They say that when you want to find your true passion, look back at your 8-year-old self and try and remember what you loved to do so much, that you forgot to eat or sleep, Connie Tsekouras tells Neos Kosmos.
For her, it is her young, 10-year-old self, cheering her on, as she follows her dreams in singing, songwriting, and performing in her high school, her music school, as well as in busking gigs in various markets around town.
“Sometimes I think about my 10-year-old self and how proud she would be if she saw me today. Because ever since I was little, I always dreamt of performing.”
As she grew older, she says she somehow lost her way, afraid that music could not be an option, and focused instead on sport and school for a long time.
Lockdowns gave Connie the time and courage to cultivate her dreams
She fell in love with music again, when lockdowns were imposed, and the talented Greek Australian from Melbourne, then 16, found herself reflecting on her life.
“Under normal circumstances, we’re just so busy or we’re always with other people and doing things, that we forget to question what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it.”
She says that lockdown did so much for her.
“It helped me realise where my true passions were. I think it gave me time to reflect and learn on past things and what I was doing with my life.
Maybe I wanted to push myself and do all these creative subjects which I was more drawn to but didn’t have the courage to do.. I also had a lot of time to reflect on what I want to be doing in my life. Just getting to know myself well enough to know where I would be happy.”
It was during this time that she taught herself the piano and the guitar.
“Ever since I was a child, I always loved to sing. Playing the guitar, and learning the piano was always in the back of my mind,” so when the long lockdown was imposed in Victoria during the Winter of 2020, she dedicated her time to learning these instruments.
“I would watch all these YouTube videos and eventually, I learned all my chords. I learned the notes and how to put them together, so then I was able, to play songs, just by hearing them.”
These new skills opened up a whole new territory of artistic expression for Connie, as she could now turn her poetry into music and start writing her own songs.
“I’ve always loved music, but I’ve always loved writing poetry as well, since I was 13. So, when I started playing these instruments, I could write my own songs, and then the two merged, which is really great.”
“My songs are always written for piano and guitar. They’re usually quite personal, nostalgic. People have said that they are dreamlike.”
During 2021, Connie was completely focused on her music, which earned her the Student of the Year award at CK Singing School, for her admirable dedication and commitment.
“I do a lot of music at CK singing school, but also in school. Three of my subjects are in the performing arts, and I also do little gigs, like busking gigs. So, getting that award at the end of the year was a really nice reward for all the work. It really paid off.”
Stepping out of her comfort zone
Sharing your music can be a really scary thing as well, she adds. “In poetry, music and anything in the arts, it is such a vulnerable thing to do, when you share your work with others.”
“I’ve always thought that singing, specifically singing in front of others, is one of the most frightening things you can ever do.
You feel so vulnerable, especially if you’re singing your own songs that are so personal, you’re worried whether people will think you’re not good enough.”
“The first time I performed in front of people in my busking gig in a market, I was freaking out, I was so nervous.
But the one thing that helped me was just focusing on the music I was singing, just really focusing on that, and then also pretending I was just performing in my bedroom alone. I think with practice, it just gets better.
And then obviously, you feel so proud of yourself that you got through it.”
Her courage to follow her dreams is enforced by her people and the artists and musicians she looks up to. “My family are the most beautiful people and I have such beautiful friends as well, who support and motivate me every single day to do what I love. Also, the musicians I look up to are a source of inspiration.”
Her songs and the music she loves belong to another era. “I’ve always loved and been drawn to old music, because it is really sentimental, and it’s a lot more focused on songwriting, which is something I connect to.”
Growing up, she loved Prince, Fleetwood Mac, The Smashing Pumpkins, Joni Mitchell. Amongst the more recent artists she admires are Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga.
But the talented 18-year-old, is constantly evolving as she is now discovering the beauty of old Greek songs, and singing in Greek is something that she plans to explore with her singing teacher, Christine Kounnas, who is also Greek, and an inspiration to young Connie.
Connie Tsekouras belongs to the third generation of Greek migrants. She finds that living in Melbourne, with such a huge Greek population, it is easier to stay connected to your Greek roots, than anywhere else, far from Greece. Though for her, it is mostly the little things that engage her.
“Like going to midnight mass every year and having a Greek spit and barbecue. Or just going over to my grandma’s and having a Greek coffee. Or making Greek biscuits with her. It’s all the little things that help bring me back.”
Connie Tsekouras has a plan, one that she doesn’t take lightly, as she thinks a lot about the future and whether she will able to do something she loves, forever.
Before she goes to Uni, she wants to travel in Australia and abroad and do things involving music.
“Even if it just gigging, accompanying musicians on the piano or guitar, being a back-up singer”, Connie wants to build on her experience before she decides on the course she will go on to study.
*Find out more about Connie Tsekouras and her music, on Instagram www.instagram.com/connietsekouras