Monday 15 February 2016
Interview with Petros Klampanis in Linto
Editor: Gogo Dimopoulou
G.D.: In a few words, what is Jazz for you?
Petros Klampanis: Jazz music is an international language based on the groove and improvisation. Another definition would be: Jazz is the art of sounds that expresses the time when it is realized. It is not a few words, rather two ... somewhat complementary definitions. I find it impossible to succinctly describe this musical idiom with such a rich history that is constantly evolving and varied. I think one of the most characteristic elements of jazz is that of its ability to borrow and incorporate elements from other musical idioms, staying true to itself and its substance.
G.D.: Does improvisation on stage need years of experience or is it something that happens magically to an artist?
Petros Klampanis: Improvisation is a very demanding process, which clearly requires preparation and dedication. The best analogy I can think of is the process of learning a language. Most of us have such an experience. We start from the basic vocabulary, grammar rules, and the sound of the language. In a respective way one learns jazz. They start from the love they have for the style, and that is what feeds them to continue to learn how to "build" a melody, the harmony in the various styles of jazz and a bunch of other practical elements about which a "jazz musician" could talk for days. So when someone acquires this knowledge, it's time to "say something" with it, the way a poet would recite a poem, or a hip hop artist would rap, or a Cretan would on the spot make a couplet. I think the need for expression behind these examples is the same. The only thing that changes is the means and style.
G.D.: In you opinion, what urges musicians to leave Greece is their need for new stimuli or the fact that it is hard for music to become a profession here?
Petros Klampanis: I think it's both. Greece has made significant progress in orchestral music and in jazz in particular in recent years. Nevertheless, our “stage” is relatively small and clearly much is happening abroad, which someone deeply involved in the field needs to know. YouTube and the social media help a lot in spreading knowledge, but it is very important to experience the music at the time and place it occurs: that is in a live performance. I reckon that Greece offers some job opportunities to a creative musician, but that depends on whether somebody is willing to “pour water in their wine” (Greek idiomatic expression for “compromise”). I'm talking about the business opportunities offered by the artistic or pop musicians. This for example, is not a given in New York or in other countries where creating pop music is largely digital, so there is no need of musical performers. This "opportunity" I describe, of course constitutes a serious risk to the creativity of Greek musicians, as it provides a financial security which depending on one’s discipline, has different outcomes.
G.D.: Most artists are creative during difficult times in their life. Is this the case with you too?
Petros Klampanis: Clearly the same applies to me. Music is an amazing means of expression, which can be activated in many unexpected ways during difficult times. I think hard times, although they are never pleasant and everyone always tries to a priori avoid them, may be an amazing source of knowledge and creativity. That depends on how you take advantage of those experiences. We are all aware of the American idiom “there is no failure”. There are only experiences of success and experiences that make us learn and improve ourselves.
G.D.: You organize the Zante Jazz Festival. Please tell us a few things about that.
Petros Klampanis: The Festival began in 2009 and is home to Greek and foreign artists of Jazz and Creative Music. It is held annually at the open theater of Dermatoussas, a beautiful small theater in the Zakynthian nature overlooking the sea. This year it will be sometime in mid-July and I would gladly like to invite all those who read this interview to attend the festival.
G.D.: What are your next plans?
Petros Klampanis: The launch of my new album entitled Chroma is one- perhaps the most crucial- immediate plan. It is a collection of seven pieces (4 of my own and 3 covers) expressing an idea that I have had and which says that humans are something like a color palette. Experiences of our lives leave their mark on our souls and charge or color us accordingly. Other than that, I am working with my team for my summer and spring performances in Europe, America and Greece, I am working on the production of records, I am playing with various groups, recording, traveling and trying to constantly redefine what my role as an artist and as a human is.