Cats and the Canary are swinging into Sydney

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By Marianna Alepidis

Greek swing band Cats and the Canary has evolved many times since its inception in 2018. However, the music at its core has stayed true says bass player and OG band member Odysseas Kripotos.

“The members have changed, but what is consistent is the genre of music. When we talk about the evolution of the band, we also talk about the evolution of the music. The way Cats and the Canary sounded in 2018 is way different than the way we sound in 2024. As the members changed, everybody brought their own influences and the different elements that we include along the way to make the song different,” Kripotos told The Greek Herald.

Cats and the Canary has gone through many talented iterations, but its inception started in an SBS Newsroom. Kripotos was following up on a story about a young man of Greek descent named Yiannis who won a mathematics award. Their interview turned into casual conversation about their love for music.

The two began jamming and soon joined Yiannis’ brothers who, although not seasoned musicians, took to their chosen instruments like fish to water. Before long a couple more people made it into the mix to officially form Cats and the Canary.

Kripotos and his current bandmates (Fenia Hatzimihail, George Kiriakidis, Demetrius Kiriakidis, Jacob Papadopoulos and Zacharias Rigas) have settled in for a little over a year now, finding their groove with one another in the music scene.

Whilst their backgrounds are eclectic, their goal is one. 

“We all listen to different kinds of music; our guitarist listens to progressive rock, our drummer listens to heavy metal, our trumpeter likes to listen to something more traditional, our bouzouki player likes his laika, our singer too and I love my funk,” Kripotos explained.

“In saying that, when we come together, we only have one purpose. The purpose is to serve the song, to serve the melody, to have something that’s coherent for the audience to like. Once we come together, we blend our differences and we create something that’s consistent in order to perform and have fun.”

The audience is just as much a part of the performance as the band. Cats and the Canary have cultivated their own atmosphere of unity through their music, transporting people to places with only the notes that emanate from their instruments.

All aboard the musical trip with the songs of Manolis Chiotis, Tonis Maroudas, Arleta, Mirela Pachou, Penny and The Swingin’ Cats and more.

“In a performance there are four walls; the fourth is between the arts and the audience. As Cats and the Canary, we want to ‘break the fourth wall.’ We’re all in this together,” Kripotos said.

“What I love and I think what most people love about performing, is that when we play live we create a party; it’s not us and the audience, it’s all of us. For the two hours that we play we make people forget the hassles and bothers of daily life and we come together under the umbrella of Greek swing.”

 
Pulling the audience into their world is just a fraction of the power that music has. For Cats and the Canary, melodies, textures, beats and rhythms are woven into the tapestry of their lives.


“Everybody in the band really lives and breathes music. Personally, I think music and songs provide a necessary background for life’s moments. When an artist dies, you mourn them, like Michael Jackson, Chris Cornell, Mitropanos. But you really mourn for the moments that you lived with those artists; without knowing them personally, you got to know them because through their music, they spoke to what you were doing during those moments. They speak to your own life,” Kripotos said.

“Music intensifies and enhances those moments in time, and I think it’s one of the few mediums that can achieve that. For example, if you’re at a train station and you pop music in your ears depending on what music you listen to, you will see different images.”

Now, Cats and the Canary are bringing their love for music to the Greek Festival of Sydney after some roadblocks, namely lockdowns, got in the way the last few years.

“We’re really looking forward to playing in Sydney, so many years have passed. Last time we played there we had a wonderful time, it was a different setting. We’re hoping to bring the crowd something different and we’re preparing a special show just for Sydney,” he said.

“People have fun when they see us. They might not do kalamatiana but they will dance to the swing and bossa novas. It’s really uplifting music. It’s something different with Greek lyrics and we want to bring the party to Sydney.”

Kripotos hopes that he, his fellow Cats and Canary, can guide their audience on a journey not yet travelled.

Cats and the Canary will be performing on 21 April, 7pm at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville. To book, visit greekfestivalofsydney.com.au/event/cats-and-the-canary-3/.

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