As one of Greece’s biggest English speaking bands, Tango With Lions is working hard to share their music with the masses. Bassist, lyricist, and lead singer Katerina Papachristou has been working hard to share the band’s music internationally and connect with their fans through their hauntingly beautiful lyrics.
We had the chance to speak with Kat Papachristou about the band’s history and their new album “The Light,” which was released on January 19th!
BCT: When did you get your start in music? Why did you decide to pick up the bass?
Kat Papachristou: I started playing music as a child and the first instruments I picked up were piano, at the age of 7, and classical guitar a few years later. In my early teenage years I needed to experiment with other instruments as well and my first thoughts were on flute and saxophone. But I fell in love with electric bass and the sociability of playing in bands and have been an active bass player and musician ever since.
BCT: I admittedly don’t know much about the Greek music scene. What music did you grow up listening to? What genre of music inspires you the most?
Kat Papachristou: I never listened so much to Greek music, although there are artists who have influenced me, like Lena Platonos and the experimental scene of the 70s and 80s, as well as Greek post-punk bands and bands I’ve worked with. I listened mostly to classical and pre-classical music, to dark wave, post-punk and indie bands, but also to pop tunes and experimental electronic music. I think all genres inspire me at different times, but my inspiration mostly comes from music, books, and traveling.
BCT: Do you feel like being an English-speaking band has given you somewhat of an advantage when it comes to connecting with fans?
Kat Papachristou: I believe so. Language is a key vehicle to understanding music as well. Lyrics complement the meaning and emotions behind a tune. Greek is an “isolated” language so if you need to convey the lyrics’ meaning to a wider audience, it is easier to use the English language. Still, the choice of language also depends on influences and musical style.
BCT: I heard that Tango With Lions formed during a jam session at a beach house. What felt right about this group of people as opposed to any other musicians that you might have played with in the past?
Kat Papachristou: In the past, I was always the bass player in bands and I’ve worked with important greek indie bands, with amazing musicians. But I always felt the need to write my own songs and create a “space” of my own. Jamming with other people for the songwriter’s perspective was new to me and seeing musicians enjoying it as much as I did definitely felt right and inspired me to continue.
BCT: You woke out into the International music scene with your record “Verba Time.” What was that experience like? Was it challenging getting your music in front of an international audience?
Kat Papachrisou: It is always challenging to expose your work, no matter what the purpose is, either there is a goal of being recognised or just as an act of expression. For me it was the first time I would present my own material to the audience sand my main consideration was to follow through. But, nowadays, you are kind of de facto prepared to be heard because internet tools give you the option of an international audience (small or bigger), especially if you are part of the english-speaking music scene.
BCT: You took a bit of a hiatus from music. What did you do during this time? How has your music changed during this time, if at all?
Kat Papachristou: It was not so much a hiatus from music but rather from recordings, as we had a few performances in venues and festivals during that time. The first two years after “A Long Walk” some personal changes made me step back from writing new material for a while, but in 2015 I started focusing on the third album. I think what changed was my perception of what defines the entity of a work. Even when I realised that the songs are stylistically different from each other, I did not consider this to be confusing, rather to be more truthful and descriptive of my emotional state.
BCT: You just released another album, “The Light.” What was it like having band member Thodoris Zefkillis working as the sound engineer on the record? How was that different than recording your other albums?
Kat Papachrisou: Thodoris Zefkillis was the sound engineer also in our second album, “A Long Walk” (2013), which is important because the production is a work in progress even before the recordings, the sound engineer is present in all the changes of the band’s sound and intentions. In “The Light,” I worked very closely with Zefkillis, the two of us spent a lot of time together in the studio to complete this album. “A Long Walk” was more roles arranged during the rehearsals, while “The Light” was a personal, soul-searching process with creation and pre-production at home. “Verba Time” (2010) was also created and arranged before the recordings and I worked together with Ottomo for the recordings and the production.
BCT: Which songs on “The Light” are the most personal to you?
Kat Papachristou: All songs are very personal in this album but if I had to chose, I would say “Proof of Desire” and “The Light.”
BCT: What was your inspiration behind naming the album “The Light?”
Kat Papachristou: Throughout the creation of the songs, I was experiencing a very unstable emotional state, memory loss and many existential questions about pretty much everything in my life. Especially memory loss shook me to the core and made me realise how deeply affected I was from sad and dark incidents the previous years. Leaving this perplexed period behind and moving towards a brighter place was my sole intention through this album, which helped me accept that darkness and light can coexist and it’s fine.
BCT: If you can share, what do you have on your schedule for the rest of the year?
Kat Papachristou: This year, we are planning to organise concerts in and out of Greece and hopefully start working new material very soon!