Ms Sugahspank!, as you all know, is one of the best voices around town, but what you may missing is her unique vintage style and inspiring blog. After a lumbago, many cancelled dates from both ends, due to concerts, work and, well, life, I finally had the chance to visit Georgia Kalafati in her can’t-miss-the-view apartment in Piraues. Born and bred by the sea, with just a year and a half of singing lessons, the girl can surelly sing and she styles it up rather nicelly. Over several cups of coffee and macaroons, with the sea right on our feet, I had the chance to find out she is one of the most interesting people I ‘ve had the chance of photoshooting. Stories that could turn themselves into best selling novels, amazing dresses, really old books and several great fidings from antiques stores… are all dancing along her mesmerizing voice.
How would you describe your personal style?
It’s hard to say, every 3 to 4 years I change my style completely. I used to be really into grunge and my style followed, after that I switched to hip-hop, baggy jeans and rasta hair style, then I went through an avant garde Japanese phase, again switched back to hip-hop 70s style and lately I am inspired by the 20s, 40s and 50s.
Wow, you used to have rasta hair? How did they come off?
I used to have it like this twice in the past. The first time, I cut them off, and was left with really short Afro hair, which looked so nice. The second time, slowly, but diligently, I untangled them. It took a lot of effort, trust me.
I have read, in previous interviews that you gave, you saying that you prefer Piraeus to Athens, which you find an ugly city.
Piraeus I love, because Ι was born and raised here. Now, Athens is a completely different story. Mostly I don’t like it because I have to drive a lot, to get to the clubs I am performing or to the studio… and I have to deal with all this traffic. But other than that, Athens is not a beautiful city, in my opinion, it is just a sea of cement. And there has been a lot of talk lately of how Athens is the new Berlin, but the truth is: it’s not. I guess if we all just faced the truth about our city, it would be much better to detect the flaws and start fixing them.
Which places in Athens and Piraeus do you usually visit?
Jazz In Jazz, Radiofono, 42 in Athens. Toni Bonano, Premium, Lotreque and Jim & the Fish in Piraeus.
Which city is ideal for you in Greece?
Corfu. There is so much beauty there. I love the architecture and the colors… the square, which is full of life and the sea. People are always singing there! Oh, and the pedestrians-only streets! And Tzitzibira!
If you had to chose a city outside of Greece, which would it be?
Rome! If you keep away all the tourists, of course. Again, the buildings are what make this city so charming. I say that even a roman street corner with just trash on it would look like a painting, because there would be some sort of crest there. The city is full of them.
I see that you have an affection towards the past. Does modern architecture or design leave you indifferent?
No, I wouldn’t say that. It’s just that you can never really make anything modern yours, you know. There is nothing personal to it.
Are you collecting anything?
Old books and objects from the WWII. During this time everything progressive, avant garde came to light. From fashion and design, to the uniforms the soldiers would wear and the cars they would drive.
Does your music influence your style?
Before I started singing I would only look at clothes as a means to express where I stand music-wise. I would listen to grunge, and dress accordingly. But when music really became a part of who I am, I started being more careful when choosing my personal style.
How do you plan your outfits before you perform live?
I usually pick out what I am going to wear the last minute. Lately, I have been performing along with Irini Dimopoulou and it has been such a great time. I never had the chance to perform with another woman, so we get together before each concert and try to match our outfits, put our make-up on… you know girly stuff.
Being part of the Greek music industry and scene, how would you describe its state lately?
I wasn’t a big fan of Greek bands, but lately I am regretting that I didn’t pay so much attention to them. There are some really talented people here, doing great things in the present, but also a lot of talented people have done great things in the past as well. Lately I have been listening to Kipourgos a lot, who I find fascinating. Baby Guru and Modrec are doing a great job, also Septic Flesh. I am not really a fan of metal music, but the orchestra they have on their songs is brilliant!
Name some of the best concerts you attended in Greece this past year and who would you love to see perform live in 2012?
Psaradonis was an amazing night. Also the Xenakis anniversary and Mario Rodriguez Lopez. I wish I could see The Budos Band and Jerry Damners aka Spatial Orchestra perform live this year.
This year is going to be a very busy and creative year for you as you will have 3 albums coming out. When did you decide that music is all you want to do and quit your morning job?
I studied Advertising and worked in a Marine Broker Agency, and I wasn’t really happy with myself for doing so. Work was really hard and at the same time I was doing my own thing with music, so there were a lot of things to keep track of and I overdid myself. I had injured my back in the past, and because of the exhaustion I was experiencing, my back got worse. That left me in bed for 8 months. I had a lot of time to think and to make some decisions regarding my career and my future.
How did you hurt your back in the first place?
My mother comes from Oinouses. This means I spent all my childhood summers by the beach. One day I was about to dive into the sea from a rock that was high enough, when a friend of mine, Kostas the American, pushed me towards the sea. I fell flat on my back, half in the water, half on a rock. That’s when it started. But more that 10 years later, my friend Konstandinos Dagritzikos, who runs 6 d.o.g.s., had bought a jet ski and wanted to take me for a spin. The sea was not calm at all and my friend insisted we rode every wave. That’s when I felt my spine becoming an accordion. That was strike two. Needless to say, I am never attempting to dive in the water ever since! You have been collaborating successfully with the Swing Shoes.
How do you feel before the gig starts?
Nervous. Before my first concerts, I would get stomach aches, I would think I had gone mute, or that I am really truly sick. After a while, I understood I am hallucinating and it’s just me being nervous about performing live. I get it every time though. It lasts for about 10 minutes and then I can enjoy the whole thing.
How do the people react to your music in Athens and in other cities?
Well, in Athens people are not so free. They won’t dance to your songs, or maybe they will, but at the end of the concert. But if I am performing a slower song, the crowd in Athens will hush and listen to it. That never happens in other cities. If the song is slow, they start talking to each other! But they dance all the time, every time! In a way, they are more open. Lately we have also started accepting requests for songs to play (for a fifty in George Koutras’ forehead!). Needless to say, no one in Athens has ever requested a song!
Back to style now. What would you never be caught wearing?
Glittery shirts. Harem pants. Tight bermuda jeans. Clogs – any kind, no matter who designs them, they still look silly. Plastic. Really bright colors – after the age of 23 these color combos are unacceptable. But you know, the truth is, if you can pull it off, then good for you. For example MIA is wearing things I would normally despise, but she looks amazing.
Besides singing and writing, you have your own blog. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
I started my blog to let people know about where I would be performing next and to promote my work. But when I started performing in new cities and new places, I also met a lot of wonderful people, who I didn’t have the luxury to see every day. So, I started uploading pictures of the fun we had, in order for everyone to be able to see them. Like an online photo-album of the good times we had. Also, I really love taking pictures. When you have a camera in your hands, then you start noticing things that otherwise would just make no particular impression to you. Then the fashion blogs came and I really loved that idea, so I started adding outfit posts to my blog. I got a lot of sponsors through those posts. But everything I show on my blog, is what I would wear again and again. No ads here. Lately, I haven’t posted any outfit, because I got a bit tired of having someone take my picture etc etc. So I guess, the thing with my blog is that it evolves with me, according to what I am into at that moment.
Some comments on the things pictured above:
The dress with the flowers Georgia is wearing on her balcony comes with an extra skirt, that you can add, to achieve a different look. / The books in her library are so old, some of them need extra care to even browse through. / Her bed was made by a friend of hers. It actually comes from an old, Italian balcony. / The stripes on her bedroom are not wallpaper. She painted them on her own. / The hat with the big pink flower was given to her as a birthday present. / The newspapers on her living room wall are not Greek.