A year after his debut album “Kaemos”, composer and guitarist James Basdanis continues his productive musical journey with a new EP of three new compositions, titled “Diddycoy”. These are instrumental songs that James Basdanis wrote during the post-release time of “Kaemos” and performed them live with the Anatolian trio in several cities in Greece. The project consists of three instrumental tracks (1. Diddycoy, 2. Unbalanced, 3. The Conium) featuring the special eastern guitar sound and musical aesthetic of its creator. Each of the pieces is a story. A combination of emotion and technique in a blend of east meets west. James’s musical style ‘plays’ between rock, Jazz and Greek traditional music.
James Basdanis is a Greek modern fusion guitarist with a special (eastern) Anatolian sound. He is a founding member of the bands Stichovoli and Programmed to Rock (PTR), as well as a member of various bands and side projects. A seasoned performer with over 500 (and counting) live concerts and gigs all over Greece and in Australia, James is the composer of several recordings and original songs heard in theater plays and on the radio. In recent years he has been dedicated to his “Anatolian Trio” project.
- Can you tell us a little bit about where you come from and how you got started making music?
James Basdanis: I come from a small but famous country, Greece! From a young age I was involved in music, I tended to try to create my own creations, so I do not know exactly when, however many years ago.
- Have you had formal training or are you self-taught?
James Basdanis: Αs I usually say: “We are all self-taught”. If we do not want to learn ourselves we will not learn even if we have the best teachers in the world. Personally, I happened to have good teachers and I was thirsty for learning!
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
James Basdanis: Definitely the folk and traditional Greek music…and somewhere in my adolescence rock music came into my life!
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
James Basdanis: In my music I’m trying to construct emotional images, or better soundtracks for real life events. I feel that the key elements!
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
James Basdanis: Nowadays parthenogenesis is very difficult to exist. Perhaps what can make a new music stand out from the rest, is a prototype combination of all the influences of its composer. Our generation have “dirty ears” for making “clean music”.
- Do you ever write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you always focus on your own personal vision and presuppose that it will be appreciated by a specific audience?
James Basdanis: I think I always focus on my own personal vision. It is like healing the soul. And I like it!
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do you most often start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed musical piece? Do you usually start with a rhythm, a narrative in your head, or a melody?
James Basdanis: I use all the ways depending on the occasion. Melody and rhythm are definitely the quintessence of music, but if I want to make the soundscapes I have to have the narration of a story in my mind.
- Finally, how would you describe your kind of music?
James Basdanis: I like to describe it as “Anatolian Jazz Rock”!
- How would you describe the sound of your new EP “Diddycoy” to any potential new fan?
James Basdanis: It is a musical journey from east to west full of images from the Mediterranean to the US desert. I told you “Anatolian jazz rock”! Haha!
- Did you use any particular experimental sounds, instrumentation, and/or recording techniques on this EP?
James Basdanis: It is the first time that in my orchestral music I used traditional percussion and Hammond. I feel that they fit very well!
- Did you collaborate or work with any other artists, on any of the songs on “Diddycoy”?
James Basdanis: The basic work is always done with the Anatolian trio – Me (Guitar), Nick (Bass) and George (Drums) – where we almost always record live. Then we’re adding other instruments as was done on this album with Sofia (Percussion) and Alex (Hammond).
- Are there any interesting behind the scenes anecdotes from the recording sessions that you can share with us?
James Basdanis: What happens in the studio sessions stays in the studio sessions.
- Where do you do most of your recording and production work? And is that where you recorded your new EP “Diddycoy”?
James Basdanis: I like where the pre-production of the new pieces takes place and most of the final production takes place. We did the same on the previous album (“Kaemos”), we did the same on “Diddycoy”. Most of the recordings were made at Rana Studio (Ioannina).
- What were the main compositional, performance, recording, and production challenges you came across on the “Diddycoy”?
James Basdanis: In 2019 my album “Kaemos” was released, and which had some success, so the goal was for “Diddycoy” to be at a higher level (compositions and production).
- Is there a particular song on “Diddycoy”, on which you feel you delivered your most perfect performance, technically and emotionally, and which came out even better than you initially expected?
James Basdanis: They are all my “children”. I do not really single out any of the pieces.
- Did you draw inspiration from any particular sound or style sources for this recording?
James Basdanis: What I always try to do … to convey with my own special guitar sound eastern sounds to western musical philosophy.
- In your opinion, what you would consider particular highlights to watch out for on “Diddycoy”?
James Basdanis: It is a deposit of my soul. That maybe means nothing or maybe it means a lot.
- What are some of the most important tools, software and/or instruments you used in creating your sound on the new EP?
James Basdanis: Nothing special, except emotions!
- There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily for you?
James Basdanis: In Greece, things have been difficult in recent years, so being creative is a solution, a cure for our inner dark feelings caused by this situation.
- In closing, what do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?
James Basdanis: I am definitely satisfied with the acceptance of the acceptance by the listeners. For the future I hope to be able touring again for concerts with the lads. Some special news is that we are in the process of pre-producing a new album that I hope will be released in late 2021 or early 2022! Thank you for this lovely interview, Rick!