Perfect Sound Forever


This and all other photos courtesy of Leonardo Pavkovic

Sheets of Sound: Interview with MoonJune founder Leonardo Pavkovic
Part 2 by Dr. Gary Gomes
(February 2024)

See Part 1 of the interview

MoonJune Records has released numerous albums since 2001. The music they record and release aims to avoid pigeonholing, which is why they have a huge catalog of various types of music, including jazz, jazz-rock, music from around the world. The inspiration for the label was the need to release in 2001 projects for former Soft Machine saxophonist Elton Dean, and two then-young Italian progressive rock bands, Finisterre and D.F.A.

The label has earned a strong reputation for delivering unique, high-quality products, with excellent production values and stellar performances from a variety of known - the late great guitarist Allan Holdsworth. the legendary jazz rock band Soft Machine and Tony Levin's Stick Men, among many others - and of otherwise unheard musicians.

PSF: We ended up our last conversation with ECM, simakDialog, Indonesia.

LP: Yes, it was an interesting conversation between Riza Arshad and I, our mutual musical preferences, which turned into my much broader connection with Indonesia. I have released many albums by Indonesian artists, a few dozen of them. But I didn't choose to work with those musicians because they are Indonesian, I chose them because they were so great: simakDialog, Tohpati, Dewa Budjana, Dwiki Dharawman, Ligro, Tesla Manaf and I Know You Well Miss Clara.

It's never about a specific place or a specific country- everything is circumstantial and accidental. It's about a special connection between them and me and it's about their music that I really liked and felt connected to. It's just how things happen in life, often by magic. I meet people, we become friends, we have mutual interests, they happened to be musicians, they happened to have good projects, and then it happens that suddenly, they are on MoonJune Records.

That's how my relationship with Indonesia began, since my first visit in 2003, I have visited the country around 30 times, but my last trip was canceled due to the COVID in March of 2020, and I am eager to visit again that beautiful party of the world next year for the first time in 5 years. Besides Riza Arshad, I have developed special relationships with Dewa Budjana and Dwiki Dharamwan. Two legendary musicians from Indonesia who are extremely well known and successful due to their gigantic career in mainstream music, but they have a gusto for artistic music. They can live from what they do in Indonesia. I gave to Dwiki and Budjana a window of opportunities to be appreciated outside of their country for their monumental talent. Maybe it is coincidental that at a mature age, in their late 40's and in their fifties, they made the best music they ever recorded, and I think I was responsible for that. I don't know any modern progressive fusion composer who can create melodies as beautiful as Balinese guitarist Dewa Budjana, whose fame in Indonesia is due to his mega-popular pop-rock band GIGI. But with MoonJune, he found international artistic recognition recording and play with some of the best-known musicians in circulation, such as bassists. Tony Levin, Jimmy Johnson, Jimmy Haslip, Carlitos del Puerto. Or drummers such as Peter Erskine, Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Husband, Jack De Johnette, Dave Weckl, Marco Minnemann, Simon Philips, Asaf Sirkis. Or keyboardists such as Gary Husband, Jordan Rudess, or guitarists such as John McLaughlin, John Frusciante, Wayne Krantz, Mike Stern, and others. Dewa Budjana's albums Surya Namaskar and Hasta Karma are some of the very best albums on my label. He is a wonderful producer as well. Pianist and keyboardist Dwiki Dharamwan is different, also a brilliant composer, but his main virtue is as a ferocious improviser. He is one of the greatest improvisers I've ever heard in my life. Again, they are not great because they are from Indonesia, they are great because of their immense talent, but the Indonesian flavor is what puts them also on the next level.

Everything in my life is pure improvisation, everything I do happened without any planning or rational thought, it just happened. Life is moving us in so many different directions and in my case, depending on how I move and where, how and who I met, many things happened. If I go left, maybe I'll meet some kind of people. If I move to the right, I will meet other people. Turns out, I went to Indonesia in 2003, met a few people and that was it. Same thing when I met Elton Dean. If I hadn't met Elton Dean in 1987 in Italy, I would probably never be involved in Soft Machine. It's simply circumstantial. But it is a nice circumstance.

