Nikos Christogiannopoulos: I would’ve still been a musician if I had grown up in Australia


By Kathy Karageorgiou.

Many second generation Greek Australians live in Greece. Some came as children accompanying their Greek parents back to Greece in the 70s and 80s. Others came on holidays in their late teens, falling in love with a local Greek, marrying and having children. These children are part of the 3rd generation of Greek Australians in Greece (primarily of Greek Australian mothers).

Many of these 3rd generation Greek Australians born in Greece have not visited Australia. I questioned whether they can in fact be termed Greek Australians – and hence 3rd generational? I spoke to one such person – 24-year-old sound engineer and musician Nikos Christogiannopoulos about this, and more.

Nikos soon set me straight. Upon asking him what he knows about Australia, Nikos states “a lot.” I am taken aback. He tells me, “my mum’s Greek Australian, and so is my yiayia – and my pappou who passed away some years ago. Including my sister Petroula, we grew up in the same household in Greece.”

He goes on to relate that his similarly aged Australian cousins visit Greece and that he keeps in touch with them online. Plus his great uncle visits annually. Nikos laughs as he refers to his uncle’s tale of the amazing ‘knack’ the Australian police have in booking traffic violators.

“There are cameras everywhere, and a fine arrives in the mail the next day with the proof! And I know Australia’s an organised country, where revenue from road fines – and taxes – are put to good use in the welfare system, in health, education, etc,” he tells me.

Nikos’ enamouring, youthful smile exposes itself when he tells me, “An important thing” he knows about Australia… “Fish ‘n’ chips!” Smiling, I self-assuredly state: “Aah! You mean bakaliaro.” “Oh no” he corrects me, “with proper fish ‘n’ chip batter which my grandmother learned to make in Australia.” I am further humbled when he tells me: “We’ve been having real fish ‘n’ chips once a week since I was a child.”

I ask Nikos if he feels slightly different to other Greeks of his age group, due to his exposure to ‘Australianess.’ He again surprises me by answering “of course”, explaining that growing up with a Greek Australian mum gave him a more cosmopolitan outlook on life.

“And even my Greek father who was in the National Handball team was invited to Australia. But it was mum’s attitude, her vibe that was Australian I guess– she dressed differently to Greeks, less fashion conscious. She was freer, more open minded, and, like my Dad, she loved music. There was always music on in our house, which definitely influenced me in becoming a musician,” he said.

Nikos adopts a faraway look in his eyes, telling me how familiar he feels with the house his mother grew up in in Australia. “My mother and grandmother described it to me in detail over the years: the hallway, where the bedrooms were and the rounded road that you’d have to drive around to get out of the street.”

Then, grappling for words to convey his heart-felt awe – “I can’t forget the special room – the room with the sun” he says. “The sun room” I enthusiastically blurt, with Nikos nodding and laughing along.

Nikos attended a multicultural music festival – ‘The Yellow Days”, a few years ago, comprising international musicians.

There he met Australians of non-Greek background, claiming “I bonded automatically, and my English quickly improved. I began to see things in a wider context, which helped with my creativity.”

He continues, “I see that broad outlook in Greek Australians too. I watch videos online and they do Greek music for example, but it’s in a Greek Australian unique way. I like that and it’s helped me be more experimental with my music too.”

Nikos plays bass guitar in an alternative rock band ‘Tsopana Rave’, who formed in 1993. Three of the older, original members are still in the band, and there is a female on keyboards, as well as three younger ones including Nikos, while his sister Petroula (also a 3rd generation Greek Australian), is a frequent guest singer.

He explains his band’s sound is multi-dimensional, because of its diverse generational and music influence mix, “like that of the different Greek Australian mood that comes out in their music.”

Nikos learned classical guitar at a young age at the music conservatory, and then at 12 became interested in baroque music through a teacher. With its deeper, doomier sound, Nikos later expressed this appreciation in deciding on bass guitar.

A local sound and recording studio, ‘The Live Studio,’ encouraged him. Nikos also played with Pyx Lax in their 2018 album, and has studied sound engineering, hence his Degree in Music Technology. So invested and talented is Nikos in his work, that he’s in demand as a sound engineer too, by popular Greek musicians such as Kostantis Pistiolis, Manos Pirovolakis, Ifigeneia Ioannou and Eivala.

Although grateful for and loving his profession in Greece, Nikos tells me, “I would’ve still been a musician if I had grown up in Australia, but probably would’ve had more opportunities, including a wider audience.” He says he’d love to visit Australia, including touring there with ‘Tsopana Rave’ because “I like the community feel that Greek Australians have, and through our music we want to show that we
really appreciate this and care.”




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