Theodore Kalantzakos Group

Theodore Kalantzakos Group

 He is RGT tutor, multi – endorsed, a permanent member of the “Greek Guitar Power”, and is barely 30; in other words, he shoulders quite a few achievements. This has been practically proven, since he’s been chosen as an opening act to upcoming guitar legend Vinnie Moore’s concert on 27/11. SubX has reached guitar virtuoso Theodore Kalantzakos, and shared a word or two with him.

SubX: Hello there, Theodore. You‘ve released a quite successful EP, and the release of your full – length instrumental album, “Pattern Partner”, is imminent. But first things first: Introduce yourself and the rest of the band (TKG), then talk to us about the full – length to come.

Hi there! Good to speak with you!

Well, my band mates in TKG (Theodore Kalantzakos Group) are George Politis on bass, a very successful and active freelance artist, Loukas Kalantzakos on drums, who is specialized in odd rhythms, he is also composer and he has the talent to make your improvisation sound better when he accompanies you and Christodoulos Aspromallis on Trumpet and Keyboards, who these days completes his master at London’s Royal Academy. The concept behind this Group is, from the one hand, to make music strictly composed and arranged and on the other, to have improvisational parts in order to keep our music fresh and alive in every show. The “Pattern Partner” will be a progressive metal-fusion album that will “incarnate” the above concept. People can download for free the digital EP from the official TKG site (www.tkgofficial.com) to get an idea . “Pattern Partner” will be out at the beginning of 2012. We’ll have many guest participations and I’m happy to say that I’ve enjoyed very much the whole process as well as the whole collaboration with all these great musicians, so stay tuned!

SubX: How do you conceive your musical mix? It’s undoubtedly a multi - influenced/ layered piece.

You know, it’s a long story. I believe art is coming from the artist’s mind and heart. Artists “speak” through their art and in that way, they express themselves. With this in mind, I’ve been influenced conceptually from many kinds of art, apart from music. I had this chance when I was studying architecture. So I spend some years to study the work of various artists, such us painters, poets, architects and musicians of course. I travelled to many places to see their original artworks and tried to find out how they “speak” through their art. How they organize their artistic tools in order to express themselves. So I did it in music and guitar playing too. I tried to find out why I like a composition, an arrangement or a lick, what is the concept behind them. Then I tried to copy this concept, not the result of it. As I say to my students, if you want to achieve a personal style in your playing or writing, you have to cultivate a creative personality first. Go to theaters, museums, trips and of course to music clinics and shows and be influenced by everything you can!    

SubX:It’s interesting what approaches one may follow to an instrumental work of any kind. Concerning the ‘concept’ a composition certainly speaks of, how difficult is for the listener to ‘capture’ what you had in mind while composing, as long as the song is devoid of lyrics?

I think it’s the same thing as seeing an abstract painting. You don’t understand what the painter typifies but these abstract forms create emotions in your mind. These emotions may have nothing to do with what the artist had in mind in the beginning, but the artist leads you through his work to find your own. So when I compose a tune, I don’t think about communicating my message clearly, but I like to leave space to the audience to find out their own. I would like to give them the frame in which they’ll do it. The same applies to my band mates. I like to give them the frame, a “discussion” theme if you like, which is the standard parts of the composition, and then I like to interact in the improvisational parts. This is because I would like to share my musical experiences with my band mates and my audience too. On the other hand, I try to be very consistent in my own emotions and concepts while composing, because the “frame” has to be very tight, in order to work as thought springboard.

SubX:Vinnie Moore is throwing a show (or should I call it a feast!) in Greece, on the 27th of November (@ Kittaro Club) – you have a seat reserved in this show, as one of the opening acts. Could this be one of your greatest experiences ever?

I think so! I‘ve always admired Vinnie and his guitar playing so it is a great honor to open for him. When I was beginning to play the guitar this was a dream for me. Now it’s real and when dreams come true, that is a great experience indeed. TKG are also happy that our good friend SinniK will join us to play keys and guitar for this show. We have a really good time in our rehearsals, and I believe that this will have direct impact to our performance, making it powerful, groovy and passionate. It’ll be an amazing show! Be there guys!

SubX: So, you are London College of Music’ RGT tutor. What is the RGT diploma? How is it structured? Is it “accessible” only to high level axemen, or intermediate guitarists can take up the exam too?

