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13 Nov

Kostas Theodorou Interview

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Jazzonline talked to Kostas Theodorou, few weeks before his performance at Onassis Cultural  Center on December 8, 2013

Kostas Theodorou  has been an active member of the Greek musical scene since the early 80’s. A self taught musician who has been travelling around the world taking the chance to collaborate with musicians from different cultures. His music is a result of his experience in jazz music and his deep roots in the music of the Balkans. Narrative, dynamic, lyrical at times, his music captures his audience and together with his extraordinary fellow musicians he creates a fascinating and unique soundscape.

1- What were your biggest musical influences & where do you get your inspiration from ?
Well if I go deep inside myself and try to find my main musical influences, then I reach my childhood and sounds of Macedonian brass orchestras that still echo in my head, with all their rhythms and melodies played day and night during festivities that took place in the years and around the area of my childhood. If I could talk about some of the musicians that inspired me later on during my active musical life, starting at the age of sixteen, then I have to mention Charlie Haden with his Liberation Orchestra, Dino Saluzzi mostly with his solo albums and Egberto Gismonti with his approach to the music of the indigenous people of his homeland. Of course there were many others and each of them in a different way, but those three masters came very close to my heart because they made me think about music in a broader way. To tell you the truth, seldom was I attracted by sheer virtuosity on its own but I always enjoyed listening to albums of narrative character; like The Ballad of the Fallen by Haden and the Liberation Orchestra or Kultrum by Saluzzi or Dancas a Cabecas by Gismonti and Vasconselos for example. Those three musical monuments gave me a lot of strength to go my way and I was very lucky to have listened them at the beginning of my musical development. Much later, I read in Fernando Pessoa’s writings that every art constitutes literature and that was a kind of confirmation of thoughts I have had earlier. Now, as an answer to the second part of your question about where do I get inspiration, I could just mention the main influences I get from life: Personal and every day social life; Anthropological issues like cultural identity, migration; Reality versus truth, the world of dreams, emotions, poetry… Inspiration can come anytime and anywhere since we know that we belong to the unexpected.

2- You are performing on December 8 at the Onassis Cultural Centre. What is the project you are going to present ? Is it connected to your previous work, or it is something new ?
After the release of Rousilvo in 2010, which is a kind of a folk opera and tribute to an abandoned village and a culture that is fading as a result of persistent social marginalisation, things naturally developed into a new project entitled Lost_Anthropology. It has already been performed, last summer in Munich, with Antonis Anissegos on piano, Mathis Mayr on cello and myself on double bass, guitar, vocals and percussion. In a few words I could say that it is an allusion to cultural roots, from primitive pagan rituals to modern poetry, dialectic approach to identity through narrative musical compositions in combination with free improvisation. In the upcoming concert in Athens (as well as in Thessaloniki the next day) we’ll be a quartet with Antonis Anissegos piano, Tom Arthurs trumpet, Stamatis Pasopoulos bayan and myself with the same setup as before. The collaboration with Tom starts with this concert but it has been a long standing wish come true. I heard him with the Berlin based trio Glue and I liked very much the way Tom creates his soundscapes with a trumpet. Antonis and I have known each other for a long time, and his role is in many ways heart of this project. Stamatis on other hand was the first one that started working with me on this material last year in Saloniki. I am really excited about this performance of Lost_Anthropology


3- You have collaborated with major personalities of the Greek musical scene (like Theodorakis and Savvopoulos) on very different projects and we have seen you abroad in festivals with your own ensemble. What do you like most: work on other people’s projects or just doing your own stuff, and how difficult is it to work on different projects at the same time ?
I was lucky to collaborate with Michalis Siganidis F.M.S. ensemble and Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonica. When you have such personalities to be with, then it is possible to feel their music as yours and be creative. Of course, playing with my ensembles gives me more possibilities to go deeper into my personal interests but both situations are fulfilling when you are around artists that like to share.

4- Could you tell us what you are working on these days. What is your next project ?
Hmmm… Difficult to answer. Aside of Lost_Anthropology I am working on something I have had on my mind for years. Just a few weeks ago it started to take a musical shape. But lets keep some secrets for the future.

Interview by Patricia Graire – November 2013

Photos by lamp

More about Kostas Theodorou:


Last modified on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 12:15