PSF: I noticed in some of the press releases that there's a new drummer in Soft Machine?

LP: That's Asaf Sirkis, Israel born drummer who lives now between UK and Germany. Very active on the British jazz, fusion and world music scene.

PSF: Yes. He's a fantastic drummer. I've heard some of his solo releases.

LP: Yes. He is also Bill Bruford's favorite drummer among those who emerged in pasts 20 years, largely mentioned in Bill's latest book Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer. Every time I have something with Asaf, I send the album to Bill. We are often in touch and see each other occasionally. I am very flattered by how much he respects me, because I work with Asaf, because I was one of the very few people able to deal with Allan Holdsworth (not an easy task!), and because I am a friend of one of his favorite people, Tony Levin, with whom I have worked a lot in the past 16 years. Additionally, me and Bill share birthdays on the same day, May 17! [ED NOTE: me too] Bill is one of those musicians for whom I have immense respect. We started collaborating here and there during the last few years of his brilliant career, but then he retired. In one of his emails to me, this is what Bill wrote about me: "Leonardo, you are a magician, enabler, a Don Quixote, and my favorite one-man company in the world. [...] I don't think any single actor in my realm of the musical cosmos knows so many people and can remember them all. Long may you continue your improvisations, surviving, pursuit of your passions, and navigations on the fly. You sound like a musician without an instrument in his hands."

Bill really appreciates my work with Asaf, and I am pretty sure he is very happy that he is now the new drummer of Soft Machine. If you check out my releases, there are over a dozen albums with Asaf Sirkis. If I need a drummer, or if I need to suggest a drummer, I choose Asaf because, first, he's an amazing guy, a good friend. Second, he is very versatile and can adapt to any situation. He can play any type of music effortlessly. He is also a visionary. He's not just a drummer. He is also a composer and arranger. He is a complete musician. He is not just a drummer who plays the drums, he listens to others, communicates with them, he is a poet on the drums. And this is the first time in Soft Machine history since Robert Wyatt led the band that we have every member of the band who is a composer. John Marshall is one of my favorite drummers of all time, but he is not a composer. With the arrival of Freddie Baker, following the retirement of Roy Babbington, and with Asaf Sirkis, accompanying Theo Travis and the longest serving member of the current band, John Etheridge, this could be the tightest line-up in history. Soft Machine has always focused on innovation and progress, and I'm looking forward to the band's next studio album.

Soft Machine is not just a band, or any type of band- it is a concept and, as such, it cannot desist to exist. Like the band Gong. When Daevid Allen, whom I knew relatively well, was diagnosed with cancer, and when the band stopped all activities, knowing that he was approaching the imminent end of his life, he asked the members of that current lineup to continue, because it is a concept that should never die, it must be continued. Therefore, Gong is very active and doing very well, and creating amazing music, and I am also working with them as the booking agent in Asia and both Americas. Soft Machine's story is very different from Gong's history, but there are similarities. There are no original members in today's line-ups, but the legacy continues. In any case, John Etheridge had been around since 1975 and at one point, the recent Soft Machine had three legitimate members of the mid-'70's band: John Etheridge, John Marshall, and Roy Babbington.

