Interview in PERIODIKO magazine, February - March 1988.
By Thanasis Lalas and Pashalia Cosma
We met Vangelis in a studio near Holargos (a suburb in northern Athens), three floors below ground-level. A living room full of instruments with one bed in-between. He was calm but quite absent at the start. Not in the mood to be a celebrity. A closed person: "my private life doesn't hold any interest". He belongs to the category of famous persons whose eccentricities can be forgiven, I say to myself in order to continue the conversation peacefully. Later on Vangelis softens up and becomes more accessible: "I'm afraid of journalists, that's why I am like that". We speak about everything. He shows us how all those instruments work while playing something that passes through his mind. In his hands music is a game. Then he gets up and speaks, while smoking his cigar: "I'm thinking: stars are bright, but they're also far away. I think you never know which is the biggest".
It took us so much effort to meet you...
I was here (points to the surrounding studio)
Three floors below ground?
In a few years I will be ten floors below ground.
Because it keeps moving up.
The world becomes more oppressive?
More intolerable, dirtier, unhealthier.
Is it healthier down here?
It'll prove to be so in the end.
Did you decide to live underground because you can't stand human beings?
Oh no, outside things are insufferable. Nobody likes living underground, but living in Athens outside is terrible.
Have you seen what's being thrown from the buses? It's incredible, criminal. It happens nowhere else...
Are there any people coming down to meet you, here in the studio?
Yes, but they won't see me. There's no other way.
Were you always such a closed person?
Yes, always. Now I'm much more like that.
Where are you from?
From a village outside Volos.
Strange town Volos, isn't it?
Now Volos is a crushed town, like all the others...
Do you go over there frequently?
Rarely. I went there two years ago, and I was scared. Once though it was a very beautiful town. One of the most beautiful.
When you say "beautiful", what do you mean?
Full of gardens, flowers, everything we gaze at saying "oh, how beautiful !" Today we just say "oh, how beautiful" and we don't create anything. All healthy and beautiful things have become academic.
You mean, we don't create anything out of beautiful things?
Our creations are just cement and dirtiness.
Don't you like cement?
There isn't such a thing as bad material. It all depends on what you create with it.
When did you leave Volos?
We came to Athens when I was a small kid.
You came to Athens to become a musician?
No, I was a musician since the age of four.
(laughs) I was composing and playing the piano.
What was your father's job?
He was in property.
You had a piano at home.
So you've been brought up like a girl (laughs). At that time girls used to learn piano and French.
With me it wasn't like that exactly. As far back as I can remember, I just played the piano.
When you say "play", do you mean classical music pieces?
Yes, and whatever music passed through my mind.
Did you study music since being a kid?
No, I've never studied music.
The music was, so to speak, born along with you.
Yes, something like that. As far back as my memory goes, I find myself playing the piano. And maybe earlier.
Is there any occasion when you played the piano before you were four years old?
There are plenty of memories. There are things you remember or you don't remember, but they are there, and they are about you. Everything that exists now or existed before is a memory. The land's memory is our own memory too.
Meaning there is a transfer of memory from life in general that existed previously.
Certainly. Memory isn't only what you lived through and remember. That's just part of it. Memory only becomes complete beyond that. Without any memory you wouldn't be walking, talking, breathing. All that is memories.
As a teenager, did you start out with a particular genre of music?
No, I was never interested in a particular genre, I was interested in music generally.
That is, with sounds.
Joining the bands of your period, what did you try to achieve?
Nothing. It was that period. We all did it because we were having a good time. At the same time we created thousands of other things. I don't understand the importance of all that, what's important about my childhood?
You never want to read about the childhood of somebody you're interested in?
I don't read, generally speaking. Or if I read anything, I'd be reading something technical. If I want to read about someone's life, I might get his biography. Wasting my own time and reading about someone else's life is a choice that would ultimately trouble me.
Was it the way you've lived your life that defined your relationship with music?
(laughs) I don't think so. It was my bad judgement... I'm joking. But wherever you are, whatever you do, you're going to meet your destiny. Me, I was a bit more fortunate, I grew up in a garden.
Are there things in other people's music you listened to, that are also in your own music?
It's impossible that situation doesn't exist, since everything is one.
Does it ever happen that, having composed a piece, after a while you hear it on someone else's record?
