radionotes podcast episodes

Trio from Athens, Greece are our feature guest this episode – called Berdnturtle – who have recently released their debut album called Ambush. Musically a cross of psypop, indie with waves of the alternative sounds of the 80s and 90s for great measure. While the theme of the record directly drills to the sometimes war-like way the mind plays the person it is part of… we also get an insight to those in the band and other themes across this very live sounding release.

Both Yannis Michos (Bass/Vocals) and Vasilis Sukos (Drums) joined radionotes for this chat…

To listen, click the green ‘play’ triangle… [note: may take few seconds to load] 

(Transcript of Berdnturtle chat below, check to delivery in audio)

IMAGE CREDIT: Supplied by Band

Berdnturtle were a great band to chat with down the line via Skype, over 14,000 KMs away on a nifty split screen setup. Hope you enjoy hearing them on the show.

SHOW NOTES: Berdnturtle episode

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In The Box:

Feature Guest: Berdnturtle

radionotes Discoveries:

Next Episode: Fiona Horne – from The Archives

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More details on playpodcast here, thanks to Matt from them.

[Radio Production – notes: Berdnturtle are the feature guest for the full episode, tracks suitable are from their Ambush release]


Theme/Music: Martin Kennedy and All India Radio   

Web-design/tech: Steve Davis

Voice: Tammy Weller  

You can make direct contact with the podcast – on the Contact Page


For direct quotes check to audio, first version of transcript by Heather A at REV

John Murch: Gentlemen, welcome to radionotes.

Vasilis Sukos: Thank you for calling us.

John Murch: Firstly, I want a bit of a background of when the band first started. I believe that it was four years ago.

Vasilis Sukos: Four years ago, me with Kostas, the other member that couldn’t be here. First met at Crete, Chania, an island. So we started playing together as a duet, only guitar and drums. Actually wrote, recorded a couple of songs, but we didn’t release anything because we realized that we have to find the bass player and accidentally I met that guy, Yannis in a bar in Athens. I knew him as a name and as a bassist in Athens and I was like, “Oh man, that’s the guy. That’s the guy. That’s the guy.” It was like a process We rehearsed once and after that we rehearsed on the first of May and we started the recording sessions in December.

John Murch: Yannis, what bands were you in at the time you got discovered?

Yannis Michos: I was playing some years ago in some other bands, mostly alternative rock bands or garage rock band, but by the time I met Vasilis in this bar, I wasn’t playing in a band at this specific time because, well, there’s a thing here in Greece that army is obligatory. His band mates had to go to the army, so the band stopped playing and I wasn’t actually playing in a band and I was really looking forward to meet some people and play some music.

Yannis Michos: But also I’m a bit strict about with who I’m playing and if we share the same taste in music and all this stuff. I met Vasilis in this bar because we had some common friends. I knew him too because many, many years ago we played in the same festival in Greece with different bands and we met there. And we started talking about music and we suddenly found that we have many bands that we like in common. Told me, “I’m playing with this guy this year and we’ve written these songs,” and they were inspired from these bands and they were exactly the same bands I was listening to. I was like, “Give me a call if you want, we can jam or something,” and actually the next day he called me and he was like, “Okay, should we go now?” I’m like, “Oh, is it that easy? Was it that fast?” Then actually from the first jam they sold me the songs and I actually started playing with them, I found a good connection, I could get the vibe that the guys wanted to do and I was like, “Okay, let’s do it. Let’s do it. Seriously. Let’s go record, boom, let’s go taste the whole dream.”

John Murch: What bands were they that you guys were connecting over?

Vasilis Sukos: I think the first one that were in common Homeshake, Mac De Marco, Uknown Mortal Orchestra, that was the bands we had in common then. Also most bands showcasing like, DIIV, D-I-I-V and My Bloody Valentine, Stone Roses, all that stuff.

John Murch: You mentioned the army, the army being compulsory. What kind of influence has the army had on each of you?

Yannis Michos: Me personally, I haven’t been to the army yet. I still have a paper that says I don’t have to join it until like 2021 but in general it is kind of a problem because it’s for nine months. So you actually get lost a bit and this is like a weird period of our time because we maybe just finished our studies and unis and you also have the problem on top of it that you’re searching for a job. So it’s nine months not playing with the guys and then someone finds a job maybe somewhere else in Greece and things change again. But for example, the time that we, as Berdnturtle we started playing our singer and guitarist, Kostas, who is not here today was in the army actually.

