Vangelis. (Text in greek)

"Everyone can have access to the universe when they want to. And so they come closer to harmony and virtue."

Everybody knows him abroad. As “Vangelis”. Famous, elusive, tough guy. But he is inspired, a philosopher of our time. The leading Greek composer Vangelis Papathanasiou, a link to the era of Forminx and Afrodite's Child, with the world of Oscars and innovative sounds of “Blade Runner”, does not mince his words. On the other hand, he remains sweet and gentle when analyzing his relationship with music, which considers as a science, when he recalls memories from his birthplace, Agria of Volos, but also when he talks about his less known love, painting. In any case, you ask him something and you do not know where that will lead.

You are considered as one of the leading composers of electronic music in the world. Do you feel that this, admittedly important in quantity and quality work, engages you towards your next searches?

I would say on the contrary. If you noticed, I have always avoided the repetitions and the binding requirements of the record companies. It is clear that the more the commercial potential of a musical work increases, the more binding is the sequel to the next one, on the grounds of the music industry’s thinking that the product must be repeated in order to be sold more easily. I have always been and still am completely opposite to this attitude. Therefore, despite the particular response or pressure on the part of the traders, I did what I felt I had to do, in a way, within the framework of the discography.

Music, composition, film soundtracks, painting. You create various “forms”. Do you consider yourself as an alchemist of art?

No I do not consider myself that. I just work on all these levels. Nowadays, more and more lately, in all areas, such as science, art, technology, the specialization is promoted and more common, rather than a comprehensive approach and address towards them. But to deal with only a part of creation for me would be quite restrictive and boring. And above all, inadequate.

Has the way you write and compose for movies changed? Is there a distance from the "Streets of Fire" and “Blade Runner” until the “1492” and “Alexander” by Oliver Stone?

The way I write every time depends on the content of each film. And under different stimuli I try to respond as better as I can.

On the other hand, you avoid live performances in the recent years, perhaps disappointing a large part of your fans. Why?

The live performances have never been something that I was particularly attracted to. Perhaps that’s because since my childhood my relationship with music has not involved the character and the need for a professional career, where performances and all kinds of maneuvers are necessary to be successful. My relationship with music was and still is purely biological, I could even say researching, away from predefined systems, conservatoriums and careers. You will ask how, since I say all these, I did all those things you mention and contradict the above. And the answer is: with great difficulty. Many times I was in despair trying to combine my primary and sacred relationship with music and the music recording industry, an industry that is hard and often relentless, which only purpose is the profit. Now, because I found myself in it that jungle, this is something that requires a lot of discussion and we can talk about it another time.

Under what conditions would you give a live performance now?

As I have done in the past. Suitable conditions are those involving humanitarian, scientific or charity character. If there are conditions that serve these areas without using them as an excuse, I do not exclude it.

Do you believe that the combination of a live orchestra and electronic music may be limiting? Perhaps the classical instruments “undermine” the experimental character of electronic music?

I believe that nothing is limiting when there is a coexistence reason. It is advisable not to make distinctions between traditional and electronic instruments, because both families are parents of sounds that are maybe combined harmoniously and consistently or not.

Electronic music is now based on digital production. Do you miss the massive usage of analog synthesizers in the 70s?

I could say much upon this topic but very soon I would say that while on the one hand, every year the quality of creation and reproduction of sound evolves for the better, on the other hand the combination of individual electronic instruments becomes more complicated, making them more difficult to use. Of course, those who are now engaged in this field might not easily be able to understand what I am talking about. Today we more and more trust the computers thinking that we thus operate at high speeds and that this is the solution for everything. With such a dependency, which is increasingly growing, especially at younger ages, imagine the spiritual paralysis that a blackout creates. Clearly computers help the most in many cases, but, in matters concerning the creation, let me tell you that the human brain is the oldest and most perfect computer of our planet. This is why the electronic instruments we design, that look more and more like computers, they should be designed in such a way that is friendlier to the human.

You have mentioned that “you share the idea with the ancient Greeks, that music is more of science than art”.

Music is science. And while timidly some scientists are beginning to understand it, still for most people it sounds somewhat weird. This of course makes perfect sense, because in the way we have learned music through the centuries we can only preserve the prevailing view that music is a mean of entertainment and that is something that we often mix with the term of entertainment. After all, this is why huge record companies have been created which, with few exceptions, have turned, not alone but with the help of several artists, the music into a product. Although for the music industry the exploitation of music has already brought millions of millions, this is not comparable to the beneficial effect of music (entertainment, therapy, ethics, beauty, measure), which, when authorized, provides it in our soul. What I'm trying to do is to operate as closely as I can, conversing with the nature and not the society. Our ancestors, applying this approach, remained timeless and unsurpassed because of their identification with the universal principles that govern us. Everyone can have access to the universe when they want to. And so they come closer to harmony and virtue.

What does fascinate you and what does hurt you in Greece?

What fascinates me is the place itself and what hurt me are the wrong texts and especially the increasing loss of values and the lack of respect for everything and everyone.

What are your childhood memories?

Spending my early childhood in Volos, I lived within the colors and scents of the garden flowers. And, mostly, in the repeated moods of the sea and the sky. In other words, in an alternative symphony of nature. These experiences still hold together up to date.

Do you feel bitterness about the fact that it was not proposed to you to write the theme song for the Olympic Games in Athens?

I assure you that there is not the slightest bitterness. Instead, I felt relieved. Because if it had been proposed to me, it would be very difficult to refuse such a proposal in my country, while I do not even agree with what the Olympics have turned into in our time.

You are, however, a man who avoids publicity at a time when other artists in Greece and the world have behind a “whole industry” which deals with their personal promotion.

I do so because my personal promotion was never something that I consider in the first place. Any promotion around me has been through the respective record companies and, to some extent, inevitable.

Do you think that the media have behaved well to you?

You know very well that the media-and I speak for our media-, with some exceptions, did not behave and do not behave fairly towards me. The fact that I don’t belong, you see, at political parties and interest groups, not only does not help, but it creates enormous difficulties and obstacles, distorting the truth, etc. The favorable texts written about me and my work, with some exceptions, are written by force. Because even if they do not want to write something positive, sometimes they are obligated because of the events. But all this is irrelevant and I only mention it because you asked me.

You paint, and indeed you had some exhibitions around the world, you have contributed to the purchase of an important El Greco painting for the National Gallery. What do you think about the Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens?

Museums are always welcoming. What matters is what the fill them with.

What is painting for you? Is it an inner need, a different form of expression, something that makes you get slightly away from reality?

As I have mentioned before, I feel that painting comes through me, unlikely with the music thatpasses through me. As you see, here we have two different functions. Whatever comes from us tends to be more subjective, while what goes through us can be naturally objective. So, painting as a subjective function, I preferred to keep it for myself, even though some of my works have been exhibited in various museums around the world.

A man like you who has achieved most of his ambitions, does he allow himself to “dream”?

If I have achieved something that does not necessarily mean that I consider it an aspiration. As for dreams, thankfully I have never stopped dreaming.

A wish that you would like to do at last.

Although unlikely, I wish Greek literacy for the Greek children, because no one has the right to deprived it from them: first, because it belongs to them and, secondly, because it is the most modern, unsurpassed to this day, progressive, scientific, in other words timeless, education, aimed at beauty and virtue,thus forming a free man, if that tells you something. We owe it to them.