Very often fans don't understand how the band works. Haters will always hate and say: 'if there's no Wyatt or Ratledge, this isn't Soft Machine,' or 'if there's no Daevid Allen or Steve Hillage, this isn't Gong.' In the case of Soft Machine, there is a unique situation. The reunion began as Soft Works in 2002 when I put together Elton Dean, Allan Holdsworth, Hugh Hopper and John Marshall, four members from different eras of the 1970's band. Although it was called Soft Works, for John Marshall and me that was Soft Machine. Even for Hugh Hopper, who was reluctant to call the band Soft Machine, because he thought it would hurt the feelings of his close friend Robert Wyatt. But when Allan left the band due to his complex life situation, divorce, poor management of his life and the beginning of his health deteriorating due to alcohol abuse, John Etheridge was recruited as a natural continuation of the band, we changed the name to Soft Machine Legacy, because that's how the band was promoted at 10 of the 11 shows they did (5 in Italy, 4 in Japan and 1 in Mexico). And in 2015, the band finally dropped the word 'legacy,' becoming de facto Soft Machine, but it was always Soft Machine. While in the late 1960's and 1970's, the band members hated each other and didn't speak to each other, but still created the most incredible music, the Soft Machine 'MoonJune Years" (as named by a journalist) was known as a band in which everyone was friend with each other, and respecting each other. I remember once John Marshall told me how great it was when all band members could sit at the table, eat together, and have a great conversation. When Eltron Dean died, the choice was Theo Travis to be the band member, bringing a different flavor, jazz mixed with progressive rock, and not only sax but also flute and some electronic effects. When Hugh Hopper died, it was natural to call Roy Babbington to be the band's bass player. John Marshall had health problems very often and we had many drummers replacing him: Liam Genockey, Mark Fletcher, Gary Husband, Nick France, Mark Mondesir, Asaf Sirkis. Of course, Gary Husband was always in everybody's mind, as an expectational drummer, one of the all-time greats, but he was so busy playing with so many projects all the time, but we had the privilege to have him both on drums and keyboards on multiple occasions. I must admit that I have insisted on pushing for Gary Husband, because with Asaf, the band can move forward, and having a drummer who is a complete musician and excellent composer. And of course, I would love to see Gary Husband as a special guest on keyboards. Such a unique and brilliant player, and a very dear friend with whom I have a lot of history together when I was working with Allan Holdsworth. And finally, when Roy Babbington decided to retire, no better man to be on the bass than Freddy Baker. Again, a very different player than any other bass player who played in Soft Machine, and that's what I like.

Soft Machine was always about characters, and now we have again, as always, four strong characters, each of them with their own strong personality, and that's the strength of the band. No egos, no dramas, fabulous people to hang out with, very serious professionals, but also a very funny chap. Traveling with the current Soft Machine is a pure joy.

We cannot live from the past. I do not miss the past. I am not into nostalgia. I miss the future, and the future is very bright for Soft Machine. It's fine to play some oldies but goodies, but the band should play more of the original material. Theo Travis is emerging as a very strong and creative composer, and with the help of the other three members, I am only expecting brilliant music to be recorded in 2024.

When I brought Soft Machine to the US to tour, there were a lot of skeptics, but when those skeptics came to the shows and saw the band live they were able to say, 'wow, now I'm not a skeptic anymore.' And I get it because people are playing great music. Fans often live in their bubbles of the past, and being stuck in the past is not progressive. That's why I call a lot of progressive rock made in the past 3 decades - 'retrogressive rock.' Nothing wrong with that, everyone can play whatever they want to play with all due respect, but there is nothing progressive in what they claim to be. Soft Machine is truly a progressive band, one of the very few older progressive bands still in activity who makes great fresh music. Like Van Der Graaf Generator or Gong. Some of those veteran bands do disappoint, like for instance PFM. One of the very best live bands, saw them over 50 times live since 2002, but except for two albums, everything they have done in the past 25 years is disappointing. And as I mentioned before, if I am alive, there will be Soft Machine!

LP and Tony Levin

PSF: And I think you hit on something. If I can interject an opinion here, just for a second. I think a lot of people are looking at rock and jazz and saying, 'oh, they're dried up musical forms,' but they're not really paying attention to people who are changing or who are evolving with the music. And I personally think a lot of the interest has gone out of rock because rock, systematized itself into a corner, you know, so you can't be a rock band unless you have this instrumental line up, unless you have this, unless you have three minutes, so unless you have X, Y and Z. And I think that's a mistake that rock made just in general. It wasn't just the musicians; it was programmed.

LP: Yes, I agree with you.

Soft Machine is a band who is not playing jazz, but they have a jazz attitude, and the music is for sure jazzy. To me, that's the advantage, not only because of my personal taste in music.

It's strictly my personal opinion when I think that people who have jazz in their DNA, they're always going to do things a little bit better than others, because others are not able to think in the context of creation. Jazz guys by nature, improvise, play with ideas, improvise with structure.

