Interview to rouamat.com
Last year, a dear friend of mine who was passionate with rebetiko music inspired our in-depth exploration of this music genre. We searched for rare recordings, studied the lyrics, read about its origins and roamed the streets of the city in search of contemporary, yet original, versions of it. Last spring, on a lovely Monday afternoon, we came across a small café downtown. He heard the sound of a guitar and a bouzouki and immediately entered the café to listen to rebetiko music and drink some raki.
This is how the band Pliri Ntaxei was introduced to us. The band that little by little became our favourite people. The band members are Katerina Douka, Christos Pappas, Manolis Porfirakis and Lefteris Tsikouridis. On the occasion of the upcoming release of their first album we had an interesting talk.
– When did all begin and how this led to your first album?;
Christos: Lefteris brought us together. We first met on March last year. Since the beginning, we have been performing a repertoire of songs mainly from the 1920’s and 1930’s, what is nowadays called rebetika songs. In about a month, we began performing at Ίγγλις. Later on, we began performing at 4 Εποχές. Since then our repertoire has chiefly revolved around those decades, and even if we sometimes stray from them, we remain faithful to their style. Everyone is familiar with the composers of that period. Since last summer, we have been working on our own material. That is, songs written by Manolis and Irini and songs that I myself began writing at that period. We discussed a lot, started arranging the material and last September we began rehearsing, we soon entered the recording studio and here we are now!
– I would like to ask the female singer of the band; do you have any ancestors from Asia Minor? Your voice brings to mind all those singers of the 20’s and 30’s and suits the songs perfectly.
Katerina: Well, thank you very much for that! No, no ancestors at all. I come from Thrace and my voice reflects the love I have for this particular music genre.
– Which elements of rebetiko music you think you have kept? Have you made any adjustments or add-ins?;
Christos: In general, all songs are written using specific forms. The musical scales we use are the exact ones that the composers used back then. As far as structure is concerned, we use specific musical scales, we have remained faithful to the original style and all songs are played in a specific way. Thus, our songs are “comparable” with the songs of the pioneers of rebetiko music and sound similar. They are not the same of course. They couldn’t be the same. However, they are as close as they can get. Musical scales, sound, voice, the way we play and the instruments all sound the same. Lyrics are different as you can imagine, they refer to the present, not to the past.
– What is the response of the public to your work?;
Katerina: The feedback has been very positive!
Christos: We have given the material of our upcoming CD to three music cafés. These people are our friends, the public heard us for the first time in those places and their comments so far have been very positive. There are a lot of people that are anxious to see our CD being released and we ourselves are among those people.
Manolis: We also see the reactions of the public every time we perform live. They have all embraced our music.
– Let’s talk about the album!!
Christos : Me and Manolis Porfirakis have composed the music and Irini Karanikola has written the lyrics. Eight out of ten songs recorded are Greek dances and we mention that on the CD. That is, zeybekiko, hasapiko, hasaposerviko, bolero all these are rhythms that were used back then, we use the same rhythms and the same musical scales.
Manolis : I have been playing rebetiko music for the last 13 years. When Irini handed me the lyrics I couldn’t compose anything but rebetiko music. It came out naturally. The question is whether nowadays this music is considered rebetiko music or not…! We have used the same musical instruments and have recorded our songs the same way: one microphone, live recordings, all together at the same time.
Christos: In our effort to gather the material and record our songs, we have had a lot of help from many friends. They have participated as well. Production, videos, you name it… The record will be released by the end of the month. It is an independent production to be distributed by MLK.
– You are all members of other music bands. Has to do with money or is it a matter of creativity? ;
Katerina: This is something I have chosen to do. It is not about money, it is the need to be creative, to express myself.
Manolis: I live on music. However, I play nothing but rebetiko music in all the other bands. This is what I have been doing for the last years. I perform with other musicians at other music scenes as well.
Christos: I like many things about music. It satisfies my need to be creative. Money isn’t that much.
Lefteris: It has to do with creativity. Life is short and I want to explore as many musical horizons as possible.
– In which way you think your music can be of help?
Lefteris: Our music revolves around the traditional forms of Greek music tradition as they have been documented over the last 150 years. Our work can surely help with its lyrics because we talk about current issues and we convey the reactions of the people. We talk about personal or broader social issues.
* The album of Pliri Ntaxei, named after the band itself, is expected to be released by the end of the month. They perform live on Monday afternoons at 4 Εποχές and Wednesday nights at Ίγγλις.
facebook: πλήρη ‘ντάξει