One day, a tall, friendly-looking guy burst into my studio. He had a young, beautiful Gypsy woman with him.
“My name is Paolo Giulini and this is Sisi Atanasova, a singer. Can you quickly record her voice, because in two hours I’ve got to catch a plane to Milano where a film producer is waiting to hear her.”
“That’s how it all began,” Boyko Petkov says. “We’ve been working together now for ten years.”

You could call Paolo Giulini the pioneer of Balkan ethnomusic in Italy. His love for this music inspired him to throw himself bravely into undertakings few people would dare take on today. In 2000, he organized the first festival for Balkan music and culture in Milan – “Balkanika.” This was perhaps the Italian public’s first real encounter with the Balkans – that ancient and tormented region. During the next year, on a visit to Sofia, Paolo discovered the incredible talent of Sisi Atanasova – a Gypsy girl whom fate had led to a well-known nightclub. Impressed by her voice, he decided to represent her in Italy. And so the album Bum, Bum, Boje was born, which blazed a trail to the fashion capital for other singers and musicians from Bulgaria as well. In the following years, Paolo tirelessly continued searching for talented artists, producing and organizing concerts for them in Italy. At the same time, he has been a co-host of the radio show "Ratka Piratka, il Brasile d'Europa" (Radka the Pirate Girl, the Brazil of Europe) on Radio Popolare. This gives him the chance to regularly acquaint listeners with interesting names from the Balkan music scene.

Paolo’s partner is Boyko Petkov – a producer, composer and musician from Sofia. The pair has created a series of projects based on Balkan musical traditions and especially the Gypsy chalga style. Boyko has been a musical adventurer since the early 80s, when he founded Class – one of Bulgaria’s legendary New Wave bands, whose hits can be heard even now on the Bulgarian airwaves. At the same time, he also founded a recording studio City Studio, which became the center of the nascent rock and pop music scene in post-communist Bulgaria. Today Boyko Petkov is a respected composer and producer with a huge number of songs to his name. He has won prestigious prizes at a series of Bulgarian music festivals. His arrangement won the Audience’s Choice Grand Prize at the international pop festival in Malta in 2001. Songs he has recorded have won awards in international competitions in Cairo and Almaty. Boyko composes and arranges music for Notti Ludi’s productions.

“Hop aboard the TransBalkan Express with us!” Paolo and Boyko say. “Try pleskavitsa [grilled meat] in Belgrade, tripe soup in Sofia and Turkish delight in Istanbul. Drink fiery rakia [brandy] and ice-cold mastika. We guarantee that you’ll come back from this trip ten years younger.”