Greek electronic music composer Sakis Gouzonis gave an interview to Jamsphere.
Jamsphere is an e-magazine based in Texas, USA. It aims at discovering, promoting and divulging whom they consider top indie acts, as well as tending a watchful eye towards major music artists of particular interest. It is the digital response to the print version of Jamsphere magazine that is released on a monthly schedule.
A big thank you goes out to Rick Jamm, journalist for Jamsphere, for helping Sakis Gouzonis reach more listeners.
View a screenshot of this interview or read it below.
Exclusive interview with Greek electronic music composer Sakis Gouzonis
Interview by Rick Jamm
Journalist for Jamsphere
United States of America
Thursday, 22 October 2015
Sakis Gouzonis, more often referred to as Sakis, is a multi-award-winning Greek composer, orchestrator, arranger, producer and performer of electronic music. His music is based on the idea of taking the listener on a journey full of emotions, and giving the listener a whole new experience. In addition, his music defies all borders and speaks to people of all nations and cultures in a unique and powerful way. Over the last few years, without having any assistance from record labels, Sakis Gouzonis has released a diverse number of successful studio albums, he has won many international music awards and distinctions, as well as gaining more than 600,000 fans and friends in 220 countries and territories.
How long have you been doing what you're doing and how did you get started in the first place?
First and foremost, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to showcase my instrumental music to your readers. I would also like to thank your readers for taking the time out of their day to read about a new electronic composer from Greece. I have been playing, composing and orchestrating music since I was a kid. In 1990, my parents bought me an electronic keyboard, and I immediately started playing music. Even though I was just a kid, I had the innate ability to play by ear, to improvise, to arrange and create songs. After finishing Senior High School, I released two remix compilations of Christian hymns. The first one was released in 1996, and the second one in 1998. In 2000, I was asked to play the keyboard in a band that was backing up Greek singer Costas Fragoraptis. We released two albums, both of which were aired by Greek radio stations. In 2002, I bought my first professional electronic music workstation and all the necessary equipment in order to build my own recording studio. I started my solo career in 2008 with the release of my first studio album First Contact.
Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Some of my first musical influences were James Horner, John Williams, Yanni, Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre, Alan Silvestri and Danny Elfman. 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. When I first listened to the music of the aforementioned great composers, my life took a whole new direction.
Which instrument do you play and use to compose your songs?
I play the keyboard. Although I am an electronic artist, I like using real instruments, not just computers. I am a musician, and I need at least one real musical instrument to compose and orchestrate music. I have been at the creative core of my craft since I was a little boy. And I hope that will never change.
Describe the first piece of musical equipment that you actually purchased with your own money. And which is the one piece of hardware or software you're still looking to add to your collection now?
I purchased my first piece of musical equipment in 2002; it was the Korg Triton Studio. Back then, the Korg Triton Studio was the ultimate and most expensive keyboard workstation in the world. Lightning-fast CPU, hyper integrated synthesis system, TouchView graphical user interface, 1,536 program locations of user-writable memory, sampling in program and combination and sequencer modes, real-time pattern play and recording, and versatile sequencing with extensive editing capabilities were and still are some of its great characteristics. One piece of hardware I'm still looking to add to my collection now is the Korg Kronos X. One day, I hope I will be able to purchase it. Acquiring the Korg Kronos X is one of my dreams, but I cannot afford it at the moment.
Tell us something about your current hardware / software and instrument setup.
The list of the professional music products that I use is very long, and it would take a lot of space to mention them all here. However, I will mention a few of the products that I use. I still use the Korg Triton Studio to compose and orchestrate music; the number of its professional sounds and effects is really stunning. For studio monitors, I use the Sennheiser HD 600 headphones, which are engineered for the true audiophile. For live shows, I use the Yamaha MG 16/6 FX mixing console along with the Mackie SRM450 portable powered loudspeakers; their professional sound quality and indestructible portability have made them a live sound legend.
Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
I like the studio and the creative process. I like seeing my visions come to life; this feeling is indescribable. I like getting up in the morning with the hope that today I will compose something that really matters to people. But my favorite part has always been communicating with my audience. I love the live shows, the energy on stage, the give-and-take with my precious listeners. The applause from my audience fills me with gigantic energy and breathtaking excitement. I have also a strong sense of accomplishment. I have spent countless hours rehearsing, and I have finally delivered my performance.
After 8 studio albums, where do you still get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from the beauty and the mysteries of our universe. Magnificent in the starry sky, in the waves of the sea, in the colors of the flowers and the singing of the birds, the universe inspires me a lot, creating in my heart feelings of love, peace, harmony, hope, joy and respect. We have a wonderful world to be inspired by, and each new day is like an adventure into the unknown.
