Interview with Chris Kontos

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Chris Kontos is our hero for a long time. Man of style, man with perfect taste in many things. He blows us with his tender and warm genius mixes, and amazes with his photography. Chris is also well known for his blogs and last year he created a new project – Kennedy magazine biannual journal of curiosities. The first issue of Kennedy was very good and we looking forward for the second. Chris playing at Low 5th Anniversary party in Kiev at February 7th. We talked with Chris about Athens, English language, paper magazines, coffee and more.

You are preparing for a trip to LA. Have you a gig there or maybe something for Kennedy Mag?

I’m going for a small vacation, work on Kennedy 2, promote it, see my friends from Moscow, LA homies, someone special and I have a gig at the short stop on the 29th and probably do a radio show with Diego Herrera.

Wow! Cool plans, there is no Sarcastic Disco party for the full happiness)

Haven’t checked, but I haven’t heard anything so far.

How is the second issue of Kennedy going?

Many ongoing things for that. Looks like it’s gonna be great. Working hard. Out in April.

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Maybe some previews, if it is not a secret?

On what is in there?

Yeah.

It’s still in the process. But for sure nice interviews with Alden’s John Happ, Raymond Pettibone, Morgan Collette and Lovefingers.

Cool! Tell us about the concept of your magazine and why did you decide to make it in physical form?

I think printed is the only way to go. We got to get back on objects. There is too much internet life and it makes no sense. We got to back to holding things, smelling them, keeping them in our houses, coming back to them, not disposable. We live in a time with quick stimulation that wears out fast. So printed is the only way to go for me.

How do you choose features, themes for Kennedy? Are you working on it all time (right after releasing the first issue)?

Yes, almost not stop. But slow sometimes) I choose with keeping in my mind that the features should be things that I relate too strongly. Like imagine a concert where you can choose your favorite bands, the perfect line-up. I try not to compromise and I try to think big.

Definitely! I understood the same with making Krossfingers. We have absolute freedom! And have a chance to make something beautiful and timeless. Was making a magazine your dream?

Hmm, it has been a recent dream. My biggest dream ever was becoming a respected photographer. This came in the process the last few years, but it’s a natural evolution.

Do you like buy paper magazines, what are your favorites?

I love Apartamento, The Travel Almanac, Purple.

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You are very diverse: journalist, DJ, photographer. Have you some special education?

I studied photography. Everything else is just private education. It’s all about my love for knowledge.

Where from you got such perfect English?

I got a teacher’s degree when I was 17. And have been travelling to the UK a lot since then. Every year of my life actually

Am I right that you have some special connection with the UK, English language (in your style etc)?

Yes, I always loved London too much. I admire the language too, I think it’s so rich.

How can you explain your passion? What is special in it for you?

From the first time I went there I felt a special connection. London feels like it connects to some undefined past. It’s a certain quality blended with contemporary. It’s a bit depressing too, which is something that I love in a way.

Have you in plans to move there sometimes?

I have been thinking about it all my life. It’s too expensive. And I got tired of thinking too. But you never know!

So I haven’t to ask you about what do you prefer tea or coffee…) off course tea, right?

Coffee actually) I’m an espresso enthusiast. I’m too much into it actually. Tasting a lot of insane coffees at my local shop.

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Have you coffee machine or you make it manually?

I don’t drink coffee at home, only tea. It’s too difficult to get such good espresso at home you know.

Right. What are the ingredients of your perfect working day? Some sort of rituals of Chris Kontos.

Breakfast, shower, tea, e-mails, then out with notebook and books at my favorite coffee place for thinking, planning and reading.

Oh I forgot you are also a blogger! How long for?

Plaid Music since 2006 I think, and the A Journal Of Curiosities since 2008.

What did you get from being a blogger? Did something change for you about blogging these days?

Being a blogger made me more importantly a lot of good friends, and some of them are still around after a lot of years. And i guess it helped me put my name out there as a collector and music lover. And a lot of satisfaction through comments and followers. As far as my other blog Journal is concerned it helped me face reality with more imagination. A way to put my thoughts out there and communicate with people sharing alike interests. And it helped me shape up the way KENNEDY would end end up being like. Actually it was a natural evolution from the blog to the printed magazine. The difference is the Journal had almost 0 readers most of the time. :)

Tell how you fall in love with music.