Soft Machine doesn't compromise with what they are as individual musicians, they will not sell out to satisfy who knows who, they are satisfying first themselves. That's the virtue that real artists must have, pleasing their own artistic needs.

PSF: Yep. And I think a lot of that, if I can give my perspective, a lot of that has to do with marketing and identifiable product niches. So, a lot of that is profit driven, because you don't want to introduce anything new, because it's a risk. Whereas, if you stick with an old formula, you'll get people who like that old formula. But you'll also alienate people who are looking for something new. You'll also lose people who are looking for something new.

LP: I have many albums in my collection, probably more than 15 thousand, and of course I would never give up loving and listening to John Coltrane, Weather Report, Pink Floyd, Genesis, John Lee Hooker, Jan Garbarek or Chick Corea. I'll always have some time for the music I've been collecting and listening to over the last four and a half decades, but lately, I've been more interested in new music, but not so much new progressive rock, and I'm mainly into instrumental music. Many people are stuck in the past, feeling nostalgic about years when they were younger, discovering new sounds. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but I like to explore new music, from different parts of the world. At this exact moment, there is much more interesting music than ever in the history of humanity. The mainstream of today is not capable of creating real artistic icons like Miles Davis or David Bowie or Jimi Hendrix. Amazing musicians and true artists of today hide in the vastness of the niche. There was a time when mainstream meant quality, maybe the business was dishonest, but there was a lot more honesty in music. Today's mainstream is full of contrived cliches, but I think the mass audience might be tired of all that. If you think about it, the mainstream musicianship is very tiny and the niche musicianship is huge, but the mainstream has much more power and much more money and reaches the masses in an easier way. There is something wrong in the world, perhaps, but that's how the cookie crumbles. What is sold to the masses is empty and dishonest pseudo-art, music production is carefully designed to appeal to predetermined target audiences, it's not about music, it's about money, fame, glory, frivolous consumerism. I know very little about the mainstream today. I'm the wrong target, I have no idea what's going on in the mainstream, nor do I have any interest, I don't watch TV, I don't listen to the radio, and I don't read gossip pseudo-music magazines or websites. But somehow, in my own way, I know how to find what interests me, and I was able to find so much great music in recent years, in distant places like South Africa or Indonesia, for instance.

Today, it is not easy to be noticed, no matter how great you are, unless you are a TikTok or Instagram star. Some years ago, I was in Bali with my friend Dewa Budjana and John McLaughlin, and McLaughlin was telling in an interview for Balinese TV how fortunate he was to grow in the right time of the last century, in the right historical context, when he came from Yorkshire to London to be the part of the scene, and then how he met Miles Davis and how lucky he was to develop his musical career with Mahavishnu Orchestra first and then with his other solo projects, moving to the USA. That was a unique period in the history of humanity. Then he said that there are so many talented guitar players today who are better than him, paraphrasing McLaughlin, and he asked the audience: "Anyone knows who Alex Machacek is?" Virtually no one has ever heard of him except for a few musicians who were present. The point is that if Alex Machacek had emerged in the late 1960's or in the early 1970's, he would become a star, and if John McLaughlin was a young man today with the same talent as he always had, he would have tremendous obstacles as well as possibilities to make it, because there are less opportunities today than before, and today, there are much more great musicians than before. There are so many amazing musicians around the world that I know, who were as great as musicians when the quality music was happening and on the mainstream level.

Today, the great music of the kind we like comes from different parts of the world. You are American, and when You were collecting the music, artists came virtually from less than a dozen countries. I was a bit luckier, growing in the former Yugoslavia and Southern Italy, and besides all that young Americans or Brits knew these days, we knew that and much more. But today, there are more than 200 countries, there is great music everywhere, of course in some parts of the world more than in other parts of the world. Back in 1970's or 1980's, who would ever imagine that one of the major live attractions would be a band from Mongolia, the excellent HU (saw them in NYC only a few months before the pandemic).

