Birthmark are a pop electro band from Athens, initially formed in 2001 under the name Cuore Nero.
Formation and first years (2001-2004):
Birthmark was formed in 2001 in Nea Erythraia, Athens. The three founding members (Argyris Tsoukalas, Elias Goulas and Adamantine Arvanitis) had met in 1999 in a local school's graduation concert. They played together for a while, until Argyris Tsoukalas left for Italy for study-related reasons. When he returned, two years later, they came together again, started rehearsing and looking for a bass player. One of the possible solutions was Kostis Pirenis, a guitar player who could also play the bass but when they met to rehearse, the three members realized that Kostis Pirenis was a very skilled guitar player, so he developed into the band's lead guitarist. After a year in which the band played with many bass players, upon the recommendation of his guitar teacher, Argyris Tsoukalas brought Alexandros Trampas to the band - Alexandros soon became the bass player for the band. They then adopted the name "Cuore Nero"(which means "black heart" in Italian). The band recorded some demos and began live performances in Athens, where there was a small but active indie scene in the early 2000s.
As the band's live bookings increased, some producers began to show interest in them and the band had a proposal to record an album in the "Sierra" recording studios, one of Athens' best equipped recording studios at the time. The band, feeling unready for something like that, rejected that offer and continued performing live in the underground rock music scene and advancing their music. Later, in early 2004, Alexandros Trampas left the band due to musical differences - the band ceased their live activity for almost a year. The gap created then was not filled until late 2004, when Mampre Kasardjian became the band's bassist.
Shortly after, the band changed their name to "Anima", stating that '"cuore nero" was too hard for most people to remember'. Seeking for a more personal sound, they added to their lineup Panagiotis Delinikolas, a violin player. They produced a demo CD, which featured six songs, one of which was featured in Spinalonga records' first IN THE JUNKYARD compilation that featured Greek indie bands. Most importantly, two of the demo tracks, "My Ecstasy" and "So Confused" were sent to the pop-rock contest festival of the "Philippos Nakas Conservatory", an Athens-based music school. The band qualified in the finals of the contest, where they performed live, winning the competition in the Christmas season of 2004. The prize was a recording contract with V2 Records, with which the band finally signed a one-album recording contract and an appearance on the local music magazine "Rock & Roll". Shortly after, the band discovered that the name "Anima" was already taken by another band and so they changed it to "Birthmark". Birthmark started rehearsing in an isolated cottage, located in Oropos, a small provincial city near Athens, where they also recorded their debut album. Birthmark at that time had a very active live presence giving many concerts, including support acts to Diorama, Nina Nastasia, Holly Golightly,Iron Butterfly a.o.
Product of Black Days (2005-2006):
Several months after winning the pop-rock contest, Birthmark started recording and producing their debut album themselves in their rehearsal-recording studio. The recording sessions began in the spring of 2005. Having perfected the songs live, by October Birthmark had recorded all the ten songs of the album including "My Ecstasy", "Lonely Ride", "Lust in Love", "Sacred", "All the Lovers", "Angels", "BlackHearted", "So Confused", "Product of Black Days" and "Safe from Harm" (a "Massive Attack" cover). The recording sessions were relaxed, with the band playing at all hours of the day and listening to their favorite bands for inspiration. The album by the middle of 2006 was mixed and mastered. Product of Black Days' album artwork was designed by visual artist Demitri Delinikolas, while the album's cover consists in a slightly processed photo of Greek photographer Takis Tloupas taken in the mid-1940s.
Birthmark released their album on May 21, 2007. Mostly composed of melodic rock songs, their record also found them presenting diverse influences experimenting with guitar sounds and the use of violin and vocals. The album "Product of Black Days" finally featured nine songs, since the Massive Attack cover was not included.
