“Fotiá” pulls the listener into Evangelia’s world of summers spent in Greece and the passion for music in her heart that led to her pursuit of the music industry.
Fresh off the release of single “Fotiá,” the teacher turned vocalist Evangelia discusses her Greek roots, career changes and pursuing your dreams with COLLiDE.
How does your Greek heritage affect your use of Greek sounds and influence your music? I know that part of “Fotiá’s” chorus is sung in Greek. Can we expect more of that in future singles?
Basically, it influences everything I do! I grew up spending all of my summers in Greece on a farm with my grandmother. I have a whole separate life there—friends, experiences, way of life—I’ve also lived the simple farm life, you know?
I’ve been exposed to completely different elements sonically than I would be exposed to if I had just lived in the U.S. So, to me, it’s kind of like the pop music that I grew up hearing here and the traditional Greek music or ethnic music that I grew up listening to in Greece are equally important and loved.
When I was exploring and trying to figure out my sound and what I was going to do, I realized that up until around 2 years ago, when I finally landed on this, I had been ignoring the Greek side of me, sonically. I hadn’t really been incorporating it into my music. So once we did that, we brought in the instrument—the bouzouki, which is used in a lot of music—and started blending it, everything just clicked. All of a sudden the music I was making really felt like it was a true representation of who I am and where I come from.
It’s been quite an experiment and really fun figuring it out, especially at the start, how to blend in the bouzouki and where it makes sense to use some Greek words. Greek was actually my first language, so it’s been really, really fun and it’s been cool to expose my culture to people that haven’t that haven’t been exposed to Greek music before. It becomes a fun, exciting art project in a way.
Your press release mentioned a job layoff being the catalyst for pursuing for dream of becoming an artist. What did that moment feel like? Was it due to the pandemic or was it beforehand?
It was beforehand, it was two years ago now, end of school-year 2018, June 2018 I guess. It was a very surreal moment because I also remember them talking about potential budget cuts in the district, but then my principal being like, “No, it’s not going to happen, you guys don’t have to worry.” Then me wondering, “What will I do if I get cut?” because I’m not tenured, so I would be the first one to go.
Then ultimately when he brought me to his office and I got the news, I was definitely shocked and scared. But I also felt a calmness around it all which I wasn’t necessarily expecting. It just felt like, “Okay, this is my opportunity to really do what I want to do.”
What I found kind of surprising, but not when looking back, was when I told other teachers that I got cut they were like, “Girl, now’s your chance, go follow your dreams! Do what you were meant to do!”
Has your day to day process shifted at all since switching to a music career? What has that transition been like now that it’s been two years?
It has changed significantly. Sometimes I find it hard to remember that I woke up so early and taught, like, a full class of children, but that was my life. And the truth is, I actually really enjoyed my job. I went into education because if I wasn’t going to go for a career in music, that was my next thing that I was most passionate about. I loved interacting with kids and getting to know them and seeing what they’re excited about, what their dreams were.
Towards the end of my teaching career I started releasing some stuff; some of my students became fans and they were excited for me. There’s a part of me that’s always felt bad that I left a job that I cared so much about but I also feel like me following my dreams is also doing a service to them, to inspire them to follow their dreams, whatever it is.
Now it’s about, “What am I creating today?” I wake up early because I’m signed to a label in Europe, so I wake up early to talk to them. My actual timing in my life is actually kind of similar, I still wake up early and start the day.
My life consists of a lot of brainstorming and creativity, and then ultimately, executing something. Also practicing a lot and learning new skills, since I didn’t go to school for music. In a lot of ways I’m like a student again, like I feel like I’m in “How to be an Artist University.”
What can we look forward to from you in 2021?
What I can say for the rest of the year is that you’ll definitely see an acoustic version of “Fotiá” that I’m really excited to put together and share. You’ll get a new, intimate perspective of it.
And then for 2021, you can expect a lot of new music. There’s a lot in the pipeline!
Stream Evangelia’s discography now:
Photo by: Jason Lester