|"Ghone" live @Cult of the Amps vol. 2 - by Chris Lemonis|
1. First off, I'd like to thank you for doing this interview. Nice to have you on the blog! Please introduce yourself to the readers.
Thank you for your interest. Great to hear a site from abroad is curious about your work. So, I’m John from Athens, Greece and Ghone is my personal sonic project with which I’m exploring the abstraction of sound spectrum through noise, produced by both natural and electronic media and manipulated mostly in real time, trying to create gasping and aerie environments.
2. Describe "Ghone" in three words.
That’s a hard one. I think I’ll go for: Party-crashing Noisy Ritual
3. I discovered your project when I saw you play live in Novi Sad along with Aidan Baker and "Nadja". In our previous conversation you told me that it was one of your favorite shows to date. What made this set so special for you, so much so that you even decided to record it as a proper release?
It was actually my 4th show on this tour -and, in matter of fact, my first ever as Ghone in general- and it was the time my set was coming together. It felt like I had finally tamed my equipment to a satisfying level and felt more confident that I could communicate what I had in my head. I remember the venue was full and the audience was very quiet. This can be stressful and flattering at the same time, a very compelling feeling which I have rarely experienced over the years I’ve been performing with various bands. The venue itself helped a lot as well of course. It was the third time I had the chance to be there and first time as a performer. Such warmth and hospitality always give a substantial boost in general. I was lucky enough to have my set recorded by the sound guy, and it only felt right to share it.
4. Any plans of coming back to Serbia again some day?
I actually played this May as a guest of the legendary Athenian noise-punk band Rita Mosss, along with the mighty Cassilas. They made a great couple. But anyway, I don’t have any solid plans for touring yet since life gets in the way constantly. I do want to come and play the soonest possible, so I’m open to ideas.
5. One of your other releases is the live show in Thessaloniki with "Six Steps Above The Earth", so please give us some more details about that collaboration.
I’ve known Bill and Sakis from the band for quite a while now. In fact, with Bill we have previously collaborated with his solo project The Dandelion Fields (https://thedandelionfields.bandcamp.com/) a couple of times. The guys asked me to open a show of theirs and long story short we ended up playing a seamless show with the middle part having me jamming with the full band as they started entering the stage one by one, and this is the track you hear as “intro” at the release with Six Steps Above The Earth.
6. How does your overall process for live shows look like? Do you go into it with a specific idea in mind or do you just let it flow out of you in the moment? Also, do you record all of your sets or just some of them?
For me it begins toying around with field recordings, feedback loops and new equipment, putting all those together and trying to make some sense out of it and how it can be manipulated to some kind of form of communicating. You can say curiosity is the driving force, I guess. When performing I’m generally trying to follow a skeleton idea but it can always swift to a different direction very easily depending on the moment. I think most of my sets have been recorded in a way or another.
7. You were part of an interesting collaboration recently, the "Spit" wine tasting performance art event where you created live sound-scaping. Could you tell us something more about that event? Are such collaborations/projects common for you?
It was an incredible experience! The location, the performance, the wine. Could do this again any time given. I was invited by the curator Eleni Tranouli to create the soundscape that Despina Charitonidi and Panos Profitis have prepared. They even created a number of incredible ceramic spittoons and laser cut “exoskeleton” suits for the waiters. An event of high aesthetics and great wine. What else can someone ask for?
The closest I can remember I’ve been a part of something similar was when I played a two-day live soundtrack for a live painting performance of Friki Krux back in 2014. You can’t say it’s pretty common then, but it’s definitely an area I’d like to explore further.
8. With all the relatively frequent live performances happening, does that mean there is an active noise/drone crowd in Greece?
Experimental music (and arts in general) community is quite active actually, mainly in the biggest cities though, but there are probably more stuff happening nowadays than ever. Small shows are taking place more and more often, and more people are curious to explore this side of the music spectrum. There are some really interesting artists that rarely have the chance to present their work abroad like Dead Gum, Savvas Metaxas, Georgios Karamanolakis, Acte Vide, Panos Alexiadis just to name a few, which is a real shame.
9. Are there any other music projects from Greece which you would recommend?
I think I answered this one above :)
10. What do you think of the overall state of the music scene in the world? Do you consider noise/drone to be a relevant genre in the "big picture"?
|"Sram Schet" cover by EviKarastamati|
It sure is. Just in the form of constant TV static-like pattern in the background.
11. A somewhat similar question asked above, what is your process for recording studio material? Does it differ from live performances?
I don’t think I have an answer for that. So far I didn’t felt the need to go through the labor of preparing a “studio album”, carefully layering noises and crackles. I’m focusing on live performance and presenting a coherent piece and if it still sounds like it stands as a recording as well, that’s great and it’s out there with no further ado.
12. "Ghone" had yearly gaps between recent recorded releases, any particular reason for that?
Mostly life just got in the way and had to focus on things other than playing. Looks like this is changing though.
