Manos Milonakis is a Thessaloniki-based composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, also known for his project Your Hand In Mine. According to the press release, While being part of this project, 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, and music boxes, to name a few.
After 2014’s EP Solfar and some theatre scores, he announced the release of a new full-length. The Seagull is out on March 13th via piano and coffee records. It is a synopsis of his original score for Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov’s play of the same name, directed by Yiannis Paraskevopoulos for theatres of Greece and Romania. The album blend melancholic piano melodies, soaring strings, gentle electronics, atmospheric haze, and evocative soundscapes.
Today we are glad to share an exclusive mixtape which includes music which he likes to play in DJ Sets. It features Amiina, Mammal Hands, James Blake, Christian Loeffler, Nonkeen, Dictaphone and many more. Check it below and read our interview with the artist.
“The Seagull” is a synopsis of the original score for Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov’s play of the same name, directed by Yiannis Paraskevopoulos for theatres of Greece and Romania. How was the approach to the compoisiton of this work?
It all started with my trip to Romania, where, together with my director Yiannis Paraskevopoulos, we travelled to prepare a show for the National Theatre of Craiova. Since this was a road trip, everything that I met while driving from Greece, the sequence of changes in the environment, culture, weather, sounds, flavours and smells were inevitably and instantly imprinted onto my artistic perspective at the time.
We usually say that, before working on a play, it is important to study the “world” of the play (where the characters live) and the “world” of the writer (where the dramatist live)…It is commonly forgotten that there’s a world that “we” live, and there are times and conditions under which “we” are called to create. I just wanted to embrace this idea that the performance is and has to be a mixture of these 3 worlds. If we leave one ingredient aside, the recipe is not gonna work.
So basically, the first musical lines where drawn by the means I had as a travelling composer. Of course my musical background and influences, but also the instruments I could carry to Romania, whatever could fit in Yiannis’ car! Portable synths, a laptop, a pocket midi keyboard and a stroh-violin, which I heard was widely used in some types of Romanian folk, so I thought of bringing it with me. Luckily, there was an upright piano in the theatre, a more familiar interface for me to think on.
It was composed in 2015 but you’re realeasing the album only this year. Why?
After its’ first presentation in Craiova in 2015, the performance got rebuild and re-directed from scratch for a new series of stagings. While working for the latest one in Athens (2019), I realised that these recordings had a unique value for me and that they could have an autonomous path outside of the theatre…The feedback from the theatre and concerts audience all these last years, was also very engouraging. So, I got the chance to polish the last details and press “stop” to this long work-in-progress.
The Artwork is very impressive. How did you choose it?
Thank you, we are also very proud of the work Jordan Amy Lee did for the album. She was sending lots of ideas, and working very fast so it was a bit hard to choose, to be honest. The main idea behind it was to have a 3-frame-story, somehow connected with the play, but not restricted from it. What we got was three amazing paintings that I would love to hang in my living room!
You’re Greek, from Thessaloniki. I’m very interested to the connection between the places we live over the years, the territorial geography of our roots and the art. How do you feel these theme connected to your music, your way to think music? What are your favorite places?
I admit that I have strong connections to traditional greek and mediterranean folk music in general, but, as you say, the places I lived or travelled and the experiences I had there, have been always filling my sound palettes with new colors. Sometimes I went places to see my favourite band (Switzerland 2006), sometimes I travelled to meet musicians for making a record (like in Iceland in 2014, or in Denmark in 2017), while some other times I returned back home with a new instrument. I don’t know if there is a direct connection between culture interaction and inspiration, but all these experiences made me happy for sure. And happiness is the only state that I can write new music from.
How much important is experimentation for your work? What is your way to give new shape to your sound and what is your concept of experimentation in music and art?
I always believed that music inspiration lives in the instruments themselves. Like, there cannot be composition without production (and vice versa of course). I can’t speak for others, but it seems impossible for me to compose a melody starting from a blank piece of paper. So what I usually do is either buy, or construct new hardware or software instruments in order to have a sound, a first clue, something that triggers my imagination. And then there is this chain reaction, you keep building things, you let things go, even if you might need to trash the original idea in the end…So, of course, experimentation is a vital part of my workflow but, unlike some contemporary art movements, I consider it more like a start, not as the end, or the ultimate goal of a process.
Ritual question. What are the best releases you recently appreciated?
Thanks for asking 🙂 Recently, I’ve been very much enjoying Ed Carlsen’s The Morning Hour, Douglas Dare’s Milkteeth, Amiina’s Fantomas and Christian Loffler’s Noah.