I was in South Africa 4 years ago and since then, I amassed over 100 albums of South African music, mostly jazz, and what jazz! I couldn't fully listen to half of them. Fabulous music. But also from India, from Vietnam, from Indonesia, from China, from Siberia, from Poland, from Germany, from various parts of the USA and Canada, from England, from Italy, from Spain, from Brazil or Mexico. How to follow all that, and in addition, listen to the music we already love and have in our collection and want to listen to again? Once upon a time we had a choice among 1000 artists and 10 thousand albums today. Today, we have hundreds of times more. If we are of a certain age and like certain kinds of music, we could listen to music from the last 60-70 years and everything that is coming out this year, anywhere in the world.

Time is the issue. The oversaturation is the issue, I am only talking about the niche quality music. How can we listen to everything and how can we enjoy everything we like? Impossible. Lack of time and oversaturation are among the main reasons that music sells less per title because there is too much great music. You said many times you love my label, but did You have a chance to listen to all of my 135 releases? Unless You have a lot of free time and unless you are a hard core moonjunista, you probably do not have time to listen to everything I do or what others do. Don't forget, we are 8 billion in this shaken world!

You cannot reach everyone, that's why I love the niche, I found my own niche and I am so happy inside of my happy niche. But it took me almost 23 years to reach this status, to be recognized all around the world, in multiple niches. And that recognition, it's not just about me, but about my whole label roster.

And to remind you, the record label is not my main activity. I do not live from the record label, I cannot make money from the music I promote, neither do the musicians. It's hard to sell the music that I release, but that's not the issue- the big satisfaction is to do what we feel to do, the way we want to do, without anyone telling us what to do, and not following any trend or fashion. We are free. I live from booking shows, I have booked over 3000 shows on all continents in over 60 countries. And except for Stick Men and Soft Machine, no one else on my booking roster is on my label. I probably lost money on my record label, but I have a window. To some musicians that if they didn't release albums on MoonJune, probably no one would ever know about them outside of their own niche, like Mark Wingfield, Riza Arshad & simakDialog, Dewa Budjana, Dwiki Dharmawan, Beledo, Vasil Hadzimanov, Boris Savoldelli, Marbin, Dennis Rea, Xavi Reija, Dusan Jevtovic, Michel Delville and his multiple projects, and others. And I know that I helped Asaf Sirkis and Markus Reuter, already known internationally but still not enough, to expose their artistry to more people. My thing is to unify many similar niches that can interact among them and grow together.

MoonJune is a family. I have connected so many musicians to each other, creating new projects, and one of my proudest achievements is the improv-jam-fusion band PAKT, featuring Percy Jones, Alex Skolnick, Kenny Grohowski and Tim Motzer. It's a band of freedom, every show is different. We try to record and release every show. When I listen to PAKT, I am in heaven. This band will never be famous and will never make a lot of money, but it makes them and myself richer, and everyone who comes to their show and who have heard them, richer.

LP and a famous author

PSF: Why do you think you have to make money with music?

LP: Money is important but not the most important factor in music. You can make a lot of money and make lousy music and you can create masterpieces and be almost homeless. The legendary Derek Shulman (ex-Simon Dupree & The Big Sound and then Gentle Giant), who is one of my best friends in NYC, told me once that when he and his brothers and friends were young, all they wanted was to play the music and not to think of money. And because they were playing a lot and they were great, they were attracting bigger and bigger audiences, and then things were happening. The music and the art always come first.

A lot of unknown and start-up musicians are complaining that they are not paid to perform the music, that they must play for exposure, of course! They must play for exposure! If no one comes to see you or only a bunch of people come to see your performance, then why should you be paid? In 2010, I discovered two extremely talented young Israeli guys, saxophonist Danny Markovich and guitarist Dani Rabin. I was blown away by their talent and I decided to release their album Breaking the Cycle that they had just recorded, featuring Steve Rodby and Paul Wertico, two legendary musicians who played with Pat Metheny. They were young and ambitious, they knew they were talented, they were driven and simply wanted to make it in the music industry as an established band. And they asked me, 'Leonardo, what we need to do to make it?' I told them the same thing that Derek Shulman was telling young artists: 'play, play and play, always play.' I've told them 'you must play all kinds of gigs, gigs that do not pay, gigs that pay a little.' Gigs for no people, for a few people or for a bunch of people, it doesn't matter, you must play, play and play. They were in their early twenties, and they had all the energy in the world to make it happen. I told them, 'if 10 people come and 5 of them really like the show, next time they will come again and bring 5 other people, and another 10 people would come, and you would play for 20 people and so and so.' No money? No problem, play more, for more people, then you will see money. People have to earn their money, there is no entitlement in music. To get paid, you have to deserve to get paid. To expose yourself, you should play for free if the opportunity is right, and why not? When Santana played at Woodstock, it was the lowest paid band at the festival. It cost them money to play at the festival. They got $1,000 and they made history.

