"Music is going to make us dance, music is going to make us think. Music is a language when other languages fail. Music is the language of the stars, the language of the universe."
Angelos Krallis: Jetztzeit Rock
Chickn is a music group formed during the Christmas holidays of 2012 in Athens, Greece. They recorded their first demo in 2013, when they obtained their current form. They call the genre that they play Jetztzeit rock, that is heavily influenced by West Coast ‘68-74’ US psychedelia, krautrock and European experimental music. The main pillars of Chickn’s music are improvisation, as well as their tendency to embrace the unexpected. They have developed a large body of artists that they work with and as a result their liquid line-up gets temporarily solidified by their current expressive needs. Every member of Chickn provides his/hers unique point of view on the same vision and in that way they give birth to an eclectic amalgam of ecstatic motifs, reversed grooves, manic riffs and existential vocals.
Their live performances are totally unpredictable because among their other habits, they do not stick to their setlist and they do not stop creating and recording alternate versions of the same songs. All those intense live performances Chickn consistently give since their day one, in all kinds of venues, from dusty basements to open-air stages, kept spreading by word of mouth, establishing them as one of the hottest acts in Greece. Their Debut received praising reviews from all over the world and the first press sold out within a month. The live presentation included 14 musicians on stage, creating a landmark in Greece’s independent music scene. Chickn have so far performed alongside acts like the Budos Band, Preoccupations (ex. Vietcong), Moon Duo, Underground Youth, the Weekend. Whenever possible, they enjoy sharing the stage simultaneously with other bands, building impromptu jams. CHICKN are: Angelos Krallis (Vocals, Synths, Guitars); Pantelis Karasevdas (Drums); Mark Brown (Bass); and Chrs Bkrs (Keys).
What do you learn about yourself from the music industry? How do you describe your music philosophy and what characterize CHICKN music and 'mission'?
My career as a musician started as a one-man blues band busking in the streets of Athens. I had the weird luck to grow up in a country where the music industry is basically a horse market, not exactly a thriving business. That cleaned up my mindset and most of the clouds, misconceptions and vanity anyone who’s entering any kind of industry has to deal with went away. Chickn is a carrier of a certain kind of music. I use a loan from continental philosophy to describe it; Jetztzeit rock. A non-temporal tract on now-time and rock form. We do not have any kind of mission though. No milestones to be turned, no history to be carried on our backs. The only thing that we have to do is to make it happen and enjoy it. It’s a matter of fun. This is the only way to correctly disembody our voice. If I had to say that we have a certain kind of “goal” is to build an acute evacuation plan, a flight potential.
How has the Rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
Rock counterculture was the first narrative that took me by the hand and gave me a long trip full of thrilling adventures. Although I dived from the mainstream side of the pool, I quickly managed to get myself to the other side. I now speak to you from that side and what I am trying to do is to build a panopticon of critical thought. We have that prerogative as a generation to be under the influence of both the Rolling Stones and The Fugs, or both the Grateful Dead and Captain Beefheart. I don’t think that this was the case in the 60’s or the 70’s. It was either the one or the other. That is the advantage of history and I totally use it.
What were the reasons that you started the Avant-Garde and Underground researches and experiments?
In 2009 I dropped my chemistry studies and I got myself into the Athens school of Fine Arts. This was my first evacuation plan. My main interest a young adult was music but being a self-taught guitarist and having that specific delta blues discipline and ethics I never wanted to study music. So, this was the closest thing I could do to buy me some time and consequently my interest into sound art, concrete poetry, performance and happening took me over. So, from Mississippi John Hurt, I moved to John Fahey, from John Fahey to Red Crayola, from Red Crayola to La Monte Young and that is just one genealogy. This transition was moved by genuine interest of the endless possibilities of sound and it was smooth like a bird. Angelos Krallis / Photo by Freddie Faulkenberry
"Chickn is a carrier of a certain kind of music. I use a loan from continental philosophy to describe it; Jetztzeit rock. A non-temporal tract on now-time and rock form. We do not have any kind of mission though. No milestones to be turned, no history to be carried on our backs."
Why do you think that the CAN (and Damo Suzuki) music continues to generate such a devoted following? What touched (emotionally) you from CAN era?
