Racine resident Kristian Iliev has big dreams for his band: The Racing Pulses, and one of them includes cutting a full-length album someday.
Iliev started the band when he attended Walden High School. Later he met Mathieu Evans, who lives in Racine, is also a member of the band.
“Matt is smart,” Iliev said. “He’s one of the smartest people I know.”
Iliev, 20, is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying political science. Evans, now a math teacher at The Prairie School, graduated from Cornell College. They’ve played at Summerfest in Milwaukee and Revelry Fest in Madison.
“We’re getting some bigger shows, but we just want to have fun,” Iliev said. “But I feel like we are gaining some traction.”
Iliev’s main influences have been British bands. He listens to a range of music from Mozart to Led Zeppelin. Iliev believes that the key to writing good lyrics is observation, specifically with what’s going on in youth culture.
Born in Bulgaria, Iliev’s parents moved to Racine in 1995. His dad used to be the editor of a newspaper in Bulgaria, but they came to the United States after they saw how poorly the transition was going after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. The economic downturn in the country hit Iliev’s family hard.
“They did not know anybody obviously… a friend of theirs was going to UW-Parkside and she told them this area reminded her of Bulgaria because of the climate here,” Iliev said.
Identifying more with his European roots, Iliev said his parents taught him to work hard. But growing up bilingual also helped him immensely in learning how to write music.
Iliev’s father, Peter Iliev, has been very supportive of Iliev’s music career and Kristian calls his dad “a rockist.”
“We get into heated discussions about music. He’s very passionate about it,” Iliev said.
Right now the band is focused on putting out an album and they’ve already put out a demo CD that features three songs: “Mrs. Supernova,” “Surreal,” and “Mermaid.”
Having grown up in Racine, Iliev would love to see the art scene here be more open to indie rock. He doesn’t really feel like he can add too much to the conversation because he understands that Racine is a blue-collar city.
“There aren’t that many grants for people who want to do artistic endeavors,” Iliev said. “In other communities you can literally go to the city and get money from the government. It happens in a lot of places like in Madison and Chicago. Obviously it’s not a priority for the City of Racine.”
Evans and Iliev are working on their own separate versions of the album. To hear some of their music, check out The Racing Pulses website.
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