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Sofia Sarri: living close to nature made me more of an onlooker

Sofia Sarri: living close to nature made me more of an onlooker
BANDS : Sofia Sarri

When my colleague Gina S. presented a while ago the facts connected to the second edition of Cobra Fest, which will take place on the 18th and 19th of May in Bucharest, she described Sofia Sarri as a „unique presence in the contemporary music, who awakes the interest of those who dig for special tunes in the indie scene, but at the same time, Sarri’s music is opened to manifold types of listeners.” She went farther with the general information regarding the Greek artist and mentioned Sarri's former experiences, such as the post-rock & trip-hop local group Night on Earth, where Sofia Sarri was involved in two releases, the recordings undertaken along the experimental quartet Borderline Syndrome or the collaboration with pianist Costis Christodoulou. After all these, Sofia started to write her solo disc. Her creation involves various musicians who experiment the less conventional type of instruments, such as the lyre or the vibraphone. The styles which Sarri recognizes as part of her approach revolve around an aggregation of avant-garde rock, urban ambient, dark-hop and various influence coming from the extreme Scandinavian scene. While her spectacular voice may be perceived as an instrument, the overall work includes an immensity of musical information. Given Sarri’s presence at the Cobra Fest, I have invited the musician for a discussion which you can read in lines below. Sofia Sarri talked the link between symbolism and music, childhood, Nana Mouskouri, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and her debut record “Euphoria”, which was released on the 13th of January 2017.


Metalfan:  Hi, Sofia and welcome to! How do symbolism and music work together?

Sofia Sarri: Hello! Thank you so much for your interest in my music and having me as your guest.

I think patterns and symbols are a way to explain the essence of everything in this world. Numbers through mathematics are a way to explain patterns in nature, the structure of every living thing, the core of our DNA, the way light travels, the orbit of the stars, the never ending (or maybe not?) expansion of the cosmos and so on. Symbols of all forms have been a way of communication and language, explaining all that are not of material form like sound for instance. Complex sound patterns organized in a certain way, are generally described as “music”.

Certain symbols stand as a way to depict feelings like the fear of the unknown, courage, strength, religious invocations and so on… Runes, Kabbala symbolism, the alchemy, different numeric systems, spirit invocations… I think the list is endless…

Symbolism can work in favour of the artist in order to communicate and demonstrate what lies beneath the music he/she created. I think if you take a thorough look at the artwork of an album you will probably get a great chunk of the idea behind the aesthetics of the music as well. I used to do that a lot when I was a kid. I would daze into the artwork of an album for hours while listening to it and a synesthesia of patterns, symbols, sounds and words would take place in my head. So much fun and completely drug-free!

Metalfan: How was the childhood of Sofia Sarri? When you think back of that period in your life, which are the things that come first to your mind?

Sofia Sarri: I grew up on a Greek island. I am attached to the sea, the white beaches and the rocky mountains of Crete. Summer was my favourite time of the year. It was long and I wanted to spend it all underwater. I would hold my breath as long as I could, hoping to grow gills and go join the dolphins. I was quite reclusive as a kid. We lived on a suburb with no neighbours, except for a few grumpy old ladies, and I would spend my time between listening to music and pretending to be a cat. Or a dog. I generally preferred animals over people. I still do actually.

Metalfan: Do you remember the first records that you’ve got the chance to listen? It would be great if you could tell us more on this subject…
Sofia Sarri: When I was 8-9 years old I was given a tape (for all the young kids out there that would be this strange artefact) with Sepultura’s “Chaos A.D.” on it . Transitioning from Barbie dolls to heavy metal was a bit odd I have to admit. And then growing up in the 90’s some of the records that I vividly remember as my “first ones” would be: NirvanaNevermind” , Pearl Jam’s “VS”, Sonic YouthDaydream Nation”, Nine Inch NailsThe Downward Spiral”, BjorkHomogenic”, Dead Can FanceToward the Within”… I was generally drawn by the darker shades of heavy music, but I was also very interested to genres like industrial and electronica that started to sprout around that time with artists like Aphex Twin, Autechre, NIN, etc... And finally what was going on in Norway with black metal and mostly artists who begun their music endeavours around that scene and ended up creating very unique and hard to label music like Ulver, one of my favourite bands ever.

