Nikos Kypourgos’s music reaches stage and screen

Composer Nikos Kypourgos is always short of time; he is involved with so many things simultaneously that he has succeeded in establishing a strong presence in both theater and cinema. Recently, the music he wrote for the latest film by Michalis Reppas and Thanassis Papathanassiou, «Oxygen» (the film hit the screens last Friday), with vocalists Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Manolis Lidakis and Aphroditi Manou, was released on CD. Meanwhile he collaborated with the National Theater in a production titled «Accidentally Rehearsals» (featuring two one-act plays by Moliere and Marivaux) directed by Vassilis Papavassiliou and with the Municipal Regional Theater of Patras for a play directed by Themis Moumoulidis. Having all that in mind and while traveling from Patras to Athens in order to catch a flight to Limassol in Cyprus for the opening of «Oedipus Rex» with the National Theater of Sofia, he talked with Kathimerini over the phone. You are facing a busy winter. Yes, and I am also involved in another film, by young director Ilias Yiannakakis. Filming is expected to finish at the end of the year. I have decided that after that, I will retire to my house in Syros. I feel that this excessive activity over the past few years has not enabled me to distance myself from things. All these excuses I put forward, that I express myself through commissioned work, is only part of the truth. The rest of it includes a bit of laziness. It’s about time I did something for myself. I often wonder: What have I commissioned to myself all these years? As a friend of mine put it: What is it that haunts me? If I hadn’t been working on commissions, what would I have done? Are you ready to answer that? In order to reply, I must first produce something more personal. Do you feel that you need confinement in order to compose? I have learned to write music no matter what the circumstances are. I can isolate myself, even if I am listening to something else. I don’t need musical instruments, like the piano for example, I work with my mind. Most of your compositions are instrumental, but when you write songs do you start with the lyrics or the music? If I have the lyrics, I start off with that, it helps a lot. Are you stressed? Managing two or even three things at the same time does not stress me. I can even say that jumping from one thing to another refreshes me. That doesn’t scare me. Yet there is a «but» in your answer. The lack of time is what scares me more. There are times that I no longer have the freedom for my internal needs. That is why I want to distance myself from things. I cannot adopt the album-making mentality, or follow the procedure of producing one CD per year. All the albums that I have produced so far started off as something else. I have never released an album according to some schedule, thinking that I must produce an album, therefore I must find the material, then go to the studio and so on. Is your theater music different from your film music? There are similarities between the two, mostly that you have to follow the text or the script. The difference is that there is live participation in theater, whereas films impose unbreakable restrictions. The music has to lock in with the scene. The other difference is that there is a greater variety of works in theater: They may range from ancient drama to contemporary plays. In cinema, at least in Greece, one comes across either modern attitudes or period films. Were you hesitant to accept Reppas and Papathanassiou’s offer, since they come from the field of commercial films? What I liked about these two filmmakers is that they chose to do something different instead of relying on reproducing their last hit. They opted for drama instead of comedy. Not many people choose not to rely on the easy option.