AEGONIA is a Bulgarian fantasy project formed in Sofia in 2011 by Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov. It includes a series of novels and atmospheric metal music with lyrics inspired by the world of the books. The duo started by playing improvisations with acoustic guitar, violin and vocals, as an outlet for its creators’ love of playing music. 2011 was a very creative year for them. While writing the lyrics for their first songs, Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov soon noticed, that the lyrics they wrote were connected to each other and were telling a fantasy story. Every new song they wrote was like another piece of the puzzle that they called “Tales from the lands of Aegonia”.
Formation and early years (2011–2012)
The duo had been working together for several years before 2011, playing in another band (Elitsa Stoyanova on violin and Nikolay Nikolov on bass), where they were not the main composers of the songs and lyrics. In parallel, they also played together short improvisations on violin and guitar/bass, which were very different from Aegonia’s musical style.
In late 2010 they came up with something new and different from the other improvisations they played so far, which was a guitar-violin piece, which later turned into the song “Restless Mind”. After discovering this new melancholic and mystical inspiration for their music, they continued to search for it in their music in early 2011, when they came to the idea to form a band. They started adding lyrics to the music, which at first were also an improvisation. The first lyrics they wrote were for the song “Rain Of Tears”, followed by “With The Mists She Came”. Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov soon noticed, that the lyrics they wrote were connected to each other and were telling a fantasy story. Nikolay Nikolov suggested Aegonia to be the name of the band and the world of this story. Every new song they wrote was like another piece of the puzzle that they called “Tales from the lands of Aegonia”.
Elitsa Stoyanova became obsessed with this story, seeking for more and more melodies and ideas in the world of imagination and inspiration. Within a few months the duo quickly wrote twelve songs for a studio album, which also revealed the complete story of Sorceress Endoriel’s “Forgotten Song”. Elitsa Stoyanova decided to write this story as a fantasy novel with writer’s name Nea Stand. The first version of the novel was very short and was rejected by the author. She started writing again, inspired by the duo’s long travels among ancient towns, fortresses, and nature parks on the Balkans and in Northern Europe. The second version of the novel was almost complete, when due to a technical error on Elitsa Stoyanova’s laptop, the whole novel draft was lost. She wrote it all again, for the third time, and started looking for a publisher. The novel was published for the first time in 2012.
By the summer of 2011 the songs for the first album were composed (although the arrangements changed several times in the next months and years before they were released) and the book was completed as a draft. The duo started recording the songs for their first album as a demo. The band extended by adding one more acoustic guitar and a bass and played the songs live in a format - two vocals, a violin, two acoustic guitars and a bass guitar. The duo's close friend Atanas Georgiev joined Aegonia, first on acoustic guitar and later on bass, composing the bass lines for many of the band's songs. Elitsa Stoyanova wanted the songs to be recorded and released for her birthday on 11.11.2011, not yet realizing how much more work needs to be done before the album can finaly be released in 2019.
Aegonia released a demo of the song Gone in early 2012, where Elitsa Stoyanova recorded the vocals and violin and Nikolay Nikolov recorded the guitars, bass and electronic drums. The band was invited to play on a festival and they decided to search for a drummer. Soon Rosen Paskulov joined on drums, allowing the band to perform live with a non-acoustic set.
Feeling unsatisfied with the sound of their demo recordings, Elitsa Stoyanova started taking vocal and violin lessons and Nikolay Nikolov started taking mix and mastering lessons. The two were determined to make the album sound as good as possible and complete the work on it by themselves.
In September 2011, while walking among the ruins of an ancient temple and talking about the story behind “The Forgotten Song” songs and novel, Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov realized that this is not the end of the story. Facts from the continuation of the story revealed to them in the next years in the form of more music and novels.
Folklore songs (2012-2015)
During a long trip in Northern Europe in 2009, Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov met a group of Bulgarians, who lived far from their homeland, but still preserved their traditions by dancing Bulgarian folklore dances and listening to Bulgarian folklore music. This impressed them deeply and deepened their interest in Bulgarian traditions. Nikolay Nikolov crafted his first kaval and started learning to play on it by himself. Elitsa Stoyanova started to learn to play the gadulka and sing in the typical Bulgarian folklore way, where the vocalization is very speciffic. They also started collecting authentic traditional Bulgarian clothes.
