Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

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WG Kaspar
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Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby WG Kaspar » 06 Nov 2011, 19:51

It all started in a summer camp in Chalkidiki in 1989, when I was 11. Up until that point music held very little interest in me, it was football that was my bread and water. And it wasn't any particular song, it was the fact that I was exposed to a group of mainly older kids (most of them were 13-15) who had greater interest in it and I was in awe of them. There were a lot of parties on the beach or on discos booked by the camp and in those 15 days I suddenly found something different in my life that I slowly started pursuing and building an understanding up until this day.
Two things must be noted at this point. First of all in Greece and especially in small peripheral towns like the one I grew up in, foreign music was not very popular and due to the fact that up until 1987 there were only 4 or 5 radio stations nationwide plus 1 one municipal the only way to listen to pop music was to stay till after midnight to catch the only radio by the Greek John Peel. I only found out about this in my late teens of course.
The second thing was the there was no turntable in the house. All music was coming from the radio and Greek music just became background .music, and the reason I never felt compelled to collect any Greek stuff even if there's lot that I love and rate higher than any pop music. My parents had and still do a strong dislike of pop music and never rated it even in their youth and were certainly bemused when I started buying records, to them it was mostly about going out to parties or to the bouzoukia and having a good time. So until that summer I grew up somewhat indifferent to the world of music, or that people actually get obsessed over it, argue about the merits of respective artists and in general behave like kids because of it even when they hit their 50's.
The main soundtrack of that summer was not The Stone Roses or Happy Mondays or REM or whatever it was popular in the hip circles across the globe, it was the usual fare of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Roxette, Bon Jovi and more importantly than all Guns'n'Roses so my first choice has to go them.

[youtube]Rbm6GXllBiw&ob=av2e[/youtube]

Paradise City was the one I keep waiting for to come on every single night. It was powerful, exciting and everyone went gaga everytime it came on. Even though I never became a fan of the band I will always have a soft spot for this one.

So when I came back my first concern was to buy a walkman (for which I begged my parents endlessly) and to make a cassette of these songs. And then school opened, my first year in junior high. I realised that I was quite backward because in every desk people had written names of bands I never heard of. I soon found out that they were all metal bands. Iron Maiden were some sort of deity with Scorpions, Metallica, Halloween, Manowar, Slayer, Testament, Accept and umpteen other bands whose names I can't recall being the demigods. You couldn't get away from it. The Beatles? who are they? I'm pretty certain that was true all over the country. However metal never did win me over, it seemed too vulgar. Cue MTV and the beginning of my obsession with pop music. It was a getaway from all this metal crap and even though most of what was played was complete toss, the MTV weekends were the starting points into the music I came to love. INXS and Queen were the first I watched and became lifelong favorites. At around the same time I got my first discman and started visiting the only record store in town with my mates. Problem was we didn't know what to buy, and thus started the long tradition of "I think I've heard/seen this name before, let's try it". It was a method of trial and error that resulted in me ending up with some Jean Michel Jarre, Phil Collins, Pet shop boys, Foreigner etc. stuff I haven't listened to since. There was stuff that became important though and nothing was more important than Achtung Baby. It was the album and band that we became trully obsessed with, gathering at someone's house and listening and discussing endlessly. And then back at school having found our feet musically and could stand our own against the metalheads who were past it by now. This was for better or for worse the beginning of snobbism and what better band than U2 to kick it off.



It's near impossible to pick a favorite from that album but The Fly was always a bit special. I always loved the riff and relentless rhythm that never let up and in my teens lyrics like "every artist is a criminal, every poet is a thief, all kill their inspiration and sing about the grief" were pretty fucking impressive.
Until I finished school I expanded my musical library with a lot of stuff that have remained firm favorites till this day. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Clash, Dire Straits, the Beatles and most importantly than all Pink Floyd outgrew my humble beginnings, made me top dog (musically speaking) at the school and prepared me the next chapter of my life which was university.