I loved music along my friends in school. We were into The Smiths, Nirvana, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam.

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How did your taste change through years, when did you get into more eclectic, Balearic stuff?

As I said before I started listening to music at school along a couple of good friends. Dance music came really later in my life. And it started with house club culture which brought a lot of disco along in my collection but mostly the classic European and us stuff, not really leftfield Italian 7”s or weird baleric records. This came much later and I believe around 2002/3 and I need to mention that Harvey’s Sarcastic Disco was a landmark for me as well as the musical collection of my good friend Petros Maleuris that passed away a few years ago and introduced me to a lot of crazy stuff years before they became more popular. I think everything moved with a natural process musically. And slowly I started digesting more ”cheese”.

How big is your collection? Your favorite places for record digging?

Not huge, probably 2500 items. I don’t dig in Athens anymore, sometimes at the flea market. Everyone knows everything now. The local shops here sell on Discogs.

Maybe some favorite places for digging not in Athens? Some secret locations…

Not much, really. I buy online almost 90 percent of my music the last few years.

What about DJ-gigs today? You have a residency now at Romantso, right?

A couple of them. That one too, need to make a living!

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Is it the main part of your budget?

Right now yes. There is too much unemployment here.

Your favorite clubs/bars?

I guess the bars I’m dj-ing are my faves: Blue Bird, Romantso, Some Bizarre, not promoting myself, just nice places. I like a wine bar too called Heteroklito.

Is Athens the city you born in? Describe the city itself in some words.

Yes, I was born here. But never felt I belong in a way. Athens is an amazing city in some ways. The sun, the sea, the Acropolis, the architecture, the food… But always thought the scene here or the people sometime are not up my alley. But everyday life can be cool, easy sometimes, carefree. Even it’s the shittiest place to live now: concerning money, work. Athens can be dark, like a friend said. Athenians can be cynical, the city is like that too.

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My favorite feature in Kennedy 1 is the interview with librarian. I’m not sure is it in Athens but I felt some vibe of Greece city there.

It’s in Santorini.

Excellent feature!

It’s about Atlantis bookstore, one of the best in the world. Sad to think about it because the feature was made by my deceased friend Angelo.

Yes, I remember. Do you like travel? Where you were already?

Travels are the salt of life.

Good said)

It’s one of the most important things in my design fore life. It helps me breathe and shape new images and ideas while giving me inspiration for my photography. Athens is a cool city but feels like it’s too small for my taste sometimes. This year I have travelled to Moscow, Kiev, Dusseldorf so far and soon to LA and Kiev again. I’m lucky to get a lot of gigs the past few years and visit new places. I think Moscow is my favorite destination lately and have made really good friends there.

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What do you think about the current music scene in Europe? Do you like modern stuff?

I love it! I believe music is going through one of its most creative times. A lot of labels to check out, and music that I think goes beyond hype and is here to stay. I love Crue-L records, BIS is probably my fav label with every release being a killer, L.I.E.S., ESP as well as a bunch of amazing smaller labels that reissue amazing music like my friends at REDLIGHT that do an amazing job. One of the releases I cherish lately is the DUKES OF CHUTNEY that is pop music in full perfection. And still a big pop record for me is my friend’s EDDIE RUSCHA Secret Circuits-Higher Heights. And definitely STEVE MOORE’S latest LP.

My fave on Beats In Space is Crystal’ EP. Plus just can’t wait to hear new Hidden Fees!

Which one is the Crystal? I love this dude, he’s Japanese, right?

Right, I’m talking about Crystal & Koshi S – Break The Dawn. His EP on Crue-L was also a bomb. You should heard it)

Oh, yes, I have both. Thought you meant a new one.

Have you a record that combines all that you looking for in music?

It’s a tough question to have one answer. But maybe my fave song could be Neil Young’s Will To Love. Or Bill Evans – Foolish Heart. Or The Smiths — There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.

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What are you looking for in 2014?

Everything, hehe) I want to work more, see Kennedy go well, love and throw away bad memories from 2013, which ended up being really lame.

Chris, thank you, have a nice trip! And looking forward to see you here in Kiev!

Thank you, Sasha! See you soon.

Chris Kontos / Kennedy links: website, Facebook, Soundcloud

Words Sasha Tessio & Artem Super Ikra
Cover drawing Sasha Tessio
Photos Chris Kontos

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