Kristian Kostov is probably not the most typical artist that we would feature on indieRepublik: his new EP Mood has come out through Universal Music and he sounds pretty pop at first listen. But bear with me. Kristian Kostov has an interesting background, and is no manufactured pop idol. He has hooks and angles both.
Kristian Kostov says that with his brand new EP Mood he’s finally found the sound he’s wanted all these years.
A bold claim to come from a young man who looks like he’s just finished high school. But Kristian Kostov has been around the block.
Born of a Bulgarian father and Kazak mother in Moscow, he grew up with three or four languages (one of them English) surrounding him – or else being drummed into him. Pushed into playing piano as a way to bring him out of his chronic shyness, he blossomed and was taken into a Moscow boy group.
So far so good.
The shyness, though, came at least in part from the fact that he’s been suffering from muscular dystrophy all these years; something that he hid from the world until a very public coming out about it in 2017.
Why hide a problem like muscular dystrophy?
This is of course conjecture, but seeing where Kristian Kostov has come from and charting his curve towards fame, it’s hard not to see behind the curtain to a boy with problems, suffering from chronic shyness, pushed into the spotlight and getting caught up in all of it.
Finalist in The Voice Kids (Russia) in 2014. X Factor (Bulgaria) in 2015-2016. Eurovision Song Contest – representing Bulgaria – in 2017. In the Chinese reality/contestant show Singer in 2019. Debut EP out 2020 through Universal Music.
Are you thinking something along the lines of “manufactured pop artist”? I’m not. I’m thinking “poor kid”. Jesus. What a youth.
Which is why I hear his EP Mood as a breaking out. He says that this is the first time he’s been able to find his sound. Maybe that should read the first time that he’s allowed to try to find his sound?
You know how this goes. Kid gets sucked up into the teen fame machine. You think he’s allowed to make any choices about how he looks, how he dresses, the songs he sings? Yeah, right.
So maybe this, his debut EP, is his first step to breaking out. Maybe this is him fighting to become himself.
The production is still pretty polished and the kind of pop shimmeringness that you’d expect from someone with a history like his. But he’s pushing out. Through the classic pop sound his lyrics come breaking through: “I dont wanna – I dont wanna be this way / does it ever get better – cos I wanna feel better than i do right now”.
The first track on the EP Thinking talks about being alone at 6am, but makes it a funky kind of pondering, ‘running circles in my head’. Second track is Depressed on a Wednesday, again a somewhat sober reflection on making it through the week – “I’m so depressed on Wednesday / I got ADHD on Thursday / And I don’t do so good on Friday” – never has mental breakdown been so danceable. On Things I Like Kristian “feels so shit it’s amazing” while ruminating on what sounds like an abusive relationship bordering on a gentle form of sado-masochism.
The tracks run into each other; the overall vibe is extremely dancey, it’s pop but it’s good pop. Take Me Back is the most obvious hit off the EP, an obvious single all the way – all the parts fit just right.
Kristian’s hordes of fans will not be disappointed at this first proper EP, which keeps the mood funky while sharing about deep and not always terribly upbeat feelings. Let’s watch this young man continue his upward curve into the pop firmament…