Tag Archives: flamenco

Artist Feature: Achilles Kallergis

Just a couple of months ago we connected with Achilles Kallergis at El Born, a dope Spanish restaurant down the street from us. This multi-faceted Brooklyn-based artist by way of Athens, Greece, and Switzerland utilizes his guitar to reflect on and respond to the various sets of stimuli that comprise the reality we live in. Achilles has recently dove into the art of Flamenco music and he celebrates the power and continuity of this folk art form that has handed down generations of style, melody, and story. Drawing on his global presence, his future projects involve recording albums with connected artists from around the world. In a piece that locates the power of song as a common denominator around the globe, Achilles breaks down the collaborative and improvisational possibilities of music.

Achilles Kallergis

Art is very esoteric and personal but it is also an attempt to connect and communicate with people, the need to feel part of the world, of a place, of a community. And that is a contradiction: the secret or mystic world of the artist crying out for contact and connection with the rest of the world.

– Achilles Kallergis

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AK: I am from Athens, Greece and currently living in Brooklyn NYC for the past five years. I’m a musician, guitarist, and composer interested in both written and improvised music forms.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AK: Any artistic expression is a response or in response to something experienced. Art reflects life, lived or even un-lived experiences so reflection and response is always at the center of any piece of art.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AK: Especially in improvised music (whatever the style) I think everything is response and reflection. It can be a response to a musical phrase, to one note or texture (even to the sound of the cash register at the bar). At the same time though it reflects the mood, personality and experiences of the performer. It is responding to and “being at the moment” while reflecting who you are. 

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AK: Recently I’ve been getting obsessed with flamenco. It’s definitely a new art form for me which I started getting deeper into more recently. Definitely challenging in every aspect but also extremely deep in a unique way. It is really heavy and powerful music. Also, at a time where everything is about the next “new thing” or new sound it is very refreshing to go back to a folk music form, that does not claim to be innovative but strongly rooted in the history of its people. One that has been orally transmitted from generation to generation and that brings with it the tumultuous history of Gitanos, perhaps the most misunderstood and persecuted group in history. I feel this connection to the past is something that is missing from many new music idioms. Maybe flamenco showcases the importance of response and reflection – a response and reflection on the history of Gitanos by Gitanos.

In terms of new works, I’m looking forward to record two albums. The first one will be based entirely on my compositions and will document my working jazz quartet featuring Timo Vollbrecht on saxophone, Adam Hopkins on bass and Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums. I’ve been playing with these guys for a while now and I’m grateful cause they are all amazing musicians who manage to add a new dimensions to my music.

Another exciting future project is a collaboration with some musicians from Switzerland featuring Ganesh Geymeier, great saxophone player and improvisor, Michael Gabriele and Marc Olivier Savoy who are both members of Ouizzz one of my favorite bands (make sure that you check them out!). I will be joining them for a recording in Switzerland next summer and I am really happy to reconnect and play with these guys. 

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Clarke Reid

Clarke Reid is a musician and traveler who we first met in his hometown of Seattle, Washington. He’s played a variety of music, an eclecticism made ever wider by the distances he’s traveled. Whether playing with Seattle-based the Cumbieros or wielding a ukulele throughout Andalucía, Spain, music has been an important common ground for this creator. We welcome Clarke to the Collective to speak on his unique perspective on Reflection and Response, the social nature of music, and other topics from our dude straight out of Pozoblanco, Spain.

Clarke Reid

Response is what just naturally comes out of being in new situations and playing music with new people.

– Clarke Reid

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

CR: I’m from Seattle, in the United States. I currently live in a town called Pozoblanco, which is in the Cordoba province of Andalucía, Spain. I’m doing a yearlong program here where I’m like the native English-speaking assistant in a public high school.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

CR: Deliberate reflection is probably something I should do more often. The Alarm on my phone that wakes me up in the morning is titled “look up, notice little things.” It’s something I got from reading  “peace is every step” by Buddhist teacher, philosopher, etc. Thich Nhat Hahn and its a reminder to slow down and relax and notice what’s going on around me and enjoy it. It’s something I don’t do often enough, but when I do it’s awesome. Especially when I’m traveling or living in another country and running around all the time and trying new things, it’s important to slow down and reflect on things. Like, if I feel like crap sometimes I don’t even realize it until I slow down for a sec and think about it and then think about why. Or if I’m feeling great (often a result of just having eaten a wholesome meal, being outside in nice weather, an unexpectedly pleasant exchange with a stranger, a laugh with a friend, or any combination of many other things) its nice to recognize it and revel in it. Then I have to respond. Like I said I’m still working on it. One thing I’m trying to do right now is sleep more and drink less. And get sick less (like cold/flu sick).

I’ve been traveling a lot recently, so when it comes to music, reflection and response is about noticing what kind of inspiration is around me and really trying to dive into that. When I was younger my dad listened to a lot of progressive rock from the 70s so I got into that. My high school had a really good jazz band so in high school I listened to a lot of jazz and was really influenced by that. In college I had a music professor that was more into experimental music and free jazz so I tried that and learned a lot of new things. I was also part of a hip-hop band so I started checking out more of that culture and music. The story goes on and on like that, including a year living in Chile and some other travels. Now I live in Spain and I’m doing the same thing. I’d like to think that I’m constantly responding and changing and evolving my style and music and stuff, but I haven’t really studied music formally recently so it’s harder to see and measure exactly how I’m changing. I guess the response is what just naturally comes out of being in new situations and playing music with new people. Maybe sometime in the near future I’ll sit down and really reflect and play something or write some material that brings everything together. That would be a good goal actually.

How do “The Other Side of the River” and “Woodle” fit in with that definition?

CR: Firstly, “The Other Side of the River” is written for ukulele, which is an instrument that I bought recently when I discovered it’s a great travel instrument. It’s portable and can be used to jam with other instruments, by itself, or with singing. So it fits with the sort of traveling chameleon approach I’m taking to music in general right now. It also incorporates some elements of flamenco (the clapping) that I’ve been exposed to here in Andalucía. The recording is a bit of a rough draft. It has a fiddle line that I still need to record and I’d like to get some more Spanish ‘jaleo’ on the track too (shouts of encouragement, percussion, etc.).

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