No... or rather yes. Now you mention it I remember one occasion. I was twelve, thirteen years old, having composed in my mind a concert for piano and orchestra. After a while listening to the radio something came on that was approximately the same. I didn't know what it was (only radio existed at the time). In the end it was a concert by Bartok. I listened out for the name at the end. I just thought "ha, what was in my thoughts finally exists". It was almost similar, which means I had a biological memory that perhaps also Bartok had. When did he actually die?
He died this century
Strange thing, isn't it...?
Was radio important back then?
I didn't listen a lot, but for me it was something magical. A radio was unlike the transistor radios we have nowadays. It had tubes that turned on and lit up. The thing was alive. For a child it was something weird, magical. Radio was a place where you would be able to think creatively, have questions and solve them. It really was something. Today nothing similar exists. Today there are so many channels of information, creating a heavy absorption in your own head.
Do you believe the media destroyed some of the magic?
I wouldn't say that. Now it's just a matter of consciousness. With all that media, it prevents you from any consciousness. It prevents you from creating anything and knowing why you create it.
As of late, the media guides us towards just one message: everything already happened, and now there exist just repeats.
I don't understand. What do you mean everything already happened? First of all we must make clear the meaning of the term "music". Music has ended up with a very narrow definition. Its definition has narrowed down to the century we are leaving. Like food has become a sandwich or MacDonald's, so music has been restricted to one genre. The media excludes everything except what sells most, which is pop and disco. They reach us to such an extent that they talk about music when they mean pop and disco. That's the only thing young kids do today. And they're not only doing it for fun, but because it's the established way. It used to be that someone became a pop star. Now it's a job.
What was there once, at the beginning?
Nothing... a beginning from something. I'm not criticising it, but at one time there was a craziness, a contrast. Now it's a job. You hear people saying "I'm going to be a pop star", as if they're saying "I'm going to be an engineer". And in the end they finish up as members of a band.
Does it require anything in particular to become a member of a band?
First: appearance. Second: certain instruments. Third: an ego-trip. And finally a record-company taking on the promotion.
(laughing) Everything but music.
But these are features exhibited by many people.
That's why the law of probability exists. They take on many like them and choose two or three stars for tomorrow.
Have you been under any pressure to play that game of being a star?
Sure, and I continue to be. But it passes over me, and I don't take seriously everything I hear.
But you live in the commercial world though.
I do, but I don't know whether I pursued it or not. I never created what was being asked of me. I'm consciously avoiding everything, I don't do any promotion, advertisement or anything. If you notice the road I take you'll see that I systematically avoid playing that game.
Didn't you ever for a moment think of playing the game? Didn't you ever fear losing everything you gained?
But I'm not interested in all that. Nothing prevents me from turning that studio into a factory tomorrow, starting productions, producing a band and after two or three months having 100 commercial records on the market. Either way I have my own studio. So nothing prevents me. I could have made plenty of such things, more than a record-company does. I have all the facilities, time and contacts, while there are thousands asking me about it.
After all these years on the circuit, have you ever met anybody that consciously played the game a bit differently?
I'd rather not talk about that.
Don't you ever meet anyone?
(pauses) Look, I've met people coming from the commercial world, but they are changing afterwards, doing more arty things.
It's strange but arty has become synonymous with anti-commercial.
These distinctions always annoyed me, those unexplained boundaries. They say it must be like that to be something commercial. So it isn't commercial. What I don't understand is how they could define something as commercial or not beforehand. There is a group of people (in fashion and everywhere) who decide what people like or not. I can't say there's no such thing as a general taste, but that's also being formulated by a small group of people, and you'll discover they all belong to companies. They are releasing a product while starting to promote it through radios, magazines and television. So they start brainwashing people, as a result of their formulation of taste. Look what happens with the Eurovision Contest for instance. It's appalling, you have three minutes to create a success. Fearful perhaps that people might not understand adding two or three extra notes, they reach the stage of having no song left at all.
As if the people are idiots.
Exactly, they behave as if people are idiots. It all stems from insecurity. It's the same thing as people having children. They talk to them stupidly, while of course they understand everything. Children are wise (like the public) but unfortunately they behave towards them as if they were idiots.
In the final analysis, taste is a construction?
No, there is a general taste but I want to gradually find out about it, the people from radio, TV and record-companies should allow me to do so, by deciding themselves what's aesthetic or not. Don't give people just one minute to say what they really want. Then suddenly you'll notice small, individual outbreaks. And if someone manages to grow up a bit, the system comes along and usurps it. So it dies, and becomes a product for exploitation.
When you took the Oscar, were you surprised at all?
(laughs) I didn't take it, they gave it to me.
