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IOTAPHI, our local hero from Athens

We know you’re already dreaming of your next trip to Greece and we want to help you dive into your next travel experience. Whether you’re flying to Corfu, Athens or Crete, we’ve put together a playlist of music that originates from this beautiful area and is representative of its sonic identity.

To get even more insight into the area we spoke to Ilia from Athens duo IOTAPHI and asked her about her thoughts and tips regarding the spirit of your destination. Read about it on our travel blog.

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When did you start making your own music and what was it like to begin with?

I wrote my first songs with this electro punk band I formed while still being in school. Everything was really exciting; Athens had a very vibrant underground music scene at the time and we were discovering the world through music.

Describe where you live in ten words or less.

Blessed to live between the mountains and the sea.

What are the top things you’d suggest music fans visiting your region should go and see/do/eat/drink?

I feel there’s a ton of things to do and see visiting Greece. The islands are pure magic, there’s so much breathtaking beauty, history and culture to feed your soul.

If I were to concentrate in Athens and the peripherals, I’d say go to Cape Sounio to see the Temple of Poseidon and feel the air. It’s surrounded on three sides by the sea and it’s pretty magical.

Walk around the old town to see the ruins, eat souvlaki and feel the chaotic vibe of Athens.

At night I would go to Cantina Social and I would probably end up for a night swim at the Riviera, after having climbed up mount Lycabettus to take in the view of the town.

I would definitely experience the open-air cinemas. Athens open-air film festival has never disappointed me.

We have some pretty big music festivals taking place like Ejekt Festival; where we have played, Rockwave festival and Add festival with amazing electronic music.

Having traveled a lot I dare to say that one of the best things visiting Athens is that you can easily meet people and hang out with them. They will probably show you all the little secret things happening and enjoy the town not just like a tourist, but also as a part of the city.

Do you have any favorite record stores or flea markets?

The biggest and most well known flea market is the one at Monastiraki, in the old town of Athens. It does get a bit crowded during the summer months, but you can always find some cool stuff to love and feel that you have to have.

Two of my favorite record stores would be Kasseta Record Shop, at Sofokleous 5, it’s in the centre of Athens and then if you’re looking for rock n’ roll and soul classics try Rock n’ Roll Circus, at Sina 21.

Does living in Greece influence the music you make?

I’ve lived most of my adult life in London and Los Angeles, but I’m made of these rocks and the blue and the Chaos of Greece. As I evolve in music, I realize more and more where the melodies come from and that’s from the inside. I’ve decided to use Kanonaki/Santur in the project while being in California, so I think it’s actually being from Greece that influences the sound, not necessarily that I live here right now.

Where would you go for a walk on a first date?

I’d go for a walk at Dionisiou Aeropagitou around sunset. It’s a pedestrian street at the slope of Acropolis, where you can also access the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the museum of Acropolis. This could actually be my favorite walk in the world. The energy is very strong yet soothing.

I would also try to visit the Acropolis museum by night, there are some nights where they stay open till 12am or 2am.

What are the top things you’d suggest visitors to your country should go and see/do during summer?

If you’re traveling to Mykonos, you have to see Delos. Delos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece and also one of the most cosmopolitan places of ancestry. Dense history and culture on a tiny piece of land. You can only visit by boat during the day, because it’s not allowed to stay overnight.

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If you are visiting the beautiful Kefalonia, besides its natural beauty, I would try not to miss Saristra Festival; a great initiative to designate and promote an abandoned village of the island cleverly utilizing public space.

If you’re visiting Crete, Elafonissi is one of the prettiest beaches I’ve ever laid eyes on with pink sand and coral reefs.

A weekend getaway close to Athens is Hydra. The island of artists, a place without cars where time can go back to what it actually is, not an enemy.

Last but not least I would go to Milos! Milos is a volcanic island in the Aegean Sea with scenery resembling Martian landscapes. Milos is actually the inspiration for our song Hypertopos, a place beyond this place… Its sculptured shoreline and crystal waters will enchant you.

Who’s your biggest local musical influence, past and/or present?

Maria Callas, Mary and The Boy, Manos Hatzidakis.

Which museums or art galleries are not to miss?

SNFCC it’s not a museum nor a gallery but a cultural center. They always have tons of things going on and it’s located at a beautiful site, by the sea.

The Breeder (45 Iasonos st, 10436, Athens) Small yet very important gallery taking care some of our most talented artists, like Jannis Varelas, Maria Hassabi, Hope.

I would also not miss the sculpture theatre Aixoni at Glyfada, designed by Nella Golanda who I was lucky enough to meet and converse with. We have shot some of our visual work there. I feel it’s a unique awe evoking work that transcends time, harmonically integrated into the scenery.

But if I were to be more specific and fair to Greece, I would cite Costas Tsoklis “So if all those wild rocks were actually works of art and we hadn’t realized it, then it’s not true that we live cut off from contemporary art. We are not uneducated peasants who never set foot in a museum. On the contrary, we live in colossal museums only there is no sign marking the entrance.”

Hoping you can have an experience of a lifetime; take the warmth of the sun and the people with you.

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