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Fakaros Nikos | Ikaria | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Christos, Raches, Ikaria
• Year of birth

1978
• Short biography

Nikos Fakaros is a professional musician with a background in music theory, and plays the violin: «I’m a musician […]. At the moment, I have no other profession, apart from music […]. I live in Athens. I don’t live [here, in Ikaria]. [I come here] in summer and at Easter […]. I went to university in Bulgaria for a year, but I left in ’96-’97 […]. [I went there to study] music at the Conservatoire […]. And [then] I moved to Athens, and went to Nakas [F. Nakas Conservatoire] and took lessons there. I got my diploma in traditional violin, for example […]. I was taught by Mr. Marinakis, Giorgos […]. Naturally, – apart from traditional violin – I’ve also taken harmony lessons. But I left that halfway through, and decided to do my military service first; then I came back and completed it».

He began playing the violin in the beginning of the 90s: «Of course, I’ve been playing the violin since 1990 […]. [I started at the age of] 12 years old […]. How did I start? Well, my late grandmother was to travel to Athens one day and she asks: ‘Do you want me to bring you something?’ I answer: ‘I want you to bring me a violin.’ And she brought it for me, because I liked it very much and I used to go, you know, when the old folk played in festivals, I’d go and watch. I’d sit next to them and watch and listen. And my grandmother, God rest her soul, she brought me the violin and this man came, Mr. Karagiannakis [a musician from Raches, violinist], and tuned it for me, and little by little, I began to play […]. Well, my first time up on stage was in 1992-1993. In 1994 I played, you know, in a panegyri for the first time».

He began playing music professionally after completing his military service: «Naturally, I used to play in panegyri, that sort of thing, even before the military. […]. I’ve been playing since 1994 -- that was the first time I played, in a festival and then with some guys, you know, we played. Now I’ve got, you know, my own band and we play […] [The reason I started playing music professionally was]… that I liked music […]. It was my group of friends, too, from the military, because when we finished our service, we came here in summer and started playing […]».

He has been playing with the “Athinaiki Kompania” for the last 4 or 5 years. «Recently, I’ve been playing with the “Athinaiki Kompania”, we’ve worked together for the last 4-5 years […]. Well, the “Athinaiki Kompania”, they’re a musical group […] probably the only one that’s lasted to this day […]. We met [...] I was in a club in Kokkiniotissa – down in Nikaia – and the guys came and played there, and since them we’ve become sort of friends and we play music together […] Before that, I used to work in other clubs». On where he has performed he says: «I’ll go anywhere they ask me to. I’ve been to Folegandros. I’ve been to Mytilini. The other day, I went to Lamia, to play in a panegyri . I’ve been abroad: I’ve been to America many times; they invited me to play at dances, weddings […]. [In Athens, he also plays] …. At dances related to Ikaria […]. They often hold dances […]. The season starts around […] New Year, with the ceremonial cutting of the New Year pie, and goes on till the time of the Carnival; there are dances, organised by cultural associations, i.e. the Ikaria associations of Athens».

In Ikaria: «I go all over Ikaria, but I have a principle. Because this is the North side, and that’s the South – [and] there are local musicians, who play there – I stay mostly on the North side […]. [In Ikaria] …people live for the festivals. It’s exactly as I tell you […] I remember, in the past –when we used to go to the festivals – there weren’t many young people there […]. There were mostly older people. In the last ten years I’ve noticed that [there is] a much greater participation by young people in festivals. [Apart from the locals, people come] from all over Greece. Naturally, they come here for their vacations […]. I played in Lagada, for example, for three years –until last year […] and there were 4,000 people […] And here, at the festival of Christos [there are] about 2500-3000 people».

On his repertoire, he said: «Over here, we play mostly nisiotika, European, that sort of thing. By European, we mean tango, waltz, fox trot, because they like this sort of dances here […]. [His repertoire is] not a standardized one, but we listen to what people want, and plan the performance accordingly […]. [The Ikariotikos is] long and [played] many times. Repeated, if you like […]. Then […] you play some nisiotika, then something European, then Kariotika […]. And after a while, to break up the programme a little, you play some laika, some rebetika […] depending on the time. That’s how I do it, at least».

On the Kariotikos dance, he said: «The Kariotikos is basically an orchestral piece, improvisational, I’d say, which we want to play and dance all the time. […]. It’s a bit more about how each musician plays it, and then, you know, we say it’s the Perameritikos, the Rachiotikos, from Aghios [Kirykos]. Personally, I took the mould, let’s say, of Kariotikos, its basic melody […] and through playing it, it became […] I added something, a musical part of my own. But not irrelevant to [the core of the song] […]. And I think that with the Kariotikos, if you asked 5 musicians to play it in turn, they’d never play it as they heard it the first time. Yes. That’s what I think. And from what I’ve heard and […] you know, I listen and I observe[…] and from my experience also. They play the main part and then they add their own melodious adornments. But harmoniously. Yes, that fits, that’s relevant [...] to the main score […]».

Translator’s Note: nisiotika – traditional songs of the Greek islands; laika – Greek folk/pop music; rebetika – Greek urban folk music, traditionally played on the bouzouki; Ikariotikos/Kariotikos (pl. Kariotika) – traditional dance of Ikaria.