Mirko Popov, a prominent figure in Macedonia’s music scene known for his multifaceted roles as a DJ, musician, composer, songwriter, publisher, and producer, passed away on Sunday after being admitted to the hospital last week, reportedly following a stroke. He was 51 years old.

Born in Skopje in 1972, Popov’s passion for music blossomed during his early years in elementary school, leading him to explore record collecting and DJing, which culminated in his debut as a birthday party DJ in the early 1980s. Immersed in a creative milieu, he cultivated a diverse musical palette and a progressive mindset, which would shape his future endeavors significantly.

In 1992, he secured his first professional DJ booking and concurrently joined the renowned Skopje music radio station “Kanal 103,” a pivotal juncture in his personal and artistic growth. Reflecting on his tenure, Popov remarked, “Free expression, the core philosophy of this radio station, can work wonders if used creatively.” He later served as the editor-in-chief of “Kanal 103” from 2008 to 2010.

At the forefront of the Macedonian techno-cultural movement in 1993, Popov propelled Skopje onto the global map of contemporary music. In 1995, he founded the PMG Collective, a proactive response to cultural dissatisfaction, which burgeoned into a vanguard force in Skopje’s urban landscape, orchestrating groundbreaking events and music revolutions throughout the decade.

In 1998, Popov established PMG Recordings, an independent Macedonian label championing cutting-edge music and celebrating contemporary culture. Today, PMG Recordings stands as a preeminent record label in the country, boasting a catalog of over 300 releases across various sub-labels.

Popov’s musical legacy extends beyond his collective endeavors, encompassing 18 albums with his bands PMG Kolektiv, Kanton6, Makedonide Crew, and collaborations with the esteemed Skopje jazz band Sethstat. Since 2020, he ventured into solo production and performance under the moniker Mirko Popov Quartet.

Beyond music, Popov’s artistic pursuits spanned acting in films and theater, composing theater soundtracks, directing radio dramas, and producing an array of videos. He authored the book “Monography 20: Years I Love You” and a children’s picture book titled “Rozevata Planeta” [“The Pink Planet”], showcasing his versatility as a creative force.

As a fervent advocate for emerging talent, Popov co-founded the jazz festival “Kraj Vardarot Jazz” [“Jazz by the Vardar River”] alongside musician Vladan Drobitsky, and spearheaded the platform “Silata EU mladite,” amplifying the voices of young musicians in the local scene.

Throughout his prolific career, Mirko Popov remained a steadfast mentor and champion of Macedonia’s burgeoning music community, leaving an indelible mark on its cultural landscape.