Q&A with cosmopolitan musician Kleopas - Greek origins melodies as well as his deep love for world music.

“Music is one of the strongest ways to unite humanity beyond boarders. We have also to consider music as a medicine which helps the soul to feel better and that leads to a healthier human and therefore a healthier society.”

Thanasis Kleopas: Cultural Crossroads

Kleopas is a self-taught Greek cosmopolitan musician. He has traveled, lived and played his compositions out of Greece in countries such as Thailand, India, Japan, France, Germany, Holland, Cyprus. He is a composer as well as a singer and he plays the Apollon's ancient Greek lyre, the guitar and the bouzouki. Listening to Kleopas' melodies one can understand his Greek origins as well as his deep love for world music. In 1996, during one of his trips to Thailand, Kleopas met with Alban Marc "Snoopy", ex drummer of the 60's American cult band "Love" and their friendship led to the realization in 2002 in Athens of an album called "Snoopy's Love". In 2000, he created the band Namaste with whom he performed in renowned clubs of Greece and at festivals such as the Ethnic-Jazz Festival "Dimitria" in Thessaloniki and the International Festival of Ohrid. Besides, from 2007 to 2018, Namaste was the most beloved band of Santorini island. Kleopas is also deeply involved with the Seed Freedom Movement which is embodied in Greece by the organization "Peliti". For this reason, he has been volunteering his music for the last 10 years to the Seed Exchange Festivals organized by Peliti every year around Easter time.

In 2014, Namaste took part in the International Caravan for Seed Freedom which traveled from Greece to France. They met there with members of the German Seed Movement and as a result, Namaste performed for 3 consequitive years at the Nuremberg Seed Exchange Festival. In 2016, Kleopas played with his lyre at the International Trial against Monsanto which took place in the Hague in the presence of Dr. Vandana Shiva. Since 2017, he has been regularly playing lyre and singing at the autistic center Elpida in Thessaloniki, with great results in the psychic health of the children. In 2019, Kleopas started a collaboration, Synapsys, with violin and yayli tabour player, Apostolos Preponis. Together they successfully toured in Germany in the spring of 2019. Discography: (2007) Namaste by Namaste, (2008) Feeling by Namaste, (2012) Shores of the soul by Namaste, (2016) Ubuntu by Namaste, (2017) Wandering Melodist by Kleopas.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the World Fusion (Ethnic) music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I am a world music lover, so I think that music is a universal language which unites different nationalities. From that aspect I arrive in a point of view that nothing separate humans and that we are here on earth to share. Always on my journey’s music was a big part of the «joy of traveling». Always searching to be in touch with local musicians and to taste the local flavor of music.

How do you describe your sound and music philosophy? Where does your creative drive come from?

You know I am a Greek musician and I feel privileged to be born in a crossroad of the East, Africa and Balkan. For that reason, I feel that I have to express the spirit of that cultural meeting. I don't know where really the creative force comes from, but I feel it comes from a sacred sphere, a sphere that every artist needs to connect and vibrate with.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

One meeting was in Thailand in Koh-Tao, where I met a Japanese guy who was an excellent guitar player but also a fisherman and philosopher. Magically life drove me to rent a little hut next to his, so I had the opportunity to learn a lot of him. The other important meeting was also in Thailand in koh-Panghan, with the drummer of the popular psychedelic group of the 60s in America LOVE. He Alban «Snoopy» gave me the best advice when after we were traveling together in India. I was kind of depressed at that time, smoking a lot of grass, so he proposed me to do a fasting therapy, drinking just water for 10 days. I did it and it was really a strong experience. Since then I do it every year with fruits and water.                         Kleopas / Photo by Antonis Eleftherakis

"Hm... many places... But the place that comes first to my mind is Mali. I love the music of this country and the sound of the Kora, which sounds a bit like the ancient Greek lyra. You know I love the blues and all the styles like jazz, rock or soul, which came out of it. As I grew older, I realized that the root of the Blues is Africa and especially Mali."

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, busking time, and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

I would like to share a busking story. I was in Tokyo in 1994 and I was part of a Gurjief - Ouspensky spiritual group. I had to pay a fee to them so that I could continue. The amount was about 50 dollars. I was then busking with a woman singer in the streets of Tokyo and it was the last day that I could give the money. Suddenly a guy running from nowhere stops in front of our hat, leaves something and keeps on running. I looked in the hat and it was exactly the amount I needed!

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

The music of the past was more spontaneous, there was freedom and not so much fear of doing mistakes. I hope that still some musicians are going to keep this flame of the free spirit, so I try to concentrate in that spirit and ignore any fears.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I would stop the TV shows like the Voice and others like this, cause though you see big talents I don't think that what is happening there is so healthy. I don't mean that artists should stop exposing to TV presenting themselves. The problem for me starts when an artist exposes in front of «special» people who decide if has charisma or not...

What touched (emotionally) you from the ancient Greek lyra? How does music affect the healing and mood?

The ancient Greek lyra is a special instrument somehow simple, which has great effects in the nervous system. Its sound calms you and brings you into a state of relaxation. For the last three years I have often played for autistic children and the results are fantastic! You can see a child, who normally doesn't sit in a chair more than 5 minutes, that now can sit on his chair, listening to the sounds of the lyra for an hour. So, thanks to en.luthieros.com who made for me this beautiful instrument.

"I am a world music lover, so I think that music is a universal language which unites different nationalities. From that aspect I arrive in a point of view that nothing separate humans and that we are here on earth to share. Always on my journey’s music was a big part of the «joy of traveling». Always searching to be in touch with local musicians and to taste the local flavor of music."

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience traveling around the world?

I would like to share that when you travel, especially when you have a one-way ticket and when you let yourself flow freely, then your life becomes like a movie. Then can happen a lot of «coincidences» and stories which sound impossible. So, I always encourage people to travel.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Music is one of the strongest ways to unite humanity beyond boarders. We have also to consider music as a medicine which helps the soul to feel better and that leads to a healthier human and therefore a healthier society. I would love if people through my music could come closer to their heart and their feelings. If they dance or cry and so they feel more alive.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Hm... many places... But the place that comes first to my mind is Mali. I love the music of this country and the sound of the Kora, which sounds a bit like the ancient Greek lyra. You know I love the blues and all the styles like jazz, rock or soul, which came out of it. As I grew older, I realized that the root of the Blues is Africa and especially Mali.

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