April 13, 2021
Tune-In Tuesdays #101: Marios Politis on Creating His First Album, This is My Story
Athens composer and guitarist, Marios PolitisSource: Marios Politis
Born and raised around a variety of musical influences, the Athens-based composer and guitarist Marios Politis found himself immediately drawn to the likes of rock-n-roll icons such as Metallica. Building on his lifelong connection to music, Politis released his first album, “This is My Story,” last year.
Earlier this month, we spoke with Politis to learn more about his story and what it was like to create his first album.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your music. Have you found now that you have more time during quarantine that you feel more creative or more connected to your music?
I’m from Athens, Greece, I’m 38-years-old. “This is My Story” is my first album.
Since I was very young, I have always found that I have a very strong connection with music. The first picture I remember, I was very young in my grandmother’s house — I think I was 8-years-old, something like that. At that time, I had the U.S. MTV for free on our television.
So I turned on the TV and I saw “One” by Metallica. I saw these guys with long hair, they were very aggressive in this black and white video, and I was like “Wow! I want to be like that!”
Music video for “One” by MetallicaSource: Metallica: One (Official Music Video) | Metallica
For the whole summer vacation, I would set my alarm to 8:00 to watch that video. That was my first experience with music.
After that, I realized I wanted to be a part of music. I didn’t have the need to be an artist, but I always wanted to be part of it. So I worked as a DJ, I was going to every gig I could go to — whether I knew the artist or not.
Nowadays, I am an artist and I have my own music.
What inspired you start releasing your own music?
I think it was Metallica at the beginning. I have a strong connection with Metallica.
The thing is, too, I realized it was easier for me to communicate through music. And to be fair, I was trying to get close to girls with music because I was very shy when I was young.
When I was 13-years-old, my older brother brought me a guitar because at some point he was like, “Stop playing air guitar, you have to grab a guitar and do whatever you want.”
On the first day of having the guitar, I broke the first three strings. The first day! My brother was like, “There’s nothing more. You have to learn your guitar with these three strings.”
For the next two-years, I was learning to play the guitar with these three strings, so that was very helpful.
The experience was everything that I could hear, because in my family, my father and brothers were always listening to a lot of music with different styles. I was more into rock music, they were more into Greek music and things like that.
The first time I really understood what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be — a long hair, aggressive guy, “Get out of my way, don’t mess with me” type because I was young and angry. But when the journey starts, you cannot find the dead end. So now my inspirations include many other artists, as well.
I could definitely hear all different types of influences while listening to “This is My Story.” There’s so much to it.
That was a cause of the disagreement I had with my producer at the beginning! He was like, “What the fuck are you going to do with these songs? You have to pick a style!”
I was like, “Man, I’m 38. I don’t care about any style, I want to do this album just for me.” Believe me, I’m a DJ right now. I know what people hear.
For example, the new album by Muse isn’t just alternative rock and that’s it. It’s not about that. That was my point of view; I can make whatever I want and tell people whatever I want through my album.
Tell us a little more about the behind-the-scenes process for creating the album. The press release mentions that some of the songs were written over 11-years-ago. Did you re-record and remaster those tracks?
On the album I have two or three old songs, like “How Can I,” which is 11-years-old.
The process was me grabbing my acoustic guitar, finding the melody that I like, and immediately writing the lyrics. I don’t have the strongest memory, so I have to write out my ideas as quickly as possible. If for some reason I put my guitar down, I totally forget what I was playing and writing.
With this album, it was very different because I decided to make it in a difficult time in my life. I was feeling very alone, but I realized that I have very strong connections with people, I have very good friends that are almost like family.
So I immediately turned to my producer, Ektoras Tsolakis, he’s a long-time friend of mine. I’m very lucky because he’s one of the best producers in Athens, in my opinion.
At first, he said to me, “Bring all of your songs that you have and we’ll pick what is best for you.” I went to his place with 40 songs for our first meeting, something like that. He was like, “Wait, what is that. Are we talking about an album or a trilogy?”
Throughout the whole process, I was very fortunate because I have good friends who are experts in their works. The pre-production was done by Chris Kiourtidis, he went to the Royal Academy in London and he creates music for movies and video games. Steve Lado did the mastering. George Prokopiou, who in my opinion is one of the best singers of all time, was next to me all the time, too.
So the memories that I haven’t weren’t like it was work. I was on holidays with some people that are actually my family and my friends. That’s why the result of the album is so emotional.
What helped you narrow it down from those initial 40 songs? How did you guys decide what made the cut and what didn’t?
That is a big conversation, believe me [laughs]. There are two songs that I didn’t want in the album, and one song that my producer didn’t want, “Window.” He didn’t like it because it reminded him of Natalie Imbruglia.
It was difficult because it’s not easy to not-pick one of your songs. When you’re writing a song, it’s yours. You want it to be heard, but it’s not easy to pick what’s best for you in that moment, what you can sing with all your heart.
At the end of the day, that was the most important thing — what tracks I could sing with all of my heart.
There are a lot of themes throughout the album, including topics on lost love, traveling, life experiences, depression, alcoholism, and the overall beauty of the world. How has music helped you process those experiences and ultimately grow from them?
