FOTIS DELINIKOLAS: “What made me happy was finally being able to concentrate and just express through my music”
I still remember the excitement when I came across the music of FOTIS DELINIKOLAS in spring. The first song I heard was "Seasons", and it left me with high anticipation for his debut album "Alma", which was released soon afterwards and has been in regular rotation since then (you can find my review for it here).
I had the great pleasure for a chat with the guitar wizard. Welcome to learn more about his musical background, creative process, and what a moth has to do with his work:
Hey, thanks for making time to answer my questions. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Fotis Delinikolas and I'm a musician, composer and session guitarist from Greece. Since I was a little kid, I loved music and knew I wanted to follow this passion.
You just released your great debut album “Alma”. How do you feel about it?
I started composing “Alma” during the first quarantine here in Greece. I had plenty of time since I couldn’t play gigs anymore due to Covid, so the only thing that made me happy was finally being able to concentrate, leave myself free to do whatever I felt good with, and just express through my music. Some songs were old, unfinished ideas I never had the mindset to complete because of shows and session playing were taking all of my energy.
So I feel really happy about having released my first album, and I'm very proud of it!
Music-wise, you mix up many different styles, but always in an incredible flow. The variety of your compositions is amazing, your technical skills very impressive. What is your musical background, and where do your main influences come from?
My family was always listening to all kinds of music – rock, pop, blues… - but especially hard rock, so I had many options and different genres to dive in. Instead of with toys, I liked playing air guitar, wearing headphones and just acting like a rockstar! I guess it was this environment that made me love music. As I was growing up, I kept the parts from each band and style of music I liked the most - for example the rhythmic of funk or the hard rock solos of bands like Whitesnake, the atmospheric parts with clean guitars from Pink Floyd, the crazy guitar abilities of Steve Vai, and so on…
On “Alma”, I wanted to melt most of my influences with a common progressive metal sound, which let me to accomplish the flow of my ideas.
And you did it in a mesmerizing way :-) Is there a deeper meaning or story behind the album title?
The basic meaning was to express that I let my spirit free, composing whatever I felt good with, but I actually didn’t want to put a label on it. First, I was thinking about to name the album “Soul”, but it's a very “used” word in my opinion and doesn’t necessarily takes you on progressive paths. So I came up with the word “alma”, which means “soul” in Spanish and sounds different in my ears. So that's it... all about the soul!
Let’s take a look at the cover artwork: What can you tell us about its origins, and how does it reflect the album thematically?
Here in Greece, we have a saying about moths - We "believe" that they are the souls of the dead, beloved people of our lives. When there is a moth close to you, this might be a soul that came for protection, and it's a good sign. So this story, in addition with the word "Alma" and the fact, that the moth used on the cover was a picture I had taken a few years ago with my mobile outside my door - all this made a good connection in my head.
That's awesome! Besides the keyboards for “Alma” and “Dualism”, this is a real “solo” record, isn’t it? Could you give us a little insight into your writing and recording process, please?
Yes, it’s indeed a "solo" album as you described it.
In terms of writing there is no rule... I just play, sometimes having good ideas, and sometimes really bad ones. I might start with an ambience of a keyboard sound for example, which puts me in a different mindset, and interesting melodies or generally ideas come up.
Then I try to develop the parts that I really like as close to the production as I can, just one at a time. Otherwise, I feel like I have too many channels of recordings, but don’t fully understand how they fit, so I try to keep things clear. And in case I feel a little bored after a few listens, I also make the vast decision and erase them, as I just want to keep the ideas that make me say “yes, this is it”, and there is no question about it - You just feel it!
What kind of experience was it for you to self-release an album (also regarding of being an independent artist)?
It was a great and scary experience at the same time: I really wanted to do it, knowing I could, and felt really good with myself as an artist. At the same time, when I was ready to press the button for the release date, I felt insecure, because I was realizing that now it exists! I just started as an independant artist, and who knows what’s coming next. Of course I had a lot of help!
Do you have a favorite song on “Alma” to listen to? And to play?
I like playing “Dualism” a lot, and enjoy listening to “Run”, “Judas” and “Seasons” very much. But I’d say the song I like the most is “Alma”, because it’s not showing off so much, and I don't listen to it as a guitar player.
Do you have plans to bring your own music on stage, or is it a pure studio project?
Oh yes, it’s definitely going to be played live. I'm about to arrange a presentation the next few months, and already talked to musicians I really admire. I'm working on it!
That's awesome, would love to see that :-) You’ve toured with many different bands over the years as a professional musician. What was your most memorable show so far?
There are quite a few shows to remember, like playing in front of 30.000 people for example, which was an incredible feeling. But the most memorable was the opening we did with the band of a Greek male singer for Lady Gaga’s show in OAKA stadium in Athens. It was a great experience!
I’m really impressed by the number of amazing bands and new music coming from Greece at the moment. Is there something special about the Greek rock / metal scene? And did you notice changes over the past years?
Greece was always very strong regarding its rock / metal audience, and also full of very good musicians. As the years pass there came even more amazing players, sometimes jaw-dropping good for their age.
Quarantine was a really bad period, but made many musicians to express their feelings and make something good out of it. I am really proud of what Greece has to offer in terms of music through the years.
What can you tell us about your future plans?
Oh, there are a few, like creating a second album :-) I'm building up my own studio space right now, so I'll be able to experiment with my music with ease. I’m also trying to find a way to play in Europe and USA, and think about becoming part of a band or project… I really want to do new stuff, and earn as much experience as I can get.
Sounds very promising! Do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
Just don’t forget having fun, and try to keep the balance! We worry too much about things that don’t deserve so much attention, and we forget the really important sometimes.
That's a good closing :-) Thanks again for your time, and all the best for you and your musical plans.
Thank you very much for this interview and the support!