Sakis Gouzonis is a unique musician and composer with a seemingly endless drive to create and craft new music. Last summer we took an in depth look at his album Liberating Truth. This past week we were blessed with an opportunity to interview the artist and find out a little more about his creative process and his thoughts on the evolution of the music industry. Here’s how it went.
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Thank you so much for your time today – it’s a pleasure to be able to chat with you!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present my music and my thoughts to the readers of your online music magazine. I would also like to thank the readers of your magazine for taking the time out of their day to read about a Greek independent composer.
You’ve lived your life as a musician and creative, through and through; releasing 10 studio albums so far, independently I might add. What is it that keeps you motivated to create, and how do you feel things change for you as an artist from one project to the next – is there a notable evolution from the first to the latest?
It is very exciting to be an independent artist these days. The opportunities for independent artists have never been greater. What keeps me motivated to create is my constant desire to explore new musical horizons. I like getting up in the morning with the hope that today I will write something that really matters to people; I like the feeling of making a difference in someone else’s life.
My music is, of course, constantly evolving. My compositions have become more emotional, and my orchestrations and chord structures have become more complex. In addition, music technology has improved vastly since I started recording, as has my access to that technology. My music just keeps getting stronger and stronger.
You started your music career by playing an electronic keyboard your parents bought you in 1990. How has your approach to making music changed since then, and how has the music world itself evolving and growing affected you as an artist?
It is true that the music world has significantly changed over the years. Some parts of it are in decline clearly (e.g., album/track sales), and other parts are filled with potential (e.g., live shows). Long gone are the days of the local record shop, and many of the bigger music stores are on their way out too. With the arrival of the internet, everything has changed. It is true that the internet has enabled people to download music for free, but it is also true that the internet has lowered, and in some cases has eliminated, the cost of music production. Music can now be electronically stored and reproduced instantaneously, with no need for a vinyl, cassette or CD.
In addition, the opportunities for independent artists like me have never been greater. As an independent artist, I have full control over my career. I am the owner of my music, not a random record label. This means that I decide when, where and how often I will play or record music. I decide how I want to market myself. I can record all of my music at home and design the graphics for my albums. I can license my music to video games, films, etc. I can get my music into popular music blogs, magazines, etc. I can get radio airplay. I can develop a large fan base through social networks and my official website. My global reach is unprecedented.
How do you begin when composing something new, and does everything you make gets put out?
Each one of my music compositions comes in a moment of inspiration. The idea of inspiration is a bit hard to comprehend. Something that one person may not even notice could be the most inspiring thing to someone else. Personally, I am inspired by so many things; planets, stars, people, dreams, etc. The list could go on forever. Of course, not everything I compose gets released. Sometimes, some of my music compositions end up in my ‘not used’ folder until I decide what to do with them.
Do you find making music to be therapeutic, and do you write for yourself for the most part or always with an audience in mind?
I find making music to be incredibly therapeutic and beneficial for both my mind and body during tough times. It is no coincidence that my Greek ancestors recognized Apollo as both the god of music and the god of medicine. Writing music is the only way I know to transform any negative feelings into something beautiful. I write music for myself, so I am really amazed at how many people relate to it, and I’m very appreciative of that.
We wrote about your album Liberating Truth not too long ago. A beautifully complex and atmospheric collection. Do your albums each follow a set concept, or do you compose the tracks individually and then arrange them as a new project afterwards?
All of my albums follow a set concept; they all have a very specific theme. First I pick up a theme, and then I begin to compose some very powerful music on that theme. The theme of my latest studio album is space. It’s a new electronic music album inspired by space exploration and the most momentous technological breakthroughs of our times.
Who inspires you in the music world, perhaps from your childhood days and also in recent years, if anyone?
Some of the most important inspirations in my childhood were James Horner, John Williams, Yanni, Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre. Their orchestral works are very touching, beautiful and intelligent. When I first listened to the music of the aforementioned great composers, my life took a whole new direction. I strongly believe that the music you listen to when you are growing up is very important, and for me it changed who I was and everything I wanted to be.
How important is performing live to you as an artist? Do you perform regularly, and what sort of set up do you use when on stage – in terms of organic instrumentation and/or digital?
Performing live is very important to me. There is an abundance of positive emotions and thoughts racing around inside of me before, during and after a live show. The applause from my audience fills me with unbelievable energy and excitement. So far, I have performed more than 1,000 concerts in many Greek cities and towns, and I still enjoy every single minute on stage. I wish I could tour all year. Although I am an electronic music composer, I like using real instruments both on stage and in the studio, not just computers. I am a musician, and I need at least one real musical instrument to play and compose music.
What’s next for you, what are your plans for 2017 and what can people look out for?
My tenth studio album titled Amazing Space was released just a few weeks ago, so I am in the process of promoting it both online and offline. Amazing Space is a quality album inspired by the universe, and it is full of beautiful music compositions and captivating orchestrations. Soon, I will be working on a new studio album, which I am really excited for. The exact release date will be revealed in the near future. More details will be announced soon on my official Website.
Is there anything else you’d like to let us know about you or your music?
Yes. I’d like to let you know that I love you all, and that I will keep producing beautiful electronic music.
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A huge thank you again to Sakis Gouzanis for his time and for offering up such thoughtful answers.