Damo is a nomad-pioneer and this comes with an eternal charm. He just moves forward and smoothens the space for all us to follow. There is a time when you have to name just one band, your all-time favorite band. As a child, that band for me was the White Stripes, that is what caught my ear in the whole 90’s-00’s indie music fiasco. This was something I could lay on myself, something that felt like home. Then the other day, I was reading an NME magazine and there was an Ege Bamyasi tribute on the aftermath of Julian Cope’s krautrock crusade. The artwork caught my eye and without a second thought a gave it a listen. That listen took me by surprise, I never had that coming, man. It’s like been a dog raised in a puppy mill and then suddenly someone drops you in endless fields of grass. That very moment, Can became my band. A couple of years later, as a vinyl aficionado, I gave an old school meticulous listen to Tago Mago. Tago Mago cracked my head, took my brain out and rearranged it. So, this is my personal relation to Can’s and Damo’s music. I could not be more grateful they ever existed and now we are sharing the stage with one of them.
Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Probably playing three gigs in two years with Louisiana Red was the most important acquaintance I ever had so far, music-wise. It was the first time I felt I drastically changed level both as a musician and as a person. He was the last of a dying breed and it was an honor just to carry him on and off the stage.
The best advice that anyone gave to me was while busking in Athens, back in 2010 in a mid-summer sweaty night during a heatwave in Monastiraki square. While I was playing, a guy approached with a feather decorated fedora, a Hawaiian synthetic shirt, a pair of cargo shorts and the sickest snakeskin slip-ons I’ve ever seen, tipped me 20$ and asked to play more guitar and sing less or don’t sing at all if possible. He was supposed to be from New Orleans and he advised me to find a female singer, move to the States, never sing again and make a shitload of money. Don’t know about the advice itself, but he had the looks.
"I think that Socio-cultural implications affect music more than it affects them. I have kinda given up the concept of music changing the world. I conceive music as life, as an expression of the world itself." (Photo: Angelos Krallis of Chickn jammin' on stage, Athens Greece)
Are there any memories from gig, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
If I have to recall the three most intense moments of Chickn, that would be:
1. Our first ever rehearsal during 2012 Christmas eve (there is a song appearing as a hidden track in our debut LP from that session)
2. The Closing Jam from our LP presentation in Gagarin where we covered a Tim Maia and a Sun Ra song for 40 minutes.
3. The support act for the Budos Band last year. We were on fire that night.
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
I miss nothing. Although I strongly believe we are passing through the darkest of times so far I truly do not have something to miss. Everything I know from the music of the past is through a reflection, through the looking glass of history. I don’t know how life would be in the 60’s for me, probably worse than now. The spirit of the 60’s though is timeless. Timeless like Bach, like Paul Klee, like Lena Platonos, like Africa (the continent, not the Toto song). The past is omnipresent and we have to take care of it, now. Because like W. Benjamin said if we lose, even our dead people won’t be safe. I hope one day we could live without necessity. I fear numbness.
If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
Start paying the musicians worldwide I guess. Some healthcare and insurance would be nice too.
What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? What does to be a Greek artist in "Globalization" music circuits?
I think that Socio-cultural implications affect music more than it affects them. I have kinda given up the concept of music changing the world. I conceive music as life, as an expression of the world itself. World is gonna change for bad or good. Music is gonna be there to comfort us, music is gonna be there for our grief, for our pain. Music is going to make us dance, music is going to make us think. Music is a language when other languages fail. Music is the language of the stars, the language of the universe. This is why we sing, that is why we are a band and we don’t play in our bedrooms. Because we have an unexpressed backlog waiting to come out.
Being Greek means that we are doomed to stay inside the periphery. No touch with the center whatsoever. This is probably a huge wound for our Egos but it’s a blessing in disguise as the most interesting stuff of all the interesting stuff made in this world were de-centered. We are doomed not to be the trunk, never be a branch, we will never wear the crown, we will only be the roots. Not so bad for being doomed, huh?
What are the lines that connect the legacy of avant-garde music with West Coast psychedelia, krautrock, Prog Rock, Jazz and Blues?
The lines are drawn individually I think. The basic recipe in my opinion to do this is to draw the lines coherently and tastefully. I listened a Love Supreme alongside Tago Mago and I found them on the same page of the Book. I listened to Lee Scratch Perry’s Clockwork Dagger dubs while spinning Gratedul Dead’s Live in Gizeh on the other turntable. I listened to Bukka White moaning next to Nico. I saw the avant garde in a rural folk concert outside Thessaloniki where the stage was a modded truck and the Romanian agro-rocker playing the clarinet during his solo was dismantling his instrument, leaving him with nothing but the beak of the clarinet crying like the wind. I listened to Embryo and I found inside both Sun Ra and the buzz of Jemaa el-Fnaa flea market in Morocco. It’s all about coherence and taste.
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?
To a zero point probably, don’t know which exactly. I’d just ask to go somewhere where something important was born and then randomize it, praying to end attending the Big Bang and not lulling baby Hitler.
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