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Karagiannakis Nikos | Ikaria | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Raches, Ikaria
• Short biography

Nikos Karagiannakis (known as «Mikes») is a professional musician; he plays the violin and makes musical instruments for personal use: «I play the violin […]. Karagiannakis Nikolaos is my name, officially, but my stage [name], I’ve changed it, it’s «Mikes» […]. I was born here, my parents weren’t from here [they were] from Asia Minor, from Turkey and Chios […]. I’ve lived here, since […], I was born […] here, not here, I’ve spent my married life in Raches, but I was born in Mandria, a village down the road».

While playing music, he also worked as: «A builder, a farmer […]. A carpenter, my father was a carpenter. [He made] well, all kinds of things, furniture, door and windows frames, roofs, houses ». His father: «[…] he played the violin, back then. And it got me started – not my father, but the music he played. Well, then I used it, too. The violin and everything». About his brothers, he said: «I have [brothers], they went to America, they went to Athens […], they were builders too, builders. In Athens and in America».

He began playing music professionally after he got married and settled in Raches, his wife’s village: «I started when […], I got married here. And I came to this village, and I had to earn twice as much, you understand? That’s why I’d learnt the violin […], I made them myself [the violins], for my own sake, for my work, I never sold any of them, I did it for myself».

He enriched his repertoire, and learnt new songs: «No, whatever I’d pick up by listening, whatever I’d pick up by listening. Not the festivals […], I used to do the festivals myself, with someone from down the road […]. Well, the gramophones they had at the time, the ones with the cone, I had one [of those gramophones]. Then we changed, we got an amplifier and amplified the sound of the music, and a tape recorder […]. Later, I got many tools […]. I got […], tape recorders. I used to tape them myself».

The events he normally performed at were: «Sure, all the time. Everywhere, [at] christenings and [at] weddings […]. And there were many weddings, I couldn’t even tell you how many weddings I’ve been to, I can’t remember […]. All kinds of events, not just here, in other villages, too […]. Whenever there was [an occasion to play] during the year, I’d go, from here to Aghios Kirykos. Magganitis, Mandria, Karginagri, Langada, Amalo, mainly. My mum was from over there, we had family in the neighbouring villages».

On the music of Ikaria, he said: «Local music was big business, local music. It was the local music that mattered here». The Ikariotikos: «It was the manly dance of Ikaria, the proud dance, you had to know how to handle it. There were slow versions, [and] there were fast versions. In the festivals, they used to ask me for the slow Kariotikos, ‘Gerondistikos’ they used to call it. And the fast one […], I’d learnt it all, I knew it».

Regarding the way festivals were organised in the past: «They were organised by the village, the association, the priest […]. Well, on the holidays, every holiday they could, they’d hold a festival but there was a committee, a local committee […]. Well, each group would pay for the requests [for songs] […]. Families, yes, of course, it was families dancing together in those days».

Translator’s Note: Ikariotikos – traditional dance of Ikaria