CULTURE

Going against the instant tide

He was the soul of the band Sinithis Ipoptous (Usual Suspects), both writing and performing songs. Until last year, that is, when the composer Thanos Mikroutsikos tapped a different side of Christos Thivaios for the «O Amlet tis Selinis» (Hamlet of the Moon) album. Beginning on January 24, Thivaios is scheduled to hold a limited number of shows at Dipla sto Potami (189 Lambrou Katsoni, tel 210.261.0444), where he will be joined by Emilia Ottaviano from the Greek-speaking Southern Italy group Chetonia. You have collaborated with traditional Italian and Jewish music groups, among others. In the age of globalization can we identify the origin of music or does everything seem international? I don’t treat ethnic music as folk music. I try to understand it. If you deal with this kind of sound on a DJ level, you’ve lost the game. How did you get involved with material from the eastern Mediterranean region? For my post-graduate studies, I had to learn Hebrew and Jewish diaspora dialects, such as German-speaking Ashkenazi, a forgotten Eastern European dialect. I was living in Bologna, Italy, at the time, when I met a Serbian-Jewish guitar player, a German who played the accordion and an Italian violinist. We were all playing our own material. Did you ever feel that you were going against the tide of the current music scene? The sounds of other cultures are food for my soul. There are certain limits when it comes to songs. Going to popular Greek nightclubs is not my idea of fun. I would rather celebrate by listening to Pink Floyd. When it comes to the art with which I’m involved, I’m flexible. It is inferior quality, however, that bothers me, generally speaking. There are songs of inferior quality in the more sophisticated sphere of Greek music, as well. I don’t appreciate the air of vulgarity. I like, for instance, Paschalis Terzis’s «O Dikos mou o Dromos» (My Own Way) in the same way that I would enjoy seeing Socratis Malamas interpreting Angela Dimitriou’s «Fotia sta Savvatovrada» (Saturday Night Fever). Television makes things more complicated. It exerts incredible pressure on thinking. Even politicians compete for the best possible punchline on television. Yet punchlines don’t last very long. It’s a little bit like making coffee. There’s the kind made in the percolator and there’s the instant kind. We are living in the era of instant. Your collaborations include an Apurimac album dedicated to Che Guevara, with the proceeds going to charity. How easy is to raise funds for good causes nowadays? We have to find new ways and though I would like to see this in other art forms, music has a broad popular base which makes it easier. What did you learn from Umberto Eco? When I met him in 1982, he was a professor at university and his classes where attended by 30 students. When «The Name of the Rose» was published in 1984, the amphitheaters were packed. He was always in a good mood, a generous man with a great sense of humor. How did your philosophy studies help your songwriting? In studying hard in order to use language. Students insist on studying something very hard before making it public.