CULTURE

Three hopefuls in Greek song share their hopes and dreams

All three are under 30 years old: Maria Louka and Danae Panayiotopoulou, both singer-songwriters, and the vocalist Natasha Bofiliou – aged 24, 28, and 24 respectively – have taken their first steps as recording artists and have come as pleasant surprises. At a time when everybody’s talking about a crisis in the record industry, and talent shows stand as an alternative for emerging acts, these three young artists are refusing to take the swift route to recognition. Louka, Panayiotopoulou, and Bofiliou are instead working with persistence. Balanced individuals with specific opinions about the music circuit, their generation and wider developments, the three emerging acts shared some of their thoughts with Kathmerini. Danae Panayiotopoulou She gained initial exposure working with Miltos Paschalidis over a three-year period. Panayiotopoulou wrote all the lyrics and music for her debut album «Oikos antochis» (a play on words transforming «House of Ill-Repute» to «House of Endurance»). It features 10 songs, or rather urban tales full of irony and wild sweetness. The material’s instrumentation is minimal – mostly piano and vocals – with two pianists on board, Angelos Angelou and Pantelis Ragdas, as well as Vassillis Vassilatos on percussion. «If there’s one strong aspect about about the work I do, it’s political positioning, in the more general sense,» said Panayiotopoulou. «I’m not one for the metaphysical. I prefer to address things that concern all of us, from the reality of work to how relationships between people are deteriorating. With all that’s going on these days, talking about singing birds is out of time and out of place.» Basing her thoughts on her perceptions of both her friends and the surrounding context of things «that are of a little more alternative – plays, bands, ways of communication – our generation possess a kind of humor that older people take as cynicism or indifference. I’ve also been criticized for being cynical but the way we approach things suggests the exact opposite – that we don’t want to accept things exactly as they are given to us,» she said. «I’ve noticed efforts by teams of people who are coming together, discussing, and are not part of the power game or under any form of guidance and protection,» she continued. The young artist cited global rallies, as well as the exchange of information, mostly via the Internet and certain publications, as major tools being employed by people willing to take action. As for today’s music circuit, Panayiotopoulou noted: «Beautiful things do exist, but people aren’t looking. If you expect to find something new inside your office just by sifting through your pile of demos in your drawer, then you deserve what you get.» Maria Louka Maria Louka introduced herself to the public singing alongside Socrates Malamas. She recently released her first album, «Kalimera,» for which Louka wrote the music and lyrics to all but two songs. Malamas contributes vocals, while the album also features several top-notch local musicians, including Manolis Pappos, a revered bouzouki player. The experience gained from working alongside Malamas, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Nikos Papazoglou, Miltos Paschalidis and Yiannis Charoulis in recent years, Louka told Kathimerini, «taught me about respect for one’s work, colleagues and for the music itself. And nothing gets done without team spirit.» Commenting on her debut album, Louka said: «As a person, I choose to head toward light. Through love and the emotional situations that I address in my songs, I try to also tap into other issues as best I can, and I hope to get there at some point. On the other hand, the need for coexistence, love and friendship has become so much of a commercial sellout that we forget to look within ourselves and discover the nucleus. That’s when we also discover other people. Because, in essence, we’re all one nucleus broken up into different faces.» As for her generation, the artist remarked: «Each previous generation always attributes various things to the next generation. And ours is definitely characterized by an abundance of information. We are the recipients of various stimulants and this may be the cause of a loss of direction which leads to confusion. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have idols and visions.» Her work has a freshness that is missing from Greek music, currently widely considered to be in a saturated and stagnant state. Louka, however, defended its condition. «Because the mass media has suddenly turned against the so-called ‘entechno’ style [Greek music of higher sophistication], the same position has been adopted by the people who supported it from its birth,» said Louka. «The entechno song form does exist, things continue to be created in an artistic manner, which is what this tag means, regardless of how the style’s developed.» Summer plans for Louka include tribute performances to the late singer-songwriter Manos Loizos with Vassilis Lidakis and Stelios Votonakis, as well as a number of performances of her own. Natasha Bofiliou Backed by studies in political science at Athens Law School, piano and singing, Natasha Bofiliou emerged as part of a young three-member team – also comprising Gerasimos Evangelatos, a lyricist, and Costas Tsirkas, a songwriter – on a compilation album put out by the independent label Mikri Arktos. The trio’s contribution, a song titled «Aspirini,» was a standout track on the compilation «Defteri akroasi.» A debut album, «Ekato mikres anases» («One Hundred Tiny Breaths») quickly followed, as did the 24-year-old singer’s guest appearance on a soundtrack by Stamatis Kraounakis for the film «Pethenontas stin Athina.» This summer, Bofiliou released a CD-single, «En lefko,» as a prelude to a new album expected around September or October. Her voice’s rough edge, dramatic vocal delivery, the directness and poetic quality of her work’s lyrics and overall energy make Bofiliou a captivating act. Not long ago, the emerging act played a series of shows at the Iano club in Athens. «I thought I was going to die during the final show,» Bofiliou recalled, referring to the unanticipated additional time she ended up spending on stage. «The room was full, I did six encores, and they wouldn’t let me go. They all sang along when we did ‘Aspirin.’ I started to cry. The feeling was amazing,» she continued. Bofiliou expressed a negative view of the state of the world today, without being totally bleak about her generation’s prospects. «Our era is the problem and that’s where everything stems from. You can’t love much and you can’t hurt much because you’ve learnt to be a little indifferent. And you see that people are afraid to go deeper into a relationship, knowledge, music,» Bofiliou pointed out. «But I believe in our power. Our generation, our children will generate something new – something will be done. We’ll contribute to taking society a step forward.»