That was 1995 the 21st of September that I landed on Heathrow and headed with another guy from a neighbouring city in Greece for Brunel University in Uxbridge. To say that it was a culture shock would be an understatement. Enrollment, opening a bank account, visiting the student bar all were novel, exciting and frightening at the same time. As it turns out there were more than 400 Greek students at the university. I ended up with the core of 4 by the end of that first day. It must be said though that whereas most were being miserable bastards because they were homesick and completely out of their depth I relished the experience. In my 5 years there I can't say I made too many friends or sampled too much the lifestyle but I did experience the most important aspects of the English lifestyle ie getting drunk very often (although due to my Greek heritage this was mostly with wine or ouzo rather than ale), watched too much football in pubs, got into rugby, went to a bunch of gigs, got beaten up and spent my entire grant building up my CD collection.
Also I came to England at the height of Britpop, in the midst of the battle of Blur vs Oasis. Now by that time I had come to deplore modern music and to be fair I never got quite comfortable with it. I sneered at Britpop and everyone who preferred said bands over classics like the Beatles or Floyd (how sad is it being an old fart at 17?) and any suggestion that Oasis were similar to The Beatles could drive me over the edge. However it was impossible to keep this stance forever and I started listening to the Beeb and Capitol Radio just to see what the fuss was all about. I was entirely unconvinced until one night The Universal by Blur came on.

[youtube]BrbxWOMpwfs&ob=av2e[/youtube]

It was one of those magical moments were something sounded like being both from a distance age and modern. I didn't became a fan of the band or modern music in general straight off but it was a pivotal moment for me into embracing the times, the place and the life that was surrounding me.
Over the next couple of years I hooked up with my English mates from my course and rarely hung out with any Greeks got into Internet chat rooms where a Greek community from the English Universities was chatting and got to meet most of them in a glorious jolly up that seemed to last a whole weekend and hooked up with three of them that were living in central London. That was when I got to see most of what I did see in London, going to Stanford Bridge to watch Chelsea, hanging out in Camden Town and spending endless hours browsing the markets, having coffee at a lovely spanish cafe thereabouts, spending lots of weekends in Holland Park, going out to a great pub in Latimer Road with live blues bands every night (which also became the tourist spot I took everyone to when visiting. ("What Big fucking Ben? I know just the place") and going to gigs.
Now as mentioned before Blur opened my mind towards new music but I was an albums person and their albums seemed weak. It was The Bends that completely bowled me over and when Paranoid Android was released I rushed to buy it and went to my mates' house in Barbican to have a listen.



Wow. We were completely speachless. I don't think that a new release that we were anticipating eagerly has had that effect since. As I have maintained that single effectively killed off Britpop, Radiohead themselves and made everything else quite irrelevant. I don't think that British music has recovered since despite some undeniable records. I still find it quite astonishing and remember the thrill of listening to it for the first time remaining open mouthed all the way through.

When finally in 2000 I got my M.Sc. I was left with the choice of either staying in London and trying to get a job or get back home, do my stint in the army and get on with life. As it happens I returned to Greece and in 2001 I was drafted to the Artillery division of the army for a period of 16 months. Screw your degrees and get the mop to clean the toilets. that period wasn't so bad of course and I remember it quite fondly to be fair. Of course the officers were usually useless cunts that took delight in humiliating you and there was a lot of backstabbing among fellow soldiers but I did make some great friends there. As a positive I take that I was assigned to an office which was seemingly a good position but had 4 times the amount of work than being trained as a proper soldier. It did give me access to a computer though, which I used for doing work, listening to music and playing Championship Manager. I also found 3 or 4 other guys to argue about music between guard duties, office work and getting shitfaced on any given night. I crashed my car while driving completely drunk on an icy road while going to get one of my mates who was sneaking out, to go on and get more drunk if possible. I crashed it at the fence of the garrison I was serving which was in my hometown. Luckily I was in civilian clothes. Unfortunately I was the only person in the garrison with a mustache. The officer on duty didn't know me as he was from a different unit and didn't do anything that day, but I sure as hell felt quite uncomfortable the next week when that same officer was giving a lecture to the guard about drink driving, which I not only was a part of but also the tallest person and still with a mustache. Happy memories. During those days and because of my new acquaintances I got heavily into 80's post-punk and the band from that era that we all found consensus was The Sound and especially the debut Jeopardy got the heaviest airplay. So to mark that era I pick I Can't Escape Myself.



