The first album of Michalis Papoulakos is one of the most acclaimed releases of the year.
GDaddie’s first EP “Gone” released in 2009 on Dusted Wax Kingdom was among the best releases of the year and enjoyed positive comments from everyone. Since then, GDaddie –that had started releasing under the moniker Gonex3- has performed in the happenings of the International Film Festival of Thessaloniki and on the STFU Festival in Heidelberg, while a year ago he released his second EP “The Truth” again on DWK. The sound of GDaddie has evolved a great deal last year, it has become more psychedelic, with much heavier beats from the first album “Ride with Me” out on Memoryformat which is his most mature work to date. Besides the great variety of influences that have influenced his sound and make its categorization harder (from hip-hop to grime and disco) it’s a trip to everything we’ve come to love the last year that was being produced. In our meeting on Sunday in Exarcheia we discussed about immigration and the difficulty of doing what you love at any cost (during the day you work to make a living, but during the night you live only for creating), but mostly about music.
Photo: Nickolas Giakoumakis.
Why are you being called GDaddie?
It’s a vague translation of my surname. Papoulakos, Grand-daddy, GDaddie.
Tell me a few things about you. Who is GDaddie?
I was born in Athens, around 29 years ago. I’ve studied Mathematics and I’m into teaching.
What do you remember more intensely from your childhood?
Thundercats on Saturday mornings, Donkey Kong on SNES, my first CD, Michael Jackosn’sThriller.
As a child what did you want to become? What was your dream?
Ever since I remember myself I wanted to do something with music. Either as a listener, or as a guy trying to make music with any means possible. I still remember my first attempts. I was using a tape-recorder with a built-in microphone to record some instruments. I used to have drums then at home and I was recording to tape 3-minute clips. Then I had them playing back on another stereo and with the small tape recorder I was recording pads from a really crappy keyboard. The same process was being followed for the rest of the instruments and the vocals. Everything was one-take only, in horrible quality and with various effects on top, like my mom screaming “the food’s served!” and other stuff like that.
My dream has always been to create music and share it with people. When you’re young this whole rock’n’roll attitude and lifestyle may seem alluring, but it’s not only that at the end. Music is what gives purpose in my life it helps me reach to a level of internal balance. I cannot imagine myself without it.
How did you take up music? Tell me some things about your musical background?
The first band I’ve been in was a black metal duo (guitar and drums) and all this in a room in a six-story condo! It was a blast! Later on I was playing the guitar in an indie band, while at the same time I was discovering composing electronic music on my computer. Now, besides my personal work, I play more dj-oriented stuff with synths and samplers with Limbo, a band whose sound I find really special, based on rock’n’roll but influenced by the 30’s Gospel and the 00’s dubstep.
What were your first listening experiences? The first record you remember? Which discs drove you to music making?
In every phase of my life there have always been records that made me want to take up a particular instrument and/or try to make music in another style. For example, “I” by Led Zeppelin made want to take up drums, Radiohead’s “Ok Computer” made me want to play the guitar, “Drukqs” by Aphex Twin with electronic music, Miles Davis’ “Porgy and Bess” with jazz, and “The UnSeen” by Quisimoto with hip-hop and sampling.
On your soundcloud and elsewhere you quote as references the 60’s and 70’s sounds. What is this, that makes you prefer them musically?
I really like the guitar sound in combination with the powerful and rigid rhythmical part of the songs. It’s not only about the sound, it’s also about the innocence and the spontaneity of these recordings in these decades. The technological revolution in music has definitely granted us the opportunity to evolve, but at the expense of these things aforementioned.
Do maths help you when writing music?
No, not directly, truth is. There is this theory that music is mathematics and vice versa. No matter how alluring it may seem to certain people I don’t believe that this is accurate. Music, per se, isn’t mathematics (a lot have experimented with it, like Ksenakis, Aphex Twin and others), though you can describe music using mathematics (rhythmical ensembles, indian music etc.) but this is not a prerequisite and the trigger for its creation. Emotions is what matters.
Is there a record/book/film that changed your views in life or the way you look at things?
“One-Dimensional Man” by Marcuse, Nietzsche’s “The Gay Science”, Coppola’s “Dracula”, Fincher’s “Fight Club”, “International 666” by Dodheimsgard.
Do you believe in luck?
I do believe in chance and coincidence. The choices, the crossroads is what intrigues most in this life. I don’t think of it that much, I usually do what comes in my mind first.
Tell me a few things about Ride With Me, how did it occur to you, for how long have you been working on it, where would you pinpoint it sonically?
