For as long as he can remember, Nikos Filippatos has been involved with music. His father played the guitar and sang traditional Kefalonian songs that mesmerised young Nikos.
That led to lessons from the age of six, and he became professional by the age of 12.
The 38-year-old has since performed in tavernas, restaurants and nightclubs all around Greece and Turkey, while also giving personal lessons in music theory and performance.
His dream was to be children’s performer, and until a life changing message last year, Nikos had given up on that dream.
A scientist and researcher, with a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the Democritus University of Thrace, and currently pursuing a master’s degree in Medical Science from the University of Adelaide, he had decided it was time to focus on his studies and research.
“My dream was always to play music for kids but because in Greece there is no such opportunity, and the market is too small, I didn’t have the chance to do that,” Nikos told Neos Kosmos.
“I reached a point where I was fed up with the Greek music. I was doing an international project with my wife, where we were playing international mainstream songs, and we were working in five-star hotels.
He thought to himself, “I’m way too old now and I won’t be given the opportunity ever to do what I want to do, so I will quit music and focus on my studies and on my research.”
Then came the previously mentioned life changing message.
Nikos has a YouTube channel where he passes on his knowledge of playing the bouzouki to others seeking to maintain their roots and the tradition of Greek music.
One day after returning to Australia from Greece, he got a message from Anthony Field AM, member of popular Australian children’s music group The Wiggles.
The original Blue Wiggle, who is married to a Greek Australian, loves Greek music and is one of the top admirers of Mikis Theodorakis worldwide according to Nikos.
His wife is Michaela Field nee Patisteas, whose family owns Griffiths Coffee, the company behind OASIS Greek style coffee.
Nikos didn’t know who Field was and had never heard of The Wiggles, but says Field was seeking some advice on playing the bouzouki.
“He approached me because he found my YouTube channel and he thought that it’s a good opportunity for him to discuss with someone who speaks English and has the knowledge to help him a little,” he said.
“It was not a lesson, but more a collaboration and exchange of knowledge around bouzoukis and Greek music.
“After that, he said we have a gig down at Melbourne if you’re interested, come down and play Zorba the Greek so that we can dance.”
Nikos now regularly collaborates with The Wiggles, having co-written their song ‘Bouncing Balls’, while also playing various instruments, including the bouzouki of course.
The Wiggles connection to Greeks doesn’t stop there, as Field’s daughter Lucia, who is the second blue Wiggle alongside her father.
Nikos says Field’s connection to Greek culture has removed any sort of cultural gap that might have been with the group and is surprised how much he understands.
A mutual respect has grown between them, with the Greek born musician calling Field one of the best people he’s ever met in the industry, in all his travels across Europe and the US too.
Interestingly, this opportunity would likely have never happened if the COVID pandemic hadn’t struck.
Nikos and his wife Nancy were actually honeymooning in Australia in 2020, and had to prolong their stay here. They grew to love Australia and have remained in Adelaide semi-permanently.
Nikos says he’s living”the Australian dream”.
“I’m living the Australian dream. For me this is a fantastic experience and it’s a dream coming true and I feel blessed for this opportunity.”