This weekend sees the 1st Birthday Extravaganza of Lets Swing It, which is taking place at MiHouse in Selby, Johannesburg. We got to chat to Greg Georgiades, a Ukelele player that has formed a great combination with Michael Lesar, the founding member of the Lets Swing It events. This is how it went down:
-Tell us about your journey to where you are today, a little bit of background about yourself?
It all started about 33 years ago, after I gave up being a psychologist and went professionally as a musician, joining Neill Solomon and the Uptown Rhythm Dogs – hitting the road to play all over South Africa.(1981). In 1983 I went to live and play in London and Europe, which I did until 1985 when I returned to SA to join the Loft Theatre Company of NAPAC in Durban. Together with some great artists like Ellis Pearson, Brendon Grealy, Neill Solomon and Nicholas Ellenbogen, I was involved in cutting edge ensemble theatre writing and playing music as well as acting. Since then I have been involved in original music with many musicians and brought out 16 albums of my own and played on many albums and/or live shows of some great SA musicians including Miriam Makeba, Madala Kunene, Julian Bahula, Jeff Maluleke, Steve Newman, Tony Cox, Syd Kitchen, Simphiwe Dana, Anna Davel, Not My Dog, McCoy Mrubata, Saudiq Khan, Tony Cedras , Siya Makuzeni, Lungile Dlamini, Zamo Mbutho, Jika Nelanga, Ashish Joshi amongst others.
I am a multi instrumentalist playing electric and acoustic guitars, oud(North African fretless lute), bouzouki, ukelele, oudtar and Indian Sarod. My most recent projects include albums with McCoy Mrubata -‘VIVID AFRIKA’ with Steve Newman and Ashish Joshi ‘IN THE CLOUDS’ , The Aquarian Quartet ‘LIVE in the Grahamstown Cathedral’ and ‘The World in a Guitar’ and most recent refreshing G-Force group ‘ Tales in Motion’ album which includes the radio single ‘NO E-TOLL’ and the excitingly spicy collaboration with Michael Lesar ‘FULL SWING’ ..a duo electro swing dance project which is fast becoming one of the most popular projects i’ve been involved in.
More detail about this journey can be seen at my official website: www.greggeorgiades.com
-What would you say is your biggest influence and inspiration for making music?
Quite simply put …influences are many …from the days of rock and roll in the late 60’s and 70’s, including the amazing Jimi Hendrix, through all genres of music and musicians that spoke to me through their adventurous and refreshing approach to speaking this lovely language… till the present.
Inspiration is a wide concept as I get this from almost anything that I see, hear, touch, taste and feel…in fact anything that moves me is inspirational and gets translated into a musical sound by my being. I must say that ‘people’ are a big part of it all without excluding the beauty of all living creatures and things on our lovely planet and of course the universe as a whole.. phew! I don’t think that I’ll run short of inspiration….. Music is a strong force helping people to achieve and experience change in many things…
-We believe that you have been playing alongside Michael Lesar for over a year now, how did that come about?
This started as a chance meeting at a birthday party of a friend of mine where I performed with the Chiba Fly band and Michael was there to play his infectious swing style thing after the band had finished. When I heard what he was doing, I mentioned to some musos standing around that I really feel I could add something on the ukelele to this wonderful sound and walked over to Michael and asked if I may ‘jam’ with him on the ‘uke’…. he looked a little worried at first but being an adventurous type(and this is what I love about him!) he agreed. The ‘jam’ lasted about 2 hours! …we were both exhilarated and energized at the end and have never looked back, starting the ‘Lets Swing It’ events and playing some amazing shows over the last year. We recently decided to call our duo ‘ FULL SWING’
-What genre of music do you love performing to the most?
I don’t discriminate and divide the language of music into it’s various accents. This is an aspect of the selling and marketing of music as a commodity and I try to avoid it as it tends to reduce the true power of the language, to a type of disposable ‘fast food’ type of thing. I love all music that moves me, to feel better about life and I speak it as one universal language.
-What has you most excited about our local music industry?
…the exciting thing about our local music industry is the fact that there is such great potential for communication and cross fertilization between musicians from completely different backgrounds and audiences to back it up. The industrial side of music is actually a bit of a fabricated weight around the necks of our truly creative musician community, as it seeks to control and define what the public should get to hear despite the fact that the industrial people are mostly not musicians and wouldn’t know creativity if it hit them in the face like a wet fish!
Never mind…..we continue!
-What has been your best experience as a group….FULL SWING?
Michael and myself have had great experiences at all of our shows but the one that stands out as the most impressive was at last years Mieliepop Festival in Mpumalanga, where we played a huge set of 6 hours NON STOP! The crowd was transported into a dance experience that we and they will never forget. We started at 2am for the after party show and 6 hours later finished in time for breakfast! Absolutely amazing!
Individually we have both had memorable experiences which include my 7 trips to the Seychelles as well as shows in Reunion, Zanzibar and Algeria…but that 6 hour marathon set was a highlight..
-You guys will be performing at the Lets Swing It 1st birthday extravaganza on the 13th July, what can we expect from you?
Expect to be moved by irresistible beats and infectious outrageous melodies that combine in a spicy energized manner and seem to kaleidoscopically go on …and on!! DANCE ON!
-Are you guys working on any other projects that we might be interested in?
Michael and myself are working on an album of tunes….mostly taken from our live shows as well as video material from these shows…to take our message further…
I also have my G-Force band with a brand new album coming out..’Tales in Motion”. This group has myself on vocals, guitar, ukelele, Jaco Mans(ex Tidal Waves guitarist) Jonathan Daniel Georgiades(bass) , David J Georgiades(drums), Siya Makuzeni(vocals, trombone) This group has great potential for collaborating with Michael and myself in our FULL SWING duo. Exciting times!
-Where do you see yourselves in 5 years time?
….we see ourselves all over the place!!
-Finally, do you have a special birthday message for the Lets Swing It crew??
……..happy birthday to youze all and us too…..KEEP MOVIN THAT BODY AND HAVIN MAX FUN! See you at MiHouse on the 13th for the mother of all Bday parties! ….and don’t forget to dress the part and get into the vibe by coming early for a free dance class in how to do the charleston dance with the beautiful Loraine from Loraine Georgiades School of Dance!
Find out more about Greg Georgiades HERE