The unique Greek band Daemonia Nymphe (Δαιμονία Νύμφη) is preparing its new album, which will be released in 2013. It has been already 6 years since the previous full-length album of this legendary ancient Hellenic folk acoustic band! So it was the perfect time to contact Spyros and see he has to tell about their new work and not only.
- Xαίρε Spyro and Evi. It’s a real honor to have this interview with you. Your music has stigmatized me since I first listened to it back in the 90′s! A lot of things have changed since then. Would you like to inform us about about the current state of the band? I know you are recording your new album.
Thank you for your kind words! Daemonia Nymphe are Spyros Giasafakis and Evi Stergiou. For our live shows we collaborate with session musicians and for our albums we collaborate with many musicians from Greece and abroad. Since 2004 we have been performing extensively in Europe. We have released several albums on many European labels and we have been composing music for films, theatre and stand-up comedy. We recently finished recording, mixing and mastering the new album in Athens, London and Thessaloniki. Apart from the composition and arrangement of Daemonia Nymphe’s music we also work exclusively on the visual aspect of the projects we are involved with. The visual images of the projects are mostly worked by me as I am a visual artist myself although I sometimes collaborate with other artists to complete my ideas. For example for “Psychostasia” I worked with the photographer Yiannis Katsaris and the actress/model Denise Moreno. We also worked with Yiannis Katsaris and director Anastasia Revi for the realization of our new video clip “Selene’s Awakening Horos” together with the participation of many wonderful actors and actresses. The video clip can be viewed here. We really want to thank Yiannis, Anastasia, Denise and all the other wonderful actors and actresses: Toby Deacon, Anabelle Brown, Matthew Wade, Greta Lange, Dimitris Kouimtsides, Beatrice Hatzipateras and Martha Dais for helping us in the realization of this project.
- Can you give us any details about your new work? Is there any official info? Release date, tracklist, label? Will it be in the characteristic style of Daemonia Nymphe, or are there new elements? Does it have a specific lyrical concept?
Our new album “Psychostasia” will be released on the 10th of May by the French label Prikosnovenie. The tracklist is:
1. Zephyros’s Enlightening Anemos
2. Nemesis Rhamnousia
3. Thracian Gaia
4. Selene’s Awakening Horos
5. Politeia of the Unnamed
6. Deo’s Erotas
7. Nature’s Metamorphosis
8. Enchanting Oneiro
There are many new elements in the music, you just have to listen to the music to find out. The key for the new concept is “Psychostasia” the weighting of the psyches! You can hear samples from the new album here.
- How would you describe your music to someone who has never listened to Daemonia Nymphe? Which is your permanent line-up?
Daemonia Nymphe are actually a duo consisting of Spyros Giasafakis and Evi Stergiou. We compose arrange and perform music for our albums and live shows. Additionally, for our live shows we are joined by session musicians and for our albums we collaborate with many other musicians such as Dimitra Galani, Dessislava Stefanova, Alkinoos Ioannides, Psarantonis and Peter Ulrich to name a few. Our current session musicians are: Victoria Couper Chris Brice, Stephen Street, Vaggelis Paschalides, Kate Arnold and Rob Archibald. It is quite difficult for me to define our music, although I can talk about our influences. We were very much inspired by ancient Greece and specifically by the artistic aspect of specific eras such as the Archaic and the Classical period. I loved ancient Greek sculpture and ancient sculpture in general, thus I studied sculpture at the School of Fine Arts in Thessaloniki and after continued my studies in London at the Byam Shaw School of art and Wimbledon College of art. But whatever the case, I think that it is important to have an identity when creating a work of art. This identity can be many things of course. Daemonia Nymphe’s identity is our Greek inheritage and the environment we live in. Our music has influences from the East and the West and most prominently from our background which is of course our Greek inheritance. When we met Alan Stivell (at one of the festivals we performed a few years ago) I realized that our approach to music was somehow similar to his approach. We do not compare ourselves with Alan Stivell, I am just trying to say that meeting him, helped us define our course in music and we are really thankful for this.
- In your new album there will be many guest musicians. Some of them are very famous! Could you give us some details?
This album is probably the biggest project we have ever been involved with. We are really happy that we had the opportunity to collaborate with many amazing artists and musicians! The musicians who honoured us with their contribution for this album are: Dimitra Galani, Dessislava Stefanova (London Bulgarian Choir / singer in many Hollywood films such as “Troy” and “The Brothers Grimm”), Victoria Couper, Kalina Koleva, Peter Ulrich (ex-Dead Can Dance), Peter Jaques (Stellamara), Luka Aubri (Rastaban), Vaggelis Paschalides, Maria Stergiou, Orestis Giasafakis, Bernard Burns, Dimitris Kotsikas and The Polyphonic Chorus «Taiteria». Also, we would like to mention our first time collaborator sound engineer Ian Williams who recorded and mixed, with us, parts of the album in London and Grigoris Papapanagiotou who recorded parts of the album in Athens. Last but not least our long time collaborator Nikodemos Triarides with whom we mixed most of the songs and mastered the album. Nikodemos is somehow a member of the band and has helped us greatly to define our sound all these years!
- Let’s take you back in time. Daemonia Nymphe is a pioneer of this genre (with no followers surprisingly!!). How did it all started? It was back in 1994 when the band was formed. What made you explore this wonderful music genre?
