January 13,2022

Episode 16

An inspiring ride through outstanding music released in 2021

In Episode 16 of TSIR – an adventurous and inspiring global journey for music lovers, you will find a selection of 30 tracks by 30 artists that I loved in 2021. There are lots of different things to be expected. From experimental mouled out of Egypt to a post rock ensemble deluxe from Switzerland. We go to Kongo in Africa, also visit Cyprus with experimental Cypriotic folk music and of course Eastern Africa is always a topic on this show.

Featured Artist: Antonis Antoniou

"Kkismettin" is the first solo album of Antonis Antoniou, founder and driving force behind the award-winning bands Monsieur Doumani and Trio Tekke. In his native Greek-Cypriot tongue, Antoniou blends together soundscapes and textures that have arisen throughout the course of his adventurous musical journey (from classical music to jazz, rock, traditional, experimental, sound art).

We had the pleasure to host Monsieur Doumani in Innsbruck last November. It was a fantastic and very inspiring show. I chose a tune from Antonis solo album for this Best Of 2021 selection and asked him a couple of questions in order to explain a little bit more about his music. Please find the details below.

Can you tell us a little bit about your musical background, education, upbringing to the artist you are at this stage?

My first contact with music was at an early age, learning to play the mandolin. Then my father took me to guitar lessons and I studied classical guitar for many years. During teenage years I started listening to rock music as well as jazz, and this led to my decision to study jazz guitar and composition in Athens. Then, while in Athens I (re)discovered rebetiko music and bought my first tzouras and started learning by myself.

I also became increasingly interested in electroacoustic composition and sound art, and so I went to London and studied this field of music. I earned my PhD in composition and sound art in 2016. Coming back to Cyprus I was attracted to the rich Cypriot roots and felt that I wanted to try some stuff, so I founded Monsieur Doumani, a band that started by rearranging folk Cypriot music. I am a fanatic listener of music. It’s something that I cannot live without.

“Kkismettin” is your first solo record. Please explain the difference in your artistic approach on this one compared to your band recordings.

Compositionally and arranging-wise it follows a different approach for sure. Main reason is that there is only one person taking all the decisions. So it is in a way a more free process giving you endless possibilities, where as with the trio our sound is kind of “restricted” instrumentation and the capabilities of each instrument in terms of the colours.

Was there any particular reason why this album was produced at this stage in your career? Please share some of your thoughts for this album with us.

It was something that I had in mind for a long time to be honest. I wanted to explore new territories and try to embed the knowledge I had from my studies in electroacoustic music into a new model. This of course needed time for experimentation which I didn’t have because of the busy schedule with Monsieur Doumani – as well as my other band Trio Tekke. The lockdown was a great opportunity so I grabbed it. Locked myself in my studio for two months or so and the result is the album ‘Kkismettin’.

How does this solo effort influence your work with your groups like Monsieur Doumani. How do you identify and differentiate which music is written for which project?

There is of course a crossover of my projects. I find it difficult to keep a specific course for each project. I am interested in roots music from our area as well as in electronic music, rock, and psychedelia. So even if I try to differentiate each project, this identity is always present, as I understand. I guess that the differentiation comes from the material as well as from the sources.

Do you plan to perform this music live – what can we expect here?

For the time being it is very hard for me to create another band just to play this music. And it is quite complicated music so it will surely need several musicians to deliver it in a proper way. We have rearranged some of these songs with Monsieur Doumani and we are playing them live, and it comes out really nice. But as I am planning a new solo release soon, who knows, maybe there will be enough repertoire and a good reason for trying something else.

Can you share three musicians with us that inspired you lately?

Baba Zula

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Yannis Kyriakides