13. What inspires you the most to create music like this?
Surely the grey period we are living through is great inspiration for anyone to create dark art in general. Trying to avoid getting psychoanalytic here, I’d say that I’ve always been drawn by darker themes in general. Horror movies, anatomy, insects, worn out patterns, abandoned buildings, history of crime and naturally that extends to my taste in music I suppose.
14. When working on a split release, how much do you get inspired by your split partners? I'm under the impression that there is a kind of symbiosis between Ghone and its collaborators.
It's pretty different when it's a split release from a collaborative wort, but you get it right about the symbiosis part. When it comes to split releases, personally I want to keep some kind of flow from one side to the other, meaning that for example I'd try to avoid giving a harsh noise piece for a split release with an ambient artist. I don't consider myself to have a standard approach when it comes to experimental music (it's all an ongoing experiment after all), and I enjoy this challenge to create something that resonates with me personally and in the same time keeps a release from being incoherent. On collaborations on a same track now, it's a whole different procedure. It feels more like a dialogue or dance if you prefer. The dynamics between the participants have great impact on the direction the improv. session will take.
15. What was it like to collaborate with Frans De Waard/Modelbau? I actually didn't know who he was, but seems like he's quite an influential figure in the Dutch/global music scene. How did you guys get in touch?
Frans part from being some kind of legend in the scene, also used to publish the now cult Vital Weekly zine from late 80s to mid 90s. Nowadays he has switched online of course and you should check it out: http://www.vitalweekly.net/ We got in touch with Coherent States to review our new releases back then and one thing lead to the other and we agreed on releasing something for him. I had this recording in the vault already and thought I suggest to put it out there as a split release, and there you have it.
16. From the perspective of the listener, even though there are no lyrics it still feels like all your records are trying to speak to the audience. Is there actually a message that your music is trying to convey?
If we were in the 60s I’d encourage you to play my records backwards and find out yourself. But no, there are no intended hidden messages. Maybe what you are hearing is my inner world trying to find its own language.
17. Out of all your recorded material, what is your favorite release and why?
To be honest I like them all equally, each one for its own reasons. For me they double as bookmarks for life events too. The part you can hear plays like a soundtrack for these periods in my head. I’m always more satisfied and at the same time challenged by every last one. A pretty weird sentiment.
18. If you could do a collaboration record with any other artist/project, who would it be?
I tend to observe that people with no musical education or those who are not even aware that this side of music exists at all, tend to have the most interesting and genuinely curious approach when it comes to experiment with it. Or maybe, playing with it. That’s a more proper word for it. I’d work with everyone if I could! Including you reading this right now.
19. What gear do you use to create music? Do you have a favorite piece or a specific gadget which you deem essential?
This is a question that will get you multiple answers depending on when it’s asked. For a while it was an electric upright bass through distortions and loop pedals. Later it was a thrashed snare wire with contact mics. Right now I’m having TONS of fun with Stereo Fields by Landscape which gives a whole new way of expression with it’s unique haptic interface. I’m also waiting on the new Dreadbox Antiphon monophonic synth to be assembled. My anticipation vein is pumping hard!
20. What are some of your other interests/projects/hobbies outside of Ghone?
I’m working as a freelance graphic designer, concert promoter and production manager. I’m also run Coherent States -a small experimental music label- with my friend Manolis. We have just released an amazing new vinyl record, for the French artist Gaël Segalen, for which I’m really excited to be finally out! You can safely say that Ghone is an extension of my everyday activities.
21. Time for you to ask a question!
Any drone/noise/experimental acts from Serbia to recommend? Pretty lame question, I know, but I’m genuinely curious.
To be brutally honest, aside of a handful of noise/drone projects, I'm not too deep into the genre, so I don't really know of any such bands from these parts. There is an ambient project that I would recommend though, called "Paleowolf". It's an amazing dark tribal ambient inspired by prehistoric ages when humans were still hunter-gatherers.
21. 2019 is coming to an end, what have been your favorite music releases so far? Any guilty pleasures?
Pleasure shouldn’t go with guilt whatsoever. Having said that I really liked Tyler, The Creator’s new album “Igor” and from the experimental-esque side of music I can’t stop listening to Gaël Segalen’s album we released. But don’t take this as a plug. I’d still be playing this album non stop regardless of the label. It’s just so good! 2019 was a very good year in general. So many interesting new releases. The list would be pretty big and I’m sure I’d leave a bunch titles out, so I’d prefer to restrain myself.
22. Do you have any book/movie recommendations?
I’m not much of a reader nor a cinefile. I really enjoy flipping through my most recent photography book purchase though which is a documentation of the African Ndebele tribe murals. A tradition going back hundreds of years among the women of the tribe with great vibrant colours and forms.
23. What does the future hold for "Ghone"?
Looks like it holds more performances and more traveling. And hopefully new recorded material and collaborations as well. But life is a curious path with many crossroads, so I try not to make long term plans.
24. Do you have any final message to the readers?
I miss Serbia! Hope to have the chance to return sooner than later. I often recall my visits there fondly.