Q&A with Greek singer and songwriter Remi & the road - Folk, Country, Americana and Blues tales on the road

"Music is all about emotional impact. It is a superpower that once you know how to wield, things change forever. You have the power to make people cry in an instant or laugh or feel certain feelings. You cannot let that go unnoticed and you certainly cannot occupy yourself with art that does not trigger such emotions."

Remi: The Troubadour & The Road

Singer and songwriter Remi (aka Angelos Kyprianos) grew up in the island of Spetses (Greece). Since 2009 he has been actively performing as a Folk, Country, Americana and Rock & Roll artist through various musical scenes of Greece and Europe. Songs from the first album entitled “Street Serenade” were literally written on the road, while the album was recorded in a custom home studio, with the assistance of friends and fellow musicians. In 2011 he recorded the album “The Gospel Of The Road”, a project made of seven people that collaborated for one season for the making of this album, in compositions of his own. Until now, Remi released four more albums: The Road Not Taken (2014), Music For Wolves (2016), 100 Lives (2017), and The Heartspace (2018).

In collaboration with his group (2012), they won a music contest “Band’s Festival 2012” that took place in Volos. He also received the award of “Most contributing artist” from the “American College Of Greece (Deree)” as a graduate of music studies. Performed as an opening act for Sivert Hoyem (Ex-Madrugada). After writing songs he started writing about his adventures on the road and the amazing real stories that unveiled. He published the book "Legenda: A street artist's Tale" (2018) to share these endeavors and later he focused on his other calling, writing fantasy novels. Angelos Kyprianos has written two books in Greek. His debut book is a vampire fiction novel called "House Veremon: The laste race" and the second book called "Karadra's Shipwreck". He is also the founder of "Meteor Tales", an indie Pen & Paper, Roleplaying Game that he has been developing for over 20 years.

Interview by Michael Limnios 

How has the Roots and Blues Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Learning about the Blues and where they come from makes you realize how important music is in general. There were people that used to sing while working the fields and that kept them going. It is a shock that every musician needs to go through in order to appreciate the power he or she can wield through music. I took that lesson and since then, strive to be careful with what I do with that responsibility, but I make sure not take it lightly.

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

My sound is a mixture of American folk music. But I was never clean. It got distorted a lot due to my life as a street artist and so, there's an urban blend within that sound. The lyrics I write are usually true stories that came from traveling around and taking what the road threw at me. I could easily say that this is how I got all my inspiration for writing songs.

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

I have met and played with a few artists that are significantly reputable. You could say that I have been "the opening act" so several such occasions. I recall some memorable moments on tour with Sivert Hoyem (Madrugada), Puressence and a few others. I learnt how to operate in large stages at that time and play for thousands of people as a part of a big production, and I value that experience. In terms of advice I recall once playing Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), a few minutes before stage time he told me something in the lines of "Don't give all you have right away. Leave just a trail of crumbs on the floor and see who follows". I really liked that.

"Learning about the Blues and where they come from makes you realize how important music is in general. There were people that used to sing while working the fields and that kept them going. It is a shock that every musician needs to go through in order to appreciate the power he or she can wield through music. I took that lesson and since then, strive to be careful with what I do with that responsibility, but I make sure not take it lightly." (Photo: Remi on stage)

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

There are numberless moments for sure. But to be honest, the most memorable events that ever occurred to me were while playing music in the street. I could not begin to describe. I saw a woman giving birth to a child, I hitchhiked to another country, I met friends and lovers and people I spent just a limited time with but so significant. I had people take me in to their homes without knowing me. I got robbed and bullied. In the words of Bukowski "I got blessed with a shitty life".

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

I don't want to sound like that person, but I could maybe highlight this. I miss the element of work and effort into detail. The love for the music and not for the result or the outcome. I miss the detail in lyrics and in melody and the bond between band members as a family more than as an industry.

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

I would like for these reality shows to stop. It is sad to realize that the average person believes that the best-case scenario for an artist is to join one of these talent shows and win. It is not the only way; it is not even the right way to go. I wouldn't change anything about the music, merely the education around it. People tend to listen what is out there, therefore we should be more careful on what we are putting out there for them to listen.

"I don't want to sound like that person, but I could maybe highlight this. I miss the element of work and effort into detail. The love for the music and not for the result or the outcome. I miss the detail in lyrics and in melody and the bond between band members as a family more than as an industry." (Photo: Remi)

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in local Folk/Roots scene?

Growing up, I came to love the works of Singer/Songwriters. My favorite ones being Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt and Johnny Cash. Later on, I started listening to older, more traditional stuff. I was always enchanted by music and the atmosphere connected with the American Civil War. There is something there that touched my bones and since then I listened to Irish Folk or American Folk music and I came to realize that I really love the traditional sound and instruments and the stories behind them. From that moment since, I’ve been exploring such grounds and I believe that as the years pass by, I will be more into traditional music than anything else.

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

There is only one thing that is important for me when it comes to music. And I’ve been lucky cause I realized that when I was really young. Music is all about emotional impact. It is a superpower that once you know how to wield, things change forever. You have the power to make people cry in an instant or laugh or feel certain feelings. You cannot let that go unnoticed and you certainly cannot occupy yourself with art that does not trigger such emotions.

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

I am not the person to time travel with. I would most likely visit Medieval or Ancient times and look at a bunch of people fighting each other. But, in order to keep a musical flavor in this, let's say just 50 years back and see how they did all of it in person. Come back with some inspiration!

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