“PERIPLUS”: an interview to a Hellenic newspaper
“THE DAWN” (SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 2013)
LETTERS & ARTS
Interview: THANOS MANDJANAS
“THE CULTURAL BRIDGES ARE NOT THE END BUT THE MEANS…”
Thanos Mandjanas: Do you perceive music as an inner need for soulful expression, a precious hobby perhaps, or an additional (professional) occupation?
Michales Loukovikas: Dealing with music is or should be an inner need for soulful expression for everyone, even for amateur hobbyists. For me, moreover, it is a professional vocation one should serve faithfully and consistently. That’s why I have also become a journalist…
TM: Do you consider the music of “Periplus” to be world/ethnic, just Mediterranean popular music, or you give it some other name? Do you really believe there are also some elements of new age – albeit with the wider meaning of the term – or not?
ML: I was never interested in these terms. Besides, they were coined by merchants. In “The Gold in the Sky”, based on Ares Alexandrou’s poetry, released bilingual also in Portugal, I attempted a West-to-East voyage. “Periplus” is a voyage, as well: Voyaging music…
TM: Concerning the CD, you wrote that you tried to create “bridges” among countries, peoples and cultures. Does it mean, therefore, that this work has a scope that goes beyond pure music? Could it also be that this intercultural parameter reduced even partially the musical nature of the project?
ML: When artists coming from different cultures decide to work together, if they do not use some international “dialect”, of western origin as a rule, they are obliged to create “channels” of communication. These “bridges” are not the end but the means. Our aim is to create a work of art.
TM: Are you satisfied with the sales of the CD so far, both abroad and in Hellas? What is the commercial potential of this and any other similar Greek project in the globalized disc market?
ML: Commercialism that deifies the mainstream killing creativity? Is “Periplus” incomprehensible, indeed? The problem, therefore, lies in the mass media of promotion… Fortunately, there are alternative markets and distribution networks. In Portugal we are doing well! We are now getting ready for Brazil! In Hellas? We are working on it…
TM: This disc was produced while the economic and general crisis afflicting our country since 2010 had begun. Has this conjuncture, its circumstances and consequences, affected in any way the creative process and, if so, in what way?
Would the release of this material be possible without the support of exclusively Portuguese institutions? By the way, what can you say about the cultural policy of the official Hellenic state in the era of Memoranda and especially in the field of funding such projects?
ML: “Periplus” would be unthinkable without the support of the Society of Portuguese Authors (SPA) and the European Capital of Culture of Guimarães. Portugal observed some procedures (but not anymore); unlike what’s been happening here where we even rejoice singing that “the Hellenes make circuits and the groups of friends history”… It’s the natural consequence of the absence of cultural (or any other) policy. We are promoting the culture of Hellas abroad and, instead of “thanks”, she is trying to turn us into some kind of modern “(Josef) K.”s waiting outside “The Castle” to be received by some hot-shot executive…
TM: What are your plans concerning “Periplus” and beyond?
ML: “Periplus” was chosen as one of the best albums of the year in most Portuguese media and was nominated for the SPA prize as the best disc of 2012. I was lucky enough to work with a great artist and human being: Amélia Muge. So, no difficulty is insurmountable. The voyage goes on…
TM: What was the most important element that attracted you to Michales Loukovikas’ work and made you work with him?
Amélia Muge: The music Michales Loukovikas makes is of the future. He combines the Occident with the Orient, the traditional with the erudite, time and space, in a unique way; and with an irreprehensible choice of poetry he sets to music, like that e.g. by Ares Alexandrou.
TM: Do you think that this project goes beyond the reach of a disc and acquires a wider cultural scope? Would you say it belongs to the music of both Portugal and Hellas, or is it something else, different, born with the union of these two cultures or even more?
AM: “Periplus” has been a process of creation and initiation. We are dealing with musics and cultures older than our countries; or sailing to other seas, as with the morna of Cape Verde. The horizon of this work surpasses the horizon of both our civilizations.
TM: Finally, is the sea the most important element that links the civilizations and cultures of Greece and Portugal or is there something else which is more important?
AM: More important is the way we navigate in the “sea of mind” and the “ocean of sounds”, with the compass pointing to “Ithaca”, combining imagination and knowledge, creation and vision, focused on our artistic work – but always in touch with reality.