Stephen Duros

Stephen Duros released a very intriguing new album full of great atmosphere and amazing performances. Of course, that’s not a shock for those who are aware of Stephen’s music talent. I believe that the time has come for Stephen to be more known and recognizable by a wider audience. His captivating music along with his knowledge of the “ancient poems” are the best recipe so as to create something really special. Don’t miss this album and Stephen’s words below…
Stephen Duros pic

Hi Stephen… first of all, congrats on “AEAEA”. It’s a really intriguing and stimulating album on the whole.
S: Thank you so much! I appreciate your thoughts on the record.
Do tell us… how did you decide to deal with “Odyssey” on your new album and what’s the main thing that inspired you to write your own story?
S: The poem was inspiring, I wanted to carefully craft a story of my own that involved adventure, love, sadness, and all different kinds of emotions when listening.
So what’s the “AEAEA” story all about and why did you name the album after that “mythological island”?
S: My second album was titled “Thira”, a Greek island which is currently called Santorini. Many believe ancient Thera used to be Atlantis. For this new album I was looking for a new starting point. I’ve always been one to like a location or place in time to start my musical journey. Having family roots going back to Greece with my Great Grandparents being from Athens I’ve always had a strong interest in ancient Greece as we have family roots that go back to Sparta.
For the title, I was talking with a friend about the musical and direction, Greek islands, locations etc…The title “AEAEA” came up, we both agreed how beautiful the spelling was, so visually unique and how the mythological island goes back to ancient times. I thought what if there was another story, an adventure to take place starting from that mythological island? And what would it be about? The beauty of instrumental music is that the listener can use their imagination and let the music tell the story. Everyone can have their own version of what the music is about.
For me, the album starts out in the underworld in “Chapter I”. The beginning of the record is very dark and about 4 or 5 min in you find light and beauty. “Chapter II” you arrive at AEAEA, filled with a thriving city, beautiful structures, art, plays taking place in beautiful ancient theaters. Perhaps it is real, or all an illusion to tempt you into staying. In “Chapter III” darkness approaches and you need to set sail away from the island to the Sahara desert. “Chapter IV” being the arrival across the sea and in “Chapter V” Arabic percussion slowly enters the musical journey and you go from there. In the end, you say goodbye to the ones you have met and traveled with along the way. Goodbyes can sometimes be difficult for ones you have bonded with and I musically tried to capture that in the final chapter.
The album is full of contrasts in the music. Light and darkness, happiness and sadness, love and anger, friendship and foes, temptation and devotion. To me, the adventure is about the gift of life and all of its aspects. “AEAEA” is my most personal and emotional album.

Do you agree with Kavafis who used to say that the “journey is more important than the destination”? Is this something that you also embrace on your new album?
S: Absolutely. Though at times it is easy to get caught up in wishing for the destination. That’s when you have to stand back and give thanks for what you have now. I sometimes fear the destination because then what is next? I feel the album absolutely embraces the journey.
Did you feel the need to try something different musically this time? Is that why there are major differences from your previous works? It’s part of the musician’s evolution, right?
S: I did feel the need to do something different and also feel it’s part of the musician’s evolution. I felt I had a lot to say musically on this record. It is a departure from my previous works but I do feel that you will still know it is me. The guitar playing and writing style has a familiarity with my previous works. You’ll still hear the octave melodies at times and the guitar string bending which I find more unique to my playing style.
You say that “instead of songs, the album has 12 chapters that are filled with twists and turns in the place of traditional songs”. What’s the difference and can those 12 chapters be regarded as one long track that’s divided in 12 pieces?
S: I would regard the album as one long track, if listened to all the way through the journey doesn’t stop just like a book, movie or poem. Each chapter has a different tone to them but as a whole it all connects to tell the story.
The album also has an alternate beginning. If you put the album on “loop” mode, the album will start over with an alternate beginning. If you wait 20 seconds or so after the last piece of music finishes, you will start to hear the chorus, orchestra and other instruments from the album warming up as you would before a live performance, then the album quickly loops and kicks off from “Chapter I”.