The realization (not the formation) of the band was conceived in 1994 when I and my brother Pantelis had the idea to set to music, text from Greek mythology. The exact moment of the birth of the project is quite vague. For years we explored ancient Greek text and worked on the compositions. We released our first album “The Bacchic Dance of the Nymphs” in 1998. We had no live performances until Evi Stergiou joined the band and my brother formed his personal project Arkane. Those days I approached Nikolaos Brass, the manufacturer of reproductions of ancient Greek instruments. He listened to our first compositions and immediately gave us some instruments of his collection. Having these instruments gave us new opportunities to explore unknown territories for our music. A new challenge was there for us; we had seen the instruments in ancient vases, drawings and paintings, we had seen an ancient Greek lyre at the British museum found by Elgin, read about them but never had an actual instrument to work with. We had to find our own ways of playing the lyra, the kitharis, the barbitos etc. We had to do our own research about them and find ways of expressing ourselves through them. A lot of improvisation was involved during this research and one of the works of a later period (in 2004) was my personal album “Improvisations in ancient Greek instruments” released by the French label Cynfeirdd. When we released our first cd album with the French label Prikosnovenie, we formed a band for live shows and performed for the first time as a complete band in late 2003 early 2004 in festivals in Greece, Germany and Italy. Since then we have been performing extensively in Europe, releasing many albums, involved in many different projects, collaborating with many international musicians and composing music for theatre, films and documentaries.
- You collaborate with the ancient Hellenic instrument manufacturer Nikolaos Brass? Tell us a few words about his work. Would you like to name and describe the most important instruments you use in your albums?
Nikolaos Brass is an extremely talented artist and we are really happy that we have met him and that we work with him. Most of the instruments used in ancient Greece were lost in time and were not being used for many centuries. A few people in the world perform with them nowadays and because of the fact that they are actually period instruments, people from different nationalities re-build them and use them in their compositions. We have an excellent relationship with Nikolaos Brass even though we are not currently in contact as much as we were in the past, due to the fact that we live in London and he lives in Athens. We believe that his instruments have a great artistic quality and we feel really lucky that we have the opportunity to perform with them. The “ancient” Greek instruments that we used in “Psychostasia” are basically lyra, kitharis, askavlos (bagpipes) and pandoura. Photos and sound samples of the instruments can be found here.
- Before Daemonia Nymphe and during its first years, you also had the band Fiendish Nymph, something like the black metal brother of Daemonia Nymphe. What made you quit this band so soon after its birth? I’m pretty sure you could make great things (music-wise) with this project too.
Sometimes there is time for things to arise and sometimes time for things to fall.
- How do you explain that many metal fans appreciate your music very much, despite the fact that you have no connection to metal since 2000?
I don’t know to be honest. The only thing that is obvious is the fact that the metal audience is very dedicated to the bands and the music they love.
- In 1998 you released the first Daemonia Nymphe work ever, the EP “Ο Βακχικός Χορός των Νυμφών – The Bacchic Dance of the Nymphs”. What do you remember from the time of this cult release?
This was a completely different period for Daemonia Nymphe, as it was actually me and my brother who worked exclusively on the music and the lyrics of the project. There wasn’t a very clear idea of what we were doing, but we really believed in it.
- After the second release “Τυρβασία” in 2000, that was closer to the “raw acoustic” style of “The Bacchic Dance of the Nymphs” the band has changed a little its sound. You moved to London and you signed to the French label Prikosnovenie. Have these changes and the options of an international career affected your music?
I moved to London when the recording of the “Daemonia Nymphe” Cd was finished. When we signed to Prikosnovenie we were still in Greece.
- The band has gained worldwide recognition. Did you expected it at your first steps? How does it make you feel now, looking back at all these years? Do you feel accomplished, or are there bigger goals for Daemonia Nymphe?
We are happy with some of the works that we have created in the past but what really keeps us going is the music that we want to create. The new ideas and sounds that travel around us every day, this is what we want to accomplish: to be able to transform the vibes that we receive from our environment into music.
- The band has played in many gigs and festivals. What should your fans expect from you on sage? Is there any particular live that will stay always in your mind?
What needs to be said is that every single live is a new experience for us therefore
there are no live shows that are the same with any other performance of Daemonia Nymphe.
- Are there any plans for gigs or international tours to promote your new album? Any chance to see you again in Greece?
We recently performed in London at the Riverside Studios and in Mons (Belgium) at the Trolls and Legends Festival. We will perform in Findon, Sussex (UK) and in Wave Gottik Treffen (Germany) this month. Unfortunately we didn’t have any serious invitations to perform in Greece.
- All these years you have collaborated with many great musicians. Some of them were guests in Daemonia Nymphe’s albums and in some of them you were guests. Would you like to recommend any of these works? Does any of you have any other project?
We really love collaborating with other musicians and especially with musicians that are an inspiration to us. There are so many to mention! Dimitra Galani, Dessislava Stefanova, Alkinoos Ioannides, Psarantonis, Peter Ulrich(ex-Dead Can Dance), Victoria Couper, Vaggelis Paschalides, Peter Jaques (Stellamara), Luka Aubri (Rastaban, ex-Omnia) are only a few that have offered us so much with their exceptional performances!
- Would you like to tell us about the lyrical inspiration of your music? Some of your lyrics are in Ancient Greek and others in Modern Greek. Are they authentic ancient texts, or do you write them? Will you continue this way, or are there any thoughts for English? Is there any specific message you’d like to share?
Most of them are Orphic or Homeric hymns. We have also set to music lyrics by Sappho
and we also write our own lyrics.
- Thank you very much for your time. Wish you all the best for 2013. Last words are yours.
Thank you for the interview. Anyone who wishes to follow the band can click on the links below.