The real thoughts of man don’t need to follow the general trend or fashion.
They only have to touch the frequency of the truth.
The importance of a thought isn’t dependent on how often someone repeats it.
The knowledge of tomorrow will always rise in the mind of an individual.
The visionary navigates the world not the crowd !
Vangelis - The Interview
In art the term “timeless“ is a definition of high quality. Your music has never sounded like a single trend or a single style epoch.
For example, you can hear Mexican, Chinese and Byzantine influences on your albums Mask, China, Odes and El Greco.
Is there a culture - except the Greek - that you find particularly exciting?
Is there a historical epoch do you feel very connected to?
VANGELIS: We always trying to divide music in different styles ethnicities etc. To me, music is ONE, therefore there are no boundaries or any other major divisions.
You started making music at a young age.
Is there a composition that you have composed as a child and can now be heard on one of your albums?
VANGELIS: Although as a child I composed a fair amount of music, nothing of all these ever appeared in an album.
Is there a classical composer or a classical composition
you like most?
VANGELIS: There are many composers and their compositions that I adore and respect.
With your music you influence many people from different countries and different ages. Have certain people or social developments ever had a major impact on your music?
VANGELIS: I can answer this question by saying that the relation between music and humans is like communicating vessels. And it works like “Catch – 22”. I mean like a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions. Deep down, music as the major force of the universe does that.
You have created milestones with the soundtracks to Blade Runner, 1492:Conquest of paradise and Chariots of Fire, which partially overshadows the multitude of your other works. Which of your other works would you recommend to a musically interested listener who does not know your work so well yet?
VANGELIS: In order to answer correctly to your question, you have to understand that not all my works had the same exposure due to the fact that the majority of them are not been tied to a movie so they didn’t have the chance to be heard widely. We all know that record companies they never spend the right amount of effort and funds to promote these works to the public properly, therefore they prefer the easy way, another media like a movie to do the job for them.
As I cannot release what I feel, as I have to pass through the customs of the music industry, there is a vast amount of music that I composed and never had the chance to see the light of the day. Therefore, our discussion is limited because what is known to you and to the public for me, it presents a fraction of my works.
Now, for what you are asking me, is not my position to recommend anything from my compositions. I do what I do and its up to the public - if they have the chance to hear my works - to decide.
Parallel to your work as a composer you paint.
Is there a connection in the process of creating a piece of music or a painting? Is there an artistic approach in both areas that could be described as typical Vangelis?
VANGELIS: I’ve been asked this question many times and the answers is always the same. Painting is coming by me while music through me. I hope that this covers your question but for me is the most accurate answer I can give you.
Some people create something and the others enjoy it.
Which creations from art, film or music you can enjoy and absorb independently of your own creativity?
VANGELIS: I enjoy all the kind of expressions when they are sincere to the universe, therefore to the people.
Nature and science have always been important topics for you.
The album “Soil Festivities” is a kind of appreciation of nature. On the other hand, you made the music for the documentary “Trashed” showing the destruction of nature.
The misuse of scientific achievements often destroys nature and therefore also man.
What do you currently see as the greatest danger to nature and man?
VANGELIS: Human itself.
What scientific achievements do you expect from space travel or scientists in the next few years?
VANGELIS: Whatever science can bring to humanity I hope and I wish that it will be used properly and wisely for the good of humankind. All depends of the use of these achievements. Most of the time, all these scientific achievements are used against nature, therefore against humanity but never against profit.
There is no doubt that you have made a significant contribution to the world of synthesizer music.
In Greek mythology you would certainly be worshiped as a Synthesizer-god.
However, you have always played other instruments on your album like drums percussion and the piano.
Your latest album is called – Nocturne – the Piano album. Is the piano an instrument on which you especially like to develop melodies? Does the piano act as a criterion for whether a melody works or not?
VANGELIS: I repeatedly said that I don’t found any difference between what we call acoustic and the electronic instruments. I have the impression that is been a kind of misconception between these two categories. The instruments before the synthesizers, in order to produce a sound they need frittering like the violin, the strings etc., or they need plugging like the guitar, the harpsicles etc., or the need blowing like the trumpets, the trombones etc. and finally hinging like percussions and the piano. They need these to imitate and cover what is given by nature. At the case of synthesizers you need electricity and generators in order to create the sounds of nature. To me, the synthesizers are equally natural instruments. After all, what is more natural from electricity? This operation and the arguments between these two sources of sound it becomes a ridiculous issue. For instance, I cannot see the difference between a bicycle where you have to peddle to take you from a place to another and a motorcycle which does the same thing and uses other power like gasoline. Although I’m
saying these, I can tell you that there is one difference. This difference is the playability which is the ability given from the instrument to allow human expression. This is a very important factor for an instrument and it is something existed always for acoustic instruments, since the beginning of their existence. But not forget that the synthesizers are extremely young. In the few years of their existence and because of the narrow minding of the designers and the constructors of synthesizers – sometimes due to technical difficulties or due to the negligence - they never paid attention of this important factor of expression. But this is getting better and better. In order to cover the totality of universal sounds you need both approaches. Soon it will be a time, that it wont be any difference between acoustic, as we call them, instruments and electronic instruments (synthesizers) and it will be the end of that quarrel.
