Q&A with Hip Hop Violinist

This week’s Tuesday Night Live performer was recent “America’s Got Talent” contestant, SVET, a hip-hop violinist. Picking up the violin at the age of three, SVET combines popular music with classical to create a unique sound. The Ramapo News got to sit down with SVET for an interview, discussing his inspirations and how he’s gotten to this point in his career.

The Ramapo News (RN): What led you to be interested in violin, piano and music in general at such a young age?

SVET: I’ve always been the type of person to get interested in a lot of things in my life. You know, picking up a toy and taking it apart and looking at how it works to putting it back together. What got me interested in violin was, first off, my mom took me to my first lesson and it was something about music that really intrigued me. Ever since then, I really started practicing hard and I was able to win a few scholarships and also start going to different contests. For example, the National Contest for Children in Bolgaria, I got second place when I was seven [or] eight, so that was a good accomplishment for me.

And just coming to the states, in ’98, really opened my ears and eyes as far as different genres of music go. For example, hip-hop, I really fell in love when I heard Usher for the first time and it was brand new to me, because being trained classically it was all I knew. When I heard hip-hop, I really started getting into it, writing my own music, eventually started making my own beats and finally mixing in violin with everything that I do. So it just kind of made sense to put everything, fuse everything together.

RN: You perform both covers of popular songs and write your own music. How do you choose which songs to cover?

SVET: A lot of it, music that I do, I have to really feel it. If I don’t feel it, if I don’t really like the song, I wouldn’t necessarily want to cover it. People might ask me, oh can you do this song or that song, and I could, but I really like to focus on the songs that mean something to me and just, that “feel good” music. Every single song that I hear brings some kind of emotion out and it really has to bring that emotion. I love covering a lot of popular songs, a lot of dance music. I love also a lot of Latin and hip-hop. And I really feel that my strength is being able to also use that kind of a model for me to do original music and write my own script, my own lyrics, my own songs, things like that.

RN: Who are some artists that inspire you and who are some of your favorite artists?

SVET: I have so many [favorite artists], but you know one artist which really influenced my thinking in music has been Usher. I think his music is very prestige, very energetic. He’s been doing this for a long time and I can relate a lot to him as far as my music goes. Other artists or genres that [have] really inspired me has been some of the composers in Hollywood, such as Hans Zimmer, you know, he wrote “X-Men” and he wrote scores for a lot of different movies. I love to listen to scores because that can really open my view of things as well.

And a lot of old school hip hop such as Doug E. Fresh, Kid Dupree – which is a good friend of mine – and I love, I just love listening to everything. It’s kind of hard saying this is what inspired me. I feel that everything together inspired me to do what I do.

RN: What was it like performing on “America’s Got Talent”?

SVET: It was an unbelievable experience being on the show. I was lucky enough to go through St. Louis, and got put onto the next round in Vegas, so I made it to Vegas, so that was just quite the experience; meeting Howard Stern backstage and him telling me, you know, the hottest violinist he’s seen, which was awesome, you know, to hear from him.

I had fun. Most of all I had fun. And now I’m just touring, touring, working on my album, performing this summer, a lot different festivals and such, and looking towards this year.

RN: What advice would you offer to aspiring musicians?

SVET: I would say, practice heavy and always be persistent in whatever you do. Don’t give up. A lot of musicians, a lot of talented people that I know and I used to know and I hear about, just give up. You know, they have all the talent in the world, but they’re not persistent enough. You know this business is 15 percent talent and then 85 percent persistent and going out there and getting your music out there.

Right now, I feel like it’s not hard to get famous. You have so many channels; you have Youtube, you have Twitter, you have Facebook, you have all kind of WorldStar, you know all kinds of tools that artists can use to promote themselves and their unique talents. I would just say, stay on top of everything.