When listening to Melbourne band Proto Moro’s underground jazz-funk masterpiece “Club X,” you may recognise tones and scales that are frequently heard in Greek villages during large celebrations and gatherings. It feels that the band was attempting to incorporate some… Greekness into the song.
“It was almost instinctive.” The song had a beautiful ambiance, and and I wanted to emulate the sounds and bring an ambience that you can listen to in a Greek church – one of my greatest influences is chanter Nikodimos Kabarnos. And I believe it worked”.
This is Nikodimos, the 23-year-old Greek-Australian multi-instrumentalist from Melbourne and saxophone player of Proto Moro. Nikodimos’ sophomore album, “The Nikodimos World,” was released earlier this month, and it takes listeners on a journey through jazz, soul, and hip-hop rhythms, to name a few.
“This is my first solo album, which I created, produced, and mixed.” I named it “Nikodimos world” because the listener can understand who I am and what my world looks like through the music. ”
Nikodimos began his musical journey at the age of four, when he began taking piano lessons, then he began learning the saxophone in primary school. Throughout his school years, the instruments and bands multiplied, and at one point, he was a member of 14 different bands, playing seven different instruments.
Nikodimos graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Communication and worked full-time as a disability worker when he finished school. However, he decided to quit everything and dedicate his time and energy to creating and producing music. It was not always easy, especially with the ongoing limitations due to the pandemic, but he says it is the only way to evolve and progress.
“When you don’t have the safety net of a full-time job, you have to work hard and earn your money. And I consider myself really fortunate because my job allows me to be creative on a daily basis; I totally love it.”
As he explains, he sought to develop his musical style and personality in his debut album (“The Nikodimos Album”), but he felt he was limiting his expression at times. He pushed the envelope in “Nikodimos World,” though, rather than keeping to one style or sound. Creating his unique sound was a natural progression of his artistic expression.
“It’s difficult for me to label my songs into different musical genres; they all sound like Nikodimos to me. As an artist, I felt liberated this time. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone; as an artist, you simply do what feels right to you. And it takes more than just ability or practise. It’s a feeling.”
“Nikodimos World” was named album of the week on PBS and 3RRR, the listening party was sold out, and the reviews are raving. It’s a terrific start for an album that’s also a tribute to Melbourne, as Nikodimos puts it.
“You can hear musicians from all over Melbourne and people representing various musical genres. I knew a lot of the musicians because I had previously performed with them or because I attended their shows. I invited them to my studio, and nearly everything was recorded there.
I recorded a lot more songs, but I largely kept the ones I recorded with individuals I consider friends in the end. The truth is that my world wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the people around me. ”
Sticking to principles and choices was always a part of Nikodimos life. Starting with his name.
“People used to call me Nik, until year 8 when I told them that I wanted to be called Nikodimos. I consider myself fortunate to have such a strong ethnic name, which serves as a statement of who I am and where I come from.”
Nikodimos’ family is from Limnos, an island he visited as a child and fell in love with.
“When I was there, I felt like I was with people like me. Greeks are proud but hard around the edges, and this is how I am as well.”
There are many things that people around me don’t understand, such as what it means to grow up with such a strong culture and influence. We place a high value on family. I grew up with my mum and my brother- my dad was not around. But my mother was always there for us, doing everything she could for her children, and we formed an unbreakable bond.
When Greeks arrived in Australia, they were also ethnically vilified. Or even the second generation, like my mother while she was in school. All of these factors had a significant impact on me as a person and an artist.”
Nikodimos referred to himself as wog in an Instagram story a few months back. The platform took the post down because it was deemed to be hate speech. Nikodimos quickly created a series of stories to describe what “wog” meant to him and how the word’s meaning has changed over time.
“The term “wog” now carries a different connotation than it did a few decades ago. Other people who did not identify as wogs, termed Greeks wogs in a derogatory way. However, we now own the word; it is a part of our identity. We are an important part of Melbourne’s culture, and I am honored to be a part of it.”
I am a Greek boy from the suburbs of Melbourne. Someone who understands how to grow up in a culture that is different from the mainstream Australian culture, that keeps inventing and creating. And you can hear all these elements in my album.”