Metalfan: I know that your origin is from Chania, Crete and now live in Athens. As nature itself is one of the main influences in your music, could you tell us more about how the places where you’ve lived so far have put a mark on you?
Sofia Sarri: I think living close to nature made me more of an onlooker. I spent loads of time gazing and imagining. Listening to the sound of the waves while camping in Crete is the most precious childhood memory I have and I tend to relive it every year by spending a few days in some deserted, picturesque beach on the island. All in all I think this way of living around this place taught me the insignificance of the human being compared to Mother Nature. It helped me to be humble and respectful of all living creatures. It developed my imagination and creativity.  And then I moved to Athens, and got depressed and overwhelmed by all these people living on top of one another… The noise and the chaos of a big city sinking in the catastrophe of the economic crises. Fortunately there’s a lot of beauty in this chaos too if you manage to look for it at the right places. Young people flourishing in art and music and all kinds of creative stuff, doing the best they can under harsh circumstances, so I tried to join them and do my thing as well.

Metalfan: Nana Mouskouri, one of the most important musicians from Greece was also born in Chania, Crete. How do you see her work and her legacy?

Sofia Sarri: Nana Mouskouri is super-famous, but I’m afraid I haven’t listened to her music almost at all. I am mostly interested in traditional Greek music from different regions of the country or contemporary composers like Janni Christou and Iannis Xenakis. I was never really into pop Greek music.

Metalfan: Did you always want to be a singer? I remember that when I was a child, my friends from back then wanted to be astronauts, farmers, medics or football players... [Ed.Note: laughs]
Sofia Sarri: I think I wanted to be something like Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s sidekick… Cruising the oceans, whale watching and exploring. I was pretty shy and introvert so being on stage was never an option. I started singing around 15 and even though I fell in love with singing immediately I never really thought that I would become a professional singer eventually. I wasn’t one of those cute little girls who sing while holding a brush as a microphone. I felt that playing football was way cooler. I have to admit I still hope that I will eventually get my chance with whale watching though.

Metalfan: In your teenage years you played in a metal band. How was that time and experience for your development as a person and as a musician?
Sofia Sarri: First of all I got to sing and write music and that was already something. Plus my first live gig with my band ever was as a support act for Rotting Christ! It was amazing. I even got to sew my own dress. The whole process of working together with a band, creating and performing was what made me decide that whatever happens I will dedicate my life into music. I don’t think it really mattered whether we would gain an audience or play lots of gigs. It was an introduction to a magical place for me.

Metalfan: Which was the most awkward moment that you've had ever encountered since you've started playing music?

Sofia Sarri: I was once performing at a very big audience in Athens and someone threw a vodka bottle on stage, later claiming at an online forum that he was aiming for my head because he found my voice annoying or something. Hopefully he was too drunk and he missed. The bottle broke a guitar though and I was quite scared for some time and really nervous to go on stage for a while after this incident. In any case shit happens when you expose yourself to people. As time goes by you sort of train yourself to care as less as possible or you wear a very stylish helmet just in case.

Metalfan: On January 13, 2017 you have released “Euphoria”, your solo debut album. When you have “Euphoria” as a title in mind, which are the things that it makes you think of? It would be great if you could tell us more…
Sofia Sarri: I wrote the album during times of personal struggles and rather gloomy situations. When the album was finally over I had no idea about its future title. I ended up with the word “Euphoria” as a way of an invocation to better times and happier feelings. I was stuck with the opposite palette of emotions for way too long and I was looking for a plot twist. The hard work I put on this album sort of worked as a remedy for me and upon finishing it I was ready to put aside what finally needed to be put aside.

Metalfan: It would be great as well if you could tell us a few words about each of the songs that are part of “Euphoria”. I know that each person who listens to the record can filter the songs with their minds, but only the author can offer a description of their true meaning... [Ed.Note: smiles]

Sofia Sarri: In order of appearance… “Kira Kitana” – I was really pissed off when I wrote this one. I dreamed of a super-hero girl alter ego who would tear my enemies apart when called upon in my slumber. So I named this girl from the video game’s “Mortal Combat” female warriors Kira and Kitana. I used to play it as a kid.