It is structured for all levels. The Diploma is the highest degree. If you succeed to the “Teacher’s Diploma” you become an RGT tutor. Most people go for the 8th grade, which is the “amateur” degree. Normally, for the very beginner, getting a diploma can take up to 12 years of study. One year for each grade. 1 preliminary, 8 “middle” grades and 3 for the “Teacher’s Diploma”. I’m happy that I’ve graduated from RGT with the highest degree. I specialized in the contemporary fusion style, in theory, harmony, arrangement and composition. It’s a pleasure for me to see that the number of students asking me for a lesson is increasing across the world. For that reason I decided to create an effective online teaching system that will be available during the first months of 2012 via my web site. Until then students can subscribe to the mail list and be informed when these lessons are actually available online!

SubX: You‘ve been endorsed by Schechter guitars, EMG pickups, Line 6, Vigier guitars, T-Rex pedals, Graphtech accessories and more. How difficult is it for one to claim an endorsement, and what does an endorsement’s actual privileges are?

It is quite difficult, especially the last 3-4 years with all the adverse economic conditions worldwide... Now, the privileges can vary depending on whether it is a Local, a National or an International sponsoring deal. It can be free equipment, subsidizing a set of performances, promotional activities by the companies and a few more things. It also gives you great networking opportunities, since you belong in the same group of people as many very famous artists and that helps in many ways. In TKG, I’m not the only sponsored artist. Loukas is also sponsored by Gabriel drums that equipped him with a custom signature model. So I think it’s very important that all these major companies support us and our work.

SubX: On your official site (http://theodorekalantzakos.com) you have uploaded significant guitar material, free video lessons, and the goodies don’t stop there. How did you come up with this idea? What is the response you’ve gained so far?

I love teaching music. I like it when my students improve their skills, make bands and become teachers themselves. I also appreciate it when people make positive comments to my posts, or share one of them and let other guys know about my news or TKG news, or even when they come to a show, subscribe to my mail list or YouTube channel and staff like that. So, this is a free gift for me to all of these guys and I think, people appreciate it back and that builds a meaningful relationship between the artist and his audience. So, guys, feel free to download any free material that you like from my site, embed the videos to your blog, share them with your friends online or whatever you like! Just enjoy!

SubX:What would be the fundamental advices you‘d give to a young guitarist?

I believe that music originates from our mind and our heart. The skills, the technique, the playing ability, the “tools” that you’ll use to express yourself, all begin from our brain. Our emotions, what make us happy, sad or whatever, begin from our heart. If you only practice on your “tools”, your music will be without “soul”, if you practise only on your “feeling”, you won’t be able to communicate it effectively. It’s the same with expressing in our mother tongue or not. For the first one, find a teacher that you trust and practise, practise, practise like the athletes do. For the second one, try to keep your heart clear from egoism, because egoism can kill our emotions. For me the second part is the hardest, I am still practicing on that!

SubX: Finally, you are a permanent member of the Greek Guitar Power. What is GGP and what are its activities?

Greek Guitar Power is a project that Ioannis Anastassakis created. Let me share the whole story with you! Ioannis used to be my guitar coach. All these years I was studying his Elite Guitar Coaching Program - I definitely suggest anyone to check this out - he only said good words to me twice. The first time he said, “Theodore you have potential”. The second one many years later, in 2008 he said “OK Theodore, you have been chosen to be in the Greek Guitar Power”. I asked “What is this coach?” and he answered me “It’s is a group of very talented Greek electric guitarists, with which we‘re going to tour around Greece, performing and organizing electric guitar events”. I was surprised and of course my answer was “eh...OK!”. I became a permanent member of GGP ever since, and Ioannis, apart from my coach, become my manager-mentor and most of all a very good friend of mine. We all have a really good time in GGP, you know, all these guitarists, we tour together, we teach, organize guitar competitions, we jam together and we are actively supported by many major sponsors...it’s really amazing! Looking forward to see you soon GGP fans on our tour this year!

SubX: Last line belongs to the interviewee. Share your words with the readers; on SubX’s behalf, have fun with the Vinnie Moore live.

Good to share these words with you guys, hope to see you soon out there, stay in tune with subX and thank you Stelios for your nice interview! Looking forward to speak with you again!

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