I finished my stint in May 2002 and took over the family business immediately. I brought my supposed superior knowledge to a business I knew nothing about and cared very little for, a confectionery. For the first 3 years all went very well. The business was booming but there were apparent problems. One was that our shop needed major overhaul and that needed a lot of capital I didn't have and therefore I got a disastrous loan that doomed me into eternal debt, lost some major contracts because the health standards were not good enough at the time I was investing in fixing those issues and got heavily delayed by the local authorities on every step of the way because I would not bribe them. As a result I got increasingly distracted in my work and eventually desperate as I could not meet payments or carry on with the investment before finally selling my business in 2008. It does not feel good when you're the person that shuts down an operation that's been going on for 3 generations. In hindsight however it was the best thing I ever did as it was apparent to me even from the first year I was working that Greece would eventually end up where it is today and small businesses like mine could not and would not survive. If anyone thinks that tax evasion is the underlying problem of the Greek economy and what brought us to the situation of today is completely clueless.
During that period and between 2003-2005 I can honestly say it was the happiest period of my life. Business was good, I hooked up with the bunch of like-minded people I still hang out with and thanks to the internet I discovered a ton of music I was previously oblivious to. It was all done by illegal downloading, first via Audiogalaxy and then eMule before I got to the world of blogs. The music I mostly tapped into was psych which I had an ongoing interest since my university days, prog, punk and most importantly soul and funk. With a little help of a certain MOJO guide of the best soul albums I started getting deeper and deeper into the music and eventhough none of my mates ever fully appreciated it I just couldn't get away with. My favorites were and will always be The Temptations and especially their psychedelic years. Papa Was A Rolling Stone is in my opinion the greatest single ever released and nothing can touch it, nor The Beatles, The Stones, Floyd or whoever. Dark and groovy with the greatest bassline of all time and at this point I have to shout FUCK YOU GEORGE MICHAEL.



During this period the point of reference between me and my mates was (still is) our local hang-out, a proper rock bar where we would be every night drinking heavily, talking about music, falling with any waitress that was working at the time and getting eventally very friendly with the owner and DJ's, so as to land me a regular DJ spot during Christmas and Easter breaks. We established long cherished traditions as toasting to the memory of the Barca fan who threw the bottle of J&B to Figo, birthday cakes with a message (the favorite remains the cake I made of the brazilian flag a week after my mate found out the girl he was digging at the time started dating a brazilian guy) and giving nicknames to pretty much every regular. My cue was dancing to The Magnificent Seven ( or attempting to) everytime it came on. Henceforth it has become my song and it is impossible for any of my mates to separate song and person.



When I sold my business I had my mind made up to join my brother in England and look for a job. However life had other plans and landed a new job in a neighbouring town at a factory manufacturing machinery for marble processing as an exports administrator and fallen in love with a woman that lives 300 km from me. I did manage to save some money and I traveled a lot more than I did the previous years and made the most of a most boring job until last July my boss called me over and asked me (without firing me) to look for a new job as the situation is becoming desperate. To his credit I'm still there but time caught with life and will finally be joining my brother in pretty much two weeks time in England. I'm a bit disappointed with how things turned out to be honest, leaving like this opening a new chapter in my life that is more uncertain than anything before. My final choice is reserved for the best band of the past 6 years and the only band which left me open mouth for the duration of their gig last April in Thessaloniki. Hints of metal, folk, prog all combining to a sum unmistakably rock'n'roll. The band is Black Mountain the song is Tyrants.



As a book I can look no further than Jean Rispen's Grand Greek Mythology. I grew up with this book that contains everything and it is my belief that in those myths are encompassed all literary achievements of the Greeks and pretty much all of western civilization. And funnily enough more entertaining and relevant than the laughable attempts to bring them to cinema in a modern fashion with the vilest of them all being the various attempts at Hercules and especially the deplorable Disney version.

As a luxury item I would probably choose a cooking pot. I just feel that it would come more handy than the pair of binoculars I had in mind.
And with this I conclude and thank you for your patience.
Last edited by WG Kaspar on 11 Nov 2011, 21:57, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby trans-chigley express » 07 Nov 2011, 04:43

Very much a Greek theme in this week's DIDs. That was an ace read and a good insight into Greek life and life for a Greek abroad. I hope all goes well for you on your return to the UK.

That must be the most modern selction of music anyone has chosen so far. No Greek music though? I thought you may pine for a bit of music from home while on your desert island.

I'm looking forward to checking out the Black Mountain track later.

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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby mentalist (slight return) » 07 Nov 2011, 08:12

excellent stuff
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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby fange » 07 Nov 2011, 10:29

Wonderful write up, Kasp. I'd had the feeling you'd lived abroad - it was very interesting to read your reactions to the Brit bands that were big while you were there.

WG Kaspar wrote:... Papa Was A Rolling Stone is in my opinion the greatest single ever released and nothing can touch it, nor The Beatles, The Stones, Floyd or whoever. Dark and groovy with the greatest bassline of all time and at this point I have to shout FUCK YOU GEORGE MICHAEL.


:D

Terrific.


