May 13, 2010
This week we have London-based singer-songwriter Kalliopi on the Stage. She recently released a new album, Around the World, the title of which neatly sums up her linguistic background.
1. You truly are an international artist, so let’s get this out of the way. How many languages do you speak and how many have you written songs or performed in?
Thank you very much for saying that. I was always interested in other cultures and love to travel in different countries and the sounds of each language fascinates me.
My parents played a significant role in that too, because they wanted me to learn languages and also could afford the cost of lessons! So I started French very early at the age of 6 and then German around the age of 8. English I had in highschool, did some summer courses and later learned quite a lot when I went to drama school in London.
2. Your songs all showcase your powerful voice. How did you discover that you really had something in the vocal department?
Well, it took me a very long time, because I used to compare my voice to the ones of great singers, especially black singers that were of course very different to mine….so I wasted a lot of time trying to sound like others instead of understanding my own way of singing. I think I truly started to appreciate my own sound when I started writing songs, when you sing covers it’s hard to not try to imitate the original.
3. What was it like coming from Greece and trying to break into the London music scene?
That was a great adventure. I had beginner’s luck, I met friends of friends who were great musicians, so it was fun rehearsing, booking gigs. I played at several venues, for some time things were rolling but then I had to search for new guitarist and somehow everything got difficult. It’s very hard to keep it up for very long, it’s really hard work on many levels, that’s where you need to have a label or management to help you out.
4. How is the music scene in London different from what you experienced in Greece?
I think the people there love to listen to new original music, they really dig what you do…it doesn’t matter if you’re a complete unknown as long as you play something good.
5. Do you have a favorite place to play a live show?
There are quite a few venues that would be great to play at, but I’ll just mention the one I had my first gig in London, called Betsew Trotwood. It is a very small intimate venue under a pub in Farringdon. It was the first time and I was very excited and very nervous, the gig went really well and it was only an acoustic one.
6. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Major influences are U2, The Cranberries, Madonna and The Rolling Stones.
7. As a working musician you seem pretty well versed in different styles such as Jazz, Latin, and traditional Greek music. How do you think your musical background has influenced your pop/rock style?
I think for the moment one can hear some influences only in the vocals, although I would love to write something where I could put in some bouzouki or sandouri! For me the different styles give you different paths and ways to think of a song, for example in Fire and Sea I have some oriental-ish vocals whereas the song in whole is more rocky.
8. You bio also mentions that you have been trained as an actor as well. Has your training and experience in the theater helped your music career at all?
It has been very helpful in terms of physicality, how to stand on stage and keep your body loose and free, also with expression and technique, how to work with the voice and warm up and breathe so that I don’t get tired and be able to sing for longer without damaging my voice.
9. How would you describe one of your live shows for someone who has never seen you play?
It’s quite dynamic and powerful in emotion and expression, with vocals that flow from ethereal to punky and rocky, but always keeping a sincere simplicity. Also I like to move a lot when there’s room on the stage whether it’s an acoustic or a full band show.
10. Where can people go for more information about where to see you play live?
Myspace is a good place to start, at www.myspace.com/kalliopimusic, and also my Facebook page.
Have a listen to ‘Fire and Sea’ from her new album for a bit of her Greek origins or ‘Around the World’ for more of a rock n’ roll sound.
Posted by A. Sogal at 9:22 am