To get something from life, you have to give something to life. It's like going to an ATM, you go to the ATM, only if you have money from the bank in your bank account, you can punch that card, put in your PIN number and take the money you need. But if you go to the ATM machine and you want to take money out, but your balance is zero, then how the hell can you take some money from your account? Life works the same way. You must give something to life to be able to take something from it. You can just take and take and take and take. Give something!

There are so many crybabies among musicians, constantly complaining and complaining, that no one gives them a chance, no one cares, no one pays them, they were ripped off by managers, agents, record labels, Spotify, who knows what else, but they do not do anything to improve their existence and they career. That's why I admire two Marbin guys, they are my heroes. I put them twice to open for Scott Henderson and once to open for Allan Holdsworth on a big tour in North America, and they knew how to take the full advantage of that opportunity. Those who have work ethic and work skills, they succeed. Complainers never succeed. There is a reason why people are successful. There is a reason why people fail. Music is art, it's great to make art, but artists also have to deserve success. Nothing is granted in life. Yes, there are a lot of challenges, nothing is easy.

I'll give you another example of a musician who was a touring session man and part of an established fusion ensemble. He came to me asking me to help him with gigs and touring. He is an excellent musician, but without a significant marquee name, despite his fame, in the niche, as an extraordinary keyboardist. He said that he doesn't want to tour as he used to- he needs comfortable hotels, nicely paid gigs and he is not very much into being on the road in a van. I fully understood his high expectations. Every artist dreams to get as much money he can get, but conditions and money offers are not driven by the artists bravura and talent, but by the naked and cruel reality: how many people actually can come to the gig. Why someone should get 3-4 thousand dollars and 5-6 rooms hotel and dinner if only 50-60 people would show at the gig. Musicians must understand that venues and promoters also have to make money and why should they risk their own money to pay someone just because they are amazing musicians? Yes, some will do, I know a few club and small theater owners who would do that for certain artists- they are OK to lose 1-2 thousand per night and see in their venues their musical heroes. But one thing stuck in my brain- when that talented musician, in his 50's, said he really doesn't want to do van tours. I replied, 'Tony Levin does the van with Stick Men and Levin Brothers.' I am not sure he got the point, but Uncle Tony is one of the most recognizable and most legendary music icons in the world. When he tours with Peter Gabriel, he stays in resorts or 5+ stars hotels and flies on chartered or private flights. When he tours with King Crimson, he flies on business or first class and stays in 5-star hotels, but when we tour with Stick Men or Levin Brothers, we stay in cheap hotels and yes, we are in the van! He never complains- he understands that we cannot get 10-15-20 thousand dollars per show if 200-250 people or less come to see the band. Just because he is Tony Levin, that doesn't mean Stick Men have to demand high fees, it all comes down to the brutal reality of the music business. Those are the numbers, and promoters and venues must pay rent, labor, taxes, promotion, they live from that. I believe that the touring system in the USA on the medium level is very fair and honest. If we get a lower guarantee, but we fill up the place, we get a good bonus. Tony doesn't have to do Stick Men or Levin Brothers. He lives comfortably, but he is a true artist, a remarkable human being, he loves to play, to be on the stage, to fill the vibrations of his bandmates, to feel reaction of the audience, those are his bands, his music, that's his life. He is a true musician, never complains, and as mentioned before, those who are hard workers, and never complain, they go very far.

PSF: I remember an interview with Evan Parker who was saying that it surprises him and his wife that they could make a living doing what he does. But at the same time, he worked 20 years to get to that stage. You know, it started in the mid '60s. It probably hit that stage in the mid '80s. So yeah, it's not an overnight success. You know, that's extraordinarily rare.

