If ever a Greek musician/singer could be likened to legendary Prince, Christos Dantis is the closest you could get as far as versatility is concerned.
With a back catalogue that dates back to 1990, countless records that have resulted in platinum and gold sales, as well as an ability to play a range of instruments and producing his own classics, Dantis is one of the greatest artists currently living in Greece.
On 24 May the singer will be in Sydney followed by a show in Melbourne. Neos Kosmos was able to chat to the singer about his career and his expectations from the tour Down Under.
Firstly, it is an honour to be able to interview you. With such an array of albums and hits, we may be able to chat for hours! Tell us, about your start in the music business? Was it an easy start and is it true you also wrote and played music for TV commercials back in the 1980s?
Thank you very much for the opportunity to talk to the Greek audience in Australia. Yes, it is true, I started in the music business by singing for TV and radio commercials in the late ’80s – singing demos of Giannis Karalis, the composer. I was friends with, Giannis, and started my career in the ’90s with him. We produced a number of songs together.
In 1989, I had planned to move to the US, before I was due to leave, I asked Giannis to work with me on an album. If it worked, I would stay! The album went well, it went platinum. I stayed…
Your first commercial song was in 1986 titled ‘Tell Me More’ which was followed by ‘Turn On; a year later, which is a song you wrote, and you have continued writing and producing most of your own music since. Many artists in Greece do not write their own music, yet you do. How hard is it to write a song? What was it like listening to your first songs being played on the radio?
There is no answer to how hard it is to write a song. They come about in my mind, like thinking, like thoughts. Instead of just words inside your mind, it’s the same with melodies. My influences range from the sounds of the leaves outside in my garden to the noise of the city. All these sounds convert to melodies. For us composers, it can be easy as the songs get stuck in your brain.
The first time I listened to a song of mine, my voice, on the radio, it was really weird because it didn’t sound like me. When you sing, you listen to the voice in your head. When you listen is a different procedure, a different approach of the hearing. The first time I listened to my song on the radio, I said, “I know this guy! He is good (laughs); it was really weird.”
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Your debut album was called ‘Dahtilika Apotypomata’ (Fingerprints) in 1990 and since then you have had a total of 20 studio albums! You have played and collaborated with some of the biggest names in Greek music history, from Katy Garbi, Cypriot Giorgos Theofanous, Elena Paparizou to Notis Sfakianakis to name a few. What is like to collaborate with such a talented list of names? Any stories you would like to share?
You know, back then, all those names were not popular – except Katy. We started together at the same time. My first album was released during her second album. Her first album wasn’t a hit back then, we basically started together.
I worked with huge names back then in that era – Giannis Parios, Dimitra Galani, Tania Tsanaklidou. Not only them, I worked with (the brilliant) Demis Roussos at the beginning of the ’90s. All those names you mentioned came after my start. Of course, they are very talented artists, such as Giorgos Theofanous, who started in 1992. He is one of the best composers in Greece, with a big portfolio.
Not sure about stories, though Demi Roussos once told me to be careful of your signature and be careful of the affection you have for women!
You have 20 studio albums and at least another 50 contributions to other artists’ albums and collaborations, making you one of the most prolific artists in the world. Your last album was To Tsovali. Tells us about the album, and is there a new album coming out?
‘To Tsovali’ was an experimental album, an entexno laiko album, which didn’t go too well, there were no hits. Since 2016, there have been a lot of singles, starting with ‘Xirafi’, ‘Exeis Emena’, ‘Kariola Se Miso’, ‘Eimai Tosa Kala’, ‘Edo Pou Vrechi;. My ‘try out’ with the more popular laiko is going well. For now, I will continue with the singles, bringing out singles instead of an album except for a collaboration I am going to make with Christos Nikolopoulos. This is an album of 12 songs which will be on the market next January.
You actually produced and wrote the Eurovision song for Elena Paparizou which won in 2005, a song which was massive across Europe. How did that make you feel? Can Greece win another Eurovision?
The story about Eurovision is one that has left me sad. I was chased about that song; I lost a case about that song. Half of the music of the song doesn’t belong to me anymore. But it was a nice moment back then, but it left me sad (due to the case).
As far as a new Eurovision entry for Greece and a chance to win, it is possible. If a good producer tries to imitate or come close to the European sound of the moment, it is possible (to win).
You have toured in many countries, what has been a highlight for you when touring outside of Greece?
I always remember the reaction of the Greeks in Australia and the US; I always feel and know how sincere they are toward to Hellenism and their heritage, their reaction is like being more Greek than us in Greece. That is the highlight that I remember.
We are all eagerly awaiting your tour, your first in 14 years. What are your expectations from the tour in Australia? What will fans get to see when you play?
Oh yes, it has been 14 years! I am really eager to see you all up close and personal, to sing and play the best of my hits. I will also be playing laika songs that you and I love. I will be happy to see you.
Friday, 24 May at The Factory, Sydney. Call 0418 451 481 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, 25 May at Nafpaktian Association, Melbourne
*Billy Cotsis is the director of Mykonos: the other side