OMAHA, NE – Greek-American singer-songwriter Stavros Piperis is releasing his new album, Akoma: Songs for Greek America, on Friday, December 11. Piperis was born and raised in Omaha, and is a member of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Parish. The ten-track Greek-English fusion project was recorded and produced by Ben Brodin at the esteemed ARC Studios, the internationally sought-after recording studio which has welcomed artists like Jason Mraz, Phoebe Bridgers, Bright Eyes and She & Him.
Akoma is the follow-up to last year’s Chances, which Piperis also enlisted Brodin to produce. The duo reunited this summer in quarantine for a new challenge: fusing Stavro’s acoustic-pop sound with the music of Greece.
Piperis has been penning songs in English and composing for five years, but began to weave Greek into his lyrics this year. He also added a new instrument to his repertoire: the Cretan lute.
“I told Ben that I’d been experimenting with Greek lyrics, rhythms, melodies… I wanted to make a record out of it. I had no idea where to begin, or how he would respond to the idea,” Piperis said.
Brodin’s response? “I love a challenge.”
The two began work on ten songs that cover a wide expanse of Hellenic musical tradition, including Katerina- a springing Kalamatiano, and An Den Eho Sena, a soaring piano ballad. Also on the album, Zeibekiko Tis Nemeas, a dynamic tribute to the legendary dance, features another young Greek-American musician, Konstantinos Revelas. “Both of our grandparents come from Nemea in Peloponnesos, and the song is dedicated to our ancestral home,” Piperis told The National Herald.
The 23-year old Piperis, who turns 24 in February, spoke with TNH about his life and music.
TNH: Did you always want to go into the music industry?
Stavros Piperis: I have actually never wanted to pursue music alone. I started writing music when I was 18, and as an undergraduate my interests began to branch out in different directions: music theory, but also politics, theology, and law. I wanted to create music without sacrificing my other passions. So along with recording this album, I began my first year of law school this fall. I want to cultivate these different sides of myself simultaneously. Greeks ancient and modern have embodied this attitude. Aeschylus was a soldier and a playwright; Seferis was a poet and a diplomat.
TNH: What inspires your music the most?
SP: My music has always been spurred on by the music of others. I know composers like Mikis Theodorakis often compose from poetry, but I have always felt the strongest urge to create after being moved by someone else's music. Paul McCartney and Chris Martin; Chopin and John Williams; Mitropanos and the Xylouris family. Whenever I hear a song or a piece that I wish I wrote myself, I end up at the piano a few minutes later trying to match it. I almost never do (but you have to try anyway!). With that said, I did write one song for the new album from a Cavafy poem: the opening track, Dodeka Kai Misi.
TNH: How has your family reacted to your work?
SP: My family has supported me at every step. That's not to say they weren't surprised, at first. I didn't sing in public until a choir concert my senior year of high school. My parents were in the audience but didn't know I would be performing a solo, and as I stepped up on the stage, the choir director took the microphone and said, "Just so everyone knows, Stavro's parents are in the audience, and they've never heard him sing before." We gave them quite the shock. In terms of sheer listening-time, my yiayia is my most committed fan. She's had my first album on loop in her car's CD player for the past year.
Piperis told TNH that the “second single An Den Eho Sena just released on November 20 (all digital), and CDs of the full album are being made now.”
His album, Akoma: Songs for Greek America, will be available for streaming on December 11. Stay (An M’agapas) and Zeibekiko Tis Nemeas are available streaming everywhere.
iTunes/Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/stavro/1260373528