RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW MANCHESTER ARTIST VASSILIS
Hi Vassilis! Thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
Great, thank you!
What made you decide to become a solo artist?
It was during the 2020 lockdown that I – like so many other creative people out there – felt that in the midst of chaos, there could also be opportunity. With all this time in my hands, I just decided that I could pull some of my older, unreleased demo songs out of the vault and present them in a more polished way to the world! As time went on, I also recorded and produced new music that I felt I’d like to share with people. This was really exciting for me, as I learned a lot in the process about things like recording at home and mixing.
Introduce yourself to us and tell us a bit about your musical history.
I’ve been a performing musician and singer for over 15 years as a member of various cover or function bands, so I have performed in a variety of venues and events, from intimate cafes and pub gigs to theatre shows and festivals. At the moment, besides my solo stuff, I am also the rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist in a tribute band, so in terms of gigs, I am balancing between the two. However, when I say solo gigs, I don’t normally perform solo; I have an amazing backing band joining me on stage and helping me do the songs justice. We perform as ‘Vassilis & The Rubber Band’ and the band consists of my friends Mike on bass, Chris on keys and Andrey on drums.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?
Well, I’m not really getting interviewed a lot, to be honest! But I generally hate questions to do with who I sound similar to! We all have our influences, but I wouldn’t dare say I sound like this or that artist. I sound like Vassilis, because that’s who I am, and I’d like to think I have my own artistic identity and signature sound.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
Ha! Not really, no. Unless believing that government-controlled media can significantly shape public perceptions is classed as a conspiracy theory!
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?
Oh yes, I bought tons of toilet roll, flour and pasta! No, I’m only joking, I didn’t do any panic buying actually, but I must have surely bought things I didn’t need, like quite a few deluxe, anniversary editions of music albums I already had!
What useless party trick do you have?
Hmm, I can do some card tricks, you know! Like guess which card you’ve picked and stuff!
What was the most fun you have had on stage?
Ah right, just when I thought we were done with the music questions… I guess there are too many fun moments to choose from, so I will go for a recent one. Performing R.E.M.’s ‘Automatic For The People’ in its entirety, one of my favourite albums of all time, has definitely got to be one of my highlights.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Again too many to choose from, but I would say packed pub gigs where there is no obvious boundary between where the stage ends and the dancefloor begins! It can be fun, but sometimes you can end up having beer poured all over you or unwanted stage crashers who will grab anything they can – from your microphone to various body parts – while you try to remain professional!
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?
I have a University degree in Physical Education and Sports Science. In hindsight, this has probably proved to be the wrong thing to have studied, but who knows what they really want when they are 18?
If you had to describe your music to an alien, how would you describe it?
Good vibrations from a place where nostalgia meets hopefulness!
What makes you stand out as an artist?
Professionalism, integrity, simplicity.
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
I would probably say ‘A Quest For Long Lost Memories’. The vibe is pure joy and the words just take me places – ‘across blue skies and seas of faces’, as the song itself says!
I hear you have a new single out, what can you tell us about it?
Yeah, it’s called ‘All We Have Is Now’ and I guess it’s a song about the realisation that everything happens once and life’s too short for compromises. In terms of instrumentation, the song combines acoustic rock elements with hints of folk music, as it blends sounds of guitar, piano, flute and ukulele.
Talk me through the thought process of the song.
Like I said, the theme of the song is about living life on our own terms, as time is precious and nothing is ever guaranteed. Through this simple and universal idea, I also tried to explore things that, from my standpoint as a writer, matter the most – such as love, friendships, and creating memories and experiences.
What was the recording process like?
Fascinating! As soon as I recorded the demo, I had a clear idea of the direction I wanted for this song, so working on the arrangement was actually very straightforward. All the recording and mixing took place in my home studio – if I can call it that, given the fact it’s pretty basic!
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the song?
Writing it was the easiest part actually. Sometimes, if you have the central idea in your head or even a line like ‘All we have is now’ to begin with, then the rest comes very quickly. The biggest learning curve was probably the mixing process. I didn’t have much experience in that field, so I’ve learned quite a few tricks along the way!
Would you change anything now that it’s finished?
Who knows? If I had taken it to a professional studio, it might have sounded different, but given all the limitations and my love for lo-fi productions, I’m happy with the end result. I see songs as snapshots of a moment in time, so the authenticity of the moment that song was created in would have been impaired, if I had spent ages doing multiple takes and excessive polishing in a studio. That said, I would love the idea of working entirely in a studio to create something from scratch.
What are your plans for the year ahead? Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Well, “my only plan is to have no plan at all”, to use a line from the song! I have been working on some new song ideas lately and I still have songs that I perform at my gigs that I haven’t officially released yet, so we’ll see. I’m always up for new releases if the time is right and if I feel I have something to say, so all I could say to the world is check out my music on your favourite platform and stay tuned for more releases to come. And also, just to reveal another line from the song, “stop and smell the roses today, there’s no time for regrets!”