For Protopsalti, it’s a matter of following her gut instinct

Alkistis Protopsalti has always followed her gut instinct and she says it has never led her astray. The 34-year course of her career is ample proof that her instincts, which led her to prefer appearances in smaller, cozier venues, are well honed. Now, following more than 40 shows in Thessaloniki, Patras and Iraklion, in Crete, the celebrated Greek singer is now in Athens, performing at Zygos, a homey venue in downtown Plaka. In a more electric, and electronic, state of mind, Protopsalti is performing with the band Trifono (Nikos Kouroupanis, Erophyle and Dimitris Yfantis) as well as Giorgos Bousounis from the Ammos band. The show includes songs from her latest album, «Sto oraiotero simeio» (At the Most Beautiful Place). How difficult is it to come up with a different program for every show? It’s like being a long-distance runner, or a relay racer. Both need faith, dedication, ambition, sweat, love and months of hard work. How have you succeeded in finding such good songs when so many other singers have failed? It takes time and effort; this is why there is normally about a three-year lapse between my albums. For the last one, I listened to over 1,000 songs before setting foot in the studio. And I told every writer exactly what I thought. Most of the songs I chose have been written by young people. I would listen to them, put them aside for a few months and then get back to them. When I catch myself humming a new tune I know it stands out. The fact that you had to go through 1,000 songs to find a few good ones tells us there is a problem with songwriting. It’s really easy to find something idiotic. About 80 percent of the songs I listen to are «I love you, you love me» songs. The great composer have gone quiet. Mixing it up Many singers prefer coming out with albums of songs by many different composers. Is this a safety net? I choose songs that touch my soul and I prefer to have several souls represented on an album. I am also very touched by the passion of young songwriters, who are never too bored to write something, erase it and try it again. Is boredom a major factor in the music crisis in Greece? Maybe it’s boredom, maybe it’s just a sign of the times, maybe they’re just happy with what they’ve achieved so far. But we should give young people a chance. We are in a strange place right now. Would you call it a state of transition? We are poised for something new. Maybe CDs will disappear. Maybe the public will be buying two songs instead of an entire album and sales will only take place on the Internet. There will certainly be a lot of changes. If you’re no good in live performances, then your number will be up. And record companies will mutate into something else. What do you think about the success of the «Je t’aime» television program which mocks wannabe singers? I think that we are in the midst of one of the worst periods of Greek artistic history. I feel insulted when some people tell me they’re colleagues of mine. But, it would drive me crazy to think that this is really the culture and art of Greece. Some say its the singers’ fault, but I believe it’s the television and radio stations that play this trash with such ease. Either way, I don’t think it will last very long. Alkistis Protopsalti is at Zygos (22 Kydathinaion, Plaka, tel 210.324.1610) Fridays and Saturdays at 10.30 p. m. and Sundays at 9.30 p. m.