Web content manager Akis Evenis (artXpress) talks about the rock counterculture, Christopher Lee and Frank Zappa

"Music and, in general, artistic expression within communities has a significant impact on the development of societies. Interculturalism, the development of dialogue between communities through their cultural and cultural elements, paves the way for freedom of expression, the defense of civil liberties and human rights, acceptance and integration."

Akis Evenis: Music In The Air

Akis Evenis born in 1953 in an Athenian neighborhood behind the Panathenaic Stadium, whose landscape has not changed until today. At the same time as elementary school student, he attended intensive classes of music teaching for six consecutive years, by two important music educators: Stefanos Vasiliadis, and Michael Adamis. Later he did theoretical music lessons with George Vokos and classical guitar with Dimitris Fabas. His interaction with so many great music teachers is due to the advice his mother received from George Sicilianos, one of the leading Greek composers. At the age of eight he becomes a member of the children's choir of the chapel of the Palace. There, he gained an active relationship with music due to the intensive courses on the level of music, harmony and solos, and because of the many performances he had in many parts of Greece. The great moment was when rehearsals with Stefanos Vasiliadis and Manos Hatzidakis were intensified during the Christmas season of 1963, during which Manos was preparing the «Le Oiseaux» that he would raise the following summer at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus at the Athens Festival, a revised version of the music he wrote in 1959 for Aristofanis comedy by Karolos Koun's Art Theater, in a performance by Vasilis Rotas. This work was released in 1965 by Columbia / EMI.

Akis Evenis / Photo by Yannis Alexiou

At the age of 17, he joined the Hellenic Broadcast Corporation, the Greek Public Broadcasting Organization, producing musical programs on the recommendation of the music producer George Papastefanou and the director of the music program service Andonis Lavdas. In this position it remained with small breaks until 2001. In 1987, he joined as a founding member of the Athens Municipality radio station «Athens 98.4 FM», taking on the duties of an entertainment program manager and three years later he joined, with the same duties, the private radio station «Flash 96.1 FM». In his collection there are three golden records that came from recordings produced by EMI, Warner music and C.B.S. In August 1996, he was assigned for five years as a consultant to Radio Television President and Managing Director of E.R.T. S.A. During this time, he was also charged with the duty to design a new program, in the same institution, during the transition stage of radio station «ERA4» to «ERAsport». Akis has interviewed many artists: Tina Turner, Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker, Lemmy, Frank Zappa, and others. With the advent of digital technology, he decided to work on that field, mainly in the audio and video editing and web site management as well as the production of special audiovisual projects for museums. From 2005 to 2009, he undertook the research, study and compilation of the audio content of the Hellenic National Audiovisual Archive (HeNAA), which he completed and delivered in a volume of 850 pages. In recent years, among other things, he has been conducting research on Censorship and the limitations of expression in musical creation, since its establishment in Greece in 1936, to date.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Many musical idioms have influenced me from the whole spectrum of music, but with Rock and Soul we have grown together. Through the electric sound of Rock, the intensity of the wind instruments, the voices and the rhythms of Soul and the Art of Noise, we somehow expressed our youthful resistance to obsolete perceptions authoritarianly imposed by the elders of us as well as our dreams for a fairer and freer society. The harsh sound of the new musical idioms of the time, coupled with new social demands - messages that went through song lyrics to remove the injustices that were instituted during the Cold War, simultaneously mirrored the depressing and noisy environment of a stacked world from internal and external immigrants, who were classified after the end of World War II in the rapidly growing industrial regions of the United States and the United Kingdom.

The backlash between the West and the East created, in the US, the anti-communist fury of the scandal that swept the art scene as they believed that communism flourished. A corresponding climate, of course, you met in many Western states. A prominent example of the US climate was when, on July 26, 1956, the House of Representatives, with 373 votes in favor and 9 against, filed a trial with Pete Seeger along with seven others, including playwright Arthur Miller, for refusing to cooperate with the House of America's American Activities Committee (HUAC) in its efforts to investigate alleged subversive and communist.

