Amie Makris

Season One: Episode Ten

Amie Makris, of Athens-based Godsleep, joins the podcast to talk about her opening track selection, “Only Shallow,” off of the classic shoegaze album, Loveless, by My Bloody Valentine as well as the recording process for their latest record and booking a massive tour DIY-style.

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Ryan: My guest on today’s episode is Amie Makris. Amie fronts the Athens, Greece-based band, Godsleep. Godsleep first hit my radar in 2019 when I was looking for Greek bands to put on the Global Garage playlist. They had released their second album, Coming of Age, the year previous and it was the first album with Amie on vocals.

Flash forward to earlier this year and I’m getting ready for Desertfest Berlin when I see that they were added as a fill-in after some other bands had to drop. Naturally, I had to go check out their show and holy shit what a live performance. It was electrifying, probably one of my favorite sets that weekend and let me tell you, there were some phenomenal sets that weekend.

Earlier this year they also released their fantastic third album, Lies to Survive, which we end up chatting about in this episode as well as a seminal shoegaze album. Let’s make a mixtape!

[Theme music by Scotty Sandwich]

Ryan: Amie, thank you so much for joining me today and helping me to make this mixtape. You picked a opening track from a genre defining album, Loveless, by My Bloody Valentine. The track is “Only Shallow. Tell me, why did you pick “Only Shallow?”

Amie: That was the hard question because, you know, you can think ofn I think a million like different options, but-because I think its their only album, maybe they had before, like two, I think, EPs or something.

This album actually came and everything after this was destroyed. The company, the band. The personalities, I think that they did this whole thing because it was too much effort on this album. I picked this because it makes me feel like- I love the dreamy vibe that makes you feel like you’re floating, you know, in space and every time I want to listen to this album.

I never actually listen only to the first song. I put the whole album and I want to make it as a ritual. You know, I have to be really comfortable and really on my own and have the good sound system, you know, around me and everything. Because it’s more like a ritual, this is why I picked this opening track. And I really like Shoegaze. I enjoy these sounds that you feel like they could be from everywhere in your head, you know.

It’s like… Very psychosomatic, as an experience for me, that’s why I picked that.

Ryan: Yeah, they really- I was reading up on some of the recording process. It sounded like it took several, several years and several recording studios. And Kevin Shields was very particular about getting the sounds that he wanted.

And, it was interesting how they took the approach of vocals as a texture, as just another instrument, which is definitely a very common way of thinking about vocals. But I think, you know, more so, I think when you get to a harsher metal, almost where you have harsh vocals, like black metal and stuff, the vocals become more of a texture, but really, they integrated that so well, cause Belinda wanted to make it kind of dreamy and sleepy.

And they really, they really got that vibe. I can see why you make it a ritual. It definitely is such a, such a mood of a record and that the space that they’re able to create with it. Yeah.

Amie: And also it’s interesting because, you know, I don’t know if they were a small band at that time. I am not sure.

I mean, they weren’t a big band, I think, because they had very little to show. So the fact that a company, a record company, it trusts you, you know, to- it gives you the space and says, “yes, let’s do it.” And then with your character and your, maybe, need for experimentation, which especially nowadays, we don’t even get this time. It’s unimaginable to say, “I’m gonna, I’m going to have a studio and be there for like the next two years, experimenting with stuff and having sound engineers coming and going.”

Also like on that song and, I think in general on the song, in the songs, on the record, they had this curtain that you couldn’t see the control room, you know, so the sound engineer on the other side couldn’t listen to what they were recording because, you know, it was like a space just for those two people that were in that room. And every time they had something that they liked, they opened the curtains and they were like, “we got something.”

So, the sound engineers have to look at the tape to see when they stop and what’s going on so they can take it back without even listening to it. So on the one hand, this sounds very spoiled to me, but on the other hand, you know, it’s like you get the time to do what you really want to do. And sometimes it’s the only way to have your space and your time to do it.

And, I think this album also, I mean, proved itself. I don’t know if the band proved itself, but the album, as an experiment, I think it was successful. Whatever they did.

Ryan: It definitely stood the sands of time and has, yeah, I mean, I think, it was Billy Corgan basically said that he ripped off My Bloody Valentine for one of the, at least one Smashing Pumpkins song in particular, but it definitely has a classic lasting feel.

