I’ve been great thanks, how are you? A busy time with the record – Ready For The Sun Part 1 release and gigs and the new You Bring Me Luck music video – it’s been a great year, so much fun making the record and the video and touring.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “You Bring me Luck”?
Yes, it’s a song I co-wrote with a wonderful songwriter called Angie Pollock who I met through this “collective” I’m a part of in the UK, on a writing retreat organized by my long time mentor Chris Difford (lyricist for Squeeze).
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
I wanted to write an uptempo song as I was feeling in a fun happy mood that day. It was inspired by luck and love. Questions like “do we make our own luck or does it strike us?” and “What is true love?”
Can you tell us more about the upcoming video?
It features an odd-looking but extremely cute rescue dog called Rascal, who’s been voted the “Ugliest Dog”, has won several awards as the ugliest dog, and has been on shows like America’s Got Talent. We had such fun making the video and I learned a lot from that dog! At first I thought he was strange looking because he has no hair and his skin is a little different, but as I got to know his personality he quickly won me over and I fell in love with him! He’s so adorable, peaceful and loving! Love is indeed more than skin deep. Here is the video, let me know what you think! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M02XnkLiNE
The single comes off your new album Ready For The Sun – what’s the story behind the title?
The album is rolling out in 3 parts and each part is a story within the bigger story like chapters in a book in a way. It’s about my journey, being ready for California and LA where life brought me, ready to start embracing life in all its splendour and nuance, ready for the light, even in those darkest of places where our hearts have broken, ready to accept me as I am, ready to share this body of work with gratitude and joy for all the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and the joy I feel seeing people gathering the courage to work on living in more peace with each other, and with our planet, and more harmony within.
How was the recording and writing process?
Beautiful. It all flowed so beautifully with lots of serendipitous happy moments along the way too. I had about 80 songs or so that I had written over about 3 years! I narrowed them down a bit but stillI brought a lot of songs to Ethan Allen who got my vision and helped me shortlist the ones for this record. We ended up writing one together too, Stronger, and then went to record at The Village studios with a group of musicians who are real stars. It was such an honour, a dream I would say, working in that studio where some of my favourite records have been recorded and with these musicians who I deeply admire.
What was it like to work with Ethan Allen and how did that relationship develop?
He was amazing! He really got my vision and was able to help me make my 3rd record (4th including a Greek one). He is so ridiculously talented! Incredible ears and really listened with both his head and his heart. We trusted each other and so it all flowed and worked incredibly well. We became close friends and have tremendous amounts of love and respect for each other.
How much did he get to influence the album?
He not only has incredible ears as a music producer-engineer-mixer but he’s also a great listener and really heard what I wanted to achieve with this record, how I imagined it and helped me make the record I dreamt of making. He has all the technical knowledge too which I don’t! He’s an incredible mixer. And he introduced me to great musicians. And he’s a lovely human being so the whole process was really special. He was a gift!
You also brought few special guests musicians – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?
Ethan introduced me to some of them, I heard their work, met them and we decided on who was going to be on the record, but some were old friends like Adam Levy, who I had already co-written a song with (Breathe With Me) for his record (Washing Day), Cheseny Hawkes who’s a dear friend from London, Geoff Martyn (who started Travis) and Deron Johnson (Miles Davis’ last piano player) who is an incredible all round musician. And a few of the back up singers are friends of mine so we had fun, the wonderful songwriter Andrea Remanda and Angie Pollock (tours with Goldfrapp) who bring me luck J
What did they brought to the table?
They brought so much love and talent and fun. Most of the record was recorded live so their incredible musicianship above all. Good attitude. Professionalism. And they are all just such lovely warm-hearted people too, it was a pleasure and joy. I feel enormous gratitude.
How has both the UK and Greece have influence your sound?
Well I was born in London to Greek parents and I spent most of my adult life in the UK but grew up in Greece as a child so I’d say both cultures have influenced me and therefore who I am and how I write and express myself. I’d say Greeks are know for their passion for life and sunny outlook and warmth so perhaps some of those traits made it into my music and my voice and how I sing, but then I developed my songwriting skills in the UK and toured mostly with my British band, so I’ve probably been more influenced “sound-wise” by the UK.
After finding success on Europe, any particular plan to invade the US – would you be coming with a different approach or would you keep doing things the same way as you always have done it?
The music landscape is changing all the time so I am trying to be flexible and go with the times, to think outside the box, a little like an entrepreneur, as we independent artists have to! But the rest is the same really, trying to sing and write from the heart with as much honestly as I can, as naked as I can, connecting with the audiences here, which I find really wonderful.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes soon. More on my website www.athenamusic.com if people want to sign up to my mailing list there, I’ll be sending them updates and little freebies too!
What else is happening next in Athena’s world?
I keep people updated through my newsletter. I am passionate about cooking, eco stuff and meditation too apart from music, so share all that through the emails I send out and my social media. I’m doing more songwriting too, hopefully more placements in film & TV, they’ll be more music video and more adventures of all kinds!
One of the things I’m spending a lot of time on is my environmental work. I became an ambassador of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, it’s a group of artists including Bonnie Rait, Jack Johnson, Maroon 5, Jackson Browne, Ben Harper, Dawes and many more, aiming to reduce disposable plastic on tours, on riders for venues, merchandise and talking directly to concertgoers about the issue.