Nikos Montzelis Talks to TNH about His Life and Music

Nikos Montzelis and his bouzouki. Photo: Courtesy of Nikos Montzelis

NEW YORK – Musician Nikos Montzelis has spent most of his life pursuing his passion for music. He has worked with bouzouki legend Thanasis Polykandriotis and well-known singers including Pitsa Papadopoulou, Stan Antipariotis, Christos Dantis, Petro Iakovidis, Anna Vissi, Christos Pazis, Glykeria, and many others. He has also participated in CDs with Vasilis Karras, Peggy Zina, Thodoris Ferris, and other artists. Montzelis has performed on television as well in music programs including Stin Ygeia Mas. The gifted bouzouki player spoke with The National Herald about his life and work and his dedication to Greek traditional music.

TNH: Tell us a bit about your background, where are you from? When did you begin in music?  

Nikos Montzelis: I was born in Athens in July 1985 and my origin is from Patras and Zakynthos. I come from a very tightknit family and I have two brothers who support me every step of the way and they feel proud because they know that what I’m doing fulfills me. I started music at age 12 and at only 17 I started performing in small clubs. I chose the bouzouki as a companion for this musical journey out of love for the instrument and the traditional folk music that express Hellenism and our culture so well.

TNH: What inspires you as an artist?

NM: As an artist, I’m inspired by our traditions.

Nikos Montzelis with bouzouki legend Thanasis Polykandriotis. Photo: Courtesy of Nikos Montzelis

TNH: What are the most challenging and also the most rewarding aspects of your work?

NM: My work, like all jobs, has its difficulties… you need to work hard at it, to struggle, you need to make sacrifices, but all this is secondary because it’s magical to express yourself and for others to find expression through your work, to be able to move someone with your music.

The essence of music is for each person to perform it however he or she wants to, according to his own experience and temperament.

TNH: What are you favorite songs and artists?

NM: Every song has something to say and everyone can get something out of each song. My favorite composers and performers: Thanasis Polykandriotis, Yiannis Parios, Stelios Kazantzidis, Antonis Vardis, and Marinella, among others.

TNH: How do you see the future of Greek music in the United States?

NM: I hope that the love of Greek traditional music will continue from generation to generation here in the United States where the heart of Hellenism continues beating.

Nikos Montzelis backstage with singer Christos Dantis. Photo: Courtesy of Nikos Montzelis

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