Azis: Bulgaria's Gay, Non-Binary, Roma pop star
Its hard to imagine that one or Bulgaria's biggest musical stars is actually gay, flamboyant and also ethnically Roma. But its true.
Vasil Troyanov Boyanov (Aziss) was born in the mountainous city of Sliven. But in 1989, and after the fall of Communism, Azis moved to Germany with his family. Here he married his partner, Ryan, but unfortunately his marriage is not recognised in Bulgaria.
Asiz’s music videos are incredibly popular, totalling tens of millions of views. Sen Trope has over 100,000,000 hits- cementing Azis as Bulgaria’s biggest export of popular music. There are many reasons which can account for their international success and acclaim. The most obvious is that Azis’ music videos are fierce, shocking, colourful, and sexy.
Within the music videos, Azis explores their gender identity. Initially Azis appears to embody femininity, sporting big weaves, a face full of make up, heals and hot pants.
But currently, Azis has done a full 180 degree’s, and on their instagram, you can now see Azis as bearded and macho. This fluidity is a big reason for their success. People enjoy seeing someone being fearless.
Azis is very proud of his heritage. They often refer to themselves a ‘Gyspy’, a term that is in decline, but one that Azis owns.
Azis’s music is a blend of Bulgarian, Turkish, Arabic and Roma. The genre is called ‘Chalga’- a popular Bulgarian folk music which was once repressed under Communism- but in the 1980’s Chalga exploded and become mainstream.
In a world where Hip Hop is dominating streaming platforms, in Bulgaria, Azis has calved themselves a spot in the music scene. Azis is not afraid to change, they dip in and out of trends. This fluidity, adaptability and confidence means that they are able to stay relevant in a fickle industry.