The question is always why – that’s one thing I learned for sure. As long as you remember that, you’ll be guided by the flies in your stomach and by countless meaningful sleepless nights - and you’ll be fine.
For me, the story started when I was about 14. I’ll talk first person, because it’s personal. And if read through until the end, you’ll understand more about me than you’d ever expect. This is happening in Bucharest, Romania.
Remember those ‘ancient’ times when you were just discovering that you can actually watch concerts on YouTube? Yeah… then. And there was this one in particular that kept me up the whole night, for two or three nights in a row, made my heart run the marathon and my brains explode - Bon Jovi, Wembley Stadium, 1995. That’s when my life literally, truly changed. At 3:00 in the morning on the first night, I grabbed my mother’s old guitar from the corner of my room and…well, my parents were certainly not very happy that night. Neither the next… Quite a few.
Long story short, a couple of months later I started learning the “secrets” of this beautiful instrument from one of the country’s best guitarists (which I funded myself for the first months!- I still don’t have a clue how I saved all that money). At 15, after only about 4 months of playing guitar, I stepped on the stage for the first time. This was the second time my life fundamentally changed in only a year. I can say I knew right away what I was going to do for the next days, months, years… After playing in another couple of concerts during the summer of 2009, my teacher formed us a band. Good times!
But in 2010, there was this guitar contest that I wanted to win! And I could bring my band along. And as the one I was currently in couldn’t do the date, I decided it was time to “make it happen”. Called up friends, friends of friends, and eventually put together a band. Practiced twice “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns’ (there was only one song allowed with a band, the second, solo) and went in full. Of course I didn’t win the contest, but I was 4th – not that bad. :D
However, the most important thing that happened that day is that there and then was the formation of what was soon to be “Magnum Opus” Band. After a couple of changes in members, we had our first gig four-five months later, and that’s when everything went off.
It was October 2010. I felt so much commitment to this, that I didn’t care how much energy I had to put into it - I had to play. A lot! Often! Good. Started organising concerts, rehearsals, collaborations, basically anything a band would need. For three and a half years (while I was in high school, basically) I can say I was living “the dream”. The band reached “Top 3 young rock bands in Romania”, won a couple of prizes, had a national tour, things were serious, and were proper good.
In 2012 though, I had to reconsider what I was going to do with my life. How far could I go by staying where I was, and what it took to make that “Wembley” dream come true. Our drummer already knew he was going to study in the UK, we had to stop our collaboration with the original vocalist, so the band was shaking. We found replacements, kept gigging, but I was more and more preoccupied. Because I dreamt big. Eventually, after long arguments with myself, I decided. The way I could do what I had in mind was to go where these things are done – London. Convincing parents to go to Uni to study music is definitely not an easy thing to do, and to be fair, not even I was so sure I could really, REALLY do it. Now I have a glimpse of regret for that, even though I lived and experienced more than some would probably do in half a lifetime.
I decided to go and study Marketing & PR in Birmingham, as the first step to getting to "The Big City". I was doing it for a long time for the band, and quite enjoyed it. Seemed a good plan B, but having in mind to keep music as my main focus. Only a handful – very few, people knew this.
The next year and a half I was all over the place, living in Birmingham and Copenhagen. The business side of my career was flourishing in a way I would've never anticipated. But what about music? I will never, ever forget that November evening when I was checking out some of my good musician friends’ Facebook pages, being so happy seeing their stuff started to work! But somehow this got me thinking about my stuff, and where I was then. I was so happy for them. And then I realised how I got so far away from my original path. I felt really, really bad. I was definitely living a very exciting life and the things that were happening around me were great, but how could I have let myself distracted by all the world around me, and forget why I left my house, friends, family, band, love in the first place, all of which have always meant the world to me…? And what was actually driving me deep within? There were some painful hours that turned into days - but at the end of those first hours, at about 5 o’clock in the morning. I looked at myself in the mirror for several minutes, starring into my eyes and seemingly trying to get into my own mind, at the end of which I promised myself I would do WHATEVER it took in order to get back on my road. It felt like a new beginning, but on a track on which I had already left footprints in the right direction. I looked at old videos and interviews from the times with Mangum Opus and pictured my life in all the different ways, and eventually I finally got to my “WHY?”.
I was doing music because I purely loved it more than anything else, I loved to share, to express, to make people feel, to entertain, to make them shed a tear, to empathize, to dance, to go crazy, to sing along, to let them wonder about all the crazy thoughts and feelings that went through my head and heart while writing those few chords, or lyrics, or solos.. I simply loved to be on stage. Or home writing music. Or in a studio, having fun with a bunch of guys I could call brothers. Travel the world, meet a million faces, lose the count of sleepless nights spent with the strongest purpose that ever lived inside me.
Ed Sheeran was saying in a documentary – “Pick one thing you love and aim to be the best in the world at it”. I suppose that’s what I did or how I felt. Good, now. Time to get back to this stuff!
In January 2015 I was back in Birmingham, UK, discussing my internship with the first Manager of Black Sabbath, looking for a musician mentor (which I shortly found, his name is Budd – he’s a great artist, check him out), trying to figure out my way to move to London, and playing the heck out of that guitar.There is a powerful line in the book "The Alchemist"
In July, I was living in London, working with a massive marketing company, but searching for my new band and "pursuing my destiny". Been playing in a few projects and finally started a very exciting one - Midnight Cab, with a bunch of extremely talented musicians and beautiful people to supporting us. Keep an eye out, we'll be releasing this autumn ;)
Was it that November rainy evening in the "Happy Country"? Was it the memory of thousands of voices singing along? I couldn't tell, but certainly in came back two years ago. Ever since thereís no day passing without playing and planning projects, meeting people, shooting and recording. With every passing day, I feel stronger and stronger, deeper and deeper, that music is my path, and purpose, and lava through my veins. And I know it will end up great. Thereís no other way. I wonít take anything less. And if youíve met me, you know Iím not a man of averages.
See you soon at the next gig!