But the sound, I mean, you wouldn’t tell it was necessarily recorded in the early, early nineties. How long did it take you to put together Lies to Survive?

Amie: It’s funny because sometimes the process can be really disturbing, you know, not for everybody in the band, but we came back from the tour in 2019 and we were fully in the mood to go and do this thing.

And we had some ideas and riffs and then quarantine came, as you- as we all know, so we were working on two songs for like one year and a half, only two of the album, and we were like overanalyzing them and we even recorded it, these songs, I think, before we actually went to record the whole album. So we had like two songs for like one year in our hands.

And we still had nothing, but we had a deadline for the previous, I think, October? October of 2021. I think we started recording it October to November, but until September we had no other songs and we had no time actually to compose the songs. So I don’t know what kind of a miracle that was that we actually wrote all the rest of the songs in one month.

Ryan: That’s absolutely incredible.

Amie: It’s insane. I think, I don’t know, we didn’t even have time to think about it. So it is what it is. And the fact of the- the fact that there are many genres, you know, in the album and we didn’t even go, it’s like you get a really primitive feel of what you have, just put it out there.

Each one does the same and then something comes up and we did the pre-production in one hour. It wasn’t even a pre-production actually to say we were like next day, we’re going in the studio. So we just have to do a rehearsal of whatever we know, because we’ve never played the songs before as a band. We wrote it piece by piece.

And then when the recording started, it was our producer was laughing so hard, like, you are so fucking unprepared to do this, but somehow you managed to do it and we, okay, did it, however. So many of the elements got, you know, like an improvisation during the recordings, even the whole song. I mean, the first song was really fun to write because the producer couldn’t understand a heck of it.

Like, it was like, “this is like three different songs. You cannot put it together. It makes no fucking sense.” We’re like, “okay, let’s don’t call it a song. Let’s call it an intro of whatever. I don’t know, like put it in there.” So it was like making a puzzle very quickly and playing a game because we already were working.

We were outside of Athens to record the album. So our editor is John. I think he went back and forth in Athens and did this, you know, route every day for 25 days. He was driving after his work to record or to be there and then going back and then doing this for 20, 25 days.

So the way it was recorded, it was pretty surprising to us, but fun. Stressful. Yeah. And I really wish I had some time, you know, but sometimes it doesn’t get to happen.

Ryan: I mean, the record turned out amazing. And the fact that you were able to write so many songs in one month and just went into there without, you know, having really fully rehearsed as a band or any road testing.

I mean, that’s, that’s incredible. It’s, it’s almost like the opposite of, of Loveless where they were kind of nitpicking for years.

[Transition music by Scotty Sandwich]

Ryan: So Lies To Survive has a bit of a different feel than Coming of Age. Anything that kind of contributed to that in any way or another?

Amie: Sure. Many things. The first thing was the addition of our new drummer. Dennis Panagiotidis, who I think is like, I don’t say it because he’s in my band, but he’s like one of the best drummers, I think, in Greece right now.

He’s a multitasker. He plays other instruments. He actually put us more in a- not just “go jam and drink beers,” which is great and it’s my favorite, of course, but let’s try to take it a step further. That was one.

The second was on the first album with me, because it was another album before me with another singer, I was trying to adjust to the prior singer, trying to see, because that was not exactly my scene, my kind of style. And I loved it, but it wasn’t, you know, like something- I was more into the indie rock, pop, you know, dreamy stuff and then metalcore.

Ryan: It’s interesting bringing that up, that first record, I mean, definitely has that really kind of traditional stoner sound.

And then the elements that you bring are definitely going in different directions. So it was cool to see you at Desertfest Berlin. You definitely stood out a little, you had all of those elements that fit so well with the, the Desertfest lineup, but you also, you have this really defined sound, that I think in the last couple records you’ve really started to define and I think it stands out.

Amie: I think actually, I really don’t know if what I do, I do it well. It’s more intuitive and I feel like I have to serve each song separately. So I don’t know if that is like a good marketing. You know, someone would say, “okay, this is very clever. You’re doing, you’re playing all the kinds of shit that come in your mind. We don’t know where to put you.” Because a funny moment was someone wrote for us that we are playing “weird stoner.”

So if they still try to put you this- you know like mark of “stoner” because you started there and they have to make you fit some place and it becomes this “weird stoner.” For me it’s not stoner, the new album of course. Maybe has some- the previous one, most of the songs were already written by the previous members. So I went and I adjusted and just wrote some stuff that felt okay. And I didn’t even know what I was doing.

