Q&A with Greek musician Voodoo Drummer (aka Chris Koutsogiannis), amazing addition of tribal rhythms

"Music is Devil’s work so we must make a deal and set the controls…"

Voodoo Drummer: For The Heart Of Music

Greek musician Voodoo Drummer (aka Chris Koutsogiannis), for more than 30 years he has appeared at festivals, theaters and venues in 24 countries so far, such as Rouge Cabaret Festival (Paris), Villa Celimontana Jazz Fest (Rome), Herodion Theatre (Athens), Secret Garden Fest (U.K.) & Doha Jazz Festival (Qatar). He performs with the cult British musical trio THE TIGER LILLIES and he had cooperated with significant artists like New Orleans singer MESCHYIA LAKE, Chicago Bluesman MICHAEL DOTSON and Greek singer-songwriter DIONYSIS SAVVOPOULOS. Has also recorded with members of Tuxedomoon (U.S.), Nouvelle Vague (FR) & Ojos de Brujo (SP). He co-founded: Drumbone (Experimental duet), Deja Voodoo (New Orleans Music) and Opera Chaotique (Dionysian Cabaret). His composition based on quote by CHARLES BUKOWSKI has been recorded with American Blues legend LOUISIANA RED. Also, a painter and a lyricist. His plays touring all over Europe, while his adaptation of ARISTOPHANES play “The Frogs” premiered in the National Opera of Greece.         (Voodoo Drummer / Photo by Effie Traitse)

VOODOO DRUMMER recorded his debut solo single, a version of Pink Floyd's song in a 7/8 Greek Rhythm! (2022). It’s an experimental, instrumental version of “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” (by Roger Waters), where Tubular Bells, Cello and Musical Saw prevail! In this 7/8 rhythms the melody mixed with the theme of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” while the Greek traditional tune “Milo mou kokkino” close the recording. These influences along with the ones by Moondog and Erik Satie dominate his work. Voodoo Drummer: Drums, Bells & Percussion; Stavros Parginos: Cello; Tasos Papapanos: Bass; feat.  Adrian Stout of The Tiger Lillies on Musical Saw.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues/Jazz and Rock music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Hard to say because with music I always travel through time, so in the 90s for example I was living mostly in the 50s – 60s and sometimes in the 20s … Then you have the everyday influences, a hot widow passing in front of you when the Elvin Jones concert in Lycabettus Hill starts. So, I missed some poetry and culture classes!

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

After 30+ years I believe that my sound is a mix of my influences with the common issue that how I sound is not how I want it!!! It’s just MY WAY. Not technical or academic, for sure not imitating but full of feeling, passion and swing. My philosophy is the same in life too: find yourself and don’t accept him! To be able to listen, practice and play here in HELLaS (Hellas: Greece in Greek language), all the creative drive must come from the mind. Hard thing when in the left side of our brain there’s nothing right and in the right, there’s nothing left!!!                           (Voodoo Drummer / Photo by Christoph Kaltenböck)

"Equality of opportunities. That’s all we need; we can do the rest! As you see I did my own recording now that I am 52 yr. and if it will become a hit, I won’t have the excuse of youth for my ego trip!"

How did the idea of "Pink Floyd in a 7/8 Greek Rhythm!" come about? Why do you think that Pink Floyd, 7/8 Rhythm and John Coltrane's music continues to generate such a devoted following?

One day I was listening to the song from the Live in Pompeii album. Then I just thought that it will be easily converted in a 7/8 rhythm. I am singing it for a while and that was it. 2-3 years later when I was listening the “A Love Supreme” record by John Coltrane I just “heard” the basic bass line in my 7/8 Floyd version. Great artists with unique work will always have devoted fans. The 7/8 Greek rhythm came before even the Dionysian orgies, so it can handle Coltrane and Floyd easily!

What moment changed your life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?

I have to say that the death of my parents in a car accident back in 1999 was a crucial moment… In music, my second time in New Orleans but first as a musician (in 2009) was the end of my “Nawlins-freak- period”. Unfortunately, the “Freak” stayed!!! The Tiger Lillies is The highlight of course.

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

I was working in a Strip-joint, here in Athens, and one night we end up locked in the Police station cell, watching from the small window the dancers sitting with the officer, till 5.30 in the morning that they let us. The next night the same officer was in the first table enjoying the show. Playing in New Orleans with the great singer MESCHYIA LAKE and the band these lovely Early Jazz songs was a thrill. Playing with The Tiger Lillies in Europe and especially in Herodion Theatre was a dream come true!

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

Equality of opportunities. That’s all we need; we can do the rest! As you see I did my own recording now that I am 52 yr. and if it will become a hit, I won’t have the excuse of youth for my ego trip!

"My philosophy is the same in life too: find yourself and don’t accept him! To be able to listen, practice and play here in HELLaS (Hellas: Greece in Greek language), all the creative drive must come from the mind. Hard thing when in the left side of our brain there’s nothing right and in the right, there’s nothing left!!!"

(Voodoo Drummer / Photo by Astrid Epping)

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

Music is Devil’s work so we must make a deal and set the controls…

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

  1. There is no right or wrong way, just do it your way.
  2. Be a sinner is worth an eternity in hell.

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