Life has been really hectic over the last year or so – who could have predicted the year we’ve just had? I can’t really complain too much, it was lockdown 2020 that pushed me into doing some really cool work from home. One of the most interesting projects I took on amidst the ‘stay safe, stay home’ call was documenting Ian Urbina’s Outlaw Ocean Music Project. As part of this coverage I had to privilege of sitting down and chatting to various talented electronic artists over zoom and a cup of hot tea. One such interview was with highly talented downtempo Greek producer Melorman (Antonis Chaniotakis). Chaniotakis answered my bleeps and we sat down for a chat where he gave me a vivid run through of how he composed his wonderful album ‘Sea of Sorrow‘ for the Outlaw Ocean project. If you haven’t heard his music yet, you are in for a treat (if melancholic electronic music is your thing / or simply good music). Antonis is a great guy. Not only did we cover all there was to cover in terms of musical chat, we continued chatting long after the allotted time about all things life and living.
A Conversation With Melorman
Have you ever participated in a project like this before?
I’ve done some smaller projects, like some theatrical things and work for animations for friends. Nothing as big as this though, composing a soundtrack for a book. It was a big challenge for me to do it so I sat down for over three months and focused solely on this. I thought it was a very charming idea Ian set up and I guess my music went with it well. It was a very nice project to get involved with.
So what was the thought and creative process you went through to compose ‘Sea of Sorrow’?
We were sent audio and video clips, mostly video and I read Ian’s book and tried to get a feeling of each chapter. When the visuals were sent, I removed and isolated the audio from each file. I generally don’t use samples in my own music so it was a new kind of challenge for me to integrate these sounds into my compositions. In a way, yes, I found it cool to involve these new sounds into my music.
What kind of sounds were you looking for to include in the album?
The sounds I was looking for were designed to match sections of the book. For example, Fluid Borders, was based on asylum seekers trying to reach new land – the sounds I used for the song were aimed to raise awareness to these people. I write my music based on my emotions at a particular time and it’s hard to reflect on my thought process that much afterwards. The use of Ian’s samples gave songs a poignant message throughout. I wanted my creations to fit well with the narritive of his book and it’s theme.
Off the back of doing this project, would you be more open to finding different avenues and ideas to make music? Has it opened your eyes to making music that is not just based on your own emotions?
Obviously, with streaming platforms etc, I’ve been earning some money from my music since 2015-16. I’m always open to get involved in projects, like this one, to broaden what’s possible with music and music making. Music is not a money thing for me so I’m already quite open to getting involved in projects and putting my creative stamp on things I feel passionate about. Ian Urbina’s idea, in a business sense, was very clever here and the theme of the project ultimately raised awareness to important issues by pointing the listeners in the direction of his book. A few of my friends bought his book too as a result, so his method of promotion worked well.
What technology or instruments do you use to compose your music?
Most of my equipment is computer based, I don’t have many external instruments. Instruments, in general, do sound fatter and better on the whole but since composing my own music from 2003 onwards, I found I didn’t want to lose my sound in an array of instruments for the sake of it. I’ve played the piano for many years but I like to compose on the computer. There are a whole host of VSE (Virtual instruments) I use and have made my own sounds and I use them for my music. I’ve made my musical bubble and carved my sound over the years. The addition of the samples is the stand out feature/difference in ‘Sea of Sorrow’.
Have you been active on the live scene in Greece?
I’ve done some Dj-ing with a friend here in Athens but that’s more a Techno style thing. There isn’t a huge downtempo electronic scene in Greece, it doesn’t have many venues to support the genre. Basically, I perform my music once or twice a year and ensure that there are good visuals and backdrops to support me on stage. It’s usually me and my laptop on stage so I have a few people who help me make the show immersive and interesting for the crowd. It takes a lot of work, hence why I only perform once or twice per calendar year.
Did your ‘Sea of Sorrow’ get a good response from your fans and friends?
I haven’t really had much feedback from my fans just yet. I think during Covid is a tough time to release maybe. It’s difficult for me to promote an album with all of the goings on in the world currently. Greece is in a difficult place right now in the arts, nothing has been happening here. I was not normally very good at promoting my own music anyway so the pandemic really effected my efforts, like it has for many artists.
Do you have another works planned for release?
I always have something to release as I write based on my emotions. I’ve had time in the last three years to concentrate on music since I quit my job. I’m always creating small interludes and ideas for songs. I like to make loops with melodic elements and I’m always composing them in some form or other.
Seen as you’ve been performing Techno sets, have you ever released any Techno yourself?
Not under my own alias but I have ghost-produced for other artists in the past. I didn’t feel the emotion when doing that kind of work, it was a bit robotic so I’m not sure I’ll be doing too much more of that kind of thing. It’s a psychological thing, I express myself through creating downtempo and this expression was lost when creating heavier tracks for others.
What’s your final word on The Outlaw Ocean Music Project?
I find what Ian did, reporting out at sea for five years, pretty amazing. He visited dangerous places and put himself in difficult situations. I couldn’t do what he did myself so I am very impressed with his work and dedication. To speak to him was cool, a person who has experienced so much in his writing career. There was one video in particular – Ian, sitting in a boat looking out and filming a sunset, that really stood out. The video clip was closure to the project for me and evoked a sense of hope for humanity. The project and the integration of music to it was a good thing in raising awareness to something important. I was happy to be involved.
About ‘The Sound Sniffer’
The Sound Sniffer is a music blog that’s still only a baby – Founded in early 2019 by Kevin Coakley, a music writer and ghostwriter. ‘The Sound Sniffer’ also runs gigs and showcases in London since Oct 2019. The showcases are picked from artists found in the blog’s submission inbox.
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