CULTURE

A live set with a difference

The idea for a less customary type of live set cropped up by chance one night during a gathering of friends at a house outside Athens. Composer Nikos Xydakis, who emerged as a fresh prospect for the domestic circuit in the late 70s, thought about selecting some of his songs and placing them alongside other types of music. «I often feel that my songs are better suited alongside instrumental music rather than other songs [with lyrics],» noted Xydakis. So Xydakis, who performs rarely, climbed out of his hiding place to face «the responsibility of providing an entire set,» for weekly performances with friends, every Monday, now on at the Gazarte music hall. How would you describe this meeting of friends? As a live set of justice. So audiences can take a break from shows featuring headline and support acts? That’s the truth. This is a spontaneous alliance… It’s the material itself that is being projected, not that this means that the people performing drop to the second tier. It gives you the feeling of collectivity that also protects individuality. How rare is this sort of natural development in an era dominated by artificial gatherings? Virtually every single combination has been tried. The fact that it was formed spontaneously without calculation means something. One can have greater faith in deeper things that emerge from a coincidental meeting. There are many aspects, that, if expressed during one show, find others thinking along the same lines. Unfortunately, we censor these details for the sake of homogeneity. The subject of «what people like» is one that terrorizes all artists because there is often fear of unveiling these aspects… Does the diffusion being witnessed in music today mean that there will come a time when we won’t be able to tell whether a song is Italian, Spanish, or Greek? We have already begun seeing this. A strong language identity in a song or in music these days is considered an oddity. This enormous tendency toward rhythm that now dominates everywhere has virtually created anonymity. A composer’s identity is seen as some introverted thing or going against the general trend. Now that the so-called «entechno» [arty Greek music] scene has lost its previous glamor, we’re seeing that the pop-oriented Greek scene has turned flat. What will the new beginning be for Greek music? The album is also suffering a major crisis. Also, the logic of an album appearing as representative of an entire project is no longer valid. Nowadays, listeners are flattering their creativity by sort of compiling albums themselves. In effect, the artist is being eliminated. The artist is looked at condescendingly, like some chance event. These days, if you write a song that is commercial, you’re viewed as a composer. The entire code of communication has changed. If language or poetry meant something to us, it has now been deconstructed. Maybe there’s an overall trend to demolish whatever is structured. Are you working on anything new? I’m preparing an album of instrumental music – like the soundtrack of an imaginary story. Of course, there’s a theme that’s hidden behind the music. It begins with a poem by Nikos Karouzos that speaks of Athens, like a form of song recital, or rapping, or like a musician traveling and being transformed in four cities, Cairo, Athens, Istanbul and New York. At times, the musician plays concerto-type music, but at other times, in a more introverted mood, he seems to be playing and learning songs heard at the hotel where he is staying. Are there autobiographical elements here? It’s a small biography. I use all the aforementioned. Sometimes I like the loneliness of a musician at the time that the material is being worked on, and other times I like the exchange with audiences. This inhalation and exhalation exists in my music. In this case, I’m trying to incorporate it into a story. An album of instrumental music is quite a risky step… I think that there’s no longer any choice. When taking a daring step or adopting an extreme position, one sometimes discovers a scene that may also include other people… What does your instinct say? It expresses me. I may be proven right; I may not. We’ve reached a stage where we don’t understand our failures and turn them into success stories. We’ve all experienced this. We’ve reached the point of being considered successful before we have even written something, successful without work.