Further touring (2007-2010):
During the promotion of their first album and while preparing new material, Birthmark toured and performed live either on their own or supporting artists such as Iron Butterfly and Ypogeia Revmata (Υπόγεια Ρεύματα). They built a new studio, located in Nea Erithraia, in the northern suburbs of Athens, in which a new era begun for the band. In 2008, Mampre Kasardjian, Birthmark's bassist decided to pursue further musical jazz-oriented studies in New York, where he got accepted at the N.Y. Collective School of Music for a 6 semester diploma, so the band recruited a new bassist called Jacob Siaparinas (former Katrin the Thrill), who had an altogether different style, distinctively changing its sound. Panagiotis Delinikolas, the band's violin player also left the band due to musical differences and started his own projects. Birthmark, a 5 membered band now started to rediscover their sound experimenting and trying out all sorts of new material. Self-expression became the first and foremost goal for the band. In October 2009 Birthmark performed live on Mad TV for the "Mad Day Live" show and continued touring and performing around Greece.
Birthmark's second album with the title "Boogeyman", was released in 2012 containing the songs "Prey", "Faces", "Animal", "Gone Too Far", "Animals Whisper", the cover of "Safe From Harm", which was excluded from the first album, "Messing With Danger", "Boogeyman", "Sunday Morning" and the songs "Ignorance" and "Bad Fairy" featuring performances by Panagiotis Delinikolas and Mampre Kasardjian respectively. The album's artwork was designed by visual designer crosti and featured 12 original visual compositions. The album came out as a digital release on June 18, 2012, and with the exception of the songs "Faces" and "Ignorance" and of the song "Bad Fairy", in which the band implemented electronic music and jazz musical elements respectively, it basically had a rock character and sound.
During 2012 Elias, felt the need to expand his, and the band's musical field so he went on to learn more about music technology and electronic music production so he also started using electronic sounds and prerecorded beats in the songs. He urged the band to move to a new direction. Argyris started using synthesizers and also started blending electronic sounds in the mixes of their new studio material. Jacob 's influences were also very experimental so the band started to dissosiate from their previous alternative rock sound and felt the need to do something more electronic. At the same time, after the departure of Kostis, who didn't feel this new sound represented him as an artist, Konstantinos Peyos an innovative artist and skilled guitarist, was asked to join Birthmark, by Adamantine and Jacob who had worked with him before in a past project called Murder Mystery Ensemble. They had been impressed by his ability to think outside the box. Konstantinos brought creativity, inspiration and a new vision which helped the other members develop a new sound, something they had already started doing the previous years. A new LP album is expected to be released in fall 2014.
Among Birthmark members' earliest influences were artists such as Radiohead, Pink Floyd, The Cure, Björk and others. By the mid-2000s, around the release of Product of Black Days, Birthmark began showing an interest in electronic music, such as that of trip-hop acts Massive Attack, Portishead. While working on new material, the band have continued to mention alternative rock, electronic, and rock musicians as favourites--particularly Radiohead, Tori Amos, Kate Bush, DJ Shadow, Björk, Röyksopp, The Knife a.o.
The sound of the band started (2001-2003) from a point where hard guitar parts and powerful lead guitar melodies were being combined with melodic vocals. Later (2004-2008), with the addition of the violin, the band's sound became more melodic, romantic and at the same time shadowy. The "Product of Black Days" album, which was the outcome of this period was characterized by these elements and a degree of musical and emotional complexity. After 2008, the vast changes in the band's line-up brought a new era for its musical style. Birthmark's compositions became simpler and they also went on to experiment with electronic music. Electronic influences are already obvious from the songs Faces andignorance included in the album Boogeyman, although the album is mainly an alternative rock album. This was the point where they began forming the idea for their current sound, although still undeveloped at the time. After 2012-2013, Birthmark made a final turn towards electronic music and are maintaining this style up to today. All members of Birthmark have an essential songwriting role. All the band's music is officially credited to Birthmark and the lyrics mostly to Argyris Tsoukalas and Adamantine Arvaniti.
Adamantine Arvanitis - (vocals), (2001-Present),
Argyris Tsoukalas - (guitars), (2001-Present),
Elias Goulas - (drums-percussion), (2001-Present),
Jacob Siaparinas - (bass), (2008-Present),
Konstantinos Peyos - (guitars), (2012-Present),
Alexandros Trampas - (bass), (2002-2004),
Mampre Kasardjian - (bass), (2004-2008),
Panagiotis Delinikolas - (violin), (2004-2009),