We can see a key on the album cover and a keyhole on the book art. The only way to unlock the book is through the music chapters? Does each music chapter give a hint to go on?
S: The cover was made to look like an old book with a key lock. To me, it’s as if you found this old book somewhere in an ancient library that hasn’t been read in a very, very long time and it’s up to you to take the key and unlock it to see what’s inside. Perhaps unlocking the book, pulls you into the story itself! Could make for an interesting stage play or movie. Each chapter connects to the next one musically. The musical key’s and tempos all tie in together when connecting.
Is it possible to describe each music chapter with a couple of words?
S: “Chapter I”: The Underworld / journey into the light…
“Chapter II”: Arrival in AEAEA…
“Chapter III”: Crossing the seas…
“Chapter IV”: Arrival in the desert…
“Chapter V”: Arabic dancers…
“Chapter VI”: Desert wind / reflecting back on the journey so far…
“Chapter VII”: Clash / sadness…
“Chapter VIII”: The escape…
“Chapter IX”: Peace / dreaming…
“Chapter X”: Passing through a market / psychedelia…
“Chapter XI”: New territory / The end of a journey…
“Chapter XII”: Saying goodbye / journey reflection…
Which are your music influences on “AEAEA” and how would you describe the sound of the specific album in a few words?
S: I pulled from a lot of my influences to make this album, from rock, classical, metal, chill, flamenco, nouveau flamenco, new age… I find it a bit difficult to describe the sound on the album other than it’s an orchestrated musical journey and could be considered similar to a movie sound track.
You played the flamenco, the electric and bass guitars, the oud, the keyboards, the percussion, the palmas and you also did the drum programming on the album. Moreover, you produced and mixed the album along with Andrew Reissiger. Do you want to have the absolute control of the final outcome or you’re just a perfectionist and you can’t help but take care of every little detail on your albums?
S: Yes, I played those instruments. I think the first reason is, I didn’t have a budget to work with so to keep the costs low I did everything myself. Just like I have on my previous 3 albums. The flamenco guitar is the main instrument I choose to play but I don’t call myself a flamenco guitarist because I am not. I did study years ago with Paco Arroyo, a flamenco guitarist based in Los Angeles. I wanted to hold the respect for the flamenco techniques when using them for my music and perform them correctly. He also helped pick out my first flamenco guitar almost 20 years ago which I still have today.
I do feel that I am a perfectionist; I want to take care of every little detail. I know what I want and how I want to execute it. At the same time you have to let the musicians that play on the record the freedom to be creative and hear what it is they have to say with their instrument. That’s why it’s so important to pick musicians you like and trust. They can bring in something you haven’t thought of that’s truly amazing and adds to the sound.

