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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 5 March 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 5 MARCH 2016 13 NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 5 MARCH 2016 13 blending blending tradition’ You have recently set up a performance, Itinerant Stories, around the refugee crisis. Are you interested in creating political works of art? No, the political side is not intentional. I always start from a strictly personal perspective, but sometimes the personal becomes political. When I started working on this project, I was interested in T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land and its references to Shakespeare's The Tempest, through the image of the drowning man. For me, all this was somehow related to the story of my father's generation, but at the same time, it led me to the stories of the migrants crossing the Aegean sea to arrive to the Greek islands. Obviously, what we are experiencing today affects us and leaves a mark on the art that each of us creates. In what way has the Greek financial crisis affected you? This crisis has affected everyone, directly or indirectly. Some have sought to find different ways to survive, while others left the country, changing their lives. Any kind of strain that forces us to change things in our lives might have a positive turnout. Some people who migrated due to the crisis, for instance, managed to do what they have always wanted and wouldn't otherwise dare to, for fear of jeopardising a kind of security. What is the artist's role in this context? The artist's role is always the same, in good times and bad: to be able to transform a personal experience into something that is relevant for others. But you can't force that - when it happens, it happens by itself. For an artist to try to be socially or politically ‘useful’, steering their inspiration in a certain way, and deliberately changing focus, is wrong; we have seen monstrosities being created this way, that are useless to people and to art, in general. You are what you are; if that is helpful, so be it. You are one of the rare examples of an artist who never deviated from your path, never made any concessions. What did you have to sacrifice achieve that? I sacrificed nothing. On the contrary, I believe that my clear intentions, in terms of what were my interests in music, actually helped me. My fellow artists and producers knew when to come to me and for what purpose. Of course, I have to say that, in the beginning, I didn't have to worry about making a living. When I started, I was living with my parents, I was not independent; that helped me make whatever choices I wanted to, even if that meant to opt to not work at all. So I managed to slowly follow a certain path, which in turn, worked in my advantage when I decided to become financially independent. Last time you were in Melbourne, you admitted in an interview with The Age that "when I'm overseas, it's not the Greeks who come to listen to me". What does being Greek mean to you? What I meant is that when we play abroad, Greeks don't usually come, because we sing in many different languages and that is not to the liking of many people who want to be in touch with the songs that remind them of their country of origin. Language is an important element of our identity; when people are in their own country, they don't miss it, but as soon as they find themselves in a foreign land, the words of the mother tongue gain new meaning, as do all the familiar sounds and melodies. So it's natural for these listeners to expect Greek artists that come to their adopted country to say something about them, in their own language, through the melodies that they long for. What is your most vivid memory of your last visit to Melbourne? The Greek people who welcomed me and took care of me, making sure that everything went well with the concert. There was a lot of warmth and care and I have been in touch with some of them since. *Savina Yannatou and Primavera en Salonico will play at the Thornbury Theatre on Thursday 10 March (for more info, head to www.oztixspecialoffers.oztix.com.au/Default. aspx?Event=58447). On Monday 14 March they will be playing at the WOMADelaide festival (www.womadelaide.com.au/tickets). The artist’s role is always the same, in good times and bad: to be able to transform a personal experience into something that is relevant for others.
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