Giannis Zouganelis. (Text in greek)
"In one breath."
This is the first interview that Giannis Zouganelis ever gave us a few years ago and it took place in a café in St Paraskevi, as we bumped into him returning from another one of his charity trips in the province.
Q: Gianni Zouganelis, first of all I want to thank you a lot...
Giannis Zouganelis (interrupts): No, I should thank you because you give me the opportunity to communicate as freely as possible -something that is not always possible-with the people who choose to listen to me. Because as many times you talk on TV -the alleged free television which is basically in bondage- they always edit the interview for their own purposes. That is, they edit it to what the system wants, what suits them or what they perceive. So for me it is a pleasure to deposit my opinions, to those who choose - I repeat, to listen to them, which is an extreme honor. One cannot be free by himself. A person is free when he appeals to free people and not arbitrary. As a Democrat cannot be one by himself, as one cannot exist alone. So I would like to thankyou and I mean it and I do not believe in compliments.
At this point it's serving time and I wanting to try the spontaneous humor of this very spontaneous man, so I focus the camera at the table and say: “First of all we have at our table an orange juice (natural juice) and ....
“ At this point, before I continue, he interrupts me adding...
GZ: ... and a Fredo Cappucino because this is what we grew up with. I was born and in my house they all were drinking
Q: After much spontaneous laughter by me I addressed him saying: “I have a difficulty to start the interview in the sense that you have done so many things artistically, in music, singing, cinema, television and theater, that I would certainly like you to prioritize them in order. What started first in your career?”
GZ: Honestly, very nicely put. I'm indeed versatile. This meansnothing though. What is important is what you do, what is “communicated”. Unfortunately I started communicating from a very young age. And why I say “unfortunately”. The unfortunate thing is that I started with an innocence and naivety and a very good mood, but very young at age. And out of necessity. That it, I had to balance between the things I wanted to say and livelihood. But I will start from the beginning. I was born in St Nikolaos, Acharnon, in a really great neighborhood, Patissia, which have nothing to do with Patissia that we see right now. With neoclassical houses, houses with courtyards, families with dignity, joy, green, and also trees, pines and conifers, peach tree, sour orange trees, apple trees, etc. But unfortunately the very great leader of modern Greece, Constantine Karamanlis, the ethnarch, and by the law of the exchange system (quid pro quo) he destroyed everything. Greeks certainly accepted it, because Greeks as a race, we are terribly newly rich in perceptions and experience. So they gave up their homes, their comfort and autonomy in order to get an apartment, and of course sometimes in order to endow their children. But personally I do not know if this is really dowry or suppression of the dowry itself. At a time when I still remember Kifissos flowing. I have a photo of my grandfather and my grandmother on today Lenorman Street, where they used to drink coffee at a café in Kifissos that had ducks and swans inside the water. This is to understand how Athens was and what all these political leaders did to Greece and came to devour. They did not come to build, did not come to rule. They came to tear apart -and they did- and none of them has ever apologized to anyone. Anyway. My first relationship with art was my own house. I was born in silence with deaf and mute parents and for me from a very young age the sound played a very important role. This is because I realized that my parents could not listen and I realized how big a thing is entering the audio process. So I started looking for the sound. The sound of very simple things, by beating a fork, a thing that my father did or turning the spoons around doing rhythms, up to my grandmother who influenced me to go to church. She wanted me to become a Bishop. I will not talk about the church; I will make a parenthesis at this point saying that the church is a huge asset which people need to see very seriously. What does the church do and whether they give anything or they only take. We like to talk about Mount Athos, but they all take. They have not given anything and have a wealth which I do not know why they keep it. Anyway, I am also a person who jumps from one topic to another so make sure to bring me back to the topic at hand. Never mind, I’m coming back on my own. So, the positive of my relationship with the church is that I got in the ceremonial procedure, the music and I became a chanter. I want to tell you that I first read the notes of Byzantine music and then the alphabet. So I started studying music and started music both at the church and the Greek Conservatory. I was a lucky kid and I had very good teachers who perceived my life and supported me. And also tried to make me recommendations so that I too could understand what I was going through at home and in society. So I gained “wisdom” while very young, but out of necessity. Because when you realize at a very early age that you must grow violently, but also trusteeship your parents in a country absolutely racist, in a country that hides the disabled and in a country that there is no provision for the disabled, where families who have a disabled child feel affected... so I experienced social racism and this was the reason I occupied myself with the music process. I started writing songs based on my everyday influences such as children I saw in St Nikolaos, on