Now, to answer about the piano: for this instrument it took three centuries to reach the point to call this instrument “The piano” (actually the real name is “The piano forte”). And although as a polyphonic instrument which helps the composers, is one of the most difficult instrument for expression as the playability factor of the piano is far less from other acoustic instruments e.g. the violin., flute etc..
Regarding the second part of your question, I would like to point this: when a melody is born, doesn’t need anything to prove itself.
At this point I would like to add something about the synthesizers. The word comes from the Greek word synthesis, which means harmonious co-existence. In this case how you feel if I call the Symphony Orchestra the first synthesizer? That proves the need of people to put together, simultaneously, all the sounds together in order to create colors. Multitude of colors - if that is not the synthesizer, what is it?
Why did you use the Yamaha CS-80 so often? For example, he was very prominent in BLADE RUNNER and CHARIOTS OF FIRE what sets him apart from other synthesizers?
VANGELIS: CS-80 was, and still is - until something new coming- the instrument which allows you to play and to express yourself. It has the playability that I mentioned before. That it is what I was trying to explain to you at a previous question of yours. CS-80 wasn’t very commercially successful for 3 reasons: 1. It is too heavy to be transported. (I don’t consider this as a serious reason). 2. It was for the time very expensive, compare to other synthesizers. And 3d and most important reason is that this synthesizer, in order to be played correctly, you had to study seriously how to play it. Exactly like you had to do with any other acoustic instrument. Unfortunately is been promoted to the wrong type of musicians at a period when everybody was trying to find an easy and quick way to extract a sound and not to learn how to do that. So, it was inevitably not to be successful.
Does the title Nocturne refer to the time of its creation? Do you like composing in the night?
VANGELIS: Although I can create any time of the day, its true that I have sympathy of the night.
You also composed for the ballet like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Frankenstein - Modern Prometheus“ and now for the Ballet Dance Production „The Thread“ (world premiere in London). What was the main reason that you worked for this new project?
VANGELIS: The Thread is a dance production inspired by the Greek traditional music and dances. It’s a new way to approach something that exists since the beginning of times. It´s like an excavation to the past and at the same time an excavation to the future.
You have already realized many musical themes and concepts.
Are there still many ideas in your planning?
VANGELIS: I prefer not to plan because planning - even though seems practical - it kills the spontaneity.
You started as autodidact, composing at the tender age of four. You refused traditional piano lessons and the learning of music reading and music writing. Do you master this in the meantime or do you not need that as a contemporary composer? Are you a free spirit?
VANGELIS: Since my early days I always felt that music cannot be taught. Not long time ago, I read a quote from Claude Debussy, this divine composer, where he was saying exactly the same thing. I’m sure around the world there are many that they think the same way. Without of course turning down all the others that they spend years and years studying in music schools.
After all these, I leave it to you to decide what kind of spirit I am.
How was the collaboration with oceanographer Jean-Jacques Cousteau?
VANGELIS: I found this collaboration quite pleasant As a matter of fact, not long ago I had the chance to collaborate with his son Pierre, as well.
Your Oscar for synthesizer music to CHARIOTS OF FIRE caused a change in Hollywood. But what advantages does electronic music have for you?
VANGELIS: Speed, freedom, spontaneity and new sound colors.
With BLADE RUNNER you created the electronic sound of tomorrow in 1982. MYTHODEA, on the other hand, was more orchestral. Nevertheless, NASA used the main motive for the presentation of the Mars mission MARS ODYSSEY. Why did you use more orchestral sounds here and synthetic with BLADE RUNNER?
VANGELIS: If every time I ask my self “why this” and “why that” I will never be free and spontaneous. As I mentioned before, I don’t make a difference between electronic or acoustic music. Every time the music leads me to use what she needs.
How did you come to the Japanese film NANKYOKU MONOGATARI in 1983, which tells the story of the survival of the self-reliant sled dogs in the Antarctic? If I may allow myself the comment: This is your best film music, because in the icy music you have also brought the warmth, yes, the soul of the dogs to the tune. How important is this work for you? Are you also dog friend?
VANGELIS: You mentioned the word ICY and this is compliment for me because this is the first element that I tried to achieve at this score. You to mention that, means that I succeeded.
The story of this movie is a real story, the dogs are heroes in Japan and this film became, as far as I remember, the biggest box office hit in the history of Japan till then. Now, you are interested to know if I like dogs? I definitely do.
Do you like watching movies yourself? What are your favorites?
VANGELIS: Of course I like movies. I always liked movies. I like many films but I tent to enjoy more the movies from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
Your interest in mysticism and mythology seems profound. Probably not just because of your Greek descent?
VANGELIS: First because I’m human being and definite because I’m Greek. Is there anything more mystic than the primary vibration aka The Music?
Some music critics try to press their music in templates. Can you really do anything with labels like New Age Music or Dark Ambient, or how would you define your music yourself with a generic term?
VANGELIS: All these divisions are made to help only the market. The moment that music became a product, it had to be labeled. I’m really concern about it. As I answer at a previous question, music for me is ONE.
How do you see the future of music? Do you think that in 100 or 1000 years, there will be a completely different understanding of music? And therefore completely new kind of compositions?
VANGELIS: Human beings use music according to the level of their civilization. Therefore in 1000 years, if humanity progress or decline, the same will happen to their music.