Interview Stelios Romaliadis (Lüüp, Vault of Blossomed Ropes)

Baldo, Cultartes: Lüüp seems to be a multinational scale project, downright. For the “Meadow Rituals” there was working a very large team from all over the Europe. What does this project Lüüp means, as the basic concept?

Stelios: Lüüp is a musical project that has participants from various places of Europe. Every participant has enough space to contribute his music personality and influences to this project. I am very interested in collaborating with musicians from different cultures and music backgrounds. We have set up a trio with Lefteris Moumtzis, Sofia Efklidou and I for concerts and we can have other musicians joining as well (as happened with Lisa Isaksson and David Svedmyr).

How do you work with all of these artists, considering the different countries they come from? Or, perhaps, how do you realise to create harmony and understanding in this form?

Some materials are composed by me and then performed by various musicians and some materials are written together with some Lüüp collaborators (for instance Lisa Isaksson, Andria Degens, Lefteris Moumtzis, David Jackson, Akis Boyatzis, and Greg Haines etc). There are some pieces that we have worked by distance, exchanging ideas and recordings back and forth; some were formed by improvising together in the studio and then rearranging these improvisations, just like re-composing the ideas that came through improvisations. And there are improvisations that were left untouched afterwards like “Sketches for two Puppets”.

When have you discovered this passion for an instrument that usually is not given as a birthday present, for example?

My first contact with woodwinds in “rock” was Van der Graaf Generator’s “H to He Who Am the Only One”. What a shock that was! David Jackson is such an inspiration; his playing is really a basic part of the song and not just accompanying. And the way he used the amplified Saxes and flute! I think he was the first musician to play woodwind instruments with pedals and effects. Still I cannot believe that we played together! Another defining moment for me was when I first listened to the debut album of King Crimson. The flute parts in songs like “I Talk to The Wind” and “In the Court of the Crimson King” are really magical. So I would suggest these records as birthday presents first in order to persuade someone to play the flute (or saxophone, or any other instrument).

Have you ever had the intention of playing alone, somewhere in a place where you can truly find yourself in this friendship of your flute sounds and of nature? If not, where would you like to do that, if you would?

I am always in search of places where you can play with the reverb of the environment. I have tried playing flute in woods and mountains and the sound just gets a bit lost when there’s no return from close surroundings. So the ideal place for me if I was to play alone would be a cathedral or something. There is a place in Oslo, Norway called Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum. I have listened to some solo recordings there and they sound amazing. The reverb time duration of this place is very long and the acoustics produce reflective sounds that are as if there is someone else there with you mixing what you play on the spot.

If you were asked to promote the flute, as advertising, what would you say about this instrument with magical connotations?

I would say that it is an instrument most personal and graceful. It is an instrument that never ceases to amaze me with its flexibility and its ability to evolve and reveal new aspects through the years of playing. And you can always leave your fellow colleagues to do all the packing and carrying after a concert, cause you are the first to finish packing!

Among classical composers, which you could say had the greatest impact on you?

The first composer I REALLY listened to was Igor Stravinsky. His music language revealed a world of harmony and rhythm which I haven’t heard before (and since maybe). He was a genius that changed music forever. And his music introduced me to 20th century composers as well.

Modern music wear different clothes, has different interpretations. How do you see the evolution of music that seems to go for a more minimalist expression? Can we find art in simple things?

Throughout the history of music there was always a kind of common music language from era to era; composers in classical music had a sort of common ground and common influences. There were always pioneers that shifted the route but they had their origins and roots in previous tradition, too. Same thing happened in rock music, pop music and so on. The last decade I feel there is not a certain movement, a certain field that many musicians feel they somehow “belong” to, in a major scale anyway. Indeed, as you say, the only unifying factor I can see is a minimalistic approach that a lot of musicians are taking. And by minimalistic I don’t’ mean simplistic or minimal music, but just the effort to say things with fewer ornaments as possible. To somehow catch the essence of a work and present it in a more concentrated manner.
Modern music lets the obvious unspoken, it requests from the listener the responsibility to listen and participate by filling the “gaps” that the composer has left unsaid.
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Vault of Blossomed Ropes is the name of another project you are closely related to. Music is one, after my point of view, that reaches some heights of very fine senses. What kind of story says the most recent release in this formula?

Vault of Blossomed Ropes debut album was made by developing ideas with the other members of the band through improvisation on specific themes and then working on the material further to achieve its final form. On some pieces we have been influenced by traditional ritualistic music of various countries such as Indonesia (Java gamelan), India and Japan. And by influenced I mean more in a way of trying to reconstruct the impression, the impact that this traditional music had on us.
We have been honoured to work with Steve Jansen (drums, percussion, sound treatments) on the album and of course we were really impressed by his contribution, especially in the way he understood exactly what we wanted without having to explain much! He had this intuition about what to do and it worked great.

Many people know that Greece is a sunny country only good to visit for its foreshores and the hospitality of the people out there. But in what particular place, and sheltered from the views of travel agencies, do you propose us to visit?

There are many diverse places in Greece and I would propose places that are “off-the-beaten-track” like the Peloponnese region with its mountains and archaeological sites. There are also some ancient originated celebrations and customs (throughout Greece) carrying tradition variations that are very interesting (like in Skyros).

What would you like to visit in Romania, from all of what you have heard about our country? I think that many things, more or less significant, are said about Romania!

I would like to visit the Transylvanian region and villages, and would love to listen to authentic traditional music from Romania. Bela Bartok has recorded some folk songs from Transylvania villages and they are amazing! And I would like to know more contemporary bands and composers as well.

Is any Romanian artist or band you would like to collaborate with?

Unfortunately I don’t know much bands and composers from Romania apart from Hyperion Ensemble, Ana-Maria Avram and Iancu Dumitrescu. I would be interested to collaborate with anyone who would be interested in collaborating with me.

Thank you for your granted time! Good luck with your projects!

Thank you for this kind invitation!

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