In 2012, in parallel of working on the songs for Aegonia’s debut album “The Forgotten Song”, Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov started working with composer Jordan Vladev on another idea they had - to arrange and record a folklore single called “Иска ми дума гората” (translated literally means “The forest asks me for my word”). Elitsa Stoyanova heard the melody of the song in her sleep, and later wrote the lyrics while travelling in Strandzha and Rhodopes Mountains. Nikolay Nikolov came up with the kaval melody of the song. The arrangement of the song was mostly done by Jordan Vladev, and the duo learned a lot about arranging music by this cooperation, which helped them rework and enhance the arrangements of the songs for Aegonia’s debut album “The Forgotten Song”.
In late summer of 2012 Nikolay Nikolov was invited to join an orchestra for authentic folklore music “Ха, наздраве!” on kaval. He joined together with Elitsa Stoyanova on gadulka and they played with the orchestra and as part of Ensemble Gotse Delchev until early 2015. Influenced by this music and inspired by other folk-metal bands like Arkona and Metsatöll, in 2013 Elitsa Stoyanova became very passionate about the idea to record with Aegonia a folklore song arranged for a metal band. She spent many hours and days in listening to authentic folklore songs from the Rhodopes region, but did not succeed to choose any of them. She finally decided the band should compose their own song instead of choose an authentic song. As an inspiration for the vocal melody and the lyrics she used the mystical folklore from the Rhodopes region and more speciffically the song “Дощерьо моя, майчина”, which they sang with Ensemble Gotse Delchev. Aegonia composed the song “Ща да ида, майчинко” (“The Maid And The Mountain”) with Anton Tonchev from “Ха, наздраве!” folklore orchestra on Rhodopean bagpipe. It was first played live in the autumn of 2013 on a live concert where Aegonia also met sound engineer Simeon Panov, who became a very important part of the future band history, working with them on most of their live concerts and together with Nikolay Nikolov recording Aegonia’s drummer Rosen Paskulov for their debut album “The Forgotten Song”.
Release of fantasy and folklore singles (2017-2019)
In 2017 Nikolay Nikolov worked with Georgi Latev (Ghost Warfare) on the mix and mastering for some of the songs from Aegonia’s debut album “The Forgotten Song”. “In The Lands Of Aegonia” was released as a single with a lyric video, created by Nikolay Nikolov and Elitsa Stoyanova, followed by “Restless Mind” soon after with video created by Nikolay Nikolov and Elitsa Stoyanova in cooperation with Simeon Panov.
In parallel with completing the work on “The Forgotten Song”, Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov decided to release “The Maid And The Mountain” and shoot a video for the song. The idea was to show the beauty of Bulgarian nature and authentic costumes to the world. Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov already had a collection of authentic folklore costumes and items to be used in such a video and in the autumn of 2017 and following winter, the footage for the video was shot. The video was released in the spring of 2018. The video was well accepted and won a Bulgarian National TV competition.
At the end of 2018, Aegonia parted ways with drummer Rosen Paskulov without any bad feelings. Both sides, wishing well to each other, continued on their own path.
Soon after the drummer Ivan Kolev joined the band.
While working on the scenario for the video for “The Maid And The Mountain”, Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov had to decide how the story in the video was going to end. One option was that the main female character would die in the mountain while trying to save her beloved one, and the other was that she would live. But then Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov thought - what if she neither dies, nor lives, but turns into a mystical creature instead and this is not the end of the story? This triggered the authors’ fantasy and inspiration, and they came up with the idea to create a second video as a continuation of the first one. It was clear that the song’s name would be “Samodiva” (wood nymph), because this was the name of the creature that the main character from “The Maid And The Mountain” would turn into. The footage of the second video “Samodiva” was shot in the winter and early summer of 2018. At that time the band had only the name of the song and the melody of the vocal, which Elitsa Stoyanova had in her mind some time before the idea of the song was born. The song itself as a structure, lyrics and arrangement was written some time after the video footage for it was already filmed. After it was recorded, the montage of the video was completed based on the music and it was released in the spring of 2019. It was an unintended coincidence that “Samodiva” was released on the same date, one year after “The Maid And The Mountain”.
Album released and novels published (2019)
Aegonia’s debut LP “The Forgotten Song” was released in the spring of 2019. In the same year, the first novel of the project “The Forgotten Song” was re-published and the second novel “The River Of Memories” was published with illustrations by artist Milena Traykova. She became a close friend of the founders of the project. Through the next years she joined the band on some live concerts, playing on bodhran, and played the main role of Sonara the witch in the band’s video “Of Love And Hate” (2021). Aegonia presented the album and novels on several live events, acoustic presentations and festivals.
