Greeks of the World- Apostolis Fotiadis

“I was born and raised in Hurlstone Park, Sydney, and I now live in Larissa, Greece.

My father was born in Larissa and was brought up at an older age in Thessaloniki, where my mother is from. That is how it all began.

The first time I went to Greece was in 1984. I can’t remember much since I was only 5 or 6 years old. It was in 1994 that we made the permanent move to Greece.

Leaving Australia felt challenging and emotional. As a teenager of 15-16 years old, leaving friends behind and starting fresh in another country, which is beautiful but nevertheless totally contradictory to what we knew and where we were used to was a challenge.

Firstly, the language barrier, because it was hard to communicate with the level of Greek we were taught. Feeling at times out of place, as a foreigner and of course the difference in mentality. I got through it and managed to adapt, but the older you come the harder it is.

What I loved most about my new life in Greece was making new friends and meeting up with family, but probably the whole lifestyle, the laid back and “ok, it’s cool” attitude. The smells, the food and of course the music…that just took over.

Music has been in my life from day one. My mother Maria is an awarded poet and singer, my father Thanasis is a singer and my brother Dimitri is an acclaimed and talented composer/arranger, so it wasn’t difficult to guess that my sister Electra and I would walk down that beautiful road of music. The bar had been set high though, but if you know me you know I just thrive for challenge and adventure.

There is a recording of me at 9 months old singing “ Yianni mou to mantili sou.” I went through a phase of changing so many instruments as I was unsure of what I liked most. Piano, violin, mandolin, saxophone, drums. Drums lasted the most, piano almost 2 years and the others didn’t make it through the first 2 weeks.

I’m a self-taught musician though and singing just came and swept everything away. I was always in choirs at a young age but in high school in Greece, I started singing solo. Since then I literally sing all day.

My journey making music a career hasn’t been easy. There have been a lot of setbacks and agony. Work, practic, and rehearsals. Beautiful concerts and collaborations. There have been many highlights so far but the release and performing concerts of my two personal albums “Ola Esy” in 2011 and “Apogiosi” in 2016 are definitely on the top of that list, each for their own different sentimental value.

As for the challenges, well the biggest is trying to make a career in music. Firstly, being away from Athens and secondly, the music genre I prefer to represent is not as pop or “laiko” to get the desirable air time.

Especially when you are forced to produce your own music because most music labels just release it for distribution taking advantage of the new artists’ thirst for creation, recognition and release of their work, making them pay for everything. The music industry is harsh, cruel and a closed circuit.

At the moment I perform in various music scenes and bars in Larissa and all over Greece but not on a regular basis. Gigs are announced on my Facebook and Instagram pages in advance so friends are aware of when I’m performing. I’m lucky I have a day job so I don’t expect to live off my music. I choose where and when to perform and the love and warmth I receive is just incredible and I’m so grateful and feel so blessed.

I have written some new songs in both Greek and English and in a couple of months I will hit the studio and hopefully release them sometime next year. At the moment I’m rehearsing for a big concert performing one of the most significant works in Greek Music, “To Kapnismeno Tsoukali” written by Yiannis Ritsos and music from Christos Leontis and sung from one of the best singers in Modern Greek music history Nikos Xilouris.

My musical influences are both in Greek and foreign music. At a younger age I was influenced by the Australian scene (Johnny Farnham, INXS, Crowded House, AC/DC), British pop (Phil Collins, Robbie Williams, U2, Oasis), American Rock (Elvis, Johnny Cash, Metallica, Green Day, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams), RnB & Motown (Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Brian Mcknight), jazz and soul and the good old Greek Laika, entexna and neo kyma (Theodorakis,Hatzidakis,Loizos,Moutsis, Kazantzidis, Dalaras, Mitropanos). Growing older, keeping all these musical forms and adding some ethnic, Latin and swing for variety completed me.

Being brought up next to someone like my brother Dimitri, however, my greatest teacher and hero, who is an encyclopedia of musical knowledge is probably my biggest influence. He enjoys my work and is a tough critic. We learn each day from one another.

For me, inspiration can come from literally anything. My songs, especially the lyrics that I write, are from my life experiences, the mood, the feelings and striving for a better tomorrow. The music, on the other hand, comes to supplement and blend with the words, sometimes with flow, sometimes in contrast. Music is an outburst of the soul.

I definitely feel like I have two patrides… it’s a constant thought. I love it here, Greece is remarkable, one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries and the beauties are beyond a doubt second to none, but as the song says, “I still call Australia home.”

My wish for Greece is that it wakes up from the lethargy the politicians and governments have put us through. The prolonged economic recession must end now. All the Greeks want is to live with dignity, with a decent job so they can offer their families a better life.”

*Photo credit: Artplus Studio (Copyright) 

Gina Mamouzelos

Gina is a third generation Greek Australian who grew up immersed in her Greek heritage, including the language, traditions, culture and listening to her grandparent’ mesmerising tales about life in Greece. Passionate about ensuring the Greek language is not forgotten among the younger generations, in 2002 she became a panel member on the SBS Greek radio show ‘Let’s Talk Openly.' She graduated with a Media and Communications degree from the University of Sydney and has put her lifelong passion for writing to use working in social media, public relations and advertising. Gina now joins GCT's team as a writer.

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