Sokratis Malamas. (Text in greek)
"Our wounds are bad advisers. It is the credits for the ego to feel valued."
What moves me in his case is that he does not separate his life from his work, and that he insists on remaining a sleepless look inside and out, both at the humble and the big things. Someone recently asked me: “Why after so many years Malamas still fills every place he sings, even though he is always alone on stage?” I did not answer. Later I thought that, apart from the power of his songs, he always gets on stage like ready to explode. Like he sings for the last time, as he confesses.
Are there times when being “loose” is charming?
When two instruments play it is perfect. But put seven instruments together. That is noise. I started doing orchestration interventions. My colleagues –in their turn- they also found the vulnerabilities and when we started playing a bit better, we said: shouldn’t we write it and also videotape it? I kept most of the songs from these recordings. Some of them were not good. We went and played them in the “Unplugged” studio, with no editing. It benefited me. I learned how to tune myself. If I wanted to make an account, I would make more sixty songs afterwards. I would say: that’s it; I played them again to you, bye.
Do you enter the process of comparing the first performance of each song with every next one?
No. By playing you understand that the song has changed. During the live show you realize the potential of the song. I'm not a singer, exactly. I write some songs and I sing them. I cannot “weigh” them like a professional who takes a simple melody and can do whatever he wants, in the way that he expresses himself by breaths and counting. I realized these things through live shows. There I do not sing as in the studio. Something else comes out. It is the power of the audience that sings along with me? It is something else, freer, that comes with the flow of the moment? In the studio you try to be more correct, more disciplined and ultimately you may sound more lifeless.
What's your predominant feeling when you're on stage?
Up there I feel that I have to play at all costs. The people’s energy “grabs” your feet and what they ask you is to do your best. What defines me-if you want- at that time is that I sing every song like it’s the last time. You sing and everything is happening at that moment. That’s the sweet thing about live shows – that’s why none of us avoids them. You want to imprint the finality. The feeling that it might be the last time. It may sounds like an illusion, but actually you do not know if the next day you will play again. Unless you are dumb and you think that you're going to be here forever and will repeat your work forever.
In a concert in the small theater at Rendi’s railway there were 9-10 people. Another concert at Vrachon Theater was full. Does it feel different?
Sometimes it is the same. If the nine people are engaged, you can’t step back. You will run the same marathon. The internal tension developed and your imperative need to maximize your performance is the same. Often it’s more difficult with a few people. You're completely naked. While with 6000 people below you can hide something.
Did you ever think of giving up?
In the last two years. I do the necessary actions to take a transporter’s license (laughs). I’ m just kidding. It crossed my mind but I repelled it. Whatever happens, no matter how much more difficult things will get, I will keep on playing, either in small shops, or even on the street. It is a conscious decision; I will not do it by leaving my artistic ideologies. I will not feel like selling my art. I have no such idiocies in my head. I have been a worker of the night, a guitarist and a singer. And that I will remain. If in need I will gather my relatives and tell them: “I celebrate. Give me ten Euros and I will play whatever you want”.
After all these years, what does singing mean to you?
I don’t know. Everything. I once said in an interview that most people close to me are my colleagues, and then my wife misunderstood what I said. I have many families. Such a core is my musical colleagues, friends over the years. We host one forever, unless he wants to leave. Singing is the battery that drives the vehicle called life. It is both the spark and the spark plug: the core the power that leads us. I have thought many times that without singing I might would have achieved my goals.
What kind of goals?
Some paradoxical goals I have, theoretically impossible. To acknowledge my existence, myself. What did the Delphic inscription say: “Know thyself”? This is a burning topic.
Is singing a path thither?
Yes, but often it is also a hindrance. It can consume all your life, energy, youth and completely dissolve you until it is created. You climb up a meter and descend ten meters. A piece of dark can take you very high and a piece of light can take you to the bottom. If a person is disciplined and respectful towards his being, everything is a way to self-knowledge. If “the wind blows” him, I do not think he can get there.
Isn’t it somewhat restrictive for discipline to be a rule?
When I say discipline, I do not mean not to drink, not to go out, not to want other women, to wake up in the morning etc. I am not talking about the prohibitive side of things. You are self-disciplined when you are prepared for different potentials, for every potential. When you stay sober through the adversities. Sober, balanced. Some may appear sober, but you discover that half of them take pills. With anything small that can disturb us we run to the psychiatrists and start taking pills. So I speak for a substantial balance, harmony, solid state.
Many argue that we have no room for such searches today, in the high-speed era.
And for what do we have time if not for this? For the balance of the economic indicators? For job prospects, social balance? To change our government and throw it into the trash, like we did with the previous one? Don’t you see around a tremendous aversion translated into violence? The era is always for you to learn your being. Only for that. What else? To gather a lot of money and lie down to enjoy our material things and look at the others wandering around and trying to make some money?