LP: Yes, that's a success, and he achieved that level of personal success because he was loyal to himself- he didn't complain, he was doer and a hard worker, and he was driven, he wanted to succeed.

Once, when I was in Indonesia, and my good friend Agam Hamzah, an extraordinary guitarist from the band Ligro (two albums on MoonJune), asked me what success is, what an artist must do to be successful. I told him that success is when he makes music, he only needs one person in the world to like his music, that is already a success. If there are two, it is better, if there are 100, it is even better, if there are thousands of tens of thousands or millions, this is fabulous, and the artist only needs one person to like his art to achieve personal success.

Elliott Sharp, who was my neighbor in New York City for 25 years in the East Village, can be considered as a successful musician. And he never sold millions of records. He plays difficult music. Blues, avantgarde music, jazz, music for horror movies. He lives well, he is successful, he is free, he does what he likes, he likes what he does. That's a success.

PSF: Do you have any concluding thoughts or advice for us, or for musicians?

LP: Do what you like, like what you do. Put in some positive energy, focus, perseverance, intellectual and artistic drive, and above all, do not complain too much.

I consider myself a fortunate person, I do what I like, and I like what I do, and I could make more money doing something else. But this is my life, I feel free, and I do not work '9 to 5' (PFM's song!) . I'm not compatible with that kind of life, I do not know how to drive a car, never drove a car for one inch, never had a driver's license, and I am happy. It's important to find ourselves in situations that are comfortable and compatible with us. Whatever I do in real life, I do it with passion. I am a stubborn optimist and a positive person. Maybe that was my nature since I was born, but I also have learned throughout my life to be that way. I am not a complainer. I like to analyze things and I do not panic. I like people that have creative minds, and their own personality, their own character, who do not emulate and copy other people. Those are artists that I like. I believe that I have a number of musicians that they are true to themselves and they have their own character, yes, they can be influenced by this or that musician, or this or that style, but they have a very strong personal music: Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Dewa Budjana, Dwiki Dharmawan, Beledo, the great late Riza Arshad, Tim Motzer, Kenny Grohowski, Xavi Reija, and of course legends such as Gary Husband, Tony Levin, Percy Jones, Alex Skolnick, or John Etheridge. And soon you will hear, in my opinion, one of the greatest living musicians, Diego Amador.

PSF: Thank you very much, Leonardo. I really appreciate your time.

LP: Pleasure is all mine, and I just want to conclude that last September, I had my Second International MoonJune Festival in my new hometown Toledo, the old capital of Spain, only 40 miles south of Madrid. Artists who participated at the festival held for three days at El Círculo de Arte de Toledo were from all around the world: Soft Machine (United Kingdom), Anchor and Burden (Germany, Israel), Fernando Girón Band (Spain), Jaco Abel Flamenco Eléctrico Trío (Spain), Ámos Lora Band (Spain, Cuba), Paqueando with Diego Amador and José María Bandera (Spain), Beledo & His Friends Band (United States, Uruguay, Israel, Belgium, Spain), Ana Alcaide & Bill Cooley (Spain, United States), Israel Varela Música Pintada (Mexico, Spain), Dwiki Dharmawan World Peace Band (Indonesia, Israel , Mexico). And the audience was from 4 different continents: United States, Costa Rica, Mexico, United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Israel, Japan, Indonesia and various parts of Spain. We also had Toledo MoonJune Awards for lifetime achievement in performing and recording music (Roy Babbington and posthumously John Marshall) and for outstanding lifetime achievement in the music business (Derek Shulman and Bill Hein).

The first one was held in my native town of Jajce (Bosnia & Herzegovina) in June of 2022. The MoonJune Festival is a festival of eclectic global progressive music exploring and expanding boundaries of jazz, rock, ethno, the unknown, and anything in between and beyond, and it's by invitation only and based strictly on curatorial and personal choice of artist by the benevolent dictator, Mr. MoonJune. I am planning the third festival in September of 2024, also in Toledo.

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