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George Koutalieris: Musical messages in a parallel reality...

When I heard "Silent Messages", it took me away. George's music is like an invisible hand, leading you towards an unknown destination. I had to meet the man behind the trip...

 

1) Thank you so much, George, for joining me here on the Balearic Breakfast blog! Your track « Silent Messages » was played by Colleen on Balearic Breakfast, and it shares with the 3 other tracks of your EP something allying solid but non-overwhelming bass, an extended sonic soundstage, with a beautiful equilibrium of musicality and realism in some of the effects (which are quite seizing on secret messages!). When composing a track, does it happen to you that you already have in mind the sound you would like to achieve in the mastering process?

Thank you for having me on the Balearic Breakfast blog, Artur; it is a truly fantastic experience for me. I have immense appreciation for your work and Colleen's shows, and this blog is a constant source of inspiration for me. Your warm welcome and featuring my track in the show were truly highlights.

'Silent Messages' was born from the realization that our interactions often convey much more than the mere words we speak. The title emerged in parallel with the song's production, which is typical for me. I might start with one title and concept, but as the creative process unfolds, it can undergo significant changes, leading to a completely new name and concept.

This creative evolution is active during the writing, production, and mixing phases. What drew me into electronic music was the unique opportunity to explore subtle nuances and convey various shades of the same emotional colour. In my productions, I prefer to explore different shades and their interplay rather than using many different colours. Throughout the production process, a concept gradually takes shape and evolves during this creative journey. While a track is never truly 'finished' in the traditional sense, at a certain point, it's ready to meet its audience and embark on its unique voyage.


2) When listening to your other musical creations (thinking about « Stop, look, listen), one can feel there is a worried touch to your music, enhanced by the non-harmonic tones you put here and there, almost lending a hand to sadness but without totally falling into it. The listener is almost always on the verge of surprise when listening to your music. Is there a hidden (and Balearic…) message in there you are trying to convey?

'Stop, Look, Listen' marked a significant turning point in my approach to production and my connection to the broader Balearic community. Collaborating with NuNorthern Soul and Phil Cooper offered me a valuable opportunity to channel my creative potential and cultivate trust in my instincts.

In my music, I always seek to introduce moments of tension and carefully develop them in the track I am working on. Often, subtle moments of tension arise unexpectedly during the production process. Rather than viewing them as mistakes, I see them as fortunate occurrences that I strive to preserve. I have always appreciated these nuances or imperfections in other artists and I believe they are integral to defining the character of the music and the artist. So I devote careful attention to them and try to make way for them in my compositions, especially when they bring a fresh perspective or the element of pleasant surprise.

While my music doesn't convey hidden messages, it is anchored in recurring emotions that you'll find in much of my work. These emotions primarily stem from a sense of nostalgia. Not for a specific place but rather for an ideal imaginary place. It's a complex feeling of fulfilment and well-being in this present moment while being aware that there is much more to the human experience than meets the eye. Simultaneously, there's a deep gratitude for the places, moments, and people that life has introduced along the way. In many ways, it echoes the story of Odysseus, who yearns for home and ultimately returns to Ithaca.


3) In 2001, Michael Jackson issued “Invincible”, an album showcasing a very specific and modern approach to sound. Do you believe an artist should work on his sonic identity? How much is that aspect important to you?

In addition to my deep love for my family and music, I have a deep passion for innovation and engineering. In my view, progress doesn't necessarily mean only moving forward. It can also involve taking steps backwards when it's the right move at the right time. Often, we readily embrace technology and the array of options it offers, overlooking the fact that limitations can actually fuel our creative potential.

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to isolated a cappella backing tracks of Michael Jackson's iconic productions from the Quincy Jones/Rod Temperton era, and they were simply breathtaking. These tracks are complete compositions on their own. For me, researching and developing my music is a key motivator. I view this development as moving along different dimensions and playing with limitations. Juxtapositions such as dense versus sparse, lighter tones versus darker tones, or even using the guitar in unconventional ways in place of a synth part, often serve as the starting points for my creative journey. Speaking of which, I'm keen to get my hands on a vinyl copy of "Invincible." Vinyl offers a unique way to truly experience the music, and I've heard great reviews about this album.


4) You shared with me your past musical experiences, which are absolutely impressive. If there was one thing you learned from all of these years working in music, which one would it be?

I can only share my personal experiences and lessons, hoping they can be valuable to even a few readers. However, we can all agree that each person's journey is unique, and there are no real mistakes as long as they come from within and teach us something. We live in an era where knowledge is more accessible than ever, and many people are eager to share their expertise and offer support. Decide what it is that you want to learn and pursue it with intention. I mean, simply browsing through videos and teasers won't get you far, but purposeful research can be immensely helpful. 

Music production is an ongoing journey, but it means little without developing the creative facets of our personality as well. Many iconic recordings were created with very limited resources and even feature what some might call 'mistakes.' However, these 'mistakes' didn't diminish their mass appeal and enduring legacy. Finding your own voice and fully owning it is the most important objective any artist or any creative person could have. Everything else stems from that.


5) What are your future plans?

A couple of months before the end of 2023, I had the privilege of releasing my new mini-album titled "Silent Messages" with the Barcelona-based label Balearic Ensemble (https://balearicensemble.bandcamp.com/). Working with Vitor Silva and all the label's collaborators was an absolute thrill, and I'm particularly delighted with every aspect, from the mastering to the artwork.

The album swiftly made its debut through Dream Chimney and was warmly embraced, receiving airplay on Balearic Breakfast and numerous other fantastic shows and mixes. I'm always deeply grateful to all the DJs and producers who take the time to listen to my music and seamlessly blend it with the incredible releases that drop month by month. As a token of my appreciation, I make sure to feature new mixes in my social media sources and promote the shows within my networks.

In 2024, I plan to continue supporting and promoting "Silent Messages" and even consider some remixes or reworks. Additionally, I'm diligently working on a concept album of short ambient tracks that I like to call "post-chill." I believe there's room for a more accessible yet still captivating and organic chill sound.

Furthermore, I'm interested in assembling a small music group where we can collaborate, using original tunes and reworking tracks from my back catalogue. They say there are too many ideas and too little time, and I couldn't agree more!

Participating in Balearic Breakfast and sharing my thoughts and experiences has been an absolute pleasure. I'm especially grateful to Colleen and to you, Artur, for the incredible work you're doing. The Balearic community is a vibrant and ever-evolving hub of artists, and the opportunity to share our ideas and stories is something I deeply cherish.

Here's to a Happy New Year!


Thank you so much, George!

Merry Christmas to you and to our Balearic Breakfast Family!



 

George's Musical Journey...


"Silent Messages" is such an important track to me that I wanted to discover more about George's musical universe. He gladly shared his story with me. Here it is, enjoy...


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