Your children, how do they listen to the reality of this generation?
I do not believe in different realities between generations. The reality is one and it gets recycled and reproduces itself, because it is a reflection of a sick part of our mind. It is not a healthy process with the prospect of evolving into something wondrous. It is like the nightmares from which we cannot free ourselves. All we can do is change the dream. How that will be done, I have no idea.
Beyond the panhuman requests, doesn’t each era have its own demands?
No. As far as I have dealt with history, I feel that everything is repeated with slight variations. Our time is now presenting the admirable achievements of technology. Technology has started to have faithful people now, not just fans. This work is also false. If you do not know yourself, you cannot know anything. We do not believe in the power of our thoughts, which is why our thoughts are flabby and almost miserable. Servile and even harmful. Even the most intelligent people succumb to this rule of reality. So whatever intelligent they think of, it serves the purposes of this stupid project.
So humanity is trapped in an endless repetition?
The world is a closed space. And the planet as well. What, just because we made some rockets that pierce the atmosphere and travel around, you think that we went to other places? You don’t go somewhere else this way. The man has gone nowhere.
However, there are bright individual or collective efforts leading things forward.
Yes, but they remain unknown, and rightly so, because if they get involved in society, they will be pursued by various institutions. They will isolate them as a scientist isolates, in an experimental lab, the individual pests, grown up in his cultivation. It is wrong within our culture to be able to realize everything freely. We must obey to certain things in order to be accepted. These are known things. We all admit them in one or another way.
Do you surf?
Not on the Internet. I see the digital universe from everywhere I am. I do not want other roles. I read something really good. The author is called Stefano D’Anna: “Roles are shields behind which people, pretending to be busy, defend their lack of responsibility”.
Where are the wise and spiritual people?
They are hiding. And I'm not talking about the intellectuals. They are not hiding. I speak about the spiritual people. It was always like that. Do you think it was easier to be wise in antiquity? Did we forget about the hemlock? Was Christ considered as a spiritual man in his time? A hundred people gathered and wondered what he was talking about. Did the whole Palestine gather -in your opinion - to nicely discuss about humility and forgiveness? D you think that the philosophers irritating things were popular in their society? Just because over the years we were left with their voices in our ears, do think you that people recognized them then? Now – based on where they are- they are not considered dangerous so they are best known.
What does define us more? The light within us or our wounds?
Our wounds are bad advisers. It is the credits for the ego to feel valued. Whatever we do we don’t avoid cherishing this beast. When in fact the true nature of man, the foundation, is poetry, freedom, truth, faith. And we try like crazy to avoid our nature itself. We have learned to be peddlers of pity and trickery. It's easy to hide behind the roles and difficult to get to the foundation. Our fears prevent us. And if not them, it’s their cousins, guilt and weakness.
Is there inspiration? If so, where is it?
I am not able to define what inspiration is, because it is a very much advertised case, like love for example. If you watch the young children, you will see that many times they exchange toys without holding any objects in their hands. Ask a three year old child to give you 10 Euros. The most likely scenario is for the child to respond with a simple movement, like when you really give something to someone. The child made an inspired move. They did not take into account any law of supply and demand. They simply offered to seamlessly play the role of the person who gives. Underneath all these there is a sense of excitement. Perhaps this is the key: the excitement, the joy without an apparent cause.
If you go back and remember how your love for singing was born, what will you find?
Night feast. Country club “Banavas”. Sykia of Chalkidiki. July 1962. Lights, voices, orchestra, retsina at the tables, dancing, beautiful women. An irresistible charm of faces. An unbearable sweetness of some music that you occasionally think that you remember, but it always remains hidden in the fog.
Why do most of those who love your songs insist on listening to them with your voice?
Not everyone is thrilled by the singing of the nightingale. The blackbird tells them something too. I realize over the years that I’m not the kind of singer with ornate fiorituras and with honeyed charms. I look like those who sing to themselves. I dance motionless. Apparently, many people feel this way.
How does a man cope with the certainty that the trip is short? (The port is foreign and the house that I live...)
With the certainty that it is worth the hassle. We change the outright principles by which we are programmed. One of them says that we are one body, one mind. Another one says that we are born sinners, condemned in absentia etc. Look, find and change the primary implanted commands. Our final principles are criminal.
What are you afraid of?
Our fear is deceiving. It shows us the world through a dark and ominous prism. We are wondrous beings to go through life as self-limiting and with our heads down.
You said earlier that you sing every song as if it were the last time. There are things that would only dare if you knew that your time is up?
If I knew that my time is up, I will not do anything because I do not think there is a more interesting time of the passage to the other side.