Interview With Spiros Maus, Producer for Armada Named Sound
1. When and why did you start playing?
Spiros Maus: I started playing at the age of 12. I couldn’t find a way around not doing it. Had to be done.
2. Which instruments do you play?
Spiros Maus: I studied the drums for many years. Recently I started to pretend that I can actually play the synth as well. I am constantly improving. In general, I can get my way around an instrument, but string instruments are definitely my weak point.
3. What was the first tune(s) you learned?
Spiros Maus: Tunes by Black Sabbath and Metallica mainly.
4. Is your family musical?
Spiros Maus: Yes, in their own way they are.
5. Describe your family member’s musical interests and abilities.
Spiros Maus: My father has been so much into music that he has developed a very musical ear. My mother introduced me to more traditional sounds, and she can also dance to them. They never learnt how to play any instruments, but their contribution to my musical education has been priceless.
6. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
Spiros Maus: Admire? I would go for Michael Jackson, perfect professionalism, performing and singing. He also managed to mix rock with r’n’b into a pop thing. Brilliant.
Then we go to Stevie Wonder. An absolute genius. Great songwriting, even when he used the same 3 chords everyone else did.
And then there is Devin Townsend who is amazing. His wall of sound mixes, the operatic element in his voice, and the wonderful toplines.
7. Which famous musicians have you learned from?
Spiros Maus: Too many. But the people who really showed me an inside look of how to put together are mostly the guitarists in the bands I used to play on my drumming days.
8. Who was your first teacher? Other teachers?
Spiros Maus: My first teacher was very formal. I learnt with him for the first 3 years. But then I started learning from jazz greek drummer Nikos Siderokastritis, who is an absolute guru and zen master.
9. Describe your first instrument. Other instruments.
Spiros Maus: My very first instrument was a crappy sounding cheap drumset. Years later I bought handmade cymbals from Istanbul. Brilliant. I finally bought a Tama Starclassic at some point. Then I turned into synths so I got a Mininova and a Bass Station II. Still love them. Also, a Kaossilator that hasn’t been used to its full potential yet, and an Alesis Drumpad. The rest is digital stuff.
10. What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?
Spiros Maus: In the house I grew up. My father listening to Wagner on a vinyl, my mother listening to the radio in Athens. The neighbourhood was quite rock if i remember correctly.
11. Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
Spiros Maus: I never had my own records, too young for that. But i still remember my father’s records, especially Tchaikovsky and Mozart. And Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack of “The Mission”. Then the CD came along. Now we have streaming, who knows what comes next?
12. Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?
Spiros Maus: Damn. Ok, here I go: Devin Townsend, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Philip Glass, Juno Reactor, Black Sabbath, King Crimson, 70’s prog and psychedelic rock.
Great Cds: “Operation mind crime” by Queensryche, “The Devil’s hall of fame” by Beyond Twilight, “Le sacre du printemps” by Stravinsky, “Addicted” by Devin Townsend, “Gods and monsters” by Juno reactor. and of course countless other artists and albums, these just popped up instinctively.
13. Have you been in competitions? Fleadh’s? Any prizes?
Spiros Maus: No, not really.
14. Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV?
Spiros Maus: As we speak, I am planning to perform live soon, with Armada Named Sound. I have performed many times in the past with various groups or whatever, as well as attended many recording sessions, which frankly, I enjoy more than gigs. Especially the improvised ones. I try to pitch my songs to the radio as much as possible, and as for the brilliant videos, all made by space guru Christos Mavridis, I would love to see them on TV and not just the Internet.
15. Do you play for dances? Step-dancers? Describe the differences.
Spiros Maus: I have accompanied dancers at many occasion, with some kind percussion instrument. Usually, contemporary dance of the most physical kind. Also I have done the same for synchronised swimming and also produced some abstract textures for performances. I love dancers, one of my favourite species.
16. How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Spiros Maus: Self sarcasm and humor.
17. Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?
Spiros Maus: Not anymore. Just a burst of excitement followed by an absolute focus.
18. What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
Spiros Maus: Adequate practice should give you no reason to be nervous. If it is because you are being watched, remember that you are on stage out of your own ambition. And at the end of the day, you have to do something worth watching, if you are going to stand one meter above everyone else, let alone ask them to pay for that. Be true and well rehearsed. Have fun. And just like off stage, people might say whatever about you no matter how you behave. Take that with you on the stage.
19. Do you attend sessions? What makes a good session?
Spiros Maus: Do you mean recording sessions? it is the only kind of session I attend now and then anyway. I love them, it is a pleasure when someone calls me for one. To have a good session you need people who are real musicians, and preferably relaxed as well.
20. How often and for how long do you practice?
Spiros Maus: I would say always and never.
21. What do you practice – exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.?
Spiros Maus: Around 80% of my practicing goes on inside my head. I study the way wonderful songs are made. The arrangement, the structure, the melodies on top of the chords and the harmonies created eventually. I listen to several different productions and study the techniques, “tricks”, what they do with dynamic processing, EQ, stereo image etc. And of course I practice my own songs.
22. Do you teach music?
Spiros Maus: Not anymore. I used to teach drums and music technology a few years ago, and most of the time I absolutely loved it.
23. How do you balance your music with other obligations – mate, children, job?
Spiros Maus: There is nothing else but music. Only music. And the only obligation I have is to my dog, the people I produce music for and the singers working on the Armada Named Sound project. Still, when obligations come up, I try to get them out of the way and get back to music.
Armada Named Sound is a diverse and innovative electronic music project, in the sense that it embraces all subgenres of electronic music under the same name. London based producer Spiros Maus is the mastermind behind this project, composing, arranging, mixing and producing everything, and collaborating with various singers/performers. Visuals are a very important part of this project, and talented director Chris Mavridis has taken care of all the music videos. After the release of the “Starchilden” EP, a debut album is in the making. Fresh new single from the upcoming album is out now, which is entitled “NY”.