MixTree is a non-profit organisation that hosts concerts, exhibitions, language courses and much more, with the aim of gathering and favouring the interaction of artists and people coming from different cultural environments. Founded in 2014, the association is located in an impressive building right in the middle of two of the largest parks in the city, Vondelpark and Rembrandtpark. The concert hall, furnished with mirrors that highlight the play of light, also houses a bar-restaurant specialising in Italian cuisine. All this fits into an informal and welcoming atmosphere.
Last Friday the stage was set up for Starwound, an Anglophone – Greek band that likes to define its musical genre as ‘rock cabaret’. The members of the band are: Konstantina Stavropoulou (vocals), Philippos Gregorios Sougles (guitar and clarinet), Ioannis Stavropoulos (bass and guitar), Petros Bouras (piano) and Elias Karahalios (drums). After playing in Greece and in many countries of Northern Europe, they landed for the first time in Amsterdam to present their second album titled So wrong, preceded by Miles to walk. I had the chance to chat to the band before the after the sound check, .
The story of Starwound began six years ago, when they thought about the necessity of giving their artistic contribution during a difficult situation that happened in Greece during the economic crisis. Their first performance was in Athens in 2015, with a concert named Talking about the revolution which, as the title suggests, was a reflection on the desire for change arising from the crisis. Essentially they want to talk about common people and how their daily routine has irreversibly changed after that terrible social experience.
Coming from different musical experiences, it was spontaneous for each member to have the intention of creating an experimental genre that mixes various elements. As Petros, the band’s pianist says, ‘We are not a traditional rock band, nor a jazz one. We like to define ourselves as a rock cabaret band which combines a deep knowledge of classical music to the passion for cabaret of 30’s, in particular with its suitability for storytelling’. But why do they sing in English? Konstantina, the singer, explained, ‘At the beginning it was more because of aesthetic reasons. Any language has his own rhythm and we thought that our musical genre would fit better in English than in Greek, considering also the difficulty of our native language. In addition to that, singing in English gives us the chance to go abroad and so to have a wider audience’.
The main theme of their lyrics refers to the financial and social crisis in Greece after 2009. Since the beginning of the crisis coincided approximately with the beginning of their career, they did not have a feeling of ‘the crash’ at the professional level. On the contrary, on the psychological level, it was very difficult to experience the impossibility of having ambitions or dreams of any kind. It was painful but, at the same time, it was an extra motivation to write music. Many crises have been repeated throughout history and have always been a good opportunity for the emergence of figures such as the artist, who is responsible for creating alternatives. Konstantina elaborated, ‘Actually, looking at the contemporary music scene, it does not seem that many artists want to take on this task. Our time is too individualistic . . . but you can find the light even in dark times’.
Even though politically they are clearly on the left, they do not recognise themselves in any of the current political parties, in the belief that we are only human beings with human needs, and the latter define our social direction.
My last question was about the reasons why they made music and what they expect from this project. As John, the guitarist, romantically declares, ‘Music is life, we couldn’t live without it. We make music to touch as many people as possible, giving our opinion and trying to trigger a reaction. We make people think critically, like a good book’.
Starwound were talking to ArtsTalk Magazine’s Federica Veccari in Amsterdam on 14th September 2018