Were you surprised?
I was asleep at that moment. I learned about it the next morning.
With the Oscar, many people became aware of your existence.
Yes, that's right.
But then you withdrew, as if you wanted people to move on, and not keep thinking of you.
Look, in comparison, the pleasure for the people here in Greece was greater than it was for me. Which doesn't mean I didn't feel any pleasure, but it didn't change anything in my life. I didn't become any different with the Oscar. And if I hadn't been awarded with it I would have remained the same person. But the fact gave people pleasure. The same thing also happened with our national basketball team . And I think Greece needs all of that.
England doesn't need any of that?
Greece needs it more. England has thousands of such things. Greece doesn't have anything, that is its poverty. In Greece there's a huge potential, but also a poverty of the soul, a misery.
Is that why you left?
I couldn't stand it here. It couldn't have happened otherwise, it was impossible.
How did you leave?
I just left. What do you mean how?
Have you ever felt any fear?
Have you ever felt any fear about leaving?
Did you have any friends abroad?
I had huge confidence in myself. I knew that I was making the proper move.
That you were going to succeed?
Not that I was going to succeed. What does it mean to succeed? I felt that by leaving I would create what I really wanted to. I believed in success on a personal level.
Does personal success differ from public success?
Of course it differs. You might sell a million records while feeling like a failure. Or you might not sell anything feeling very happy.
How long did you stay with Aphrodite's Child?
You left after "666"?
It was our last record, approaching more what we were beginning to create. It was the only time when I could reach a decent sort of compromise. Because there was a huge need for that.
Your careers afterwards prove that you and Roussos were quite a lot different between yourselves.
That's why we've separated. Demis made his own career that he had in mind and I made my own. We finally created what we wanted to.
Have you felt any regret for all those things you did back then?
We didn't create anything obscene. We made tasteful songs that weren't at all contemptible.
How many records did you release?
Three albums and three singles. But they were huge successes. And all that was good then for Greece.
"666" was banned from release?
It was banned worldwide. It wasn't released at all. It was released after a year.
What was all the fuss about?
A piece with Irene Papas.
What did you like about Irene Papas? Her voice?
Is there anything that distinguishes your collaborators?
What's important is the harmony. I say a good man is someone who feels good about himself and is in harmony, doesn't feel any need to tell lies, hurt someone, or do stupid and petty things. A man you can rely on somewhat. Otherwise a human is a dangerous creature. You don't know what he might think or do to you. There's an abyss down his soul, as they say. Because he has free will. Because he might decide to do something to you, arbitrarily. Therefore harmony is the only safety valve.
What is it that guides you in your relations with people? Your intuition?
Yes, or better: instinct. Rarely have I been wrong in my own estimate. Or rather no, never.
What is instinct?
The main advantage of the human computer. An accumulation of thousands of bits of information for instant automatic analysis, according to a logic relying on different rules. The instinct is the greatest radar we can afford, but rarely do we trust it, because today's society doesn't advertise the instinct, but rather the rational.
So I am a victim of advertising (laughs). My instinct captures everything at the start, but I move against it, giving opportunities to people who are ahead of me, and finally prove that my instinct was correct.
And that happens with me too. The final rejection through instinct leads you into absolute loneliness. We are holding back the instinct for a moment, because we fear loneliness.
Do you listen to other people's music?
Sometimes, late at night.
Getting rest after many hours of work?
(laughs) But I never tire from my own work. I only get tired when I'm in a non-harmonic environment. I might get tired in a restaurant, or at home, but never when I'm working. Being tired after work is very healthy, while stress is very unhealthy. If you move against your nature, you might get tired after 10 minutes, but when things go right you don't get tired, they increase your resistance.
Your nature is musical?
Exactly. Every moment has music hidden in it. I think music all the time, while simultaneously doing various other things.
Like two parallel lives?
And maybe more. All these things happen independently from us.
Excuse me, while we're talking now, do you listen to any music or sounds?
Does that mean you might be able to communicate with someone else just using sounds and listen to their sounds too?
Have you ever done it?
Quite a few times. Most of my music has been used for therapeutical purposes in hospitals in America or for various other experiments.
Could you express your thoughts musically at this very moment?
Whatever I'd be playing now would be whatever I am thinking. Music is a language too, with a different logic. Words as a form of communication are quite superficial. I mean, words don't contain the element of time.
While music does.