So on the second one still, I was more myself, I believe. And I think also the guys, Zedonis and Johnny, guitar & bass, which are the founding members of the band, they tried a lot to change the way, and this- you know, the blues scale, this pentatonic scale, and every song starts with a C, and it’s like all kind of the same. They really tried and did an effort to serve the song and the lyrics and everything.

Ryan: It comes through. I think that’s a- I see it as a, as a really good sign of success when you put together a batch of songs and they’re all a little bit- they’re all a little bit different, but when you listen to them as an album, it sounds like they belong.

But if you can’t pigeonhole something, I think it’s like a nice, that really shows that you’re honing in on what is your sound and what makes you unique as a unit of musicians. And I think that’s really special. So it’s cool to cool to see that coming through, especially if people can’t necessarily pin you down.

Amie: I hope we get better on that. And we find ourselves more and more on every new experiment, venture.

Ryan: Do you feel like it’s opened you up to playing with bands in other genres? Like have you kind of noticed the bills that you’re playing with, are they expanding beyond that kind of initial stoner sound, are you playing with more indie bands or more post-punk bands?

Amie: I’m not sure if I have come to conclusion on that because we just went on tour and supporting a 1000mods and also doing our own shows. And it’s still under an umbrella of stoner because this is how they know you. Maybe in the festivals now, in the summer, we had some more collaborations, with say, with indie or other.

I don’t know, because this is not only coming from us. It’s also the wish of a guy that- of a promoter, let’s say I want to do a festival. So… Their minds have to be more open, I think, on that aspect, and let more genres, you know, come, and I think maybe they have started doing it. Even agencies that they have been watching, you know, they had in the beginning a more, you know, strict, set of artists, and as the time moves along, I see different kinds of music, different kinds of styles.

I like that. I don’t know. I think it has- all these go together kind of, but of course, you know, when we, let’s say when I sent to book a live show and I see a post-punk group, I probably know that nobody will want us to open for them, let’s say, because the sound maybe of us would be much heavier and more strong and then they will come and they will sound not worse, but festivals it’s easier of course, but it’s on their own.

[Transition music by Scotty Sandwich]

Ryan: What’s the scene like in Greece? Is there a lot of musical activity going on these days or is it mostly, you find yourselves going outside of Greece and playing?

Amie: We found ourselves mostly going out to play, but this is a choice we’ve made also. Because there are not many places you can actually play, and how many times to play in Athens, or in Thessaloniki, or…

Also, we don’t play- we don’t have Greek lyrics. Which makes it even harder for us, and for all the Greek bands that are around our genre. Mostly the last years, I think hip-hop and trap have taken over. I’m hoping trap will get a bit, you know, lower now as you know, people seem to have started getting bored with it the same. They’re pushing the drugs like from people that are 18 years old and they their mother breastfeeds them still, anyway.

Sorry, sorry, but okay, it’s like you found an easy way to make money and you just, do it and okay, you make money, bravo for you, but this is not a contribution to music and art in general for me. Maybe I’m too harsh. At least trap in Greece, because trap in general and in the States and beatmaking and stuff, I think are totally different thing.

Hip-hop on the other hand is, really big I think right now. And it’s because of the situation, the social situation, I think, and the fact that people really need someone to express their problems.

But also I think this is kind of, how you say it, when you are waiting for an artist to, you know, to express you, and you go to the live show and you get all this out of your system. Then you have no rage left for a real revolution, you know?

So it’s like, “okay, he said it. Okay. Let’s go all in the party for it. And we agree with him and everything and fine. And let’s do it.” But then it’s like, you know, I don’t know. I’m very happy for hip-hop. I love hip-hop. I always did, rap and stuff, and they try to awake the people in their own language. So I get it.

As for our scene now, I think it’s going good. And more bands go out for a touring. And now like that we are trying and we’re gonna- we announced our tour now for two months and now you see bands asking you how you did this and they want to get out, but you have to be able to handle all the logistics and the problems ahead of you. If you want this, you do it. If you don’t, you stay at home.

Ryan: It’s as easy as that. That’s that’s awesome. And yeah, massive, massive tour that you announced. That’s that’s exciting.

Amie: Yeah, I’m very excited, for me that I booked it, I feel like I haven’t- I did most of the booking and with the help of Johnny, the guitarist, we always do it on our own and we find help, of course, here and there.

And you know, as you grow, as you go on and meet new people, I think it gets easier on that way. But, the most important skill, I think, uh, you need to have is communication and try to be a good person, you know. Because even if you don’t play that good of music, you know, I think this is the most important thing if you want to do it step-by-step. Because no company will come to you and tell you, like in the seventies and the eighties and the nineties, “you play nothing, say rock and roll. I want you and they will take you out to, you know, like make you a Taylor Swift or something.”

I mean, this is, this is not happening anymore, at least in our music. And people don’t seem maybe to get that. And I understand because they don’t know that you have to get a bit, you know, like every other, every other work, you know, slowly, slowly. Make it happen and more and more people listen to your music.

Ryan: What is that trajectory been like for, for you all? When did you start seeing listenership increase and I guess demand increase for touring and stuff. Which record did that come with?

Amie: Before I get in the band, Johnny, the guitarist was very determined to do this.

And because he saw that there were not a lot, I think like 1000mods, like Funeral, who was the first band. Now they don’t play anymore, but it was the first band I think that went on tour, and he saw that you can do it, even by yourself by putting your ass down and start sending emails like forever. So he did it.

He knew you have to know that you’re not gonna make money on the first tour it’s going to be something that mostly you will be like, “fuck my life. Why did I do this?” You just had more problems. I wasn’t on that tour. So I’m kind of lucky.

And the next one, Johnny did it again. He booked it again and it was better. And the one that we went now, me and Johnny booked it in one month and a half, like crazy people. And it went much more, you know, much better. And now we cannot stop doing this because I love actually having OCD, I think. I love just sitting there for days and making people answer to my emails, you know?

I haven’t even called their moms yet, but I am about to you know.

Ryan: Oh, that’s a tactic that I should tell my bandmate. He should, he should start calling moms. Yeah. That’s funny.

Yeah, there’s, there’s a lot of, you know, a lot of work and thought that goes into planning shows that a lot of people don’t see behind the scenes. All power to y’all for doing it DIY. That’s amazing that you’ve been able to scale up doing it all yourself. That’s incredible.

Amie: I prefer this way than the way of not knowing exactly and counting on an agency that, because by nature, he won’t mind as much as you mind, you know, I mean, nobody can run your stuff more than you.

Of course, you could get some help. And I think help is always a welcome. Of course. And it’s not like we’re saying no to an agency or something, of course, but, I really like this kind of, um, getting in touch with everything and because then there’s, I think the show for me is better. I feel like we all worth it more, you know, it’s like, and I don’t know. Maybe this is nonsense and it would be better to have the best agents in the world and don’t do anything and just write music.

[Transition music by Scotty Sandwich]

Ryan: Is there anything that you want to talk about, circling back to Loveless and “Only Shallow,” or is there anything that you want to talk about in general before we sign off.

Amie: Loveless, I think that everybody should hear this album when they just want to put their thoughts away and focus in the moment. And, one thing, so my advice to everybody who hopefully listened to this podcast, listen to this album.

Ryan: Thank you, Amie, so much for, for joining me and for your song selection. I think it is a very fantastic addition to this mixtape. A very, very strong song, very strong album opener, and a fantastic album that, yes, just to reiterate what you said, everyone should give a listen and hear it in all of its shoegaze glory. Again, thank you so much.

Amie: Thanks, Ryan.

Ryan: Yeah, go, go check out Godsleep. I’m not exactly sure when this is going to air, but it’ll probably be sometime around their massive European tour. So definitely go check them out live, they put on a phenomenal show and I say that from firsthand experience.

Amie: Thanks Ryan. Thank you so much.

Ryan: As you probably know by now, I’m conservative when it comes to copyright on this podcast so you’ll have to go to the official Season One playlist on Spotify or YouTube in order to hear “Only Shallow.” You can find links to those playlists as well as a transcript for the episode and show notes linking to some of the things we talked about. I am, however, able to share a track from Godsleep’s latest record, Lies to Survive. Here is “Better Days” which features a very tasty bass riff.

Ryan: Thanks for listening, if you like what you heard today, please rate and review the show in your favorite podcast app as it helps other people find the show. Follow the pod on social @letsmixtape and tune in next week as I talk with multidisciplinary artist Gregg Deal of the band Dead Pioneers.