Do tell us a bit about the other musicians that are participating in the album: Andrew Reissiger on the charango, Louis Romanos on drums and percussion, Gary Moser on riq and darbuka, Jeff Pierre on conga solo and Ottmar Liebert on electric guitar solo.
S: I feel very thankful I had such great and talented musicians on this album. Andrew Ressiger is a very talented musician and also helped produce the album. He has a great feel on the Charango, such a haunting yet beautiful sounding instrument. We have a great working relationship. He’s also currently the Music Program Manager for The Nile Project. He brought his friend Louis Romanos into play drums and percussion on the album and he was great. It really brought the first Chapter to life. Gary brought more Arabic percussion to the table and I was thrilled with Ottmar’s trippy electric guitar solo on “Chapter X”.
Do you believe that these kind of albums which contain long instrumental tracks and blend various music styles can still be appreciated by people in today’s music world, where “plastic pop tracks” have the lion’s share on TV/radio/web etc.?
S: I certainly hope people can appreciate it. I feel that, with this album I really wanted to make a point in putting something out there that goes against the grain. I also felt strong support from the musicians that played on the album for that very reason. They all believed something different than the typical 3 to 4 min songs were refreshing. That’s not to take away from 3 to 4 min songs, I have 3 other albums with those song lengths. I feel a 3 to 4 min song has its place, I also feel there needs to be a place for an artist to say something that needs more time. We don’t put time limits on books, movies are up to 2 hours or even more, I felt why not music? When I was growing up, people used to sit down and listen to records. Now days, “singles” seem to be the current trend. I miss the days of listening to an album. (i.n.: Me too!)
What are your expectations from “AEAEA”?
S: I don’t have any expectations; of course I wish the album well in hopes of gaining a strong following. It has been a dream of mine to perform the album with an orchestra. If I could perform it live with an orchestra at the Acropolis I would think I had died and gone to heaven. But for now, taking things one step at a time and really, those are selfish reasons. In the bigger picture, I hope the music brings peace and happiness to people. Perhaps taking them from their problems or helping them through their problems as music has done for me in the past. Music has a healing magic to it and I can only hope the music I write can do that for someone. (i.n.: I hope to see you performing at the Herod Atticus Odeon one day!)
Have your Greek roots played a role in your musical education and in the concepts that you deal with?
S: I think they play a strong roll in my appreciation for ancient cultures in general. My family took me to Greece and Egypt when I was a child and it made a big impression on me. I’ve done a lot of traveling since and I try to take the time to see the ancient sites when I can. I think from there I draw from that musically.
Stephen Duros photo
Time for our “weird questions”!!! What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
S: Fantastic! I like weird questions, let’s do it, keeps things interesting. I think what I’m not liking these days are the illegal downloading of albums as it hurts the artists and it’s also stealing. I’m also skeptical about the streaming services because of how the musicians are getting paid currently. Right now it’s very difficult for an artist like myself to stay afloat at just doing music alone. Not to say it’s easy for other artists that are much more successful, I hear times are tough for a lot of artist in the business.
Which is the most underrated musician of all time?
S: Tough question for me, it’s hard for me to say because there are so many great musicians out there that aren’t on the cover of magazines or get little attention or recognition. And at the same time everyone has their own opinion of who their favorites are.
Which are the best 3 music albums (any kind) of all time according to you?
S: Just so many great records out there but if I had to pick 3, I’d probably go with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” and… I’m gonna pull a wild card and go with Bee Gee’s “Saturday Night Fever”. All 3 albums are excellent ground breaking records and have great memorable songs. All 3 records are very different from one another too. Again, just so many excellent records out there and many that I would pick to be my personal favorites.
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
S: Probably Ottmar Liebert’s “Opium” album. Especially the second half of the record (the blue CD) of that album. So unique and different, the playing is excellent and tastefully done. Some of the music is in odd meter yet you would never notice because it flows so well which is very hip. It’s also a very trippy album, one of those where you must listen with headphones, it becomes 3D.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
S: That depends, are the extraterrestrials friendly? Probably Megadeth’s “Rust in Peace” album because it has the track “Hangar 18” on it. The ETs need to rock out to change things up a bit, sometimes things get too serious in outer space. Plus the album has some great guitar playing on it that they need to hear.
Who’s your beloved Greek musician?
S: Michael Paouris is an amazing bouzouki player. Extremely fast and precise with the pick. I’ve always like that Greek way of picking. (i.n.: Mine is Manolis Chiotis who used to be one of the greatest & revolutionary guitarists/bouzouki players of all time!)
Fill in the phrase… “Flamenco wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
S: People being open minded.
If you could be any historical person, which one would you be and why?
S: Mozart. His music has affected and inspired countless people over time.
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
S: Probably the future. I’d be very interested with how the music will sound and how future technology with change it sonically.
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms? The other guys from the band?
S: I’ve heard great things about that show but unfortunately haven’t had the chance to watch it yet.
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
S: Hmm, there are some albums I haven’t been listening to for a while so perhaps it’s not all a total loss, I could then pawn off the ring and buy some new albums!
Have you visited Greece before? Do you speak any Greek at all? Would you like to come and play in Greece at some point?
S: Yes I have visited Greece years ago and would love to go back again. I would love to perform there some day. My Grandfather speaks, writes and reads Greek. Unfortunately I do not, except for a few words.
Thank you for talking to Grande Rock, Stephen. Thank you for your wonderful & inspirational music. Say anything you feel like saying before the end. Take care!
S: Thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure to answer your questions. I’m thrilled to hear you have enjoyed “AEAEA”. All the very best and hope to do this again in the future.