Get to Know Greg Georgiades & Ultra Natives

Interview by Janus de Villiers (@hallojanus)

Photo provided by Greg Georgiades

Before they hit the stage just after 12:00 at this months Park Acoustics, get to know Greg behind Greg Georgiades & Ultra Natives:

Your sound is very hard to describe or fit into a genre? Did you purposefully set out to create an interesting new sound, or did it just happen?
We certainly set out to create the type of music that transcends the concept of music genre classification while being extremely rhythmically and melodically entertaining. Each tune tells a memorable story in its own unique way using simple yet varied instrumentation such as acoustic steel string and nylon string guitars, electric guitar, oud (North African fretless lute) electric and acoustic soprano ukuleles together with bass, drums and vocals. We felt the urge to demonstrate that music can be better enjoyed beyond the borders of genre classification and that by developing this awareness in audiences, we may be able to offer new vistas of music enjoyment to those who have been trapped in the genre system. It also will stimulate more creative confidence in musicians who are also ‘kept in line’ by this same system.

What music did you grow up listening to and has had the biggest influence on your band’s sound?
I personally grew up listening to many sounds from Middle Eastern music, Eastern music, a great variation of African music, Latin, many styles of Rock, Blues, Big Band Jazz, Bebop, Country and Boeremusiek. I don’t think I’ve finished growing up. It is necessary to cultivate as wide an ear as possible if the mission is to break through genre borders while being entertaining. In the light of this, I would say that all the music that I and the band members have experienced and continue to experience, has had an influence on the band’s sound.

 

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Greg, you’ve played at some of the biggest music festivals here in South Africa and internationally. What has been one of your greatest festival experiences to date?
I have been very fortunate to have played many big and wonderful festivals and I continue to do so whenever the opportunity presents itself. I have had many great moments at various festivals and it is difficult to single out any one as more special than others. The Pan African Music Festival held in Algiers that had 3500 musicians from all over Africa, was a fantastic experience where I played concerts with McCoy Mrubata in our group VIVID AFRIKA and had an overwhelming response from the crowds. Playing oud with metal group Not My Dog in a couple of festival shows in SA was another highlight. Playing and recording a live album with the Aquarian Quartet(Steve Newman, the late Syd Kitchen, Tony Cox and myself), in the Grahamstown Cathedral was a great experience. There are many more including the memorable first performance of Ashish Joshi and myself playing our Eastern fusion style duo at Oppikoppi in 1998 to an amazing audience whom we knew had never heard anything like this before. Good times, all of them.

Everyone in your band has played in several other bands. Are you all fans of each other’s work outside of Greg Georgiades & Ultra Natives?
Yes, we are proud of what each member has achieved outside of our group and it is because the guys are all great players with wonderful imaginations and creativity. The guys are in demand and it’s because they are very cool people and musicians.

What are your thoughts ahead of playing at this month’s Park Acoustics? What are you most looking forward to regarding the gig?
My thoughts ahead of our show at Park Acoustics revolve around putting on the tastiest, juiciest and most irresistibly entertaining show at this excellent event that includes a legendary line up of great artists including Koos Kombuis, Albert Frost, DJ Bob and Jonathan Peyper. I’m most looking forward to seeing the lights of happiness come on in people’s eyes and smiles of fun on their faces.

Lastly: if your band were the last people left on Earth – who would you vote to lead the new world and why?
If we were the last people left on Earth, we would certainly just get on with doing cool things and helping each other.  Voting is so old world. Fun and happiness is the new deep.

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