class differences, for love, for fondness, for nature etc. At the age of 15 I made my first album at “LYRA” company and during that period we were on the verge of dictatorship. Then I did a lot of things. I got a scholarship to study music abroad where I studied at the Munich Academy but the degrees were not identifiable. I went to architectural school. Following the episodes I was one of those who got caught. However I found myself balanced with the ideas, namely the ideology and the policy action. I have never renounced that I am a citizen, a powerful piece of everyone's personality and the state and the attitude towards the state. Unfortunately, Greeks are not searching. We select the products that we eat but also the “products” for the balance of our soul from only among those presented to us. While the diamond is hidden and you have to search for it individually. Then I did opera and went to drama school and began to balance myself between theater and music and between sound and singing. Basically I am one thing. I express myself either with sound or with no sound, sometimes with speech, and sometimes only with music. I have done too many things and taking this opportunity I want to tell the world that I feel a bitterness in relation to the work that I have produced -take into account that I have produced over 60 cds and if you include some children's work, related to books too, the number goes even higher. So I have done organic works but all these simpletons - and I say simpletons not because they confront me that way, I am referring to the presenters of the radios that play only 50 songs as if there are only those with “aesthetic” interests (put the “aesthetic” within very large quotation marks). But there are many playable things of value. And I do not mean that mine are worthy. They may be of little value, but they are required to play everything so people can choose. I am therefore one of a few artists who prostitute myself, in every sense of the word, in the European market. I did, for example, “Soul's Strings” for the Nobel awards. I do not agree with the Nobel awards, but I name it historically. Because ultimately, Kissinger took the Nobel Peace award, so why should I agree with the Nobel awards. For God’s sake, this scum of society. With that logic Hitler should be awarded too. Now ... I struggle in my life and I fight because I conquer what I conquer by myself and I say it boldly hoping that I will not be misunderstood by some. And so I recommend my attitude to the youth. In Greece there is no system. In Greece there are some groups that some are good and some are very bad. Some are of substance and some driven by the naiveté of the world and gossip. In Greece we are all part of the system but the point is that, in order to fight the system you must be within it, and if needed you need to throw a bomb to break it and send it to hell, to thereby create new trends,new institutions, new situations and new relationships. So I believein the initiative. I recommend to young people and that is myposition that they can do anything as long as what they do has some dignity, to have something to say. They should not ruminate.They should get in the process of their own beauty. To search the Greek philosophy and finally belong to this latitude and longitude, as Greeks. One more thing. The most important thing in life is for people to meet, to understand their diversity and their specificity without vanity and selfish perceptions and to create groups through this. Not getting grouped because I do not believe in the mass, I do not believe in the whole. The whole is killing me. I believe in separate personalities who can synthesize a large group and “play” in life.
Q: In simpler words, from what you told me Giannis Zouganelis, I remembered a verse from an old song of yours that says: “I care with who you are and what you support.”
GZ: Oh, yes. I am very glad that you know this. In this song I say many things. Few people have heard of it. I say that I care what you support; I care what you love, how you love and what you do about it. Meaning that I care about the way people act in their everyday life. In our present. I believe that we should take sides on things. We have become diplomats.And too integrated in systems that are non-existent, such as the political parties for example. And people who are integrated within these hotpots are very dangerous. Because they are not even trade unions. Because they try, through them, to enter in a pseudo-power process in order to dominate and get comfortable, but with a comfort that is more of a comfort of misery. So trough this song I say that I am very interested to know if and how much of a revolutionary person you are and for whom you compromise yourself and why. Because we are full of contracts. In conclusion I want to say that ultimately all we Greeks, some more and others less, we live with borrowed money. Even those who have some money, self-made, it is borrowed money. We are in danger at any time to enter into a process of absolute cheapness of matter and spirit. We need to be organized. Not through the habits of organizations but in a secret in between us dynamic confrontation with things. At some point we need to catch apolitician and shake him in the street with all the consequences of the law. Not to impress but to enter life loudly!
Q: Voluble Giannis Zouganelis, finishing again, I sincerely thank you for your time and soon all that you said today will be on the “online air”.
GZ: I thank you sincerely and you should know that from now on I am always available to you because I see the quality work that you do to make things known that ,as I said at the beginning, other self-seekers are trying to bury, because they are simply not in their interests.