–What is it like coming back and playing again?
–I don’t know! What is it like?
–Is it exciting?
–I don’t know. I don’t get excited anymore.
–Because I don’t! I never have done.
(Excerpt from the interview Ginger Baker gave to Patrick Doyle for Rolling Stone Magazine in October 2013)
At times I have this intense need to push one button and mute whatever is happening before my eyes. And I do it. I stand there, watching without listening. Similarly, there are certain moments that I would like to be able to pick up the background music myself. For example, a bold musical composition, transforming the funny moments into wild tales and on other occasions playing down the emotional moments with easy tunes. That's when I realize however that no structured music can be combined with light moments, let alone with the image of a whole life, dedicated to music.
It has never crossed my mind in the past to publish the archive of music interviews I have since the early '90s. At least not until a good friend asked me whether I would like to use it in a way. “But how?”, I responded. “In a book, maybe a documentary”, he said. Only the thought of it brought me a headache. Not due to the amount of information I’ve been collecting during all these years; recorded audio, unpublished interviews, moving letters from artists and excerpts from radio interviews, but rather due to the realization that during all these years I have been collecting material, just for the act of collecting. What I finally understood is that in order to publish a readable book or a watchable documentary, its content should first and foremost relate to the one signing it.
Apart from the way that I personally perceive the music of the people who spent their time talking with me and in many cases trusted me as if they knew me since forever, the challenge (I guess) was, is and will always be, to apprehend the normality and the extremes of those superstars that are sitting opposite to you, in no more than 20 minutes. More or less, as long as one (more) interview lasts. What is the most important to me and I can never put on paper, nor on film, is that unique feeling during the first meeting, during the first interaction with the artist, just before the interview starts, when the microphones and the cameras are still turned off. Many times, on the basis of that first impression, I was forced to restructure the whole interview in my mind, just before starting it.
When I was putting together the scenario for a music documentary, I remember the countless hours that I’ve spent at montage, trying to “protect” the importance of the first contact with some of the musicians. The truth is, you cannot “decode” a person addicted to his image, when approaching him with cameras and microphones. I do not know whether there is any point in meeting your heroes in order to debunk the myth surrounding them or even solidify it. What I 've learned is that sometimes, the best strategy is not to talk about music with them. Maybe because life is infuriatingly short to spend it looking for the sound of its essence, in one single thing. No matter how enthusiastically you may clap your hands to its beat.
Katerina Kafentzi (Kafka) is a dj and program director of En Lefko Radio 87,7 (Athens).