“Speaking” through music is a great challenge but also a responsibility.

Maxim Behar on the “I Challenge You” talk show on Nova News TV Channel.

Host (Desislava Zhablqnova): In your life, every day brings different challenges. How do you deal with them? And do you see them as challenges or as just another task?

Maxim Behar: I don't see these so-called challenges as challenges or tasks. This is life. Whether we drive taxis, work in a machine factory, shine shoes, or are big bosses, ministers, or businessmen, we should see this as part of life. Ultimately, if we're not overcoming exciting things, not developing, or getting better every day if we don't have exciting ideas, we can live, watch TV series, and drink some wine. We'll live peacefully like that. Occasionally read a book. Maybe we can go to the seaside if we have enough money. But there are people, and I consider myself one of them, who want to do something better and develop every day and contribute something, especially to my colleagues, so that we become better.

Host: When did you decide to embark on the path you've been following professionally?

Maxim: 30 years ago. No more. Thirty-five years ago, I was among the founders of a beautiful newspaper in Bulgaria - the "Standart" newspaper, which still exists today, and I read it with pleasure. However, at one point, I had, let's say, different opinions from the publishers of the newspaper, and then I remembered something Winston Churchill had said, which I had read. He said many things about many topics, including, "You can achieve a lot with journalism, but you need to know exactly when to give it up." Winston Churchill himself had been a journalist. Why? Back then, when there was no social media, that was the only way to make a mistake, and everyone would see how you made it. In other words, every profession has its measure publicly. That's Churchill's message. And I said to myself, "Let me try something else," and I rented a small house—a little kitchenette in the entrance where I lived, in the center of Sofia. The owner had gone to the province, and we started a business that, after 30 years, today brings great pleasure to me and, indeed, to another 200-300 people.

Host: Have happy doors opened for you more often, or have they been slammed shut frequently?

Maxim: No, the so-called "happy doors" have opened for me much more often. I've had many more chances than I haven't. I don't know if this is a result of always working conscientiously, persistently, and innovatively, or if it's a result of coincidences, or because I've met the right and suitable people, or because that's just how my life has unfolded, but I can't be dissatisfied. I believe that all the hard work I put in every day for 10-12 hours pays off with the happy moments I have. But to a large extent, chance has been on my side.

Host: Behind you, around you, there are pictures of many influential people from around the world. What does each such encounter bring you? What has it given you?

Maxim: Something I've learned from different people. And let me tell you, sometimes I'm more nervous when talking to a taxi driver than, let's say, with Prince Michael of Kent, the first cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth II and with whom I had dinner in London a few months ago. Somehow, it was easier for me to talk to Prince Michael, taking him as an example, even though, in the meantime, I've met with all sorts of people than with someone I don't know who has a more ordinary business. Whether it's a taxi driver or a worker in a factory. You see, I worked for five years in a machine factory. That was my first job before I started studying. After finishing high school, there were 26 and 27 months of military service. Then, I started working for five years in a machine factory. If our respected colleague shifts the camera slightly behind me, they'll see my workbench. I don't know how many people know what a workbench is, but they'll see mine, which I worked on for five years in that factory. I can still go back there today and occasionally visit. I often meet with my friends from the youth brigade. That was many years ago. That was in 1975; how many years have passed since then... I see these people. We speak in a beautiful language. I learn a lot from them, going back to your question. And I also know a lot from the people I meet worldwide. I don't write them down, perhaps to my great regret, but all of them are within me and in what I do.

Host: What did you think about while working on that workbench? Are there cases where you intentionally hit an object to examine it? To explore it?

Maxim: No, quite the opposite. I wanted to do a good job. The memories are distant, of course, but I remember waiting... watching the clock until break time came. Either to have coffee or to meet some friends. It wasn't like I enjoyed standing from morning till night. I remember being elbow-deep in oil, and in the evenings, when I got home, my mother would wash my work clothes every day. She ironed them in the morning, getting up early, but it was part of my life, and now, looking back at those 4 or 5 years, I look upon them with great pleasure and gratitude. Again, you can learn interesting things in those years. It was exciting for me. Interesting friends that was my environment, but now I meet with other people and still learn interesting things and try from each one, deliberately or not, to take something that will be within me.

Host: Last year, you released two books. You made a song with Misho Shamara and his son. Do you have a stimulus every year for such things to happen, and are there any upcoming ones for this year?

Maxim: Yes, every year, I want something interesting to happen. It could be an event or an occurrence outside of my business that enriches my life. This year, I plan to travel to several distant places. Some of them will probably find a public way to share them. Whether in a book or a film. But for the following year, my wife and I plan to travel to America. Maybe a month, a month and a half. To traverse the whole of America, from east to west, by car. Many people have done it, of course, millions of people, but we want to live with American families. Not to stay in hotels, to pay elderly people or retirees or young people, whoever we find. We will indeed find it because there are such organizations in America. To try to understand America, a phenomenal country, through the eyes of people on a salary. The people who live in their tiny houses work from morning till night. It will be a perfect project.

Host: Misho Shamara, as of today, is your good friend.

Maxim: Misho Shamara is a perfect friend of mine. Lil Sha, too. We included in this song a fantastic singer from Nashville, Sarah Harralson. We are excellent friends. We're working on a second song, which is almost ready now. We're polishing it now. We're also working on a third song, for which we have the lyrics and music; I need to sing it. I have in mind a summer piece and a Christmas piece. I have the lyrics and music for everything that needs to be done by the end of the year. Unless something new comes up, I got very enthusiastic about this project, not because I take myself seriously or think I can sing, but because I started to prove my point of view. I can say that modern music is 15% voice and 85% marketing. That's the truth. Taylor Swift is an excellent example of this. And many others, of course. Beyonce and whatnot.

On the other hand, I saw that I can say much more through music than through social media and the public relations business. To become first on the best hip-hop radio in America, "Hot 21," and to continue to be instead for the 4th or 5th week in a row is not a coincidence. It's a result of effort and hard work. You can't just pay someone for it and say, "Listen to my song" or "Listen to my music." These are the so-called generated rankings, meaning we've accomplished something.

Host: And since our segment is called "I Challenge You," we will challenge you now to sing for us, to rap a little from this song. Can you do it?

Maxim: No, I can't do it without music. I must have music. I must have all the conditions, of course. Otherwise, it sounds very fake and very artificial. Rap music is such that it requires the appropriate ambiance. We do them in English so that, as part of my dream for Bulgaria for many years, people worldwide can speak well of it. This is the most important goal I've ever had, and I want to see Bulgaria changing people's perception of it. This is not something that can happen overnight. These are small pieces of a giant puzzle called the "brand of Bulgaria," that's the real challenge I would like to answer one day. I want to contribute so that Bulgaria is spoken well outside of it. As for your challenge, I can answer it, of course, with what we do during the song shoots, which are typical rap movements. Just like rockers and metalheads do, we gesture, show, or complement the power of our words. Those are the distinct rap movements you can see in our video made with Lil Sha and Misho Shamara and in all those great rappers who are legends in this business. I wish your viewers always have such challenges. Whether they sing songs, write something on social media, travel somewhere, learn something interesting, and do it in their lives, it makes sense to have challenges and to live with them, to become more experienced and better.


You can find the full interview here.

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