CULTURE

Brought together by indie label, three emerging artists revel in their bonding

Just talking with them puts you in a good mood. A young and talented team, aged between 25 and 29, this lot knows what it wants, pushes for it without audacity, and feels modest excitement, as well as melancholy with a touch of hope. Their new album, «Mechri to telos» (Until the End), the trio of Natasha Bofiliou (the vocalist), Gerasimos Evangelatos (lyricist) and Themis Karamouratidis (songwriter) contains 12 little diamonds of song. The trio’s fresh work, which offers images of the Athens it knows and serves as a reminder that good working teams make a difference, spoke to Kathimerini about the good and bad things in life. They were brought together for a song contribution to a compilation album released by a local independent label, Mikri Arktos, and have since gelled. «Themis is the first person I talk to on the telephone each day,» said Evangelatos, «which is why the album is a chronicle of our friendship, as if we’ve worked on it from the moment we met. Whenever he had a melody, he would come to me; whenever I’d written new lyrics, I’d invite him over for a look, and, naturally, there’s Natasha who gives the voice to both of us,» he continued. The team shares common tastes, aesthetics and similar listening preferences in a wide range of styles, such as rock, rebetika, jazz, popular Greek music («laiko»), and entechno (sophisticated Greek song). Artists admired by all three include Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Manos Hadjidakis, Stamatis Kraounakis and Akis Panou. «If the album encompasses a variety of colors, it can be attributed to to all the great music we’ve listened to and has registered inside us,» explained Karamouratidis. «And, of course, that was the reason we got involved in music,» he continued. They feel fortunate at not having to go label hunting with demo in hand and say they feel artistically free and at home at Mikri Arktos, run by Paraskevas Karasoulos. «Everything’s done on a personal level,» said Evangelatos. «We drink coffee with Paraskevas and talk about our ideas; he listens to what we have to say and shares his thoughts with us. Without having any experience at other labels, we think that things probably aren’t like this elsewhere.» Bofiliou, the lead singer, pointed out the artistic freedom offered by their label. «We made an album exactly the way we wanted to make it without the anxiety that is usually passed on to you by labels for commercial work,» said Bofiliou. «When I was starting off with my first performances about four years ago, I recall thinking to myself that Paraskevas [label boss] was crazy for having faith in my ability to carry our an entire show alone. Back then, nobody knew who I was, but even so, the place was packed every night.» The act is currently performing weekly Saturday night shows at the Ianos bookstore’s cafe, where it is presenting the new album as well as songs by Hadjidakis, Dionysis Savvopoulos, Amy Winehouse, Panayiotis Kalatzopoulos, Stamatis Spanoudakis and Lena Platonos. «Even if you give Natasha the most difficult song to do, she’ll sing it superbly if it moves her,» said Evangelatos. When she steps onto the stage at the current Ianos shows, Bofiliou delights as a pretty and fresh-looking girl. Her appeal, by the evening’s end, wins the listener over with her distinctive husky voice and versatility to adapt to the requirements of each song. A lively performer, she also communicates well with her audience. «In the beginning, I wouldn’t look up. I feel more free now and much more certain of myself,» admitted the emerging vocalist, who does not shy away from tackling challenging songs by artists the caliber of Hadjidakis, Savvopoulos, Kraounakis and Platonos. «These are songs that I wouldn’t do If I didn’t understand them. If I couldn’t offer a part of my soul, why would I touch them? I absorb what I do so much to the extent that I feel empty at the end of the set, which is why I think wouldn’t be able to do too many shows night after night.» Karamouratidis, stepping in, noted: «She’s the perfect singer for us. She combines the devotion of an amateur with the singing range of a far more experienced singer.» Enthusiasm aside, this emerging trio is aware of the difficulties involved in the domain. Bofiliou, who will soon gain a degree from Athens Law School, and Karamouratidis, a graduate of mass media studies at Panteion University, say they both want professional careers in music. Evangelatos, who studied drama, remained apprehensive about making a living from penning lyrics. «I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I will make a lot of money from music. But I do want to be able to make a living from it,» noted Karamouratidis. Though young, the trio feels defiant about the dominance of established, older acts. «I don’t like the prevailing opinion that holds that a young act will not sell, or will not do well, therefore you settle the issue by giving it a supporting role behind the main act,» argued Bofiliou. «And we don’t agree that good material doesn’t exist. It does. But we’ve seen cases of people our age with wonderful ideas and a good outlook who don’t do well when they end up releasing work because their mood and thoughts are so heavily filtered that they feel bewildered and lost in the end,» added Karamouratidis. «Unfortunately, the older artists who help the younger ones do so in a very stiff manner and only up to a certain point. They’re uptight and fear the new era is overtaking them… In doing so, people who have offered us great songs do not do justice to their past.»