Hip-hop violinist and junior Svetlin Radoslavof has seen his share of ups and downs in life. Born in Bulgaria in September of 1986, Radoslavof started playing violin at age three after his mother noticed his enjoyment of music and took him to his first lesson. Though sometimes forced to go to bed hungry because of a lack of food, his mother pushed him at a young age to practice for up to four hours a day. The work paid off, and, at age seven, he appeared on national television for a children’s music contest, where he took second place.

In fourth grade, he entered Sofia’s Music School, one of the most prestigious schools in Bulgaria. At age 11, he immigrated to the United States with his mother and brother, living in a shelter in downtown Rochester while taking lessons at the Eastman School of Music on a scholarship. Soon after, he moved to the suburb of Brighton, playing as the high school orchestra’s first and second chair.

During high school, Radoslavof became interested in hip-hop, rapping and writing his own lyrics, and he soon started composing his own music. He started a record label called Roman Empire Records with friend Andrew Caesar. After high school, he attended Monroe Community College before transferring to UR and continued to produce music and play hip-hop violin. Aside from playing shows all over Rochester, he has also performed in New York City, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

What are you studying at UR?

I am currently studying economics, and this semester I’m overloading with 18 credits. I study economics because running a record label is not easy and knowing the business side of the music business is important.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Anything from classical and Bulgarian folk music to hip-hop and R&B. I have an appreciation for all kinds, and, in order to be a great music producer, you have to fill your ears with many styles.

Why do you enjoy playing hip-hop violin?

It’s not for the money. It’s for the simple fact to inspire people and the new generation of tomorrow not to use violence as their escape from stress and other factors of life but to use music and their talents because music is what will keep our spirits up. What do you have in store for this year?

I am very much looking forward to 2008 because this year I plan to possibly go on tour and network as much as possible because networking is the key to success. Also, Def Jam, which is a huge record label in the industry, [came] to Fusion to watch me perform. Also this year, Roman Empire, which is the band I’m in, will release our second album, which is called “International Playboys Vol. 2.” It’s called “International Playboys” because I’m from Bulgaria and Andrew is from Ghana, and through the combination of styles we bring a new style of music to life. And we also are young, good looking and smart – that’s why we are playboys.

What advice would you give to young musicians?

Never give up hope. Patience and determination are the keys to success.

Kraus is a member of the class of 2009.

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