Music isn't a static phenomenon, like truth isn't static. We make ourselves crazy when we try to restrict truth and carry on with it after its moment has passed. We say "I love you" but what does it mean? Because many people who said to each other "I love you" get into fights and tussles. At a specific moment, when the chemistries are okay, you say "I love you". What happens the next moment? Rhythms must keep progressing in the same direction and at the same speed for words to continue to be applicable. Words are also inaccurate. We say "nice", but what does nice mean? I can't say nice. Certainly out of habit I say "this is very nice", but I don't mean it. There isn't anything nice, beautiful or ugly. Only harmony or disharmony exists.
And with music, can its moments become inaccurate?
Music speaks to millions of people directly and simultaneously if transferred properly from nature.
Yes, but it speaks different things to everyone.
That's the grandeur of music. The chemistry is one, the products differ.
Yes, but the grandeur of music finds its justice in the hands of some people.
Yes, what do you mean?
Not everyone might respond to music in all its ultimate power. But that happens also with words. It will in the hands of a great writer.
I am not criticising literature.
It uses words as the medium of expression, though you're criticising them as restrictive.
Literature not only uses words, it also uses the memory of a word. That means you've got to experience the language addressed at you with accuracy. But music addresses itself at thousands of people at the same time.
So music is an austere system of communication, reaching a larger number of people?
Music is a pattern of nature, that's all. Words came with people so it's restrictive whether it's perfect or not. Music is found in nature, passes through a human being without any useless experiences, and the result becomes more universal or the person becomes purer the more receptive he is to the transfer. Does that look strange to you?
Now not at all.
Music is bulletproof in the face of logic. It addresses itself to the nature of a human being, not at his mind.
Upon hearing someone's voice, could you imagine him?
I've tried a lot of times.
And do you achieve the result?
I have a score of 9 out of 10 (laughs). It isn't important, it becomes something automatic. Because without understanding how, you're describing yourself when you're talking. The voice has thousands of details that can be decoded by a sensitive ear.
Is the voice also a music instrument?
Yes. Everyone's voice has a musical connotation. Here's another disadvantage of words in relation to music. Human words, especially verbal ones, are not autonomous. They only get fully expressed with another art form - music.
Music gives you the possibility of telling your own opinion?
Now we get into trouble by confusing ourselves. With music you have two abilities. First of all you might express your own thoughts, but then you are in danger of sliding down a slippery slope. You might also put yourself at the service of music, and be more truthful. You might tell your opinion using music, but then you're putting music at the service of your own thinking, which is dangerous.
Isn't it equally dangerous putting yourself at the service of music?
I would say this is most true of all. When putting yourself at the service of music, you're communicating as much as possible and with more credibility, any cosmic relations that exist within the place you're in at any such moment. I don't know whether or not I make myself clear? That means at such a moment inside you something...
Exactly. But what happens inside yourself when not doing music gets translated into 10 things that happen universally at the same time, because it isn't possible to extract yourself from all of them. You cannot avoid weather conditions, influences from the world's magnetic forces. All those look strange, because they aren't easily understandable. Anyway music is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Putting yourself at the service of music, you are describing your moment in relation to the universe. At the service of music, during every moment you contain the memory of the past, present and future.
Especially with music you'd be able to capture the memory of the future. You notice why you exist, though your body hasn't reached it yet. To express your opinion without danger, using music, you've got to capture this universal mechanism for every moment, and you've got to be able musically to put it at your own service. Which is a difficult thing to do.
Did you at any moment in your life concern yourself exclusively with science?
I believe music is a science. And if music is a science, then I've been concerned with science my whole life.
What do you mean when you say it's a science?
It's a science.
Isn't it a form of entertainment?
And entertainment, but not just entertainment. I don't mean we must not entertain. And I might entertain with music as well, but that happens because music is so powerful, so that we might also use it for entertainment. But music, as we said before, already existed before humans came along.
It's just that humans used it as a medium for mass-communication?
Looking for means of communication the power of music was discovered. Just think of all the great moments in the world: from religious festivities to human sacrifices, they were singing. It makes no difference what, they were singing anyway. What makes the difference is how it sounds, that unified them more than anything else.
For what reason did music acquire such power over the last years?
Music always had power. It's just that in recent years a tremendous need for communication was revealed, elevated entirely for various reasons. With the aid of the media, music took up greater space, and then exploitation came. Because whenever the demand exists, it's automatically developed and exploited.
Have you ever exploited the power of music?