First of all, I’m not spending a lot of money on therapists because I have my music. But on the other hand, it’s not easy sometimes when you’re repeating the songs that include the voices in your head.
So for example, if you have a problem with depression in 2019 and still hear the song in 2021, it’s very awkward. It’s like yourself goes out of you and you see yourself as a spirit. It’s very difficult to explain.
But it’s very good for me because through the music and the lyrics, I realize what my problem is and what the solution is. It’s like going to a therapist, more or less.
I completely understand. Whenever I’ve gone through my poems or my journals of hard times in my life where I wrote darker material, it’s almost disassociative. Like you feel detached from who you were. But it’s also a sign that you’ve grown from those times, it’s very therapeutic.
That’s the good part. But the difficult part is when you see your mistakes on repeat. When you have a song that’s 10-years-old, you’re like, “What the fuck, I have to create something better, I have to create a solution.”
And that too! There have been times where I’ve read through those same journals while I’ve been down and I’ve thought, “WOW I WAS FEELING THAT FIVE-YEARS-AGO AND I STILL FEEL THAT NOW!”
And some of the times you’re laughing with yourself! “I was like that!? Noooooo!” [Laughs].
Oh, for sure. I was a hardcore emo kid back in the day and I can’t help but laugh when I see my crazy eyeliner and purple streaks [laughs]
“Delete the pictures! Delete the pictures!” [Laughs]. I don’t want any of those Facebook memories, what is that!? Today I received a picture from four-years-ago when I was in Liverpool, England, and now that we’re in quarantine I’m like, “I don’t want to see this picture! I don’t want to remember!” I want to get in a plane and go anywhere. I love traveling.
Where are your favorite places that you’ve been?
My favorite place… Scotland. It’s very gothic, Edinburgh is an amazing city. My second favorite would be Sweden. The nature of Sweden is amazing, the leaves, the trees.
Remember my words — if someday you go to Sweeden, when the airplane lands you’ll feel like you’re going to die because you don’t see the road. Just trees and lakes, nothing else. The whole country is trees, lakes, and mountains.
That sounds like a fairytale! …So, do you ever find it hard or intimidating to share songs that are so personal, especially knowing that anybody in the world could hear it — like your mom or other family members?
Sometimes it’s hard — especially when it comes to moms, but thank God she doesn’t speak very good English [laughs]. I’m safe! But it is what it is. I am this guy through my songs. Of course I’m vulnerable, of course I have feelings, of course I have bad days.
That’s why I make music. It’s the whole process of me someday showing my best version of myself.
Which song on “This is My Story” means the most to you and why?
It’s not easy, but I could say that because my songs are very realistic — I talk about the past, present, and future. At this time, I’m not writing songs about fairies, or castles, or things like that.
So I think that my songs can stay in time. But if I had to pick one that I had to hear the lyrics all the time, it’s the song “Stay.” Especially the line that says, “Stay and fight, live your life, turn the dust into gold.” I want to keep that line in my mind.
What do you hope listeners take away from the album?
I hope they find the strong connection that I have with the artists that I admire and listen to every day. Like in my case, James Hetfield from Metallica.
I hope they can find the solutions to their problems through my songs. They’re very common problems. I’m not the only one, and that is the feeling I want listeners to have, that they’re not alone.
I am a singer, and maybe sometimes I’m on stage with some big lights, but who cares? We are the same. We have the same problems, and together we can find the solution.
At the end of the day, everybody is human. Whether they’re your favorite celebrity — a band member in Metallica — or they’re the president, whoever they are, we’re all experiencing life as humans, too.
On that, when you see the documentary for Metallica, “Some Kind of Monster,” James Hetfield is a rich guy. He’s a handsome guy, he’s the singer of Metallica. But still, he always felt depression. You can see that the problems are common for everyone.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from or how much money you earn, at some point in your life you’ve got to fight with yourself to find the solutions.
I think the biggest problem with humanity is our minds.
Going forward, what’s next for you, Marios? Any new music in the works, perhaps another album — or making “This is My Story” into a trilogy after all?
The quarantine has helped us musicians, because you have time to think of new ideas for songs. The second album, though, I don’t know when it will be ready because the first thing that I want to do is go out — when the COVID era stops — and communicate this album to people.
I want to go all around the world to play “This is My Story,” and if people are concerned about a second album, it will be ready in time. I really want to connect with local people, too.
Well, it has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you and getting to learn more about your work. But before we wrap things up, do you have any additional comments or final thoughts to share?
I want to say a huge thank you to all of the people who have supported me: first of all my producer Ektoras Tsolakis, and Chris Kiourtidis for pre-production, synthesizers, and the piano; Steve Lado for the mastering; Eirini Anastasiou for playing the cello; and of course George Prokopiou and all my friends.
I would love to see you all out there. Stay strong, don’t lose your spirit, and no one is alone. And if you’re feeling alone, I’m here.
Give Marios Politis’ “This is My Story” a listen now on Spotify!
Be sure to follow Marios on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with his latest music releases, too.
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