In that same year Aegonia was presented by the Bulgarian Music Association on the official Bulgarian stand at the world music expo WOMEX in Tampere, Finland together with many notable Bulgarian musicians and bands. This was what the founders of the project said:
2019 has been a really good year for us!
* We released our debute concept album - something we've been working on with a lot of love and passion for several years. The feeling is wonderful - we've been looking forward to this moment for a very long time!
* We published our fantasy novels with the illustrations of our dear friend Milena Traykova.
* We released our video Samodiva.
* Our project was presented on the official Bulgarian stand at the world music expo WOMEX in Tampere, Finland.
Thank you all for your priceless support, it is very highly appreciated!
Classical arrangements and concerts, EP released (2020-present)
In 2020 several lineup changes happened in Aegonia. Bass player Atanas Georgiev left the band and guitarist Ani Dimitrova joined as a second guitar. This is what Nikolay Nikolov said about how they met:
We've been thinking for a long time that it would be great to have a second guitarist in the band. Once we did a show with Deadscape and we saw and heard Ani there. We were immediately impressed by the tone of her guitar and how stable she was rhythmically. We decided to ask her if she wanted to play with us and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship :)
A few months later, still in 2020, Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov met two classical musicians - Sabina Yordanova (bassoon) and Konstantin Kozhuharov (oboe, recorder, English horn). This is what Elitsa Stoyanova said about how they met:
We met Sabina and Kosyo in 2020. When I saw from Sabina’s Facebook profile that she plays the bassoon, it became extremely interesting to me, since I did not know much about it, but at the same time I really like low-pitched instruments. We talked about music and she told me that she likes baroque in general and often participates in such concerts. Niki and I also like baroque the most out of all classical music, so I told her that if she invited us to a baroque concert, we would definitely come.
So, we began with great pleasure to attend the baroque concerts at which Sabina and Kosyo played, and they came to Aegonia’s performances, and quite logically we thought about whether we should try to do something together.
It was a big challenge, because to us the songs sound like you hear them on the records, and at first we didn’t know how to “fit” their instruments in our music. But little by little we started to learn. The bassoon is an amazing instrument that can be anything - it can play solo, it can be a bass, and on acoustic concerts we often use it to replace the distortion or solo guitar. Kosyo has the most beautiful and magical sound with his oboe, recorder and English horn. They are two of the most amazing classical musicians I have ever heard and I am very grateful we did so much together.
We wrote a new song especially for them - “In The Halls Of Endless Winter”, and hopefully there will be more to come in the future.
Aegonia started performing with classical instruments in 2020, together with Youlian Traykov, who temporary joined the band on bass guitar. At first the two composers of the band found it difficult to include these instruments in the band’s sound, but thanks to Sabina Yordanova and Konstantin Kozhuharov’s patience and faith in Aegonia, after a few months and constant work on the songs, the arrangements started to improve. An important part of that period was their live sound engineer and friend Simeon Panov, as it turned out to be a challenge to make the live sound of a metal band with wooden wind classical instruments.
In 2021 the band released a video of the song “Of Love And Hate”, which was funded by the Bulgarian National Culture Fund. Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov put a lot of effort in the video, which for them was a visual part of their fantasy world “Tales From The Lands Of Aegonia”. The idea behind the video was to show scenes from their novels, told in the lyrics of the song. The two personally crafted many of the objects, used in the video, like the chest, the “stone” vessel with water, the stone throne and sorcerer Dragor, the design of their clothes and more. Milena Traykova designed the clothes and makeup for her role of witch Sonara. Many other professionals and volunteers were also involved in the process, as well as the whole band. The video was released in April 2021.
At the end of summer 2021 drummer Ivan Kolev parted ways with Aegonia. Left without a drummer, Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov had to re-think and re-search for the inspiration source, which gave them the energy to drive the project through the years. They were considering whether to put an end to Aegonia as a band.
A short time after, in the autumn of 2021, Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov met bass/contrabass player Domenico Fornari and he joined the band. The band performed several acoustic concerts with vocals, guitar, violin and contrabass, some of them jointly with Sabina Yordanova on bassoon and Konstantin Kozhuharov on oboe/recorder/English horn.
Here is what Elitsa Stoyanova said about how they met Domenico Fornari:
Dome was introduced to us in late 2021 by a mutual friend who knew we were looking for a bass player. We immediately fit together as people and musicians.
