Athens-based band Tango With Lions is a soulful indie collective formed in 2007 by singer-songwriter Katerina Papachristou (Kat), and whose current lineup includes: guitarist Yannos Paramithiotis, percussionist Nikos Vergetis, trombonist Jim Staridas, bassist Theodore Zefkilis, and cellist Stavros Parginos. Having released their debut LP ‘Verba Time’ in 2010, featuring the insanely popular ‘In A Bar’, and their second studio release ‘A Long Walk’ in 2013, you can find them live at Athens’ Six d.o.g.s on the first of June with The Besnard Lakes.
Feel free to introduce Tango With Lions to our readers. It’s been 10 years since you’ve first formed, what brought about this collaboration of musicians?
Tango With Lions were formed in 2007 as a solo project. I had been playing with bands as a bass-player since my teenage years and I was feeling the need to concentrate and work on my own music. So I did. The first album, ‘Verba Time’, was released in 2010 and ‘A Long Walk’ followed in 2013. The two albums are quite different from each other in the sense that ‘A Long Walk’ has more electric elements with full-band explosions, while ‘Verba Time’ draws a lonelier picture. The musicians always transfuse their personal touch to the songs and this always brings an interesting outcome and strengthens the bonds within the band.
Your track ‘In A Bar’ has amassed quite the online following, with over 24 million views on YouTube (hopefully you’ll be at 25 million soon). Were you surprised at the sort of attention the song has received?
Very much so. It surprised me even when it reached 10,000 views, I was not expecting it. It is a very touching fact, the song fulfils its purpose I guess. It’s amazing how people can connect over a lonely tune.
‘Obituary’ off of your 2013 LP ‘A Long Walk’ is hauntingly beautiful. How did you achieve making it sound like time itself?
Writing ‘Obituary’ was very emotional. It was a period of introspection and wondering about life and death and everything in between, given that I had just lost a very important person in my life. The feelings and agony were so strong that trying to make it sound the way I was feeling was a one-way street.
Songs like ‘A Long Walk’ and ‘Over The Neon Lights’ have such interesting lyrics. What are your inspirations lyrically?
My lyrics are almost always an amalgam of things I observe (films, music, photographs, people, love, life itself) and I get inspired by almost everything I see when I’m open. They are basically a story-telling blended with emotions, images, sounds and my connection with nature, which is very strong.
On a related note, is there a particular song or album that’s influenced you greatly throughout the years?
So many songs and albums. But if I had to choose one right now, it would be ‘I Am A Bird Now’ by Antony And The Johnsons.
How does a song come together for Tango With Lions? Do you start with lyrics first and then bring in melodies and different instrumentals or do you work in reverse?
It works both ways. But I think most of the times there is a story or an emotion in me that reveals itself through a simple melody. It can happen spontaneously, almost anywhere, usually in my car. Then we add more instruments and arrangements.
‘Kite’ is my favorite track of yours, what’s the story behind this song?
‘Kite’ is one my favorite songs too, mostly because it has been with me for such a long time, I wrote it when I was 17. Half of it is written in London and the other half in Paris. It reflects on how carefree moments can give rise to darker thoughts or important revelations. I had forgotten about it though and back in 2012, as we were rehearsing for the second album, I found myself nostalgically fumbling for my old songs. And there it was. I had to make a few changes and we did change it a lot with the band.
“A collective of day-dreamers” you’ve called yourselves. What have you been day-dreaming about lately?
I love day-dreaming, it comes to me unintentionally. To be honest, lately, I have been indulging in establishing a deeper connection with myself, hopeful to express it through my music and lyrics.
You’re going to be performing at Six d.o.g.s in Athens on June 1st with The Besnard Lakes; What’s a live set of yours like to experience?
We always try to communicate with the public through music and submerge ourselves in this experience, inviting the crowd to do the same. When music calls the shots, anything’s possible, especially during a live set which is a unique experience that can abolish limits between the spectator and the performer. We are very excited to play with The Besnard Lakes at Six d.o.g.s., I believe it will be a beautiful experience.
What’s yet to come from Tango With Lions? Do fans have new music to look forward to?
I am currently working in the studio with our producer, adding the final touches to the third album. It is scheduled to be released in fall and then we will start announcing our live dates. It has been a wonderful journey so far!