Yannis Michos: But we were lucky enough that he was in Athens. I still remember that we were going with a car with Vasilis and we were picking him up from the army camp. This thing was actually kind of funny because he had like a great energy that he wanted to share at the rehearsals because he was kind of psychologically stressed in the army specifically in this situation and this band, I think didn’t… It wasn’t a really big problem. But can you say that in general it is a problem.

John Murch: You say 2021 is when you’re due to do your service. That second album is going to be about then, or at least the touring there of of the second album.

Yannis Michos: Maybe it’s that period of time. Maybe it’s 2021. To be honest, me and Vasilis were thinking of maybe not going to the army, in general, so it’s going to be discussed. So we don’t know yet if it’s going to be a problem. I hope not.

John Murch: Let’s talk about the process of the album, putting it together. You’ve worked with some great engineers and mixers for this album.

Yannis Michos: We have the dilemma of either record it live or you know every instrument separately and then we met a guy, he’s called the Gustav Penka. He’s playing in The Steams and he told us that he is also producer and we started discussing and we took the decision to do it live because we wanted to give this live vibe on our album. We wanted to have that not only indie rock or psypop vibe, we also wanted it to be sometimes a bit groovy, a bit a more pop. We weren’t actually really doing it, to be honest, so he really helped us maybe put this vibe too and this was during the recordings.

Yannis Michos: He also did the mix, not only the recording sessions. The mastering was done by Iraklis. We knew him because he did the mastering of some bands in Greece that we really liked their sound. So we said, okay, this is the guy and in general, all these guys that I’m talking about are young people, they’re not really old. So it was really easy for us to communicate and they could get the vibe that the want. They were also really supportive. It’s something fresh in Athens, this kind of music and songs that you’ve written. So it was a bit difficult for us to take the decision to do the recordings and the mastering and stuff because of financial things in the beginning. Scared I could say, but actually helped us a lot to be honest.

John Murch: A live performance. What do you enjoy about performing the music of the band live?

Vasilis Sukos: Personally, I think that specific tracks couldn’t play another way. Live is the only way to write this. We really sentimentally bonded with the tracks. If I didn’t play them with the guys, with Yannis and Kostas, I would not be able to play. So for me it was necessary to play it live. And as for the experience of playing live drumming recording it has an improvised flavor, it is not the typical rock group thing.

John Murch: It’s very jazz-based I felt.

Vasilis Sukos: Yes, that’s true. And that helped me live otherwise I couldn’t play.

John Murch: Looking out to the audience as well cause you’re a very tight three piece. It appears by at least the photography there of the live.

Vasilis Sukos: I really want to pass them the lyrics when I play the drums, I mean I don’t want to play the lyrics but I want to play by lyrics. Pass that flavor to the audience.

John Murch: It’s got to be a good stance too, you’re looking out to the audience. What are you personally getting from the live performance?

Yannis Michos: Kind of getting the same experience Vasilis is getting or the whole album and maybe the whole concept of our band is really based on the lyrics. You know there’s parts of the album that it’s kind of more feels, maybe more vibey. So when I get the reaction from the audience that they’re kind of dreaming or tripping or something and chilled, I am really satisfied. And when did this whole thing starts getting more and more and somehow in the end explodes by the music and it comes to a point that we also play maybe louder and maybe more noisy on our sound. This is a live recording, but I think that when we play live, our sound is a bit maybe a bit more noisy. So when the whole thing explodes and I kind of feel the same thing in my psychology and when I see the crowd like going crazy to me, I read some section or something, I kind of feel that we think the same way at this specific time. So I’m really satisfied.

John Murch: Let’s talk about the lyrical content. Where are the lyrics coming from?

Yannis Michos: Berdnturtle music is an act because a central character who has a lot of fears grew up on him because of the society and that fear. At some point, killed him, he committed the suicide, the trucks connected like a process of that psychosis. In the last two songs, Halepa and Halepa II is the loop that at some point someone maybe is too weak to stand up and go into the society. But even if he committed suicide, someone again will have the same problem. We were born again with the same problem and this is a loop. There’s no ending point on this.

John Murch: You said the album comes across that there’s no circuit breaker to that cycle of I guess would be called despair.

Yannis Michos: Yes.

Vasilis Sukos: yes.

Yannis Michos: That’s why the Ambush is actually the trap on the battlefield. You make the trap, so you think that you make a trap to your own fear that you are yourself, but you think that you will win it, but you will not kill him. The fear always exists unfortunately.

John Murch: I believe the original title of the album was Ears Full of Fears.

Vasilis Sukos: Yes, yes.

John Murch: Talk to us about those fears and how you comprehend those, get through those fears.

Yannis Michos: we thought a lot about this, this same question You’re doing and we actually, I think are changing our opinion maybe every month or so. But in general, I think there’s a whole meaning of that loop we’re talking about in the album that we come again thinking the same thing, but we actually comprehend this in a different way at the time. So this makes the fear to us a different experience. As we say in the lyrics is that every time you kind of get stronger out of these fears, but to have fear in your life is not fun. That process of getting stronger is something that hurts you and makes you sad or makes you nervous and anxious, maybe. All the three of us, and I think most of the young people at least here in our country are like really consider that music and the lyrics that you used in your music born in the society that you’re living every day.

Yannis Michos: It’s not that we’re talking about a fear that is special and that happens only to us. It’s like it’s a common thing and this is why I wanted to talk about that having fears in our modern society and specifically maybe in Greek society because we haven’t experienced on the other side to be honest.

Yannis Michos: It’s a process that in the end that makes you stronger and makes you maybe smarter and you can finally start dealing with problems in a better way, but it’s not fun when you think about the past and these fears in the past and not the ones that are coming in the future. It kind of has a bitter taste, but you’re not sad anymore. So it’s melancholic. That’s why our music is kind of a melancholic too, and I mean the music not only the lyrics, the music as the instruments are playing is kind of melancholic. Sometimes there’s a way I want it to be so strict. For example, the specific genre, we didn’t want it to be pop and really steady because we don’t feel that we are steady as human beings. We wanted some time our rhythms to be a bit more abstract because sometimes fear makes you feeling that you’re kind of lost, for example. This fear thing is something that we’re experiencing every day, so we wanted make it with music. Other people can hear the way we’re living.

John Murch: Do you get a sense that you’re setting up your own future for your own generation now through the art that you’re producing?

Yannis Michos: For sure, in Athens there is a musical scene and the Arts are getting bigger. Something happening now and getting bigger and bigger and bigger and I don’t know if it has any result. I cannot say that, but for sure we want this and we’re trying this. We’re trying to change things. If the things will not change we’re trying to give the people to understand that we understand what’s going on. We are in a disadvantaged situation now. We know that. We have to fight. And that’s what we do.

John Murch: When did music first enter your life?

Yannis Michos: I enjoyed music in general as an act. I think I was in a concert with my parents and… Folk concert, actually. Greek songs, and not live before, but I really like people trying to communicate with instruments. I think that was around when I was something like seven, eight years old. This is when I asked my father to buy me a Bouzouki, which is a traditional instrument here in Greece and Turkey. So I started having some lessons. As the years went by, I started listening to rock music and all the stuff, and this instrument is not really playable in this genre. So then I asked my parents to buy me a guitar, but you know, they thought that it’s just a kid. He wants that now. Maybe then he wants drums, maybe a tenor and stuff.

Yannis Michos: And in the beginning they were a bit negative. But my parents around…when I was ten, eleven years old, they saw me in my room trying to learn some rock songs on the Bouzouki instrument. So this is when they said, okay, let’s buy this guy a guitar.

Yannis Michos: Involved with music and rock music and playing in bands and all these other things since I was maybe 13 years old. This is maybe the first time that I started also writing music and composing music with other people too. And I really enjoyed being in the team and jamming and all that stuff and not only playing covers or trying to learn the songs from a band that I liked. So actually music as I consider music now first appeared in my life when I was 13 years old.

John Murch: Vasilis, what about you?

Vasilis Sukos: It was some moment that I was eight and on TV was a drummer with a huge set. The drum set was like really huge and I was really impressed and after that talked to my parents and said to them I want to play drums. They said to me, you’re going to go to the conservatory first and try an instrument to learn some theory first. They sent me to violin section, never been a violinist and after that I started by myself learning the drums and by the age of 15 I was starting playing a bunch in my hometown.