At first on the rehearsals he played on bass guitar, but soon after Dome told us that he also plays double bass and wanted to try out how the songs would turn out with it. We had already started to develop an acoustic arrangement of the songs to play them in a composition with acoustic and classical instruments because of our acquaintance with Sabina and Kosio, and Domenico’s suggestion was another reason to seriously dive into that direction. Glad we did! In this period, since we don’t have a drummer in our line-up, we put a lot of work on the acoustic version of Aegonia’s music. We found a new, beautiful and melodic way to express it.
I am extremely glad that Domenico is part of Aegonia. Since we’ve been playing together, we’ve done dozens of rehearsals and several acoustic performances, and things have always worked out effortlessly and with great pleasure.
It was in 2022 when Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov met up with two musicians and friends, who gave the impulse to make a special acoustic concert together. The concert was scheduled for September the same year and Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov spent the summer working on enhancing the acoustic arrangements of the band’s songs, determined to make the best out of them. In this process they also worked with composer Jordan Vladev.
Before the acoustic concert date, Nikolay Nikolov completed the mix and mastering of four new songs of Aegonia, and they were released in August 2022 as EP "Moonlight Tales" together with a cover of the traditional song "Scarborough Fair". Aegonia presented the EP on several acoustic concerts in the fall of 2022 with mostly classical lineup, including oboe, recorder, English horn, bassoon, violin, cello, contrabass, kaval, acoustic guitar, vocals and drums. An important part of these concerts was the live sound engineer Denitsa Purnarova, who took care of Aegonia’s live sound together with Nikolay Nikolov.
In this period Aegonia did not search actively for a drummer, paying attention mainly to the acoustic-classical sound and performance of the band. In the autumn of 2022 Elitsa Stoyanova’s vocal teacher Lili Mihaylova recommended her a drummer, whom she heard live several years before and she thought he would be appropriate for Aegonia. Lili Mihaylova did not know the name of this person and it turned out to be a challenge to track him down. At first, after talking to one of her student-musicians, Lili Mihaylova sent Elitsa Stoyanova the name of one drummer, but - after hearing some recordings of him - the band decided he did not fit to their sound. Several weeks later Lili Mihaylova sent them the name of another drummer, for whom she was sure to be the one she previously meant. Lenous Rousoss joined Aegonia in late 2022. Till date it is unclear if this was the drummer that Lili Mihaylova had in mind in the first place and listened to several years ago, as some of the details told by her didn’t fit, but in this case the band considered this to be their lucky mistake.
Elitsa Stoyanova and Nikolay Nikolov met in the Technical University of Sofia, where they studied computer science. They both work as software developers as a primary occupation. They have no official musical education. Their love for composing and playing music has driven them through the years to work on their project Aegonia as a secondary occupation.
- Elitsa Stoyanova – vocals, violin (2011–present)
- Nikolay Nikolov – vocals, guitars, kaval (2011–present)
- Ani Dimitrova – guitars (2020–present)
- Domenico Fornari – bass, contrabass (2021–present)
- Lenos Rousos – drums (2022–present)
- Sabina Yordanova – bassoon (2020–present)
- Konstantin Kozhuharov – oboe, recorder, English horn (2020–present)
- Atanas Georgiev – bass (2011-2020)
- Rosen Paskulov – drums (2012-2018)
- Ivan Kolev – drums (2018-2021)
- Dian Gochev – bass (2011-2020)
- Andrey Velkov – drums (2013, 2022)
- Anton Tonchev - bagpipe (2013–present)
- Jordan Vladev - piano (2014)
- Tania Nikleva - flute (2015)
- Aleksander Kondev - bass (2015)
- Georgi Latev - guitar (2017)
- Georgi Pashov - acoustic guitar (2017)
- Teodora Stoyanova - Freija – vocals (2019)
- Dobrin Stoyanov – acoustic guitar (2019)
- Vicky Stoichkova – bass (2019)
- Milena Traykova – bodhran (2019-2021)
- Youlian Traykov – bass (2020-2021)
- Gergana Edreva – violoncello (2022)
- Linda Mantcheva – violoncello (2022)
- Mirela Kaneva – growling vocals (2022)
- The Forgotten Song (2019)
- Moonlight Tales (2022)
- Иска ми дума гората (2012)
- The Maid And The Mountain (Ща да ида, майчинко) (live) (2013)
- In The Lands Of Aegonia (2017)
- Restless Mind (2017)
- The Maid And The Mountain (Ща да ида, майчинко) (2018)
- Samodiva (Самодива) (2019)
- The Foreteller (live) (2020)
- Of Love And Hate (2021)