Every Monday we will be bringing you interviews with unsigned UK or Ireland artists for Independent Music Monday. Recently we caught up with unsigned London based singer Anatoli Tsampa to find out more…
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I was born in Greece and grew up in a small and quite fairytalelike city surrounded by mountains but also very close to the seaside. I started learning guitar when I was 10 and soon after the piano. My sister was learning the piano too so we played duets and there was always live music in the house. When I was 15 a boy I knew but hadn't ever talked to came to me and said "We have a band, do you want to join?" So I joined "Seisachtheia" as keybord player and background vocalist, occasionally singing lead. We went on to become great friends and have a lot of fun rehearsing in my basement, playing regular gigs in our hometown and touring the local area for the next 3 years, until we all left to study in different parts of the world.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
I grew up listening to what my parents played at home, the Beatles and Greek art music, which I both love to this day. Then when I started learning music I was introduced to classical music, which is a fantastic and emotionally very rich world. My sister decided early on she wanted to be a concert pianist (she became one!) so I got to listen to a lot of piano works as well. And I still remember the exact moment I first heard the bass line of "Billie Jean" at a school party when I was 7. Michael Jackson has been a major influence for me ever since on so many levels. Then I discovered Queen and Freddie Mercury, who I also love and admire very much as a musician and a human being. I also love vocal jazz, especially female singers and especially the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. I listen to and get influenced by many contemporary artists as well (Bon Iver, Aurora, London Grammar, Feist, Esperanza Spalding, Hozier, Cyrille Aimée to name a few) but I always come back to my old school influences for inspiration and affirmation. I call influences music or artists who have affected my worldview as well, not just my current taste or songwriting.
How would you describe your sound?
It depends on the song. Maybe melancholic jazz influenced singer-songwriter indie-pop. But I like to experiment, always given the fact that I only have one voice, mine.
What is your latest release called and what was the influence behind it?
I've just released my debut single 'Only a Stranger' (21.06.19). It's a song that talks about love found in big cities, where people from very different backgrounds cross paths. In cities like London there is a lot of loneliness and people form relationships to fight it or not face it. When the relationship is over the reality becomes obvious
that, besides the part of life they shared and in spite of the big dreams they might have had together, these two people were and go back to being strangers. Which is a realisation sad enough to inspire a song. Maybe more than one.
What’s your local music scene like?
It's London we are talking about. The music scene is unparalleled. And it's the reason why I and many other artists are here.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
I'll be releasing a follow-up single in the autumn and another one before the end of the year. Hopefully I can release a full album soon because I believe this is where a singer-songwriter can really unfold and express an artistic concept. And I hope I can perform my songs live because this is where all the magic happens.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Stevie Wonder among the living legends. And I wouldn't mind collaborating with Tom Odell or Bon Iver or Hozier. If a time machine is included then of course things change, my ideal duets would be different.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
I was playing with my band on the street during the Berlin Marathon, encouraging the runners. An elderly man was falling behind and stopped next to me for some rest and a chat. He asked me the usual, where I'm from and what my name is and when I told him my name means sunrise he grabbed my microphone and started singing 'O Sole Mio' in a very strong operatic voice! The runners loved it! Another time I was singing jazz in a jazz venue and a slightly tipsy lady was apparently delighted by the fact that I'm Greek and kept yelling "Opa! Opa!" (*Greek expression used in celebrations) before, during and after my elegant jazz songs. I wasn't very delighted then but I find it hilarious now.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
That I don't really believe in genres, I believe in Music and the need of expression. That I'm heart-driven and I hope to connect through my songs with people on an emotional level.