Orfeas Peridis (Ορφέας Περίδης) prefers to define himself a troubadour over songwriter; a singer with a guitar who writes his own songs, who tells us in a modest way stories, sometimes from life, sometimes a fairy tale and sometimes moving between the real and the imaginary… For him the guitar is not only the portable instrument necessary for the troubadour, but also the instrument which creates the magic atmosphere and the most profound way in which a song is been expressed; the song is good only if it stands alone with the guitar’s sound. Often he is coloring the music beautifully with one or two more instruments like recorder, violin, Cretan Lyre and others.
This post is dedicated to the first ten years of his career till 1999
Orfeas Peridis was born in Athens in 1957. As his parents didn’t believe in making a living from music he attended conservatory only at 17. He was working in different jobs, but quickly was hired as a guitarist, playing music in traditional taverns and clubs and was a singer in the Greek version of “The Smurfs”. He takes his degree in harmonization and classical guitar; later he teaches classical guitar at conservatories. In 1986 he begins to write his first songs, an art, he says, that is not been taught at schools. You study it at the moment of creation.
The first hit
Peridis is described by one of the journalists as “Modest, calm, very sweet, sensitive and very simple”. But he is also an aim-focused man so as songwriting and singing became an obsession he knew how to find the ways to promote his art.
At the end of the 1980s “I met Nikos Papazoglou at backstage during a summer concert in Lycavittos (Athens). I gave him a cassette with my songs, he put it in his pocket and responded a month later asking me two of them. I didn’t expect that he would like one of the songs “I want a tragic death” (Θάνατο θέλω τραγικό), quite a grotesque song… I thought that another song is more suitable. This was the song “I am leaving” (Φευγω).” These two songs and another one were part of Nikos Papazoglou’s 1990 album “Paraphernalia” (Σύνεργα). It was Orfeas Peridis’ first appearance on discography as a songwriter.
Here is “I am leaving” sung by Peridis: Press cc for English subtitles in all songs.
The first album
It was a great honor for Peridis that Nikos Papazoglou, the leader of the famous “Thessaloniki school” of singers (and Orfeas is proud of belonging to it), was singing his songs. He felt, however that he could sing his own songs and this feeling was strengthen by the response of his close friends. It was his dream and, again, an obsession that pursued him and which materialized in his first album of 1993 “Αh my conceited soul” (Αχ Ψυχή Μου Φαντασμένη).
The hit of the album was “Flare” (Φωτοβολίδα). It was not easy for him to write the song; it took months with many twists and revisions in the music as well the lyrics, but the final result became a hit overnight and the album gold. (His singing of “I am leaving” was one of the album’s highlights). The unexpected success brought him into a kind of a trauma. “It needs too much power that initially nobody knows you and within a month all Greece speaks about you. Terrible shock! There are some people who have the mental equipment to cope with it… I got over only within three years”. Since that time he began appearing regularly in music scenes and concerts.
“Have a good day if you wake up”
The stress caused by his perfectionism,” eating anxiety” not to fail, delayed the next album till 1996 even though most of the songs were ready except two on which he was spending long torturing months writing. The album “Have a good day if you wake up” (Καλή σου μέρα αν ξυπνάς) is considered by many to be his best and it became gold too. We bring here two great hits of the album.
“Ah, if I could see you”(Αh, να σε δω) “Ah, if I could find you/only for a while to see you/To hear your shadow/shouting to me hello”. These lines and others made me feeling that the woman he is seeking may not be alive anymore and our friend Kat has the same feeling. Georgia Dagaki takes the second voice in this video (caps)
“You hid something from me”( Κάτι μου κρύβεις), he had written within few minutes on one sunny day…(caps)
“Where are you going my heart” (Για πού το ‘βαλες καρδιά μου-1999)
Another three years passes and Peridis releases his third personal album. From this album “Fairy tale”(Παραμύθι) is a song that I love very much. Here Georgia Dagaki plays the Cretan Lyre.(caps)
Orfeas peridis speaks about…
“The best songs usually are written in moments of pain. This is something that applies generally in art. The songs that have the pain as dominant characteristic are the most honest. In my personal case the pain has nothing to do with love. The pain comes also from fear and other things”
“We all have passions…our evil demons, but I redeem them with my songs”
“My nightmare would be to rent a house and live alone. I want to have times of loneliness only as long as it needed to create, but to know that somewhere near there are the persons I love and I can go and find them. My studio is very close to my home” His wife is a flutist and they have two daughters.
“The song is a series of (musical) moments of our lives, some of them are more popular (Laika) and some are a little more western musical moments… and I grew up with these, with Tsitsanis but also with the Beatles. All this passed through my art and I let them because they are both mine.”
On modesty and toughness
“In order to succeed you must be toughie and modest. Conceit damages personal and the artistic progress. The conceited man is obnoxious and we, the artists, are trying to cultivate the secrets of sympathy. Toughie you must be when you knock on doors and they are not opened. In this case you have to kick it so to get in and make your goals a reality. This does not mean that one must be ruthless and step on corpses”
A person was born for one piece
“My friend Sokratis Malamas says that we all came to life to write one piece. We may have written two hundred, but we were born to write one! Obviously he meant metaphysically. People give me the sense that from the 70 songs I have written no more than ten have been loved.”
All songs are autobiographical
“All songs are autobiographical. Creativity comes when you write through your soul. True songs are the ones that use to express a possible situation, probably emotionally, to say whatever we did not say in real life.”
“What I do know is that an album or a song depicts, expresses a particular time and it is not repeated. So we need constantly to renew and express the time in which we live”
The last song of our story is from the above 1999 album. Who is Ylaiali? She is a fictional character (like a fairy) that appears in the Norwegian Knut Hamsun’s novel “Hunger”(1890). A young man is trying to become a writer and is facing hunger which thrashes his nerves and soul. These difficult moments soften by the sweet presence of Ylajiali, a girl, who was sometimes imaginary and sometimes real…
Ylaiali appeared again 100 years later in a short story of the Greek author l. D. Triantafillopoulos (Ν.Δ. Τριανταφυλλόπουλος) “Ylaiali of the Bridge”(Υλαγιαλή της γέφυρας). From this story Triantafillopoulos made the beautiful verses and Peridis set to music.
Following the literature the lyricist speaks to this fictional, out of this world woman…. He seeks stability and inner strength; to be saved from the heavy shadow mentioned in the first verse, a shadow that is more existential worries and less to a bad love affair, more to the fear of the unknown that lies ahead… (Caps)
Many thanks to my friends Anastasia Thanela and Katerina Siapanda for their part in this post.