Interview By Ivana Prica
There is a saying that behind every successful man stands a strong-minded woman. You could also say that there is a good manager behind every famous performer; but what about teachers that support and nurture great musicians? They are the people that ignite a spark and love for music in every composer’s heart. Even though they are often overseen; like the sidelines in a play, or harmonies in a song, without them, you get nothing.
Today we were able to talk to a man who taught music to some of the most famous metal musicians in Finland. His name is Plamen Dimov. He is a Bulgarian who has spent most of his life in Finland, helping young musicians develop their talents.
Plamen is also the person who discovered NIGHTWISH back in 1992, while he was their teacher.
He is known for telling his students not to be satisfied with what their teachers tell them. He encourages them to seek their own truths.
Dimov formed and instructed more than 80 bands. Some of his students reached finals of various talent shows and competitions such as Idols and The Voice of Finland.
One of Dimov‘s many projects is “Nightwish Days” or “Nightwish Week”, a workshop for talented young musicians and artists from all over the world. This event will take place from 3rd till 16th July 2015 in Kitee, Finland. The first “Nightwish Week” was enormously successful, so we decided to learn more about this event.
Hi Plamen! What was your first big project?
My first big project happened in 1977. It was a tour with Big Band Plovdiv in Bulgaria where I was playing bass. As for Finland, I would say my big breakthrough was with the CD called Chameleon on which tenor sax was played by my dear student- Tuomas Holopainen (keyboardist and mainman of Nightwish). The CD was issued in 1995.
How did you come up with the idea of organizing Nightwish Week?
I always keep in touch with thousands of fans through Facebook, so I thought about gathering them all together in Finland, especially those fans who are also musicians. One of the fans I got to meet was Dean Kopri from Croatia. He’s a fantastic musician, but not just that, he’s a good friend and a lovely person as well. His covers of Nightwish have been watched over 400 000 times on YouTube, and both Tuomas and his mother were amazed as to how he played the cover of the song Ghost Love Score. Next year (in 2015) he will be a music director of Nightwish Week.
I was told you arranged a little surprise for the participants…
Yes! They did not know that they will meet the band, so when the time came, I invited them for some drinks at a local bar where they were greeted by Tuomas, Floor, Emppu, Marco and Jukka. (Smiles) All of them (the participants) were very much excited and at the same time, nervous. There was a slight tension in the air in the first few moments, but after a couple of minutes, the band and our visitors started bonding and sharing their experiences. I was happy that my little group had the chance to meet their idols.
Haha, Dean (whom you have previously mentioned), told me he was left speechless seeing Nightwish in front of him. He said that he was aware they were only humans like all of us, but at the same time he couldn’t stop being nervous.
I know! (Laughs) He had a good reason to be nervous. Nightwish and Tuomas gave him rights to use their music for one of his projects on that day; but, he’ll tell you more about it. (Winks)
Oh wow! That’s a big thing! I will have to congratulate him. You know, his descriptions of Finnish people, nature, food, saunas, concerts, your visitors and of course, the band, made me decide to join you next year.
I’m glad to hear that! (Laughs) He’s a good P.R. That’s one of the reasons why I made him our music director for next year.
I’ve noticed that Tuomas’ parents play a big part in the Nightwish Week…
They like the idea, so they tend to participate in the event daily. They tell our fans stories about Tuomas, show them his house and room and help me introduce them to Nightwish’s life here in Kitee.
It seems that everyone was overwhelmed by their warm welcome…
Yes, they are wonderful and modest people who are now trying to present Tuomas and Nightwish in a completely different and approachable way. They show us humans that stand behind musicians we all love. After all, they are the ones who know Tuomas the best. (Smiles)
Video of Tuomas‘ parents singing – Dimov was voted to be “the wisest man in Kitee”, and they congratulated him:
Who are the people invited to attend Nightwish Week?
There are two groups of people that come here. The first group is concert group and people involved with media. We’re talking about musicians, singers, journalists etc. The second group is made of fans, and visitors who come here to listen to our concerts, learn Finnish language and its culture, and who enjoy spending time in the capital town of Symphonic Power Metal. (Winks)
Tell me a bit more about the program and the accommodation…
Everyone attending Nightwish Week pay for their own travels. The concert and media group is living here for free. The second group- visitors, pay 25 euros each day they choose to attend. These 25 euros cover 3 meals a day, a room, Finnish language course, and free tickets to all concerts we play.
I loved your slogan- Against racism, bullying and rapes with music. Who came up with it?
Huh, I’m not sure really. I think all of us attending Nightwish Week 2014 came up with the slogan together.
These will be your third Nightwish Days; can you take us back to your first year?
The first event was kind of a “try out”, but it turned out to be very successful. We got over 1.7 million likes on our Facebook pages. We have more than 500 000 views on videos related to Nightwish and Nightwish Week on YouTube with Dean from Croatia holding the first spot. If you combine all the likes, comments and views on various Facebook pages, the number exceeds 80,000000, which blows my mind! We achieved all of this thanks to the young and talented people from all over the world.
Dean Kopri‘s video for ‘Ever Dream':
You have been teaching music many of today’s famous musicians. Who was your favorite pupil?
Definitely Tuomas (Nightwish). Maybe it’s because I knew him before the others from Nightwish. I met Tarja in 1992. She was a cute, ladylike, girl with a brilliant voice. The first song I did with her was Greatest Love Of All by George Benson.
NGHTWISH in the early days with Plamen Dimov:
Can you remember a funny anecdote involving members of Nightwish or something that makes you proud of them?
Yes! I was very proud of Tuomas when he came from the USA (where he has spent time as an exchange student). He was so much better at English than I was. See how many lyrics he has done since then? – Over a hundred I think.
As for the funny anecdote, there are just too many things to mention only one. The guitarist, Empuu, he’s a man of many jokes. You always laugh around him.
Since when have you been helping bands as a producer free of charge?
I began working as a producer in 1995 when Chameleon was released. However, I did get paid somewhat; but, the hard work I have put in my projects over the last 20 years means so much more to me than all the money in this world, and I like it that way.
What was your favorite memory in your teaching career?
The historical moment when I met five young and talented Finns whom I’ve had the pleasure of lecturing music and later on in life, letting them fly away. As you can imagine, I am talking about Nightwish.
Aside of you, who else is involved in the realization of the already mentioned event?
Basically, it’s me and our school in Kitee- Evangelical Folk High School of Kitee, and of course, some sponsors and domestic organizations.
How do you find sponsors and media partners?
We write to them sending our references. Millions of people seek us out on the Internet, which also helps us get sponsors.
Thank you! We hope to be your media partners for the next Nightwish Week and we would love to stay in touch with you!
Thank you! It would be my pleasure to meet you!
Awaiting the new album, hear how our beloved Nightwish sounds nowadays with ‘Storytime':
For all of you wanting to visit Nightwish Days or simply wanting to learn more facts about the band, here are some useful links: