Vlatko Ilievski, Macedonian singer and actor, was found dead in a car on July 7. He was 33.
FYR Macedonia’s Press 24 reported the news this morning after police confirmed that his body had been handed to authorities for an autopsy. At the time of writing, the cause of death remains unknown.
Eurovision fans will remember Vlatko for his colourful performance of “Rusinka” (Russian Girl) ‚ which melded the music and theatrics of traditional Russian music with a more contemporary style.
The lyrics told the story of a Macedonian boy who falls hard for the titular Russian girl. Despite not sharing a common language, he says he would learn Russian just for her…and perhaps with the help of vodka and rakija — the preferred drinks from each country which are mentioned in the lyrics.
Although he came just 16th in his semi-final at Eurovision, Vlatko captivated audiences across Europe with a thoroughly theatrical performance that featured five dancers all in white, mixing folk dance with something flash and interpretive. Among the outré Eurovision flourishes was the use of an accordion, Vlatko shouting into a megaphone and a thrusting line dance. This is the colour we live for.
And while the setting leaned toward the camp and over-the-top, in his words we saw a man who understood feelings that go deeper: love and tenderness, and the stinging pain of longing.
As he sang: “Soft skin, white like snow, new, untouched/ Blue eyes, like a clear sky, I am trapped inside them.”