“Still Universe” – this one was inspired by long, late-night conversations I used to have with a person I was close to. Of our mortal insignificant lives compared to the eternity of the universe.

“Roller coaster Blues” – I once read about this euthanasia coaster machine and while being neck deep into bullshit I thought about getting a ticket for one of these.

“Cuckoo” – I wrote this one a few days after the Greek Nazi party was first officially introduced and elected into the Greek parliament. I was very angry to live in a country whose people valiantly fought against the Nazis in WWII and ended up granting such power to those pseudo-patriots with Nazi morale a few generations later.

“The Moon” – I was walking alone in the dark and was kind of scared for no specific reason. I focused on the rhythmic sound of my footsteps to relax myself and imagined that the moon was looking out for me, keeping me out of harm’s way.

“Fire” – “love bathes us all in fire…” Well, I think this one is quite self-explanatory…

“Ingen vinner frem til den evige ro” – this is a cover of an old Christian Norwegian psalm.

“The wolf” ( O Likos) – another dream! It is about waking up and realizing that you’ve been sleeping and cuddling with a wolf with sharp teeth and dangerous claws. No matter the fear you may experience that the wolf might hurt you, you end up coming to terms with the idea and enjoying stroking its beautiful fur.

Metalfan: How do the words “evolution demands revolution” from the song “Cuckoo” apply to our modern society in your view? Please, tell us more…
Sofia Sarri: In most if not all historical times unfortunately, bloody wars and revolutions have always been the way to “reboot” humanity. Upon the fertile ashes of all destroyed and perished there, new ideas may flourish and evolution of every aspect of life can take place. Sort of like a social “Big Bang”. I tend to lose my faith in humanity quite often in a world filled with carnage and unfairness and I have the feeling that at times, the only way to actually evolve out of the black hole we are being sunk in is to revolt and “reboot”. I’m not sure whether I am making any sense at all right now or not but I am doing my best!

Metalfan: Which book has influenced you the most and also, which is the latest book that you’ve read? It would be really interesting to understand more about your background...
Sofia Sarri: I have absolutely no idea which is the One book that has influenced me the most. Well, at least I am certain that it is not the Bible…I really love “His Dark Materials” by Phillip Pullman, “The Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robins, “Momo” by Michael Ende, “Sophie’s World” by Jostein Gaarder… The latest book I read was Fernando Pessoa’s “The Hour of the Devil”. I am generally into fantasy, philosophy, anthropology, kids who want to take over the world preferably with superpowers, sarcasm and whales. And cats. And dogs.

Metalfan: This year you will perform at the second edition of Cobra Festival here in Bucharest as one of the headliners. Did you encounter any experiences with Romania or its capital in the past?
Sofia Sarri: I have never been to Romania and I am truly excited to play in Bucharest and hopefully tour the Balkans sometime soon. I can’t wait to listen to all the bands, meet with local artists and the audience and get a glimpse of this beautiful city.

Metalfan: In the end, it would be great if you could choose 12 songs from 12 different bands for a virtual compilation, having with the word „euphoria” in mind. Which would be the title of this mix-tape?
Sofia Sarri:  I would call my mixtape “Happiness in a Warm Gun” by the Beatles’ original song,and I would pick Tori Amos’ cover of it for the intro.

01.    Tori Amos - Happiness is a warm gun (Beatles cover)
02.    Playgrounded - Mute
03.    Bjork - Violently happy
04.    Bonnie Prince Billie - death to everyone
05.    Godspeed you Black emperor! - Moya
06.    Lera Lynn - My least favorite Life
07.    Lena Platonos (one of my favorite Greek artists, a true genius and pioneer) - Ston asterismo tou pigouinou
08.    Luup - Spiralling
09. Leprous - Slave
10. Radiohead - Pyramid Song
11. Tool - Third Eye
12. Helios - Bless this morning year

Metalfan: Thank you for your time and for your answers! In the end would you like to add something or to send a few words to our readers?
Sofia Sarri: Thank you so much for supporting the artists and the music. I hope that you will find some interest in my-subtly-influenced-by-metal-but-still-a-bit-too-melodic-and-feminine tunes.
See you at Cobra Festival!
Autor: H.
   May 09, 2018  | 0 Comments  | 20158 Views « BACK

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