Manos Milonakis is a composer/producer/performer and an architect, based in Thessaloniki, Greece. Last May he had released his third solo work, the original soundtrack for “FESTEN”, by “Moderna Records” from Montreal.
“Festen” is the culmination of a musical career that spans for about ten years, during which Manos is slowly being discovered by an audience that loves instrumental work, rich in ambiences, elaborate atmosphere that lead you into a music “trail”. Fasten in particular is a complete palette of instrumentations and ambiences – sometimes discreet, atmospheric and others at the forefront of a strong narrative, since it results from 3 months of theatrical rehearsals and studio work – a soundscape odyssey fusing piano, wurlitzer piano, synthesizers, persephone, glockenspiel, violin, viola, cello, guitar, beat programming and loop processing.
We had the chance to interview Manos and learn more about his work.
1.What was the first tune you learned?
It must have been some piece from Éric Serra’s score for the “Big Blue”. I was so much impressed by this soundtrack (and film) and i recall trying to play it on piano… sometime in the early 90s.
My music is mostly instrumental so, I just like to see it as a half-complete world which is waiting for new people to interact with.
2.When did you decide composing and performing would be part of your life?
I’d say it was not a conscious decision. Once we started, with my friend George Papadopoulos, seeing music more “seriously” and we formed the band “Your Hand in Mine”, we were lucky enough to be invited to play many great venues, occasions and festivals. 6 years and 3 albums later, we stopped running the band, but composing and performing had already become an obsession, a need which still lives inside me.
3.How would you describe your music?
In terms of record store tags, I would be probably found on the “modern classical”, “electronic” or maybe “folk” shelf. My music is mostly instrumental so, I just like to see it as a half-complete world which is waiting for new people to interact with.
4.Are you influenced by other musicians or performers? Which ones?
Yes. New internet discoveries and other artists can be a great source of inspiration, especially when your local music community is tiny… not necessarily in the musical sense (to make a song in the likes of sb), but for setting an end to procastrination and actually DO things! I always admired the endless passion of Nils Frahm and many of my label mates such as Ed Carlsen, Tambour, Daigo Hanada.
5.Do you enjoy more to compose or to perform?
I really enjoy the “safety” of my studio and the freedom to experiment whenever the mood strikes in my private space, but I guess nothing can compare to the vibes and the feelings of a good concert. Performing is an act of magical (and temporary) communication… It’s also great to remember that before recording was invented, music existed only through concerts! I think there’s a secret sense of “uniqueness” that’s survived from that era.
It’s also great to remember that before recording was invented, music existed only through concerts! I think there’s a secret sense of “uniqueness” that’s survived from that era.
6. What is “Festen”, how did you come up with this album?
Festen is the soundtrack I scored for a theatrical adaptation of Thomas Vinterberg’s film of the same name. It is ingeniously directed by Yiannis Paraskevopoulos for the National Theatre of Northern Greece and very recently it got presented at the Athens’ National Theatre, as part of “Athens and Epidaurus” festival. The theatrical play had a huge success in both Thessaloniki and Athens (all shows went sold out!) and so I considered a good idea sending my music out to some labels. Moderna Records of Montreal got back to me and we’re enjoying a wonderful collaboration so far! My latest release, Festen, can be ordered worldwide in CD or Digital through http://modernarecords.bandcamp.com
7.Are there limitations when writing for theatre?
Yes, many. First thing you must consider is that you’re writing for a specific space. The theatre acoustics can alter your musical ideas to a great extent, so one must be rather proactive to incorporate these into composition, as much as possible. This is a concept that always intrigued me to research more into. In addition, you’re contributing a prefabricated element that does not change, to an experience that’s constantly changing in every single show. Your work needs to be structured in a dynamic and adaptive way, to permit that. The limitation list goes on, but isn’t it true that every time you narrow your choices, you’re getting closer to artistic freedom?
I found myself in Viktor (Orri Árnason)’s home studio, where we recorded the most of Sólfar in a day (!) with the help of great local string players.
8.Tell us a little about Solfar, your previous solo album. When and how it was produced?
Making a record in Iceland has always been a post-teen dream… I grew up listening to icelandic artists and had always wished to meet and collaborate with these people. In the summer of 2014, given the occasion of going there for vacation, I decided to make my plan work! I wrote down some names I found in the credits of CD booklets and reached them via Facebook. Fortunately, all I got was positive vibes and friendliness and, some hundreds of emails later, I found myself in Viktor (Orri Árnason)’s home studio, where we recorded the most of Sólfar in a day (!) with the help of great local string players. There were, of course, some difficulties, but it was overall a learning and super-exciting experience! After the session, while taking a walk across Reykjavik’s waterfront, I came across this beautiful fish/ship shaped sculpture of Jon Gunnar. I read: “Sólfar the sun voyager. With the sun being his only guide, Sólfar crossed mountains, endless wild forests, jungles and waterfalls only to reach the coast, construct a boat and sail towards the homeland (he believed) he had.” It immediately felt that my instict driven quest for intimacy in such a faraway country was much connected to his story… I could not give a different name to my EP!
9. What are your plans for the future?
My next step would be to complete the live arrangements for my latest album “Festen” and be able to present this around in concerts. In the meantime, I have some on-going collaborations with some directors to score for a short and a feature film, while in winter, i’ll be hopefully working on 2 new theatrical soundtracks.
You can learn more about Festen creative process by watching this making of video:
Manos Milonakis short bio
Manos started in 2006, along the multi-instrumental musical duet of “Your Hand in Mine”. People in Thessaloniki still recall and refer to their live sessions. Being one of the two “Your Hand in Mine”, Manos was given the chance to get deeper into composition, music technology and street music, as well as to study and collect a large variety of instruments: wurlitzer piano, accordion, electric bass, guitars, percussion, stroh-violin, theremin, ukulele, glockenspiel, melodica, toy piano, music boxes, to name a few… After 2014, Manos continued as a solo artist, His solo career includes recording his “Solfar EP”, in Reykjavik, Iceland with a local string quartet. He is also freelance composing for Theatrical plays of the National Theatres of Greece and Romania, as well as for documentaries and commissioned work, while he is keen on performing live at selected places and occasions.
You can follow Manos and his music here: