Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (29 March 1943 – 17 May 2022), professionally known as Vangelis, was a Greek composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, pop rock, and orchestral music. He was best known for his Academy Award–winning score for the film Chariots of Fire.
- I’ve always had a tendency, since my early childhood, to design the world not through society, but through a cosmic truth. I believe that our existence is first cosmic, then biological and then social. Unfortunately, so much importance is placed on our social life that it hides this fact. I think that people feel social pressure and understand that these systems, currently prevent happiness.
- On happiness: "For me, it’s harmony resulting from the cosmic wave, not the happiness resulting from the social wave"
- On working alone: "I enjoy working alone. I know myself, and I know what I want... and all this allows me to create my music before my thoughts can interrupt".
- On concerts: "Concerts are nonsense. They create many problems: money, interests – it is hardly spontaneous. I want to feel the same pleasure that my audience experiences, otherwise it’s not honest"
- On voice and music: "The voice, for me, is probably the best instrument, but, on the other hand, when a person sings words they immediately limit themselves to a certain category of people, to a particular dialect. Music without lyrics travels more easily and may be biologically conceived and received".
- On theory: "I don’t know any theory. Knowing the theory does not mean anything. If we theoretically know what a human being is, but someone has never seen one, or if you have never had a relationship with a human being, you cannot know anything about human beings! I think that the best way to gain knowledge is through gaining experience and through connections... Look, if I approach an instrument theoretically, it will give me a theory, so therefore this will make cold music".
- On sound volume and arrangement: "No, high volume levels cause less harm than the awkward arrangement of sounds. Assuming that the sound is a wave: if this wave is not balanced by itself, it causes great damage when it enters the ear. I have tested this on a few people in my studio. I made them listen to two tracks. The first track was considered too loud, whereas the second track was actually louder but more balanced".
- On hearing: "It’s an extremely important faculty which helps to balance the nervous system. Besides, people do not hear or see the same thing. There are specialists, especially in France, that measure hearing and determine the frequencies that the ear cannot hear or can only hear at greater intensity. This can cause psychological problems".
- On music: "Yes, the frequencies that I use are very important. The music has a real message inside. I must be very careful with sound. The sound is my life. My ear is completely aware. I spontaneously listen to all the sounds around me. For example, a frequency of approximately 30 cycles just passes, there. If we slow down sound it can cause sickness, and if we amplify it, it could destroy a wall".
- Dali De Clair (1 June 1979), "An interview with Vangelis", Rock et Folk (France)
- On instruments: "Well, to be honest I don’t think it’s necessary to find out how pieces of equipment work. I would prefer to know how music works, or how my body and my mind work. After all, it’s more useful to know how to drive a car than it is to know what makes it go. Of course it’s important to know certain things about a machine, but I don’t need to be able to build my own synthesizer. It strikes me that the people who do build them don’t know how to play them, so l’d rather find out more about playing".
- On technology: "That’s probably why I don’t rush out to buy all the latest technology. In fact, I find it quite boring at the moment, simply because so much of it is just technology — nothing more. I buy something if it really appeals to me, if I think it will add another dimension to what I have at the moment. Don’t misunderstand me: I think it is important to have as many different instruments as possible, with different libraries of sounds, and different characteristics. But some people adopt the attitude that if they had enough money they could have all the machinery they wanted, and that would somehow make their music better. That’s simply not the case... This is another reason why it’s important not to become obsessed with technology. You’ve got to remember that however a sound is generated — acoustically, electronically digitally - it’s still just a sound, a part of nature".
- On inspiration: "Of course, inspiration can come in different ways, depending on what field you’re working in? When I’m writing music for a film, inspiration will come from the subject matter and visual images, because I don’t agree to any offers of film work unless I believe I can add another dimension to the film. But if l’m writing music purely for myself, inspiration comes naturally, from everything around. I absorb every experience in life, every situation, because anything can become a source of inspiration — positive or negative. In general l’m influenced more by everyday concepts — nature, the city and so forth — than by hearing other pieces of music. Neither do I find any special inspiration from working in a studio. Obviously it makes life a lot easier to have 24 tracks to record on, and I use the studio as a tool to help in the writing process. I see the mixing desk really as another instrument, the conductor for all the others. But although the tape recorder and the console are just as important as the keyboards, I haven’t equipped my studio with a lot of hi-tech effects: l’d rather spend time searching through my sound library to get the exact colour I want".
- On albums and commercialism: "For every album I’ve ever made, I’ve written many times more music than has actually been released, and the way I choose which music appears is almost totally random, but one thing I have never done is to make music for the sake of commercialism... I don’t think it’s possible to guarantee commercial success for an album anyway, because nobody really knows what is commercial and what isn’t. Even if I went out of my way to make an album that was more accessible to the public, that would not guarantee its commercial success".
- On live performance: "From the creative point of view, live music is always different to what appears on a record because everything is spontaneous and you’re influenced as a performer by your audience. The negative aspect of live work is that the audience expects to be entertained, and not only that, the record company and the promoters expect you to be successful. But to me, the theatre is a meeting place where something unpredictable happens, not necessarily successful, maybe pleasant, maybe not. That’s how I think a concert should be, but in reality things have to be planned down to the last detail, you have to rehearse with other musicians so the scope for improvisation is lessened, and these things prevent a concert from being a truly spontaneous affair. In a way, this reality makes me less keen to do concerts, but in essence I do like playing. I enjoy the risk".
