was not touring. A few years ago, I worked for a short period again as a full-time employee but performing and touring with bands was more interesting for me, so I quit one more time. Since last year I am again working full-time for Password, which is my third luck.

How do you see the current Macedonian music scene?

Speaking from the creative perspective Macedonia always had a lot to offer, but we are facing problems like lack of infrastructure, small market, bad or non-existing laws protecting artists and professionals, bad economic situation… so keeping all this in mind, the scene is not that bad.

Password Production has so far organised the largest festivals in Macedonia (Taksirat, D Festival, Green Beach, PIN Music Conference, Skopje Beer Fest). What are some of the key elements you have in mind while developing the line-up for this kind of festival?

It depends on the occasion and circumstances, but in any case, we are always trying to organise events that will be positive, friendly and affordable to all the people interested. We are famous for low ticket prices, and we have an image of a “people’s” organisation. We started as regular music fans and that’s the spirit we are keeping no matter what our big promotion. When we are developing the line-up, we are always taking care to have a great mixture of local, regional and international artists. Also, we are famous for having a mash-up of styles because that’s something we like, gathering different music lovers with one goal—having positive energy all around the place.

Password is one of the main companies that promotes young artists in Macedonia; what do you think is important to focus on, to take care of the artists that you work with? Do you have a specific approach?

Most of the artists are coming to us. We are promoters first, so we don’t have much potential for managing. Any help they get is based on friendship and fact that we love the music. We are always having young artists at our events, we release music to some of them, helping them with bookings… I can say that our specific approach is friendly and based on close relationships since this is a small and poor country where everyone knows each other.

Vasko Atanasoski

Many concerts had to be cancelled given the current context. How did the pandemic affect your work?

The pandemic was really bad for the music industry and the world in general, as we all know. It was especially hard to deal with covid restrictions and the fear of people visiting events. So, I think that our production went thru it successfully, since we had a bunch of events cancelled or postponed, but we’ve survived somehow. We’ve managed to organise our summer D festival successfully in 2020 and 2021, last year we had a really good Taksirat festival (biggest indoor festival in the Balkans), one more open-air festival in Kokino (one of the oldest megalithic observatories in the world) and we did our showcase PIN conference, so I can say that we are experienced covid fighters. I hope this year finally the pandemic will end.

While promoting artists, what media is the one that you would prioritise in Macedonia?

Music and cultural journalism in Macedonia are nearly dead for more than a decade so we've had really hard times promoting artists through media, so we are mostly depending on our social media. Still, we have support from the media like Antenna 5, Radio Bubamara, Kanal 103, Kulturen pecat… but the biggest promoters of our artists are the visitors of the events we organise.

Based on your experience, which digital platforms are most used by listeners and fans in Macedonia?

Definitely, it’s Spotify and YouTube.

Do you have any advice for artists looking to make their way into the music industry?

First, they must be sure that they are born for this. They can’t expect success if for them making music or being around music isn’t already a success. 

What Macedonian musicians shouldn't we miss?

There are a lot of great Macedonian artists around, but let me introduce the youngest/newest: Cut Your Nipple, ATA, Lufthansa, Dina Jashari, Corrosion, Haika, Zulu 3.4, Yon Idy, Dimish, Mamut, Manas, Alembic, Stoned Hedge, Basement Cult.

Check them out; you’re not going to be disappointed.


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Valentina Sandoval | Photo by Hoi Man
Valentina Sandoval is an Argentinian musician, actress, and writer currently based in Prague. She studied lyrical singing in the conservatory of music of Buenos Aires and she's also studying a bachelor's in Philosophy. Her short story "Jardin de Invierno," translated to French…