John Murch: What have you been enjoying about the new record now that it’s out and about and people are listening to it?

Vasilis Sukos: Yeah, the first thing is what I enjoy it now is that you are from Australia and you hear us and you’re far away. Our music travels to Australia and out through the Internet and so that’s what I enjoy the most. After that I enjoy hearing and listening to the music that we have released now, it’s a unique experience

Yannis Michos: During that process of recordings and when we took the decision to record, I was really optimistic about the stuff that we had. Also the lyrics, all the music, the whole album as a whole thing. This recording thing makes me think mastering is really stressy because it’s really technical and arrives at some point that it’s not so artsy I could say anymore. It’s more about geogrid sound there, make everything good. So and then I kind of got pessimistic. Are we doing anything and when we get the album released is it going to do any difference? So is it going to be just an album just staying in YouTube or Bandcamp and no one will listen to it. I was a bit stress about that.

Yannis Michos: One good thing of the album being released is that I don’t care about that thing anymore because it’s out there. We’re doing our best to give the opportunity to people to listen to our music. And so far I’m also happy that I’ve received good words, kind words and not only from musicians like guys that play music too because I think that’s the easy opinion because they can talk to you about the technical stuff or if they think it’s good. But I really enjoy that we have thoughts for albums from people that don’t play music.

John Murch: What’s the plan for the next six months? The record, as you said, it’s ten days old.

Vasilis Sukos: Already arranged some gigs in Athens. After that maybe we’re going to try for a tour in Greece. The main purpose is to work hard. If you work hard, everything will set and align. That’s the key. Personally, I don’t care if we are going to be a successful band or not, but we’d be really happy if I see progress through the hard work.

John Murch: What inspires you?

Yannis Michos: The biggest inspiration about composing music or even listening to music. I mean one of the things that I care about, the connection that music has with society. I think this is a relationship that these different things can have makes me fall in love with art in general. I think it’s the same thing in other form of arts too, maybe literature or painting and all this stuff.

Yannis Michos: This is one of the things that inspires me and also I really like when I’m listening to music, to have the feeling that I’m listening to something personal at same time. I don’t want it to be kind of fake because you know the saying music is a form of art, but it’s at the same time, nowadays any industry too. So you listen to some things that get repeated and repeated even if the thing that we’re talking about is the concept of why are these guys or us making music. I just want it to be straight from the artist’s heart, but I also am inspired when it’s not only about your feelings, like I’m sad or I’m happy. I want to know why you’re sad and how this affects your society. How did you get affected from the problems or the good things that your society gives you or makes you have? So in general I think that it’s that relationship of art and society that inspires me the most.

John Murch: And for you Vasilis, where does the inspiration come?

Vasilis Sukos: A lot of inspiration of the drumming. Drummers like Elvin Jones or Tony Williams made me think, makes me move musically only. I mean that inspires me musically and after that as for the lyrics and the vibe on the instrument in general is what Yannis said about society, if you take a walk and nothing’s said there, and if you get in a bus to go in a poor neighborhood, you will understand a lot of from the faces of the people or in the underground Metro. You will see a diversity of feelings on their side. That inspirational too for me.

John Murch: Poverty is still very real for many in Greece at the moment.

Vasilis Sukos: Yes it is in some neighborhood. Yeah, it seems getting better than the five years ago, but there’s still a difference in the classes and now we have a new right wing government that makes the problem bigger because of the classes, you know? And now there’s a lot of police everywhere. It’s a little bit of tricky now.

John Murch: Does that increase your sense of fear or determination for the music?

Yannis Michos: I think I’m getting more determined to be honest, because it’s this thing that could fear me, didn’t happen now. So we’ve been kind of used to saying these things and it’s kind of sad being used to seeing poor people and to think maybe it doesn’t move you that much or make you sad that much anymore because you see that every day. Or also the thing that Vasilis talked about police and if that fears me, I think we kind of got used to that. I think the real struggle to that thing is not the fear. If I have a fear it’s that I don’t want to be used to see some many problems around me and not given… For example, I mean, I’m determined to fight for this thing, so it makes me more determined musically too. I don’t want to be a guy that walks around in ruins in a way and not giving a shit about it.

John Murch: Thank you very much for joining radionotes today.

Vasilis Sukos: Thank you.

Yannis Michos: Thank you.