Gradually, American society began to resent the overwhelming conspiracy of Macarthus. When McCarthy began to retreat, an explosive social mix was ready to emerge with the first student movements in the 1960s, because in addition to citizens' discontent with the restrictions on expression, there were more serious issues such as the civil rights movement and racial equality in the US, the dynamic development of the women's movement internationally, and the decolonization movements. The entire Western world was routed in the 1960s by waves of reaction, including the reactions to the Vietnam War. This war, described by historians as the largest armed conflict between the West and the East during the Cold War, and at first had the widest acceptance of American citizens as soon as they saw a large number of victims return home, they began to react with long delay to the late 60's.With what I'm describing, I want to conclude: If Rock and Soul were quickly recognized by all of the western youth, it was not only their sound but also the fact that they were drawing up their lyrics mainly through the new socio-political differences "power love", "peace to people", "power to the people", and more. When Rock and the Soul broke off with their songs, helping people achieve these goals, to the extent that they made it from the beginning, namely: supporting their political and labor rights, racial equality, international understanding, and anti-militarism, the music industry has stylized their production so much that they are overshadowed as music by Disco-Dance music.Later, we notice that this need was covered by Rap, whose roots of the iambic 15-syllable verse, the exclusive lyrical instrument of a multitude of rhythmic narrative texts, we find in the Modern Greek lyrics which established around the 10th century. Later, as historically mentioned, during the 19th century, a significant quantitative and qualitative increase in the influence of European lyricists on Modern Greek metrics was spread.Nowadays, once again the international community is overwhelmed by similar problems; Rock has nothing to say to the public because it moves between the flashy market and the markets. In a nutshell: Rock has thawed in the conscience of its fans because it has denied its role.

In Greece, in the 1970s, the New Social Movements emerged, which aimed to address new socio-political differences. New Social Movements did not focus on material values ​​such as wage growth but on issues of quality of life.

What do you learned about yourself  from the music industry? What does "Radio Show" mean to you?

I met her blooming period and its waning period. Many of the music industry executives who have not been properly prepared to propose solutions during the transition period from analog technology to digital are responsible for its decline. Through their panic, instead of treating it as a powerful tool and using it, they let it overtake them. The result was to lose control of production, promotion and promotion and to hang collaborations with important artists of timeless value. Those who realized what they had to do, understood it very slowly when the various chaotic digital platforms for the diffusion of the musical repertoire were created. With the recent increase in interest in vinyl records, we are still seeing record-makers crackling because they do not seem to realize that regardless of demand, both vinyl and tape and 16bit CDs are considered anachronous storage media.

Therefore, I believe that they are only interested in the economic profit and not something that will fully satisfy the consumer and the music creator. A recent BBC / ICM survey found that 48% of respondents said they never played the vinyl album they bought, and 7% said they did not have a turntable. The mp3 does not even mention it in our conversation because this format of audio files has destroyed the aesthetic of listening to a whole generation that has never been given the chance to learn at the hobby level, what does high fidelity audio mean! Given that a whole group of producers of recordings by musicians, producers, sound engineers and others. they consume full hours for a good sound effect, the reasonable question arises: What is it that can satisfy the music composer, the record producer and the ultimate recipient - consumer? Own a faithful copy of master audio.Let's not laugh: In today's times you cannot claim that the vinyl record sounds analogically when the master for its engraving and printing is digital.

"What has been produced is recorded and cannot be missed because it is possible to update pieces of the musical past. I am concerned with the current handling of music by the media and especially by the radio stations because I think it is the only medium that can support the musical creation in a 24-hour program flow. Music is not treated as something deeper than fun." (Photo: Akis Evenis On Air, "Studio 344", 1978)

How started the thought of artXpress? What characterize your and site's philosophy and mission?

It started seven years ago from my partner's idea to have our cultural activities organized in different regions of Greece. Thus, Music, Theater, Cinema, book, art, seminars, conferences and, of course, free-entry actions is at the heart of our interest. Also, there is an article about developments in the above areas.

At this time, we are working with friends and associates to increase the frequency of interviewing and at a later stage to take a big step in implementing a plan that we have long had in mind. There is also a parallel thinking about the plan so that this big step, do not join the website to move autonomously to another site and satellite artxpress. This is an expensive project for which we are looking for a sponsor. We'll see.

