In this edition of #CREATORTALK, we speak to Spiros Maus (Armada Named Sound). #CREATORTALK is a series of articles and interviews, with a focus on the creative industries and the the talent working within them.
PW- Hey Spiros! How’s it going?
Very well!!! The sun is shining, and our two weeks of summer are here! I guess we better cherish them before they’re a distant memory again!! This is basically my way of letting you know that I am not going to be serious during this interview. But in any case, this is a very productive and busy period for me and I am quite excited about it.
PW- So, first things first. For those who don’t know yet, how would you sum up who you are and what you do?
Yes, there is that… So the best way I have found to answer this question is this: I write music for myself and for other people. I guess that makes me a songwriter and music producer. And as the term “music producer” should (in an ideal world maybe?) include arrangement, mixing, editing etc., I think it definitely describes what I do. I have my own music project called Armada Named Sound where I create all the music from scratch and take care of everything except for the mastering process. And then, I write songs for singers, or produce songs someone else has written for them, or write songs based on their ideas, and I also create music for the theatre and short films, which I absolutely love!
PW- Armada Named Sound is a concept that entails your music, plus the visuals of your collaborator Christos Mavridis and a few female vocalists. How did the idea for this concept come about?
Well, I kinda planted the seed for something to help me channel my creativity and need for expression, and there you go, Armada Named Sound. Then it grew, and I saw how multiple vocalists can further enhance the spectrum of what songs one can write, in terms of keys, styles, performance or expression wise. It became obvious to me very early that one needs a “palette” to be able to be innovative, diverse, different and maybe even challenging to the audience, and these are all things I strive to be. Daily. I remember a fellow producer once said in a studio, “We are not here to reinvent the wheel, just pick a pop chord progression from this list online”, and I was shocked as I had never thought about it this way. I do understand though how different the mechanics of making music are, when the sole purpose is profit. In any case, I always loved multimedia projects, sound, light, projections, installations, all could help and contribute to telling the story better. Because for me, a song is about telling a story. Almost like a movie.
PW- You were born in Athens and are currently based in London. What has been the biggest culture shock from your move to the UK?
Surprisingly enough, little things. In the beginning you notice all those little things that are completely different from the way things work back to where you came from. Then one realises how London is much more an international city, rather than an English one. And that helps a lot, as there are constantly many different cultures around you, where new ideas, opinions and points of view can be found, and an artist needs all that. That is literally food for thought. It was quite shocking, how in a rather arrogant way, people here sometimes dismiss previous experience because it is not experience gained in London. To some extent, the people here think this is the centre of the world. But then again, to some extent everyone believes that. The most valuable lesson, moving from one country to another, was that regardless of the culture, for the majority of people, lives and ideas go about the same way from start to finish, however you may choose to interpret this.
PW- Imagine this scenario. You are forced to stop listening to every song in the world, aside from one. What would be your choice? (p.s. it can’t be one of your own )
Ok, first of all, I am offended by your question. (😂😂)… Sorry, I really wanted to say that, at least once in my life, as everyone seems to be offended by everything nowadays… Seriously now, the best answer I can come up with is that I would probably choose a Stevie Wonder song, as most of them make me feel very very happy. And if I were to stop listening to music, I would be in a very dark place, and in dire need of Stevie!
PW- If you had a friend coming to London, what would be your perfect plan for a day, if you had the freedom to do anything you wanted in the city?
Perhaps I would try to show them a different side of London. Show them how real, everyday people live, and try to make them understand that the city is not the way it is presented in the movies. At least it is not for the majority of people. And then my friend can go and do the usual touristic shit themselves, another day, and I can stay home and maybe write a song.
PW- Your videos are highly stylised and beautiful. How does the collaboration with Christos work? Do you have any standout music videos that have inspired your work?