I know the power of music and many times it frightens me. The power of music rests on its pervasiveness. Music works underneath. The safety valves of rationality aren't able to face up to it. So it demands more responsibility from the artist, and less fame. The musician has the power in his hands to be able to separate crowds or unite them. He is always facing unlimited possibilities. Many things don't happen intentionally, but superficially. All that superficiality from public celebrities and easy stars is more dangerous than anything else. A stupid kid might become very dangerous in the hands of the star-system.
Does that mean you could induce a crowd with music?
Yes, and unfortunately not only myself.
Do you dislike politics?
I dislike political obsession. Or reducing whatever's being said to politics. I can accept that your life is a political act. Anything around it doesn't have any importance.
For me only ethos (cultural spirit) has any importance.
Yes, that's it, everything is a matter of ethos. That's a word we didn't mention at all in our conversation until now. Lack of ethos isn't when you make a mistake, but when you're not interested in the consequences of everything you might do.
Have you ever thought that many of them are now coming to listen to your music because you're Vangelis?
The audience at Herodium impressed me a lot. Quite a few among them knew about your music. Nevertheless there was a silence, reaching its peak at the moment of the National Anthem.
That's it finally. There isn't any need to analyse the details of the notes, what's important is the totality. What you say is important. Herodium became a paradigm for me, an experience. Because if you noticed, there were various people. They came to watch Vangelis Papathanassiou, who is famous for certain reasons: he's a Greek awarded with an Oscar, fine. They ranged from 15 years old to 70 years old, and they really did listen. Something happened there, and whatever happened was due to the music. From one point onwards there wasn't any cult personality, meaning they forgot everything about me. And that's what I wanted too, I just wanted to be within this world, and to see what was happening.
The venue also helped.
And the scenery. They felt that something was coming out of you from these black things, something which concerned them.
But it concerned them as well as myself. And my self was also being united with these people.
Did you also listen?
How could I not listen?
And who was playing?
(laughs) Memory... All that devotion impressed me, it didn't make hearing any lighter.
Weren't you afraid playing the National Anthem would become kitsch?
I did it quite spontaneously. The first day people cried "encore, encore". Suddenly I just felt like playing the National Anthem, to finish off. They went hysterical. It must be noted that I played whatever went through my mind during the concert. The second day they said to me "you will play the National Anthem". No way, it's impossible, that happened once, it's over. Finally, the second day the public began asking for it. So it was played again with the same emotion. At another moment it could become kitsch. It was just that moment, it's got a reason.
There was an excuse. You had to finish sometime.
No, excuse me, that isn't correct. There was a reason, and whenever a reason exists, whatever happens is right.
Are there any moments when you do something and search for the reason later?
When a work is complete, its reason is hidden inside. It happened for a certain reason, it doesn't matter whether you know it or not. There is wisdom hidden inside people, as we said at the beginning. People are antennae who are ready at every moment, and it's got to be with ethos. You might make people crazy.
Are you coming to the studio to play every day?
Yes, every day, here, in London and everywhere. Not everything I compose becomes a record. I just come here to play, If you sometimes hear that I don't record anymore, don't make records, that wouldn't mean I had stopped composing.
What would it be that makes you not release a record again?
It's just a matter of decision.
What would lead you to such a decision?
Being disgusted by discographies and record companies. The fact that every time you've been collaborating with them, you're putting yourself into trouble. In the end that works against you, against what you're thinking.
Are you forced to speak for yourself?
I am forced to do so, because I have to protect myself somewhat. If I let them free...
Don't you have any people for this kind of business?
All those persons exist. But if I see any poster with my name on it that's 15 times bigger than it needs to be, then I will intervene. A record company is able to crush everything. I'm guarding my own integrity as far as I can.
Your records aren't promoted?
They are, with a measure, but generally I hate advertisement. I accept the media, but in general I'm against advertising. I respect a person who buys my record. I consider him able to make that choice, I cannot press him, force him to buy a record. I'm putting him on a certain level just to feel that I ought to release a record. Advertisement is like refusing people's abilities.
Is there any one of these machines that you like most of all?
No, I don't like them very much.
If you don't like your machines, what do you like?
Thousands of things.
Do you hate them?
Yes, I do because they are dumb.
Because they cannot respond?
That's a big discussion. I hate those who make them. They are irresponsible.
But without them what would you do?
It's not like that. Since they do exist, why don't they exist in a more human way.
Technology dehumanises them? How could a machine be more human?
We are going very far. What disturbs me is that while all that technology exists, there isn't any thinking behind it. They are manufactured badly. Does that seem strange to you?
