Kottarashky and the Rain Dogs open the 28th Sofia Film Fest

Expect the premiere of the film "Balkan Black Box", dedicated to Nikola Gruev-Kottarashky

The cult band Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs will perform at the official opening of the 28th Sofia Film Fest in Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture on March 13. The festival programme includes the premiere of Tzvetan Dragnev's documentary "Balkan Black Box", which tells the amazing story of Nikola Gruev-Kottarashky, a former architect and beloved by several generations of Bulgarian musicians. When Charlie Gillett, legendary BBC music journalist, first heard Kottarashky's music, he wrote: "His songs sound like fairy tales told by people who have all the time in the world. Time to contemplate, to enjoy, to create and dream, and to be inspired by the details and vitality of marginal existence."

Kottarashky is the artistic pseudonym of Nikola Gruev, born on September 4, 1979. He is a musician and composer who fuses original recordings with electronic music, hip hop, jazz and other musical genres. Kottarashky describes his style as "Balkan psychedelic", but critics consider him part of the "Balkan rhythm wave".

In November 2009, the German label Asphalt Tango Records released Kottarashky's debut album "Opa Hey", which is entirely digital. It took off very successfully, received a strong response in the Western media, stayed among the most requested albums for five months and reached number three in the European World Music chart. "Opa Hey" was covered by The Guardian and Independent.

Offers for concerts and festivals come in and Kottarashky starts talking to his publishers who are involved in organizing such events. He has to choose how to present his music - as a DJ or live. "And the guitarist Hristo and I decided that we would put a band together. So Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs was founded."  

The second album, Demoni (2012), features New Zealand singer Tui Mamaki. The video for the track that gave the album its name was directed by Theo Ushev, with whom Kottarashky also worked in tandem as composer of the music for his films, including the Oscar-nominated Blind Vaisha.

The band's third album, Cats, Dogs and Ghosts, was released in 2016. The sound and the line-up have changed. The Rain Dogs now includes saxophonist Dimitar Lolev, bassist Nikolay Serbezov and Dimitar Vasilev - Nufri, who is the vocalist on four tracks, as well as Hristo Hadzhiganchev on guitar and Atanas Popov on drums.

After a four-year creative process, Kottarashky and the Rain Dogs' fourth album "Doghouse" was released in 2023.

Is it worth being an artist in today's world or is it just a waste of time? That's what the documentary "Balkan Black Box" by director Tzvetan Dragnev ("Village People", "Passengers"), dedicated to Kottarashky, is about. Because in Bulgaria the musician's life can be compared to existence in an unpredictable "Balkan black box", where nothing develops as expected. The director of photography is Delyan Georgiev and the producers are Galina Toneva and Kiril Kirilov (Gala Film).  

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