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Kristi's Secrets

"At Winnipeg Festival," recalls Kristi, "I was in a workshop with Rokia Traore. When it was my turn to do something and make all the rest jam - they were just singers - we improvised on Epirotica, songs from Epirus. That was my first workshop in front of hundreds of people, and I said: 'Oh my God, what shall I do?' I hadn't had any experience like that before. OK, jamming with musicians in my house or in small clubs I had done, but improvising in front of people in a big festival I had never tried. And I said let's sing an Epirotica song which is pentatonic; the Indian woman would love it and Rokia of course would understand it, and it was a very nice jam that came out of it."

"I do hate this very strict attitude that traditional musicians have, especially in Greece, and I hear also elsewhere, that they don't want to touch it and to change it. But, let's make a point for them. There is a kind of rightness behind this idea, like for example there are some things that you can do and some other things that you cannot do because it is narrowing the richness of the tradition; the use of smaller tones in Byzantine music and singing, is something that was destroyed and disappeared. This is an element that should be kept. It widens the ability of the ear to hear. So let's not mix, let us say, Byzantine music with rock instruments that would destroy some of the elements that are its value. In that part, those people that are very severe have a point. I am for the other side, of course..."

"The music is ours anyway, but to tell you something else, in none of these albums were we 'heading towards' something. I mean there was never an intention behind us to use this part of the tradition or use this part of rock, it's just coming out of this thing that you have in your mind, and there it is, the tradition. It's not an intentional thing. It's not a decision that we make and we follow it. And we really don't know how what we will do will sound next time."

Stathis gets out a slide projector and shows some images from their many visits to the Greek islands which inspired the new record.

This feature first appeared in fRoots 237, March 2003


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