And all the best for your return to Blighty, mate.
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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby never/ever » 07 Nov 2011, 19:56

Kasp- I knew you had a great taste in music and this insight in your life was fantastic! Very interesting stuff about your migrations and soldier life.
One day we should get together, grab a pint and listen to the Temptations and Black Mountain! And, s a big fan of Greek mythology myself it would be grand to do that from the top of Olympos.
The current situation in Greece must be driving you nuts eh? Glad you have a brother in England that can help you out.
BTW- just a cooking pot? What were you gonna cook- bananas and sand? ;)
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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby WG Kaspar » 08 Nov 2011, 08:14

trans-chigley express wrote:Very much a Greek theme in this week's DIDs. That was an ace read and a good insight into Greek life and life for a Greek abroad. I hope all goes well for you on your return to the UK.

That must be the most modern selction of music anyone has chosen so far. No Greek music though? I thought you may pine for a bit of music from home while on your desert island.


Thanks mate. i didn't put any Greek music because my aim was to choose songs that were snapshots of the periods I was describing. I didn't choose Pink floyd or The who or The Stones which I rate higher than anything I chose because they became constants. Also I was never passionate about it.

never/ever wrote:One day we should get together, grab a pint and listen to the Temptations and Black Mountain! And, s a big fan of Greek mythology myself it would be grand to do that from the top of Olympos.
The current situation in Greece must be driving you nuts eh? Glad you have a brother in England that can help you out.
BTW- just a cooking pot? What were you gonna cook- bananas and sand? ;)


It'd be great to meet Maarts and if all goes well I'm sure we will.The cooking pot will be used for the other survivors ;)
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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby Magilla » 08 Nov 2011, 08:55

Great write-up Kaspar, really loved it. I was unaware you did your degree in London. Brilliant anecdote about drunk-driving. :lol:

Good luck in England, hope you prosper !
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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby Thesiger » 08 Nov 2011, 16:37

Always nice to see UK youth culture through the other end of the telescope. I enjoyed your insights Kaspar. 400 Greek students at Brunel, eh?!!
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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby kath » 12 Nov 2011, 16:42

ya know, in light of such a great entry, i have decided that perhaps it would behoove me to leave off bugging you about yer certain few musical problems. yeah, those ones. the lil let it bleed + aggro greg lake things. yes, i think i will put those seeming trivialities aside, at least until the next sync listen.

aside from the robust story of yer life, the main reason, of course, is that yer musical selections here are so very up my DNA's patootie that they have emerged through the top of my genetic skull. this, you may already guess, in some form or another, from our sporadic musical connects here or elsewhere. with particular shouts to guns, achtung and radiohead, also huuuuge parts of my life's soundtrack.

by the way, what is a bouzoukia? i like this word very, very much. it sounds like a bazooka bar with extra ouzo.

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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby WG Kaspar » 18 Nov 2011, 17:39

kath wrote:ya know, in light of such a great entry, i have decided that perhaps it would behoove me to leave off bugging you about yer certain few musical problems. yeah, those ones. the lil let it bleed + aggro greg lake things. yes, i think i will put those seeming trivialities aside, at least until the next sync listen.

aside from the robust story of yer life, the main reason, of course, is that yer musical selections here are so very up my DNA's patootie that they have emerged through the top of my genetic skull. this, you may already guess, in some form or another, from our sporadic musical connects here or elsewhere. with particular shouts to guns, achtung and radiohead, also huuuuge parts of my life's soundtrack.

by the way, what is a bouzoukia? i like this word very, very much. it sounds like a bazooka bar with extra ouzo.


Kath we'll just have to differ as far as Let It Bleed goes and I'm pretty certain it's not the only thing we'll disagree on. And I'll still be right.
As far as bouzoukia goes think of a sort of club, Think of a folk orchestra. Think of plates smashing. Better still take a look.


Thesiger wrote:Always nice to see UK youth culture through the other end of the telescope. I enjoyed your insights Kaspar. 400 Greek students at Brunel, eh?!!


Thanks. At the time I was studying, there were reputedly more than 30.000 Greeks studying in Britain and we kept hearing from other students that some universities like Colchester and Newcastle had well over 2.000 Greeks studying there.
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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby Belle Lettre » 18 Nov 2011, 18:11

A really wonderful read, and I wish you all the best for the next chapter of your life.

I thought I'd already commented - sorry :oops:
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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby C » 18 Nov 2011, 18:55

A great read Theo!




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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby never/ever » 03 Dec 2011, 22:33

*bump*

Please give this a read and add your comments too.
Kasper is a cool guy who deserves as many comments as any other of the DID-entries have got.
After all, these entries are also meant as an introduction to posters you don't know all that well!
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Re: Desert Island Discs - Kaspar - 6th November

Postby Moleskin » 03 Dec 2011, 22:42

This was a good read; a lot of modern music, but then you are one of the younger board members, and it's all good stuff.
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