We are getting into technical issues. We must spend one week together and see what happens while I explain slowly to you so you understand and might be able to explain it to others. Here and now it's very difficult to explain.
Which instrument is the most human?
Look, a human instrument is the one that allows you to express something instantly.
Does that instrument exist?
Yes, violin, flute, guitar. All old machines.
And why didn't you choose one of them to express yourself?
Because machines do give you other possibilities. They help you penetrate through sound. But unfortunately, the way they're being designed today, it becomes harder to express anything. And I force myself to consume 10 times as much energy, to fill the void. Somehow they nag me without reason. And of course I'm fortunate, I've been using other instruments to finally end up with those. Just imagine kids today only knowing those and having to get the most human expression only with those? I say human, because I consider man to be better than any machine. Man is a better machine than this box.
If they took you to the factory would you suggest to them how those machines could become more human?
Since it's a matter of suggestions, why don't they do it?
That's simple. Most of those machines are sold by industry-people who haven't formulated any relationship with music. All the industry's money finds its way to kids that don't have any criteria. It's a matter of marketing. They try to make as much money as possible without other expenses. Those divine machines are not aware of the disaster they create.
They are divine though...
Anything that produces sound is divine.
Why did you abandon traditional instruments?
I didn't. Everything is a machine. Since I was kid I'd been expecting one day other machines would arrive, producing other sounds. Sounds that existed in nature but couldn't be reproduced.
Is there any sound in nature that stimulates you a lot?
One sound in itself doesn't stimulate me. I'm stimulated by a sound at the moment it's being heard and in relation to the previous and next sounds. That's what makes the difference. A sound of itself doesn't create anything. It's like saying "a". According to the moment and the timbre of the voice, it takes on its own importance.
Many times your music makes me feel it comes from the sky.
From America professor Carl Sagan (a very well known astrophysicist, I don't know if you ever heard of him) sent me a cassette from NASA with sounds from the planet Jupiter. The sounds you hear are very close to my own. I heard it and became insane.
I would very much like to listen to it.
(playing on the machines) Something like that. Next time I will let you hear the cassette. I must find it...
Do you believe there exist any developed creatures in outer space?
I am certain of it. We are an infinitesimal part of the universe, leaving the paranoia of absolute knowledge. But we are living in absolute ignorance.
Do you watch movies?
Not very much.
But you've written a lot of soundtracks.
(laughs) That's why I don't watch.
Are you reading the script and work on the music?
I always watch the film when it's almost finished.
Is it you don't like cinema in general?
I like it, but that also reached a point and became intolerable.
Of all films you scored until now which one pleases you most?
Blade Runner. I did very well and Ridley Scott was very good. He was strange, but good. I also like the film quite a lot.
After the Oscar did many people come to write film scores for them?
They also came before the Oscar. Different people come and for various reasons. Some because you're famous, others because they believe the movie isn't very good and with music it might become better, and others because a soundtrack album release might be earning them money. I work only with people I know and appreciate.
Why did you choose to leave London permanently?
When I came it was a place that concentrated on the newest music. Now I can't stand it anymore, I can't stand the London weather. I left there one and a half years ago. I'm staying here for a while and leaving immediately. I'm going to New York, after that to Paris, and I'm coming to Greece.
Do you like New York?
It's a city where things are always happening. When you put your feet in New York you feel the need to do something. Ten years earlier everything was a dizzy roundabout. Now it's decreased a lot, but it continues to be the centre of the world. When I go to New York I'm composing all the time. As opposed to Paris where I can't write music at all. In Paris I'm going to sit for three months painting all day.
Do you paint?
Ever since I was a small kid. I never stopped.
Why do you come to Greece?
I have a failed love affair here.
Is it a woman you never gained? Is that attractive to you in any case?
(laughs) Greece itself is the failed love affair. When I'm abroad I want to come back. I come back, sit for a couple of weeks and then I feel I can't create anything here. Everything drives me away.
Do you feel any need to meet a person?
I would like very much to meet dead persons.
Old composers. Beethoven, Bach.
What would you say to them?
Ah! Too many things.
It's just artists you'd like to meet?
Not just. I would like to have met Einstein or an ancient Greek to learn how they lived. What did he eat... The artists in general attract me. Creators attract me. I'm not at all interested in art. Art has always been in decline.
Interview by Thanasis Lalas and Pashalia Cosma
Transcribed and translated by Jani
Edited by Ivar de Vries