The tracks in Ride With Me, are being worked for about a year and a half now. Thre or Four of them were ready even before The Truth. They were in a different style however, and I wanted the mood for The Truth to be darker and the style more towards jazz. You cannot put in specific category the songs of Ride With Me. Psychedelia is definitely a common denominator, because there are hip-hop , disco and even grime tracks, filtered through a “dreamy” prism. My purpose was to make a sonic “trip” and this is how the title of the album ties in.
What was the biggest difficulty that you encountered when producing it?
The biggest challenge was “Sweet Honey Me”. The track was initially instrumental but something wasn’t right about it so I thought I should take it on a new level: to have some vocals in it. I came in contact with a number of domestic and international MC’s. One, well-known in fact, shorted me $300, and from the Greeks not even one replied. Anyway, I had to do it myself with the assistance of Sophia who also does backing vocals. I didn’t regret it at all and regardless of whether you like the song or not, it feels good having done it. Every obstacle works to your benefit, as they say.
How come you released it in Memoryformat?
I had sent the album on a rough mix to many companies in Greece and abroad, one actually replied but after a while they changed their mind. Eskei, owner of Memoryformat, is a friend and we’d worked together back in 2008 when I had released an EP under the name BadRatio. When I sent him the tracks he immediately told me that he wants to have them released! I really dig working with people that believe in what I do. And so it happened.
Tell me about the cover art.
It was designed by Indyvisuals. The idea for the horsey occurred to me along with the track Ride With Me and the interpretation by Petros Voulgaris, the illustrator, was impeccable, the best thing we could ever have done. Perfect.
And about the video of “Ride With Me”?
The video was shot by Turkish director Hasan Kuyucu. The initial story was different, but on the course Hasan found himself as a photographer in Idans Festival (a contemporary dance festival) in Istanbul. There he met the African team Sello Pesa & Vaughn Sadie, that they do all these things you see in the video. I personally found the whole performance very interesting combined with music.
What is the greatest difficulty a musician in Greece is facing today?
Making a living as a musician is very tough in Greece, because at the end the market is not large enough for this kind of thing. Being in Greece, in general –let alone being a musician- isn’t the best thing that could happen to you. And we’ve not seen the end of it yet.
What is success to you? What would be the ideal course for you as amusician?
For the time being, I would like the album to reach to as many people as possible. The project is totally DIY and it would be very positive if it enjoys some acclaim. Success is something relevant, now that we’re talking about the album, is a small success on its own. When other people start talking about it, then this success will be bigger.
What is the greatest benefit of music to you? Are there any losses?
Music to me is oxygen, as much as a cliché this may sound. I cannot imagine my life without me doing this. Of course, there is always a cost. The hours of resting and sleep are very few, because of my day-job, but you can’t do otherwise.
Your greatest fear?
What offends your sense of aesthetics? What bugs you in your environment?
I’m really bugged with the whole situation going on at the world currently. I don’t like seeing people skimming through garbage. I’m bugged with the lies constantly tossed at us by governments across the world, I’m being bugged with stereotypes, with fascists.
How do you see the future? Is there hope?
I honestly don’t know. I can’t really be optimistic about the not-so-distant future. I feel that we are at the end of an era and I don’t know if I like what I see coming. Whatever we’ve built all these years is on corroded foundations. Sometimes something must be destroyed in order for something new, stronger, more powerful, to take its place. We, or –better- the ones pulling the strings, are trying to stabilize a situation with patchworks and just for the benefit of some few, chosen ones.
How was 2011 for you? What was the year’s highlight and what its worst moment?
The highlight is coming in a few days! It’s the release of the album on Memoryformat. On Thursday morning it will be available for download on the MF site. On the same spot are also the lives that we did with Limbo. Terrific times! Now on the other side what can one say? The externally appointed prime minister? Adonis as a minister? The riots in Syntagma? Can’t really pick one out.
Tell me about your immediate plans. What are you going to play on Thursday?
Well, on Thursday we have the presentation of the album at Ginger Ale in Exarcheia. The opening act will be Nickos Mardakis aka Big Fat Lips. Then you will get the chance to listen to some new tracks from Ride With Me, and some older ones with guest musicians: Anthony from Limbo, Georgia Karydi from Mr.Canfind. Be there!
“Ride With Me” is released on digital by Memoryformat, you can find it here. On Thursday December 15th, at 9.30 pm, GDaddie along with his friends are presenting it live at Ginger Ale, in Exrcheia Sq., no admission.