CULTURE

Yiannis Kotsiras: ‘No hang-ups’

The news provoked various reactions, ranging from negative remarks to sarcastic smiles. Singer-songwriter Yiannis Kotsiras taking part in «Greek Idol,» alongside flamboyant composer Nikos Karvelas? In the end, Kotsiras decided against participating in the upcoming show, yet the question lingers. Would he have been able to hold his own alongside Karvelas? «I don’t have any hang-ups,» says Kotsiras. «It sounded like a good idea, considering that I was going to be able to get involved with the show’s concept.» Besides, he notes, it’s not a reality show but a talent show. Kotsiras has already collaborated with many young artists who made a name for themselves on television, among them Dimos Anastasiadis, Rallia Christidou and Antigoni Efstratoglou. «The mechanism that once went in search of and produced young talent has been abolished,» says Kotsiras. «The record industry operates with young people who either remind you of someone or come from television. As a producer, I have suggested a number of good voices but nothing came of it, as they don’t resemble anyone. In contrast to the past, a voice with character and personality has now become a disadvantage.» His decision not to participate on the Greek version of «American Idol,» however, has nothing to do with any of the above. «I think it could turn out to be a show with good standards,» he says. «You can get good music out of television; distrust doesn’t do anyone any good. Neither does the dictatorship of the so-called ‘entechno,’ serious Greek music that treats anyone who appears on television as a pariah. Talent has no identity.» What about the anxiety of surviving in an age where recordings have reached rock-bottom? «This is what this ‘no’ stance has accomplished – by leaving it all in other people’s hands, while creating an unbearable sense of exclusion. We have to be more open-minded.» He is not, however, a fan of reality shows. «Especially when they embarrass the participants,» he says. «But I’m not totally against talent shows, of auditioning and competing, not unlike the Thessaloniki Song Festival or [the 1980s Greek television talent show] ‘Na i Efkairia.’ The difference now is that there’s much more intrigue when it comes to the judging panels. I’m not in favor of his but it has to do with the ratings. Does anyone have any reservations when it comes to ‘American Idol?’ It’s a great show with incredible participants ranging from Jennifer Lopez to Randy Newman.» This may sound good on a theoretical level, but what about the artists’ durability? «Voice is one thing, talent is another,» says Kotsiras. «Half of the Greek population has a nice voice; very few are talented, however. It takes a lot of hard work and relentless practice. That’s the definition of an artist.» What is the future of Greek song given this overall unfavorable climate? «There’s the power of young, unknown artists doing live shows. They are creating their own world, their own space. Bands like Cabaret Balkan: they only do live gigs; they don’t have any albums to showcase but they do have a hardcore following through YouTube. It’s a new star system growing out of the old system’s ashes,» says Kotsiras. «And it’s the healthiest thing I’ve seen in the last 15 years. Along with Lavrentis Machairitsas, Afroditi Manou, Kitrina Podilata and Zinovia Arvanitidi, Kotsiras is currently performing at Zygos, in a show defined by an ambience of rock, a relaxed atmosphere, plenty of songs, humor and minimal direction. In the meantime, Kotsiras is working on a new album of live recordings from the 2004-2009 period. This is not expected to be released anytime soon, however, given that local audiences are still in the process of discovering the tunes from his most recent album, «Ke Pali Pedi.» Zygos, 22 Kydathinaion, tel 210.3241610.