Yanni Chryssomallis is 50, but he has what a seer would call an "old soul." He is filled with the lore of his ancestors, of his parents and of his native Greece. It is through this ancient soul that he creates his music.
Yanni is on the second leg of his latest tour, his first since a self-imposed five-year respite from an upward-spiraling, out-of-control career. He's back now, and he's booked into the SBC Center on Tuesday, acknowledging the fact that he has filled huge venues for most of his more than 20 years in the limelight.
He offers on this tour a work born of his time away from the music scene and back home with his parents in Acroyah, a fishing village outside Kalamata. It is the "Ethnicity" tour, on the road behind last year's CD of the same name that marked his return to music.
"I had a lot of fun with that album," he said from his home in South Florida. "It was the first time in my career that I wasn't under any pressure to create an album, and I just started having fun with the music in the studio."
This album is quite different from his earlier works, particularly because the voice plays such an important role.
Along with the chants, arias and even lyrics threaded through the musical arrangements, Yanni's usual native instruments remain an essential element. The Australian didgeridoo, the Armenian duduk, Indian tabla and Paraguayan harp blend with American Indian and African chants to give the piece a solid ethnic feeling.
It took the courage to walk away from his career to return with this newest music in his soul.
"Probably one of the most difficult things I ever did in my life was not playing the piano for a year," he said. "But I wanted to know if I could live without the music."
"I went home to Greece to spend time with my mother and father. I had been traveling at 3,000 miles a minute for 20 years, and all of a sudden I went into a standing-still mode.
"So I walked on the ceiling for a while," he said with a laugh, "and just went right to the pain. Slowly, ever so slowly, I got through it."
Yanni said his life had become extremely complicated. What he rediscovered on his return to Greece was "the simplicity of life." He walked on the mountains with his dad, talked with him and was reminded of his childhood dreams.
"Once you go back and step on the place you stepped on as a kid," he said, "it has a way of waking you up. You absorb the way the place smells, the scents of the flowers, the ocean, the light, everything you were used to as a kid. That tends to revive a lot of the old 'little Yanni,' and that helps."
"I was consumed by my career," he conceded. "Most of the time is spent in the studio in the creative process, which is very fulfilling, very satisfying - also very tiring and demanding. When I'm in the studio, I can't 'kind of do some music,' it's all or nothing. If I don't, the creative process does not function. But I can't do it for three months at a time anymore."
"When you are just a kid, you procrastinate, you take off a few days," he said of his studio work schedule. "But as the years go by, you become increasingly serious.
"I began cutting out the fun time, and all of a sudden the days became weeks, the weeks became months and when I would get out of the studio I would have lost 15 or 20 pounds. It was not very healthy."
That studio time, along with a hectic touring schedule and social life, caused Yanni to break away from the scene, music and all, in '98.
So has he learned enough to keep a balance in his life these days? "Well, I'm not doing a very good job. I am better than I used to be, and I have built-in breaks right now that I have to impose on myself. The only way I found where my limit was, was by exceeding it," he added with another laugh.
In his early 20s, after earning a degree in psychology at the University of Minnesota, Yanni joined a rock band called Chameleon. He considers the experience good training for the career that was to follow.
"Because of the rock 'n' roll band, I toured extensively, performed every night, learned about live performances and how to communicate with an audience - what you do, what you don't do," he said. "Plus, I learned a sense of timing. I also produced the band in the studio, produced recordings. It was a real training ground."
I find it ...fascinating what that article says at the beggining!!! Knowing Yanni's music for soo long and ...Yanni , just a tiny bit ,most of it from his interviews find that this article is to the point!!!
we all know how much he is loved from his parents and his homeland,(and this article should also say ,his FANS!!!)
saying that Yanni is an "old soul" really makes this article Great in my books....as we know that Yanni is a reader of the ancient Greek philosophers !I would say that Yanni is an "arhaio pneuma" is Greek which means that Yanni comes from our world now...but his thoughts and his actions shows that he has the ancient Spirit in him ,the one that gives him an edge to be the "Best" in his field.Yanni is well read and he brings this out in so many ways ,his music ,his wise words ...even his silliness!
Dear Yanni "Gnothei s'eafton"....I try to do it also...
[This message has been edited by lifeisprecious (edited 07 March 2004).]