Another music ''shot'' feat. Stereo Mike

1) It is a great honor to host you in my personal blog space & enjoy a music ''shot'' with you Mike. Please update us on your latest artistic & general endeavours.

Thanks for the invite! I'm a big fan of your blog, so it's a pleasure to be having a "shot" here. I've been in the studio in London writing and producing my new album "KATALH3H" (part I), recording an exciting new artist - Helena Micy - and getting ready to perform at South by Southwest in Texas. I'm also continuing to teach music production at the University of Westminster, and writing a book that will accompany the second part of "KATALH3H".

2) In one of your latest blog posts, I understood that you are expressing your personal thoughts about persisting for your personal dream. I wonder though, in today's music industry (Greece + abroad), is the sole creator of art who is setting the dream, his manager, or his record company? How can artists survive between pure freedom of creation & profit, a relationship controlled by so many intermediators, before reaching their audience? 

That is the million dollar question! I won't pretend I have an absolute answer; because I believe that "the dream" is a process, a path, and we are all just travellers on a quest. So, at times, we have to stop and honestly ask ourselves "what is my dream?" If the dream is Expression, then the artist alone has to define it, not the label, not the manager, nor any other part of the industrial "mechanism". If the dream is profit, one has to play a strategic game of chess, where - unfortunately - Art becomes one of the many variables. I believe, however, that there is a way to combine true artistic expression and success, if you remain persistent and define your vision honestly. It's a slower process, but it sets your priorities clearly and works as a reminder for the times when "intermediators" start calling the shots. It's true that the lines can often get blurred, which is why the artistic voice has to remain loud and clear. The "mechanism" that is there to support artistic expression can often flip and start working in self-interest - that is the very nature of the current flavour of cannibalistic capitalism. But this is when an artist has to cut off all ties with support systems that became parasitical. Fire your manager, drop your label! If your material has value, you can acquire buzz, success and an audience. But do you have the patience to become autonomous? Or recognise effective new partners? This takes hard work, experience and befriending technology, both in terms of production and dissemination.

3) Counting 6 years of economic & cultural crisis in our home country. How do Greek artists (indie + mainstream) approach this phenomenon which has been altering our society? What is their role & responsibility in times of turbulence?

I think Greece has remained a peculiar musical territory, for at least as long as I have experienced it (as a listener and artist). The combination of a small population, huge accumulation in the capital and overall corruption has created some unique issues. There has never really been a fertile enough ground for the underground or for indie survival, because audience numbers where simply too small to sustain "alternative" output. The Athenian radio nepotism also made sure tastes were tailored, and that is something they could control in the tight geography of the capital that, however, did house half the Greek-speaking (and -listening) population. As a result, artists in my era would always face a dichotomy the moment they crossed over: sell out or disappear. In other words, play by FM rules or receive no airplay. The "gatekeepers" would spell it out to the labels and managers, by what they'd let in or "on". So, if anything, I believe the situation has been unhealthy for a long, long time. The current crisis is only magnifying it. And despite all its negative facets, one thing that I am welcoming in this "downward spiral" is that the monopoly is very clearly now eating itself. Mainstream media, their predictable choices and the content itself are becoming irrelevant to a growing (young) audience. This, of course, goes hand-in-hand with the Internet affording new, direct forms of "consumption" and "listening". So, this challenging phenomenon has also got to be an expressive opportunity for modern Greek artists, and this is where I see our responsibility lie: Can we operate outside of the controlled air-waves and still write some tunes that mean something and stand out in the cyber-maze? We may even affect a change in the modus operandi as a result of the transition of influence and, hence, of power. I see a great parallel between the music paradigm and Greek culture and society as a whole, in the opportunities this crisis actually affords.

4) You can finish this ''music shot'' the way you see fit.

To young artists I'd say: keep expressing yourself and become good at your craft. Then you can change things!

Thank you very much for this ''music shot'' Mike!

Thank you!


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