Good evening and welcome to another Beneath The Surface feature. Today’s guest is the gloriously talented Greek artist Irene Skylakaki. She has blessed us with a treasure chest of insight to not only her artistic journey so far, but everything we have to look forward to in the not too distant future. A pure joy to converse with, thank you Irene, for being so open and honest.
Now folks, sit back, relax and get ready to dive right into the world of Irene Skylakaki.
What would you say first sparked your interest in music/who inspired you to make music?
When I wrote my first song I was thirteen years old. It happened very naturally – I learned two guitar chords and came up with a song called ‘Messengers’ within minutes. I soon realized that it’s not the most common thing in the world and, as I was very average in most things in school, I felt like I had discovered a super-power! Writing songs then became my happy place. It was my little weapon against boredom.
How would you describe the music you are currently creating?
I think my strongest asset as a songwriter over the years has been creating melodies, but as the years go by I feel much more fascinated by other elements in music like rhythm, the endlessness of sonic soundscapes and developing my lyrics. I wouldn’t know how to categorize my music as it’s constantly changing, but I guess I could say it’s driven by emotion and sincerity.
What does your creative process look like?
My creative process has drastically changed after pursuing a masters in songwriting at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP). I used to think that in order to write music I had to be adequately tortured and only then would inspiration strike. Now I know it’s a matter of sitting down and putting the time in. Steven Pressfield’s book ‘The War of Art’ is a very good read for anyone looking for inspiration. What has also changed in my songwriting process is that, contrary to the past, when I’d only start a song by playing the guitar or piano, I now often begin by creating a soundscape in the studio and then building up the song from there. It’s nice to work with different starting points.
Who would you most like to collaborate with? (let’s send it out to the universe and make it happen!)
Could you bring back Leonard Cohen please? In a dream world I would love to work with Laura Marling, Bon Iver, the Japanese House, Ghostpoet, Marika Hackman, Daughter, Lana Del Rey and Jay-Jay Johanson – I’m extremely lucky to have already worked with the latter.
What is the one message you would like to send out to your fans?
It’s an exceptionally difficult time for all, let’s try to ‘float on ok’ (-modest mouse) and hopefully see you soon 🙂
What’s your top tip to rejuvenate your creativity/get over a writer’s block?
It’s making the time for a writing session and not letting anything intervene with that plan. The more you write, the more chances you have to improve your craft and write something you’re happy with. Oftentimes inspiration visits you, but you’re not really around. You can actively await inspiration to strike by writing, or risk missing out on it by doing nothing. Obviously, all of the above are “notes to self”. I wish I was disciplined enough to always stick to them but I’m working on it.
What’s next for you, what do we have to look forward to/ what are you currently working on?
My album ‘Souvenir’ mainly produced by Colombian producer Andres Mesa will be released in November and I’m very excited to share it with the world. I’ve also been working on a project called ‘Hydra’ with producer Danton Supple (Coldplay, U2, Patti Smith). We have formed a band and written an album together, which will be released in 2021. Last but not least, I’m writing the music for a theatrical play in Greece that will hopefully be presented in Spring. Fingers crossed.
Check out Irene’s latest single ‘Sutherland Avenue’ stream here.
Keep up with Irene here: