is a UK based soundartist
Interview: 10 questions
1. When did you start making music, what is/was your motivation to do it?
My first memories of myself are of being around 4 years old, sitting at the piano making up stories with sounds; then I would invite my little friends round and share these stories with them. The stories were simple and inspired by the everyday (and the everyday life of a four-year-old is really exciting, like: ‘I had my first strawberry ice-cream today – full stop!’). At that age, music helped me communicate what I thought and felt besides my linguistic limitations. I can’t think of anything else that has the power to do this. Still, my musical challenge is to ‘condense’ and communicate experience, as well as to reflect upon its emotional impact and depth.
2. Tell me something about your living environment and the musical education.
I grew up in the port-city of Thessaloniki in Greece. It was full of the amazing sounds of locals and immigrants playing music in the streets wearing colourful costumes. The city was buzzing with the sounds of cars and machinery, ships and huge iron-cranes, the sea and seagulls. These sounds were my best musical education.
3. Is making music your profession? What is the context in which you practice music nowadays?
I compose and perform my own music. The label Sub Rosa is releasing my debut solo album ‘Orphica’ in February 2007. I have remixed music for Björk, composed for other artists and performers, as well as for films. A branch of my practice extends to sound art and installation, and can be experienced in the context of art-galleries and museums.
4. How do you compose or create music or sound? Have you certain principles, use certain styles etc?
I always create ‘stories’ and collect a great variety of sounds and aim to bring them to life (from instrumental to environmental and synthesized ones). These ‘stories’ are inspired by the everyday and by ancient myths alike. I usually have an abstract idea in mind without really knowing what it sounds like; the challenge is to discover this new unborn sound! For example, for my debut album ‘Orphica’ I worked with contradictions and contrasts, which usually create musical dramas. I wanted the sound to have the clear, expansive, immersive quality of Mediterranean light, which reveals everything but blinds at the same time, as well as the depth and intimately mysterious atmosphere of minute nocturnal happenings. I ended up combining the sounds of harps with scissors and knives, insects with harpsichords and tympani, voice with inner-body sounds and scratched cds. There are also sound-jokes in it. For example the track ‘Dance’ is for a character who suddenly realises he has lost his ability to speak! This is traumatic of course, but the song transforms it into a celebration! The character does not give up trying to communicate, he turns his inability into a new possibility. ‘Dance’ is also an homage to Balkan folk music for which I sampled the sound of breaking plates that takes place in Greek celebrations. I often experiment on my harpsichord and my computer and things slowly and gradually begin to condense and make sense. It’s a long, slow and exciting process. I am thrilled when I create something that challenges my expectations and confronts what I find beautiful; I am interested in what I have never heard before.
5. Tell me something about the instruments, technical equipment or tools you use?
I use computers, acoustic instruments, environmental sounds and voice.
6. What are the chances of New Media for the music production in general and you personally?
In my work I am interested in generating and exploring relationships between the new and the ancient. I am excited about the new possibilities of dissemination, music creation, sharing etc. that open up with new technologies, the internet and other new media.
7. How about producing and financing your musical productions?
My music, artistic and lecturing activities finance my projects. I have also received funding from scholarships, competitions, universities and major art-funding bodies in Britain.
8. Do you work individually as a musician/sound artist or in a group or collaborative? If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
Primarily I work on my own, but I also engage in creative collaborations with other artists. I enjoy both. It takes courage to challenge one’s own familiar way of doing things, whether working on one’s own or with others. It is important however, to find collaborators who are also willing to do this.
9. Is there any group, composer, style or movement which has a lasting influence on making music?
I respect the intellectual rigour, political engagement and drama of Luciano Berio’s work.
10. What are your future plans or dreams as a sound artist or musician?
Sub Rosa is releasing my debut album ‘Orphica’ in February 2007; there will be a series of ‘Orphica’ concerts in London and abroad. A number of visual artists are responding to my music with animations and videos, and I really look forward to these! I am also involved in other exciting collaborations. I’ve been working with artist Oreet Ashery on a performance on the political Right of Return; this project began in London this summer (2006) and is travelling abroad. I am also very enthusiastic about a performance collaboration with artist Sonia Boyce, the Alamire Consort and conductor David Skinner. This work will kick off with a series of performances at the great gothic chapel of Magdalen College in Oxford in April 2007; it will travel to several concert venues and art galleries and will result in a cd with a live recording of the performance.