Bulgarian DJ and producer Pavel Petrov grew up at a pivotal time in his nation’s history. As socialism faded into the periphery, the youth culture of dance music had space to take root. The Bulgarian scene in the ‘90s rivaled that of any European nation, they even had their version of the Love Parade. Petrov’s music is informed by this deep-seated history. He wouldn’t attend his first event until years later, yet the increasing availability of music and influx of varying cultural influences paved the way for him to be one of Bulgaria's leading figures.
He says because he was born in 1987, he didn’t quite feel the sting of socialism's many suppressions. His parents, however, always made sure he understood how much harder it was for them. “My parents, for example, they explained to me about the music. How is [sic] very hard to find a vinyl or even to listen [to] any kind of music anywhere.” Most music was contraband unless it was Russian or Bulgarian, and state-controlled. Even when Petrov was a young child listening to Michael Jackson, getting a hold of proper high-quality copies of American albums was difficult.
It wasn’t until he was 19 that he fell in love with dance music. Until that point, he—like many other kids in the early aughts—latched on to Nu Metal. Its aggressive nature couldn’t be further from the upbeat positivity of house and techno. But his boss at a clothing store in Sofia, Bulgaria insisted on only playing dance music. At first, Petrov was resistant but his conversion to the church of house music was quick.
“I didn't like that type of music. But he introduced it to me in the best way. So, just for [sic] two weeks, I fell in love with that. And he brought me to one of my first parties. And man, I was like, wow, I'm gonna love this for all my life.”
With his eyes wide open to the wonderous expanse of dance music, he attended parties as often as possible. Sometimes even by himself, using his last bit of cash to get in and buy a beer. He stood directly in front of the DJ and soaked everything up. “There was no backstage for me during that time,” he remembers, “I really enjoyed every single minute.”
It wasn’t long until he convinced his friend, Chafta, to teach him to DJ. The quick progression from enjoying parties on his own to controlling the dancefloor with his music comes as no surprise. While he may not have envisioned himself as a musician, he always knew he was destined for greatness. He remembers a conversation he recently had with a friend. They were discussing what they thought they’d do for a living as children. Petrov says that his ambitions were simple, “I always knew since I was very, very young. I'm going to be a boss.”
He sits at the helm of one of Bulgaria’s top event production companies. EXE was born because he says, “there was no great place for us where we can go to have a proper party.” So he created one himself. EXE grew from one-off events into a 1000 capacity nightclub in Sofia that in 2019 hosted the first Elrow party in Bulgaria.
During the pandemic, The Boss took on a new venture, the EXE Beach Club, just over 250 miles from Sofia on the shores of the Black Sea. It seems like a risky venture to get into with the uncertainty of club life, but Petrov says he believes that anything he does should be in line with his values.
“The best thing we can do. We can entertain people. We can make people have fun, have a good time have a great memories,” he explains. The pandemic drove many in music into crypto. Petrov tells me he has no interest in it, opting instead to dive further into music. “I can't do it. So what I believe is that when you do something without your heart it's doomed You know? And of course the opposite when you do it with your heart and soul, it's a matter of time when you're going to reach success, but you always reach success.”
The pandemic also allowed him to toy with new styles of music. He’s going back into the roots of house music and giving it a modern spin with his next batch of releases. He says it's an amalgamation of his own deep funky style and what tech house used to be nearly a decade ago.
"So expect something more different and groovy and dirty and sexy. For from my next production.”
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