With their 2010 hit single ‘In a Bar’ at over 30 million hits, Tango with Lions is probably YouTube’s most-played English-language Greek band, and for good reason; their brand of indie-folk is atmospheric and nostalgic, but also effortlessly relatable in its esoteric simplicity. Fronting the band is singer-songwriter Katerina Papachristou, who evokes the likes of Hope Sandoval – and the new single ‘Proof of Desire’ further confirms that comparison, a dark song about new love and insecurity that resonates a sense of loneliness. The band’s follow-up to their 2013 sophomore album ‘A Long Walk’ is called ‘The Light’ and is out now via Inner Ear Records.
We caught up with Katerina of Tango with Lions to talk about their new single and album, as well as their inspirations and future plans.
Can you explain how you came together as a band?
Back in 2007, when I first formed Tango with Lions, I used to write mostly acoustic songs. Almost immediately after the release of ‘Verba Time’ -the debut album- I felt the need for a more electric sound and gradually formed a full band and recorded ‘A Long Walk’. Members might change from time to time, but there is a stable core in TwL.
How would you describe your sound to a stranger?
I’m really not good in ‘labelling’ and whenever I try to describe Tango with Lions’ sound I always stumble. I would say it is an atmospheric yet earthy storytelling through a mix of different faces of americana/folk/pop.
Did you anticipate the international success of your debut album and the single ‘In a Bar’?
Not really. I always considered ‘In a Bar’ a very lonely tune, so I never thought it could go such a long way. It certainly is a unique feeling to realise that many people can relate to your emotions and thoughts.
How is your new album ‘The Light’ different from ‘A Long Walk’?
‘A Long Walk’ was created through many changes for Tango with Lions. Passing from an acoustic song-writing to more electrical sounds required a different approach to arrangement and, as the full-band experience was something new to TwL, I worked more closely with the band members. ‘The Light’ is pretty much a lonely soul-searching journey, inviting the band to play while the recordings were already taking place. The sound is also less ‘rocky’ and experimenting more with different moods while, lyrically, ‘The Light’ is a dive into the confrontational aspects of life.
What were some of the inspirations that went into writing ‘Proof of Desire’?
‘Proof of Desire’ is an exhalation of futility after realising that sometimes we invest more than we should in a love story. Unanswered questions about why we keep following the same patterns in life when we’ve already learned what ensues and how much pain it can cause.
Do you feel like English-language Greek bands are getting more attention nowadays?
They are, indeed. I think bands in Greece have regained self confidence and claim a place in the international music scene. They are more daring, hard-working and professional than before and this is something noticeable; many English-speaking greek bands tour the world and participate in prestigious music festivals.
What are some groups in the scene that have influenced you?
Some of my influences from the international music scene are PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Sonic Youth, Anohni(Anthony) and the Johnsons, Tom Waits, Bauhaus, The Cure and so many others. Greek artists that have influenced me are Lena Platonos, Mary and the Boy, Bochomolech, 2 by Bukowski and many others, as well as all the bands I’ve formerly worked with as a bass-player.
What are your plans for 2018?
Mostly to plan gigs in and out of Greece and to find the time to write new material. And to travel even more.