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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 February 2015
16 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Dimitris Basis s Famous Greek singer Dimitris Basis talks to Neos Kosmos exclusively before he hits the stage at the Melbourne and Sydney Greek festivals NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU His career did take off in a Broken Boat (Spasmeno Karavi), however, on 14 and 15 February, Dimitris Basis will land at the Lonsdale Street Festival, to transport Melbourne all the way to Greece with his songs. “Although this is my third time in Australia, it’s the first time I’m participating in the Lonsdale Festival,” Dimitris Basis tells Neos Kosmos. “I have been invited several times in the past, but my scheduled appearances in Athens made it impossible for me to travel.” This winter, Dimitris is touring Greece, allowing himself a lightning trip to Australia, along with his orchestra and promising singer Zoe Papadopoulou. “I would like to stay longer, since I consider Australia to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world,” he says. “My second time here in 2003, I spent 20 days city hopping.” A child migrant himself, Dimitris feels an intense emotional connection to the diaspora Greeks while performing abroad. “I was born in Germany, as my parents migrated there in the ‘50s,” he explains. “I can relate to the psychology of the immigrant; I know how it is to leave your country in order to work and live in a foreign land, waiting to return to your homeland; hopefully able to offer your family a better quality of life.” One of Dimitris’ most special collaborations, dedicated to the Greeks who live away from home, is The Immigrant Song. This artistic partnership with singer Yota Nega took place at the Little Theatre of Epidaurus in July, as part of the Athens Festival celebrations. The duo gave a mesmerising two-day performance based on songs about the Greeks of the diaspora. “These songs have played a very important role in the lives of the Greek migrants who were desperately trying to maintain their cultural heritage,” he says. “I remember my family and their friends gathering in Greek homes in Germany every weekend listening to Greek songs.” “I still cherish a very vivid picture of my folks dancing and bursting into tears when the memories from Greece and the loved ones they left behind emerged to haunt them.” When Dimitris and his family returned to Greece, he took an interest in Byzantine music and embarked on a fruitful musical journey. “Byzantine music was the start of everything,” he admits. “This is what I studied; through Byzantine music I became a singer and it has been an asset that helped me immensely in my career.” “I love singing. It’s a lifelong dream come true. I cann come true. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else as I have been making a living as a singer since the age of 20. For me it is more than just a job. It’s a way of life.” Dimitris is one of the very few artists that have never been in the spotlight because of their personal life. “Honestly, I make no effort to protect or to hide my personal life,” he says. “The only people who are trying too much here are the ones that choose to provoke and keep exposing their private moments for more publicity.” “I have no desire to be in the limelight, unless I am promoting a new album or concert.” Dimitris has many times stressed that he does not intend to collaborate with any of the popular pop or elafrolaikous Greek singers, in an effort to keep his artistic identity as a laikos singer intact. This statement was one of the reasons his collaboration with TV presenter Nadia Boule took the Athenian audience by surprise. The other was its unexpectedly amazing outcome. “I heard Nadia’s voice for the first time when she was singing with Manolis Lidakis,” he explains. “I did not choose to work with a TV persona, but with a girl who has a significant music education and a broad vocal range with great potential.” This is not the first time the singer has chosen to work with new promising artists. “Rallia Christidou and Zoe Papadopoulou for example, both have superb voices and have presented some truly remarkable pieces of work,” he says. “To me, speaking the same musical ‘language’ is far more important than any age difference.” For a singer, Basis has a enviable portfolio filled with many artistic partnerships. He has shared the stage with George Dalaras, Haris Alexiou, George Mitropanos, Paschalis Terzis, Christos Nikolopoulos, Alcestis Cantor, Dimitra Galani, Glykeria and more. “I was fortunate enough to meet Mikis Theodorakis and produce two albums with him,” he says. “He directed my concerts for two years in a row.” Years ago, Dimitris expressed his admiration for Thanos Mikroutsikos’ work as a laikos composer, wishing he would someday collaborate with him. Besides a great partnership on stage, 2015 is the year Dimitris Basis will release what might be the most important album of his career, heralded by Thanos Mikroutsikos. “I’m in the studio working on his songs at the moment, thinking that all my dreams have come true.” In this new album set to be released in a few months, Dimitris reunites with Christos Nikolopoulos as well. “My career started next to Chris; I owe this man too much.” “Undoubtedly, this will be a very important album which will highlight my entire course and identity as an artist.” Dimitris is always in search of new collaborations and projects, yet he prefers to take it as it comes. Meanwhile, he wishes to continue producing songs that will be loved by the public, while staying true to his ideals. “I worked very hard to make it here. Nothing was given to me,” he confesses.
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