- On live performance: "Yes. l’d really like to do some concerts of completely improvised music, but one of the reasons for doing a concert is to experience the enjoyment of the people there, so you have to include excerpts of music from previous albums because they want to hear something they already know and like. There’s nothing wrong with limiting your spontaneous playing to just improvising around old themes, but what is wrong is playing a concert solely to promote a certain record. I’ve never done a concert tour just to promote Heaven and Hell or Chariots or anything like that. That sort of thing seems pointless to me".
- Dan Goldstein (1 November 1984), "Soil Festivities Vangelis Speaks", Electronics & Music Maker
- Music for me is life, I stay in my studio until ten or eleven at night and I record every day. Not for money or for albums - I just compose music.
- I function as a channel through which music emerges from the chaos of noise.
- September, 1988, as cited in: U. H. Berner (2003), I Laugh and My Heart Is Breaking, p. 54.
- in Italian: Non mi considero un musicista, piuttosto un radar pronto a captare le sinfonie che arrivano dal cielo. E' stato cosi da quando avevo quattro anni e spero che continui per sempre. Nel momento in cui compongo, qualunque ingrediente può andare bene, il problema sta nelle proporzioni che devono essere armoniche. E' cóme il lavoro degli architetti, non si inventa mai nulla.
- in English: I do not consider myself a musician, rather a radar ready to pick up the symphonies coming from the sky. It's been like that since I was four years old and I hope it will continue forever. When I compose, any ingredient can be good, the problem lies in the proportions that must be harmonized. It's like the work of architects, you never invent anything.
- "Santana e Vangelis, i forti sopravvivono" (in Italian), La Stampa (159): 34, 16 July 1989
- Mythology, science, space exploration, these are subjects that have fascinated me since my early childhood. And they were always connected somehow with the music I write.
- I understand the world through music and I believe that music shapes the universe. Mankind has always had a sense of wonder about space, has always been curious. It's something that's implanted in us. It's natural to want to travel and discover. It is, always has been, and is always going to be like this. We are space.
- And whatever we find on Mars, the doors will be open to the next Odyssey, to something so many have instinctually felt for so long, something which through music I remember -- that at the dawn of creation the seeds of life were likely scattered far and wide across the endless skies, and that science will continue to show us how we are connected, no different than the universe itself.
- Vangelis has been writing and performing electronic music for three decades and suggests that it is perhaps the only genre - with the exception of "pure" classical music - that can comunicate universally.
- Maria Paravantes (25 August 2001), "Vangelis Prepares For Blastoff On Musical Mission To Mars", Billboard 113 (34): 50, ISSN 0006-2510
In: Peter Culshaw (2005) "My Greek odyssey with Alexander" at The Daily Telegraph website:
- The number of interviews I've ever given could be counted on the fingers of my hands.
- We are living in a cultural dark age of musical pollution. You put the radio on, and five minutes later you need an aspirin.
- The New Age music: "gave the opportunity for untalented people to make very boring music".
- On the 2004 Summer Olympics: "Nobody proposed me anything to do with the Olympics. Nothing. Maybe the Olympics have become too much of a supermarket now. The other athletics events have more of the spirit of the Olympics".
- If I've made money from music, it was never my aim to do that. I didn't do it to become famous. I absolutely respect and I believe I serve music.
In: Allegra Donn (2012) "Vangelis: why Chariots of Fire's message is still important today" at The Guardian website:
- On music: "Scientifically, believe it or not, music drives everything, because music equals universe and universe equals music".
- On electronic music: "The source is electronic, but what you do with it is the same as with acoustic instruments. Sound is sound and vibration is vibration, whether from an electronic source or an acoustic instrument. The way we use these sources is the key in order to define the required musical result. Without neglecting the acoustic conventional instruments, I spend a fair amount of time dealing with the electronic sources of sound. But please do not think computers! Computers are extremely helpful and amazing for a multitude of scientific areas, but for me, when it comes to creation, they are insufficient and slow. Therefore all of my efforts are to stay away from that beast".
- On music record industry: "I moved into the record industry. I was under the impression that in order to be alive and to be able to create what I had in mind I had to become successful. I realised that success and pure creativity are not very compatible. The more successful you become, the more you become a product of something that generates money. Instead of being able to move forward freely and do what you really wish, you find yourself stuck and obliged to repeat yourself and your previous success".
- On film music: "There are cases in which a film can stand on its own without music, but if music is used, it's better for it to touch the soul and create emotions that the rest of the film cannot do. Music should continue emotions where words finish. Unfortunately most films are flooded with music, due to mediocre scripts and to producers' and directors' lack of talent".
- On world economy: "I see the crisis like a theatrical play that concerns the world – not just Greece... But, I am afraid that it is not easy for any country today to decide their own future... Corruption is another way for just a few to benefit... It's a game. What you read is not what's happening. The whole planet is in trouble for the same reason... Generally speaking, yes, greed and capital. In other words, banking".