CULTURE

Tsanaklidou goes it alone in festive gigs

She’s always interesting to talk to, irrespective of the number of interviews conducted in the past. Likewise, every new series of performances offered by the seasoned singer Tania Tsanaklidou are quite unlike previous offerings. The theatrical element in her stage presence, though, is a constant, with doses of hyperbole, perhaps, but it functions as an innate charm. Tsanaklidou does not curb her energy. Neither is she career-oriented, as she has proven time and time again. Content with the bare essentials for her life, Tsanaklidou spends most of her time at her remote home on Pelion. This season, however, Tsanaklidou has made a double-fronted return as a performer with an acting role in the NET state television series «It Was a Dream» – it serves as a reminder of her older, less apparent love for drama – as well as a series of ongoing dates at the Metro Club (39 Kalvou Street, Gyzi, 210.643.9089), Friday to Monday, through January 12, and, possibly, additional dates. What are you striving to show with these performances? There’s no philosophizing or pointing the pedantic finger. Quite simply, it’s about compassion. It contains short passages of prose I wrote, to music by Michalis Delta [leading local electronica act with whom Tsanaklidou has recorded]. The show opens with the «Song of the Wolf,» which he wrote especially for these shows. As I understand, you go beyond your own repertoire. I’ve also included others such as Stavros Xarchakos’s song «Kaigomai» from his «Rembetiko» project, a couple of numbers by Stamatis Kraounakis, even «Rixe Tsingana Ta Hartia» by Markos Vamvakaris. But they’ve all been reworked by Michalis [Delta]. Some people don’t consider reworked material to be creative. I disagree. I see these songs as guided by direction. And we’re not trying to force an opinion on people, either. I, for example, was charmed by the reinterpretation of Manos Hadjidakis songs by Constantinos Beta [formerly of Stereo Nova, along with Delta]. It’s [old] material I know well and love, as is the case for me with all the classic Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis works. The addition, then, of contemporary sound transfers this material into my era. Do you go back to the past? I’m no longer nostalgic. I’ve been tough with myself lately, which is why the current shows reach my limits. They’re very feminine. Due to the need to address the anxieties of women? Everything we don’t admit. Like the issue of time, one of the problems confronted by women. Love? That, too. We discuss it, but only during its glory, not downfall. Do you have a problem with time? I’m 51. I went though my first major crisis at 40 and the second at 50. Now, I’m living in tranquillity, which is why I dare bend the rules. If I were anxious, I wouldn’t be able to. My message would be incomprehensible, muddled. Do you feel out of place in this era where image is an ideology? I want to deconstruct it. It’s my little personal revolution. I’m interested in truth. I can’t live without it, nor without the truth of others. Audiences have kept me company for 30 years. I don’t have the right to stand falsely before them. I’m guided by an artistic nature, not business, with all the risks this entails. Lots of women, however, are flirting with the prefabricated. Haven’t you ever felt the need? It’s human. It’s a lie. It’s a crime that burdens them. Of course, we’re living through a period of widespread fascism of beauty. We’re hiding old men in retirement homes, withered bodies behind the surgeon’s scalpel, and we can’t bare wrinkles. Beauty is lovely, who can deny that? But not the hysteria it sparks in our era. When I was young, children, responding to questions on what they would like to be as adults, would say an actor or a singer. Nowadays, the very first thing they say is a model. In other words, an absolute blank – desire for nothingness. As a young girl, what did you want to be? A private detective and police officer. But you studied archaeology, then went to drama school, then got involved with dance, before song finally won you over. I studied archaeology to get a scholarship so that I could go to the USA and become a director. I’m full of contradictions. How does starting off compare in your day with now? Nowadays, there are tremendous possibilities and access to knowledge. Only that in the end knowledge is reduced to information. I spent – like others of my generation – countless hours in libraries. We dreamt back then. Nowadays, society does not make allowances for dreams. Could they have morphed into something else today? Money is not a dream. Happiness is. I have the feeling that today they’re not fighting for happiness, but to forget themselves in something. There’s a pseudo-image for everything. Does this also apply to music? Naturally. There’s another kind of music beyond the sort they’re trying to convince us as being dominant. Both sides have always existed; let’s not deny that. The point is which side weighs heaviest – which rationale is dominant. The media is responsible, and greatly, I should add. You worked with Dimitra Galani for two years, and last year, with Vassilis Papaconstantinou. Why have you opted to go it alone on stage this season? I enjoyed those three years. Now I feel the need to follow my own impulses on stage. Sharing the stage obliges you to respect space and time. You limit yourself. Why do you like the sounds of electronica? Could it be the energy hidden in there? I like the feeling of rhythm, the element of body it conceals, even if it’s based on technology. You know, I love dancing, with which I share an affinity. I dance everywhere. Also, it’s the only type of music I listen to, nothing else. I don’t listen to Greek pop or laika. In the 1970s, I fell in love with rembetika, felt a deep passion for the style, but now listen to it only on certain nights with my friends at home. In other words, you don’t listen to albums by your colleagues to keep yourself updated? No. I don’t buy Greek albums, they’re too expensive. I keep myself informed via the radio. At some point, you dreamed about a major theatrical production. Have you abandoned these thoughts? I was ready for a rock cabaret. But production costs were prohibitive. I spoke to two producers, but 150 million drachmas [440,000 euros] is a lot. Nobody would take it on… I fell into depression in the summer. I’d found all the crew and made them dream along with me. Difficulties make you innovative. So, from absolutely nothing, we put together a performance at the Metro club with Michalis Delta, Akis Katsoupakis, Sotiris Lemonidis, Vangelis Kontopoulos, Dimitris Barbagalas, and Giorgos Haralambous – no state props, no director. Have you ever thought about abandoning it all? Thousands of times. I’ve disappeared in the past only to re-emerge… At some point, I’ve got to pull out…