by Marie Bungau
Lately, Greece seems to be an inexhaustible source of great music and visionary labels, with names like Unhuman, Morah, ANFS or Phormix continuously pushing boundaries of electronic and experimental music. A name that’s maybe less known, yet still prolific, releasing under multiple aliases is Dimitris Doukas. Originally from Corfu, Dimitris has released music under the names Leftina Osha, Plaggona, Matriarchy Roots and Restive Plaggona on labels like Noiztank, Yerevan Tapes or more recently Thrènes and he doesn’t seem to run out of inspiration.
His latest release as Restive Plaggona entitled “Silently Hopelessly”, went out on the Swiss label Thrènes last December, and consists of previous projects and unfinished tracks, which together fit perfectly, like a puzzle of raw emotions from the past that resurface in order for you to learn from them.
We caught up with Dimitris to discuss about Pessoa and his heteronyms, social media and what inspired him to write “Silently Hopelessly”.
The Brvtalist (Marie Bungau): Hi Dimitris! Thank you for doing this interview with us. For those who are not familiar with your work, how did Restive Plaggona start and what does it mean?
Restive Plaggona: Hello, and thank you for the invitation. This project began somewhat spontaneously; two years ago, I was looking for ways to get out of the club and techno culture that had started to restrain me in terms of production. Before this, I had been producing music as “Plaggona” (which means a 'doll' or 'toy' in Greek). Later on, I decided that I wanted “Plaggona” to become more passionate and vivid, so the “Restive” part was added.
TB: Most of your past releases have been out on cassettes. Why is that?
RP: This information should normally be given by the record labels that released my music. Maybe they did not believe that my music was good enough to come out on vinyl! Ha! Despite the joke, I think there are two main reasons why many record labels are beginning to choose tape nowadays: the first reason is economic, as it does not have a high production cost. The second reason is nostalgia. We grew up listening to music on cassettes. When everything around us has been digitized, touching a tape is a special moment. It's as though we become a kid again for a while.
TB: Besides Restive Plaggona, you're also releasing music as Leftina Osha, Plaggona, Vile Temper, and Matriarchy Roots.
In Greek, a heteronym is a fictitious character created by an author for the purpose of writing in a different style (which is different than a pseudonym), but some even have their own biographies (like the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa). Do you see your different projects as heteronyms, as creative personas which have their own style and who create different sonic realities? And how do you shift from one mindset to another when creating music?
RP: Pessoa found an avenue of freedom and expression through different heteronyms. He argued that “to live is to be someone else”. This was a significant way to discover different aspects of himself while escaping from others. Personally, I am fascinated by such a technique. Through my diverse projects, I express different characters that I have built and characters that I abdicate. Being detached from something that you have created discharges you from feelings of fear and hesitation. Thus, the 'character' is a separate piece of you, and you feel that you are not responsible for the effect and the message it carries. With regard to the sound, it is something that I seek. I cannot focus on only one thing as I am not only one thing. The more choices I have, the easier it is to tell what I want. Going forward, I will continue to search for even more methods of self-expression.
TB: You've recently released the full length Silently Hopelessly on Thrènes. Why did you decide to release on this label?
RP: The proposition for pressing your music on vinyl is always tempting for a producer. But besides this, there is something more significant to me: collaboration and good communication. It is important to work with polite and honest people that are formal in their work. There is not enough in having a proposition from a big label. The human element is superior to business. In this case, our collaboration has exceeded my expectations.
TB: The album exudes a strong feeling of doom and gloom, with just a slight hint of hope. What inspired you during its creation, both in terms of life experiences and the music and art you've consumed?
RP: Maybe all of this is a conjuncture of my life. I do not know if it will express me tomorrow. The source of inspiration is something much more personal, but surely it has to do with the issue of hopelessness. Thus, I would like to answer this question through the words of a great poet that when she was asked if there was any hope, she replied the following, "The logic says there is no hope but, even if it sounds crazy, we hope. The biggest consumption of hope is made by the one who is pessimistic. Otherwise, he would not have the guts to be pessimistic. Meanwhile, in my absolute sadness and my total disbelief for all, I say to myself, that it cannot be; it should be happening, something that is true, what is nice."
TB: One of the track is called Cut Off From Modern Society, which I would say reflects your presence on the web and social media. Is there a reason why you're not that present online and is this there any connection with the track?
RP: The truth is that I never felt at ease with social media. All of this exposure of our personal life in combination with the self-propelled vanity have made me feel uncomfortable. In my view, it is preferable to keep some things in the dark, because in the darkness we intensify the stimulus of the research. Take for example a dark and a bright room. In the room full of light all are accessible without difficulty. Whatever you want you can immediately have it. However, in the dark room you have to search for what you are looking for without even knowing whether you will find it. All this search process can only be good, in my opinion. So yes, clearly the title of the track is linked to my choice to refrain myself from using social media, which is an integral part of modern society. This was a decision I made some months ago, even though I knew that it would not help me to further promote my work. But I think it was the right choice and I hope that some others will do the same, even if the price is heavy.
TB: What can we expect from Restive Plaggona in 2018?
RP: As my friend said, "Do not expect anything from me."