Well thank you! The collaboration with Christos is a great one. Absolute artistic freedom for both, but eyes, ears and minds always open to each other’s input and suggestions. We became friends while working on these projects together, I mean the music videos. It is very different from the other way around, that is to be friends with someone and decide to start collaborating on something. Maybe because the same skills we see in each other, such as being reliable, always seeing things through, combined with mutual respect and genuine interest for each other’s creations, are the same skills we look for in friends. It is almost ideal to have at least one person like that. Makes things easier and the artist’s life a little less lonely.
PW- This blog focuses heavily on creativity and the real people behind the art. How does creativity affect you on a day to day basis? Do you get super inspired out and about, or is it more of a focused effort, where you can shut off from the world and just think?
My creativity is my breathing. It is also my haze. I am constantly inside that cloud, and everything else happens in some kind of a parallel universe. When it comes to creating a song, inspiration could come from everywhere. When I was younger I used to believe (like many others) that isolation can help someone be original. As if you decide to lock yourself in a place without any external stimulation, you would come up with more original material. Of course that is complete crap, as in this example, one has already had a lifetime of stimulation before the decision to lock oneself in a room. Thus, the outcome will be the exact opposite of the desired one, resulting in a “recycling” of all the past sources of inspiration.
In my opinion, it should be a kind of an organic process, keeping in mind how the word “organic” has been repeatedly raped and misused for advertising purposes, or supposedly miraculous food, but what I mean here is: just go about your life! Music is not something that will happen on its own and separately, but it is a part of life itself. Especially if it is music for people, it helps if it is inspired by people. Personally, I still need to “switch off” sometimes, but that is just a matter of focus which will help to get the thing done. When I sit down to write something, 90% of the time, I know what I am going to do, as I have prepared the whole thing mentally, weeks, or sometimes even months before touching the synth.
PW- In this kind of economy and industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
I think that in this economy and industry as you put it, everything is more difficult. If you think that after 2009 we witnessed the largest redistribution of wealth since ‘89, the dynamics and what is possible has changed. Just like you don’t see the average person driving a luxury car anymore, in the same way, you don’t see musicians swagging expensive Stratocasters or super expensive home studio setup, while at the same time they are completely unable to come up with a simple idea. I know it sounds like I am saying “people who shouldn’t be in this are kicked out at last”, but this is not my point at all.
The point is that creation should be accessible for everyone, and now it is more difficult for everyone. There is some kind of equilibrium as technology advances rapidly, but still it is crazy to say the least. I am old enough to remember when things were quite more “comfortable” for everyone, but to be honest, difficulties and struggling have built a huge part of my motivation, and isn’t that human nature after all?? As for advice, the only thing I can say to people is this: In this age of motivational/inspirational quotes, it seems that all someone needs is a little push, or for someone else to tell them the obvious in fancy words and visual presentation. I think it is quite simple, if for any reason you have a “calling” or “demons”, or a burning desire to express yourself, do it through producing content and also put it out for the masses to interact with, THAT is going to be your life. Nothing else. Hard work, focus, and sometimes an almost complete loss of “social life” or things like that. Otherwise, don’t do it, you may easily become a very very sad person. But if you decide to do it, insist, persist, be bold and brave and believe in your creation. Last but not least, if you make sure “the run” is worth it, no matter what happens, in the end you will have wonderful stories to remember and tell.
PW- And final question! It’s more of an invitation actually. Use the next few sentences to self-promote the hell out of what you’re up to, what we can watch/ listen to- no judgment!
Ok then. Starting with the obvious, you can check out www.armadanamedsound.com and from there, if you need to connect with this, all the links to (anti)social media are easy to find. Personally I would like to invite the people who are reading this to come to one of our gigs. Talk is cheap, and I have talked quite a lot so far. I would like you to see what is being created here! Other than that, you could check my personal website www.spirosmaus.com where you can also find soundtracks I have written for short films and plays. Last but not least, check out Mr. Devin Townsend. He is an amazing artist who had three sold out nights at Royal Albert Hall this year, but is still unrecognisable by the majority of people. Then again who knows, maybe that is for the best… In any case, he is absolutely brilliant so check him out! Thank you for having me and I wish all the best for this beginning of yours!!