On which one of your songs do you feel you delivered your personal best performance so far, from a technical point of view?
I would say that I delivered my best technical performance on The Power Of Your Love. Its melody and chord structure are very complex. From the intro to the outro, The Power Of Your Love is full of subtle nuances that combined tell the story behind the musical notes.
Which ingredient (or trademark sound) do you think is most essential in making your music sound the way it does?
Apart from me and my abilities as a composer, orchestrator and producer, I think the most essential ingredient in making my instrumental music sound the way it does is my equipment in its entirety.
If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business? Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride, and why?
It is joy. I really enjoy the smiles on my listeners' faces each time I release a new album; being able to inspire people and change their lives for the better is a really beautiful gift. I enjoy making music, because music drives me more than food, sleep and sex. I enjoy making music, because it was one of my earliest comforts. I enjoy making music, because I like to spread happiness to people of all ages and cultures.
Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most, and which aspect discourages you most?
I like being an independent artist. As an independent artist, I have full control over my career. 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 am the owner of my music, not a random record label. I can record all of my music at home and design the graphics for my albums. I can license my music to films, video games, TV shows, radio commercials, YouTube videos, etc. I can get my music into popular blogs, magazines, etc. I can get free radio airplay. I can create and promote videos and podcasts. I can promote my official website worldwide and develop a large fan base through social networks, search engines, e-newsletters, etc. I can organize street teams to help with promotion in every city and town that I visit. I can book and manage myself. I can work from anywhere I am in the world. My global reach is unprecedented. Nothing can discourage me. The opportunities for independent artists have never been greater. It is really exciting to be an independent artist in our days.
Tell us something about your songwriting, recording and production processes. Is it all you, or do you outsource?
I compose and orchestrate my tracks. I perform and record my tracks. I mix and master my tracks. Nobody else has ever been involved in the production of any of my tracks. I do it all on my own.
What is the title of your latest release and where can fans find it?
A World At Peace is the title of my latest release. A World At Peace was officially released on 15 June 2015, and it contains ten brand new tracks of electronic and cinematic music. I worked very hard to deliver a quality album with excellent compositions and powerful orchestrations. Fans can visit https://www.sakisgouzonis.com or https://www.sakisgouzonis.com/sakis-gouzonis-music/ to stream and download A World At Peace for free.
The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn't follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
One of the best pieces of advice given to me over the years is that the line to the place I want to get to is never straight. It strays among the different avenues. Imagine an eight-lane highway eventually going to the same tunnel. Eventually, I get to that place I want to get to, but getting there requires a lot of lane changes. I have been following this advice for many years now. I always seek for advice from several sources, and then I evaluate all advice carefully.
What is the independent music scene like in Greece, and do you have more fans there or abroad?
The independent music scene in Greece is very diverse and full of hidden treasures. All genres are performed by Greek independent artists, and people of all ages and backgrounds come to the shows and support the local independent music scene. As for my fans, most of them live in other countries.
Do you consider the internet and all the social media websites as fundamental to your career and indie music in general?
Absolutely. Internet technology allows all artists to introduce themselves to a really large audience without necessarily affiliating with a record label. Record labels have been replaced by the internet. Nowadays, the design of software programs encourages the discovery of new artists. The music social networks can help artists succeed. These networks give all artists the opportunity to get exposed to millions of people around the globe. This way, artists can meet new and exciting people from all over the world, become friends, and communicate. If their music appeals to thousands of people, artists can build a very strong fan base too. Artists can even create their own official websites.
How do you achieve your sound? Do you work from a home studio or do you record in a commercial studio?
Gone are the days when I needed to rent a recording studio. Now, I spend numerous hours in my home recording studio, creating freely. I create when, what, and how often I want. I no longer need to worry each time the clock ticks, that I am losing money. In addition, my home recording studio helps me to further master my skills by listening for errors or areas that need improvement. This way, I can take my gift of music to the next level.
What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as a Greek indie instrumental music artist in your quest to achieve your goals and wider-spread success?
Money is a really big barrier that I have to face and overcome every single day. I am giving away my music for free, so I have to fund everything myself. Fortunately, there are some really precious people that keep donating money to me. I am really grateful to them, because without their financial help, I don't think I would be able to cover all annual expenses.
Have you ever seriously considered doing music for film?
Yes, I have. Actually, one of my goals is to compose music for a major movie. Although my music has been used in short films, I would love to go one step further, and make my music known to a wider audience through a major movie. I know the hard work involved in achieving this goal, and I know that many people fail, but that's not going to stop me from working hard towards this goal.
What is the ONE thing you are NOT ever willing or prepared to do, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
I am not willing to have someone else record, mix and master my music. I want to be in control of every aspect of my music. I want my music to be a product of me and my own creativity.
News #271 about Sakis