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Dirty Granny Tales is a band I heard by chance when a friend grabbed me a few years ago and took me to one of their shows in Thessaloniki. Ever since then, I loved them. Many talented musicians, dancers and puppeteers passed before me, images run through the background filled with wonderful voices on a black metal sounds that decorated this entire scene.
Dirty Granny Tales is a unique band. Before you go on ahead and read this interview, play their video and get a taste. Enjoy responsibly some quality music!
How would you describe your music to someone that has never heard of you?
The only certain thing is that you can’t describe it with one word because our music has influences from completely different scenes, for instance we have influences from Manos Hatzidakis but also the Black Metal elements are very apparent. We didn’t choose this path for originality, its just that the atmosphere in our tales needs these elements. Usually I describe our music by mentioning some influences... but I think that the shortest and most clear way to describe it is that the main characteristics are dark, ironic and fairytale atmosphere.
Why were you pulled by the black theatrical music?
I believe that if you want to do something right you should first look at a mirror and wonder who you are, what attracts you, what are you inclined for, because no matter how good of a musician you might be, if you don’t feel the thing you are building you will not have the desired results. The fact is that the dark part is a characteristic of the human soul... Now, its everyones choice about which way he will express himself... I, always has an attraction for dark fairytales, for me it is a game with our weaknesses, after all, art wants to play with our soul. Through this dark path we can uncover human instincts that are deeply rooted. Usually there is a veil that hides the dark color of the human soul. For us, it is a challenge to unveil it. We want to transmit to the audience, powerful emotions, thats why we picked the theatrical element for our shows.
How many different instruments can we listen to in your music? Which one of those are rare and special and how come you decided to use them?
We are an acoustic band, most of our musicians change instruments even while on stage... I’d say the sound of the mandolin is quite characteristic. The chelo, the acoustic bass, the percussion and the groovy acoustic guitars are our basic weapons... on some shows though the ruling instrument is the piano. But also the voices, besides the singing, add an extra color to the whole sound. I wouldn’t say we use some distinct instrument, but it is definetelly challenging to use some traditional instruments our way. Music is a canvas for us that in order to paint on it, you need the right brushes.
Your shows are definitely just a live show. It is accompanied by theatrics, dancing, puppeteering and many other surprises. Who is hiding behind all that?
Yes , we are not a simple live band, besides the theatrical expressions of the musicians on stage, out fairy tales are also dressed with rich visuals. The build up of a show is very time costing... In essence we have to build 3 parallel shows. After I have composed the music and the story along with the musicians we wrap the musical part. At the same time the puppeteers from Merli Puppet team are constructing the scenery and the puppets based on the designs I give them. The tailors for the show’s costumes are usually external partners. Erifili Dafermou is in charge for the choreographies and has a key role as well on stage.
Besides the puppeteering and the dancing theatrics, the fairy tale is given image via video animations that in connection with the rest make the tales course more dynamic. One of my roles is also the production of those animations. After all these pieces have been completed we began rehearsing to bring all together and a lot of the times the musicians get a bigger theatrical role since they are also part of the show.
Who designs all those lovely illustrations on your albums and your posters and where can we find some more of his work?
My work as an illustrator is now reaching almost 14 years, I have illustrated most magazines as well as newspapers in Greece. For Dirty Granny Tales I have taken over all the visual design... artworks, show drafts and animation.
What kind of music do you listen at home? How much are you affected by different sounds from other scenes when you are composing?
Dirty Granny tale’s expresses all of our members. You couldn’t be a part of this band if you weren’t touched by what we do. We are very focused on our roles on stage, so a member with different taste, incarnating a role would probably be a failure. Influences work subconsciously , sure, the fact that there is a huge source of music genres results into some connections between them, thus building Dirty Granny’s profile. Some of those influences are: Danny Elfman, Tiger Lillies, Diamanda Galas, Manos Hagidakis, Dimmu Borgir, David Bowie, Cirque Du Soleil music, Christopher Young, Korn, Sleepy time Gorilla Museum
You moved next to us in Berlin. Was it a step to further your career or were you lead there by the unstable financial situation back in Greece?
There were three reasons for moving. First the geographical position of Berlin makes access to other countries easier, it would have been way more expensive to start a European tour from Greece, by car. Secondly, it is more likely to find a manager or a booking agent, because in Greece if you have a new proposal, unfortunately, no one takes a chance for you, only tested ideas have place in our country, unfortunately again. And thirdly, it was of course the financial crisis. I mentioned it last, because in our field the crisis is intensely visible even outside of Greece. I do have to admit that it forced us to take this decision. If however we had gone for it earlier we might have had more opportunities by now.
How is life looking up in Berlin? Did you find everything you need or did you have any surprises?
There is a relaxed atmosphere here, compared with the intensity and the negative energy back in Greece. I may say that we came prepared, there are difficulties because of the large competition, but it is a city filled with artists, especially musicians. Saying that you are going to live just off of that is almost impossible. But it is certainly more possible than trying back in Greece. We are happy about the way things are going here with Dirty Granny Tales, but it needs patience. What I don’t like is the gray sky, it is too dark here, the sunlight barely escapes the thick clouds... I know, its hard to imagine it if you haven’t experienced it...
Where is the crowd more positive about your music? Greece, Germany or somewhere else you toured and weren’t expecting it?
The main reason we take risks with our shows is because we have seen positive feedback everywhere, I couldn’t single out a place, but, I’d say Greece, it makes sense because thats where we are most known and compared to our first show here I may say that here, they might have been more warm too us. I get a warm response from the audience in Romania as well... But we also have great response from Mexico and I hope we can test that audience very soon.
Are you preparing anything new? Now that your life has changed, will that affect your music?
Events always affect... we play to express ourselves, so it makes sense. Yes we are preparing our next show... The latest by March I assume, we will have premiered, in fact our new concept is quite timely, always of course with our allegoric ways.
Are you planning on playing in the Netherlands? Have you ever crossed our places in the past? If yes, what kind of color did this country leave you with?
We haven’t booked a gig up too now but we would love too. We only played in the Netherlands once, specifically in Utrecht at the Ball du masque Festival.. I could say that it was sort of like a dress-up party and I do admit that i was excited with their costumes. We played Rejection in a masked audience... a very special experience. Our impression about the Netherlands is very positive. Utrecht is like a fairy tale land and Amsterdam is a big toyville...