The creative approach of Bulgarian trumpet player and music producer Raya Hadzhieva is as multilayered and versatile as the sources she draws inspiration from. Her Eastern European roots and the jazz education she obtained in Amsterdam, where she’s based, undoubtedly play an important role in her artistry. The willingness to venture into unexplored musical territory, combined with her ongoing quest for authenticity and freedom of expression, result in pieces of music imbued with passion, feeling and energy.

The trumpet is a key element in Raya’s music. Her warm sound underscores the lyrical and expressive qualities of her improvisational approach. Her command of the instrument and stylistic versatility make her at home in Balkan folklore, jazz, electronic music and beyond.

Raya Hadzhieva completed her master’s degree in jazz trumpet at the Conservatory of Amsterdam in 2009. She studied with Ruud Breuls, Jan Oosthof and Charli Green. In 2008 she went on an exchange program to Temple University, Philadelphia, where she took lessons with John Swana, Terell Stafford and Dick Oatts. She attended masterclasses with Bobby Shew, Mario Guarneri, Wayne Bergeron, Ingrid Jensen, Gerard Presencer, Wallace Roney, John Clayton, Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel and others.

During her student years Raya developed an interest in Bulgarian and Balkan folklore and quickly stood out as a trumpeter with unique abilities and a knack for mixing up styles. After making her entrance on the Dutch world music scene, her reputation as a skilled and versatile instrumentalist brought her to the vibrant world of Latin and Caribbean music. She contributed as a section player and a soloist in a number of world and latin music bands (HoteI, Branko Galoic, Marius Preda, Zulemax, Diamonds 2000 and others), and performed at many renowned festivals and venues in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Suriname. She also participated in and made recordings with a few jazz, soul and pop projects. As part of The Hague Ethospheric Orchestra she shared the stage with prominent musicians on the Dutch jazz scene, such as Michael Moore, Oene van Geel and Harmen Fraanje.

Alongside her work as an instrumentalist Raya Hadzhieva has developed impressive skills as a composer and music producer. She first started composing during her student years. After graduating she felt that she needed to go beyond the perspective of a trumpeter to discover her own musical identity. Music production provided the necessary tools for this exploration. In 2015 Raya made her first official solo releases, in which she was revisiting her Bulgarian roots, recontextualizing traditional songs by immersing them in cinematically tinged electronic beats. In 2016 she started a collaboration with bass player Mathias Breton, with the aim of adapting the studio material for the stage. That’s when she built up her current set up of electronics, with which she creates dynamic and captivating live performances.

This development led to a desire for more collaborations and in 2019 Raya Hadzhieva started two new creative projects with vocalists, for which she arranges and produces the music – Desperate Daughters (with Katya Muha) and Mermaid Radio (with Charllotte Karlsted).

Desperate Daughters have released six singles and In 2021 the duo was one of the winners of the Music Elevator contest for new Bulgarian independent bands. They won a mentorship by renowned producer Ivan Shopov, who is currently mixing their debut album Analogue Girls.

Mermaid Radio released a self-titled EP in 2020. In a review for cultuurpodium.nl Rik van Boeckel wrote: “Together they create a fresh and unique sound, in which jazz, indie pop and electronic music are combined in an inventive way” (translated).

Raya strives to excite and elevate the listener through her music. Walking the line between East and West, traditional and modern, analogue and digital, she doesn’t believe in stylistic barriers – all paths and avenues are out there to be explored. She looks forward to discovering more of those paths and having new adventurous collaborations in the future.