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

Since my childhood and due to my mother's acquaintance, I have been educated in environments with excellent musicians both in the theoretical level and in practice. Among them were Stefanos Vasiliadis, Michael Adamis, George Sicilianos, Dimitris Fabas, George Vokos, Manos Hatzidakis and others. Among their great creative work is that they studied and promoted programs to stimulate musical activity in Greece, while developing education and a broader infrastructure, supporting a host of events by holding Conferences-Seminars, numerous publications and assignments. If one reads their creative productive work, which has been recognized internationally, he will care for how it is possible in their life cycle to have done so much!

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

What has been produced is recorded and cannot be missed because it is possible to update pieces of the musical past. I am concerned with the current handling of music by the media and especially by the radio stations because I think it is the only medium that can support the musical creation in a 24-hour program flow. Music is not treated as something deeper than fun.

"Many musical idioms have influenced me from the whole spectrum of music, but with Rock and Soul we have grown together. Through the electric sound of Rock, the intensity of the wind instruments, the voices and the rhythms of Soul and the Art of Noise, we somehow expressed our youthful resistance to obsolete perceptions authoritarianly imposed by the elders of us as well as our dreams for a fairer and freer society." (Photo: Akis and his Eko guitar, Athens Greece c.1970s)

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

With the evolution of technology, I think the parameters in the music creation have been exhausted. On the other hand, due to the growing teaching of music in the western orientation of every corner of the earth, we are now deprived of self-taught folk musicians who will open the new musical streets.

What has made you laugh from Christopher Lee? What touched (emotionally) you from Frank Zappa music?

Vincent Leonard Price's sarcastic laugh from his role in Dracula, I think it was more exciting. Christopher Lee met him in the late 80's when he came to Athens and interviewed Athens 98,4FM at a time when his career entered another phase of his professional engagement, recording several operas produced between 1986 and 1998 .

Obviously influenced by his Italian origins, he realized one of his dreams. Apart from cinema and music, he also dealt with writing books and if he watched his whole activity, he would completely remove from his mind the image created by Dracula's cinematic incarnation.

He was a luscious, cultivated and lean man, without the guilt you usually meet with famous artists. At the interview he spoke several phrases in Ancient Greek, which was one of the seven languages he knew well.

As for Frank Zappa, it is no coincidence that 25 years after his death his name was released as if he were an active artist. It is not accidental what he did himself, since he was influenced by both early avant - garde composers such as Edgard Varèse and Igor Stravinsky, as well as local rhythm and blues, the Lancaster doo - wop bands of the region who grew up.

Personally, I consider him to be the top rock music who, like other important artists of his generation, has shown from their point of view that it was not a bunch of pranks that just cries out against the system. With his music, his songs and public speech, Frank Zappa vigorously fought the system's injustices by producing remarkable political satire.

What is the impact of music and art culture to the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?

Music and, in general, artistic expression within communities has a significant impact on the development of societies. Interculturalism, the development of dialogue between communities through their cultural and cultural elements, paves the way for freedom of expression, the defense of civil liberties and human rights, acceptance and integration. This debate in the times we live is very important and would require a lot of space to answer. But I am prepared if you also agree to do so in another interview-discussion.

Where would you really want to go with a time machine and what memorabilia (books, records) would you put in?
If there was a time machine, I would use it in order to move my family into fiery and creative environments where man and nature would be harmonized within the rules that nature itself imposes without the slightest effort to correct my stature against .
Nature, even in the manifestation of its toughest side, does not destroy as we are supposed to say. With cautionary "meanings" it leaves us with a lot of options for rescuing us to go through the wound healing phase and its renewal. In such a transition, then, as in any other, I would not need the various memorabilia of the past because these were already tools in shaping my way of thinking and my character, at the time they were used.
These, anyway, exist and remain in my formed inner world. Life is one-way and only goes forward. What is of great importance is our continuous enrichment with new data that will keep our interest active until the end of our lives.

What's the legacy of Wolfman Jack? If he was speaking seriously to us, what do you think he would tell us?
I did not know him closely, so I can not say that I have a stimulus from the serious side of myself so I can think of what he possibly was telling us. From his roar to the microphone and the overwhelming style of Wolfman Jack, you hardly get an opinion on another side of his character. It was impressive that over a period of time, his program was broadcast to more than 2,000 radio stations in 53 countries, making him the most impressive radio programmaker. But the one who became known for his eclectic taste in music and enjoyed great respect as a DJ and presenter was John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, also known as the professional pseudonym John Peel, BBC Radio 1.

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