Q&A with Greek guitarist and composer Foko Bouklis - music for the music listener not the music consumer

"Music is the closest we get to the Divine. I would like music to bring people together, make them happy, compassionate and alert."

Foko Bouklis: Heaven vs Hell 

Foko (Fokion) Bouklis is a guitarist and composer currently living and working in Thessaloniki, Greece. Back in 1981, Foko moved to the US to study at Berklee College of Music. After Berklee, he stayed in America and was active in the Boston music scene until 2000 when he moved back to Greece. Foko says: "My music and sound are the result of two extremely different components which are in constant conflict. Cultivated vs primitive, soft and sensuous vs loud and obnoxious, Heaven vs Hell. All this in a very fast paced environment with constant tempo changes (something the drummers in my band affectionately refer to as Foko Time). I make music for the music listener not the music consumer."

Since 1989 he has been fronting his own instrumental band. He has released 3 instrumental albums: An Expressionist’s View (1995, Sony); Confession (1999, Microtone); and Live (2007, Microtone). He is currently released his latest album, “The Sound Of Unemployment“ (2020)

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the blues, jazz and rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you have taken?

Rock music has played a big role in shaping my personality, character and the way I approach life. It has been the guiding light in all my decisions personal and musical.

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

My music and sound are the result of two extremely different components which are in constant conflict. Cultivated vs primitive, soft and sensuous vs loud and obnoxious, Heaven vs Hell. All this in a very fast paced environment with constant tempo changes (something the drummers in my band affectionately refer to as Foko Time). I make music for the music listener not the music consumer.

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

Danny Gatton, after listening to a demo a gave him said this to me backstage in Boston..."son, you'll get to the top but once you get there, you'll see a bunch of other tops around you". I always strived to be the best and living in America for 20 years played a big part in that. It made it clear that unless you worked constantly not only to become the best but stay the best on your craft it was only a matter of time before some unknown kid could come and take your place. Stay humble and learn how to listen was the best advice I was given.

"I started listening to music in the 70's, so I’m a 70's boy. I'm really proud of the fact that I was finally able to make a record like the ones I was listening to back then. Nowadays, music lacks quality, originality, has no sense of adventure and makes people miserable instead of happy. Technology has made it possible for some very iffy people to dominate the market and real art is now playing a waiting game waiting for taste to make a comeback. Thankfully, it's still there and it is still absolutely essential for humanity." (Photo: Foko Bouklis With Sotirios Zisis and Alex Apostolakis)

Are there any memories from gigs, jams or record sessions which you'd like to share?

Meeting Allan Holdsworth, receiving a post card from Eric Johnson raving about my first record, Jamming with the guys from Aerosmith, The Cars, J. Geils Band, The Bentmen, Till Tuesday, Scritti Polliti.

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

I started listening to music in the 70's, so I’m a 70's boy. I'm really proud of the fact that I was finally able to make a record like the ones I was listening to back then. Nowadays, music lacks quality, originality, has no sense of adventure and makes people miserable instead of happy. Technology has made it possible for some very iffy people to dominate the market and real art is now playing a waiting game waiting for taste to make a comeback. Thankfully, it's still there and it is still absolutely essential for humanity.

If you could change one thing in the Greek music scene and it would become reality, what would it be?

I would ask the listening public to elevate its standards and insist on better music from its creators not only in Greece but all over the world.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your journeys?

Music is the glue that holds people together. A great band is mightier than the greatest army.

"Rock music has played a big role in shaping my personality, character and the way I approach life. It has been the guiding light in all my decisions personal and musical."

(Photo: Foko Bouklis and his Stevens Guitar, TX)

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

Music is the closest we get to the Divine. I would like music to bring people together, make them happy, compassionate and alert.

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

This question has a myriad answers. I'd like to be on the set of 2001 A space Odyssey with Stanley Kubrick and pick his brain!

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