‘Contrasting, Dynamic, Detailed’ | Interview with SONICA 

SONICA, the synth centric band lead by Christos Yerolatsitis balances between jazz and electronika in a majestic way. Sublime improvisations wrapped in a dark, electronic soundscape. If this live session is not a truly hidden gem, then what is?

Read our interview with the Cypriot artist below!

Describe your sound in 3 words

Contrasting (at times edgy, at times mellow), Dynamic, Detailed

Tell us a few things about Sonica. What is the story behind it?

Everything began with the lockdown. Musicians all around the world were unable to play with each other so they looked for alternative ways of playing music. Oftentimes that meant jamming in the online environment by exchanging pre-recorded parts. That’s what we did as well. Stelios (the group’s drummer) and I kept on recording ideas and sending them to each other. We both liked the outcome, so we kept exploring and developing those ideas. At the end of that process, we had a couple of tunes. But then the question came — how do we bring it to the stage? It was a real challenge to translate our ideas for a live setup. I took some time to edit and arrange the tunes, and eventually, I turned them into structured compositions. After that, I was able to compose the rest of the tunes in the same vibe and style.

The inspiration for the album came largely from my experiences and observations during the COVID-19 reality. The pandemic unearthed issues and emotions that many of us were unaware of. It was a time for reflection for many and for some — a time to face our demons, inwardly and socially. Sonica’s track listing reflects that reality. From receiving the bad news to splitting into groups (Announcement, Resistance, Separation), losing track of time (Tomorrow’s Yesterday), finding an escape from one’s own home (A Long Drive), and adjusting our lives to the online space (Virtual Party).

This project is purely synth centric. There are moments where even the bass comes from a synth. However you chose to use acoustic drums mainly. Is this an electronic project then? Or maybe a jazz band led by synths?

For some is the one, for some the other. It depends on one’s background and musical experience whether they see Sonica as a jazz band led by synths or an electronic project. The truth is that I trust and give the freedom to my bandmates to make certain artistic decisions. And Stelios came up with a mainly acoustic set. I loved the contrast between the two so we kept it. Additionally, my own background is straight-ahead jazz. So naturally, in some “hidden” ways I believe that Jazz is a big part of Sonica. Come to think of it, I could say that the project is indeed a jazz band led by synths.

Listening to the full album, your sound can be characterised as dark (except from moments like Virtual Party). First of all, do you agree? And if so, was it intentional or it just happened?

I absolutely agree with this statement. I believe that the compositions resonate with the space I was in at the time — a heavy lockdown, the inability to play, financial instability — I could not see the end of it. The world that we knew was changing and adjusting — it was a scary reality. It certainly has an influence on the music. With all that said, it wasn’t intentional to make it intense, but rather a natural way for me to express myself.

The whole project sounds very original indeed. Should music as a form of art always challenge the listener?

This is a great question. There are two types of art — entertaining and intellectual. The two can be separated or combined. In my opinion, any type of art should challenge the listener in some way. Make them wonder, shake them a little. And if the listener is shaken enough, it’s a big win. The experience then becomes part of them.

Favourite album of the past decade?

“Awase” by Nik Bartsch

How do you relate to the music scene of Cyprus?

As a musician and more broadly a creative artist Cyprus is not the easiest place to live. Often you have to compromise the music in order to “fit” in the scene. There are very few venues/platforms that can host us. That said, you still see new initiatives, new festivals, new bands, and new ideas coming out every year. That means that Cyprus is pushing toward artistic development, and that makes me hopeful.

Which beach in Cyprus would you describe as the best kept hidden gem in the island? Don’t worry, I’m sure our readers will keep it a secret!

I am not sure if any beach is hidden nowadays but I do have a few great options for you: Pomos, Akamas, Paramali.

Thank you!


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