The offspring of a sonic deity(!) that’ s creating quite the buzz in the US shares thoughts on her music, her decision to volunteer at one of Europe’s largest refugee camps and basically on where the whole world is going.
Διάβασε τη συνέντευξη στα Ελληνικά εδώ.
We first heard of Aphty Khea through the great reviews her latest works (one of which is the following video) have gathered on the on the other side of the Altantic.
Of course, the chances of ending up making that kind of music, having started from representing Greece at the Junior Eurovision (twice to be exact and gaining second place both times) we would estimate are close to slightly above 0%. Yet through Chloe Boleti’s (her actual name) unorthodox creative path, Aphty Khea was born.
The more we learn about her the more we’re mesmerised by her story. So we decided to take the easy way out, and ask her to share it with us.
– Where do we find you at this point?
Right now you’ve caught me at a time of intense soul searching. At the beginning of September, I started volunteering at the so called “Calais Jungle” in the north of France, where I worked with refugees. However, towards the end of October during one of my visits, the Jungle was demolished by the French government.. The last few months have proven to be mentally and emotionally challenging, presenting a lot of existential questioning. In other words, the appropriate time for further artistic exploration and creation.
– The Onyx Glitz music video is excellent! But what does it exactly represent?
Thank you very much! The video, which is a product of pure collaboration between my friend and director, Benjamin Brooks and I, represents the manifestation of an internal battle between self-destruction and inner peace. This inner conflict leads Aphty to the departure from her galaxy.
– What role does music play in your universe?
Music plays many roles. Aphty, uses it for therapeutic purposes, and in her universe she is considered to be a “sonic healer”.
– When and how was Khea conceived?
She is the offspring of a sonic deity and a chameleon humanoid (hence her skin), and is two-hundred and one years old. However, if we are talking in literal terms, she was “conceived” out of my exhaustion and boredom with today’s somewhat monotonous music industry. Honestly, I needed a new form of expression, one that would combine music and visual art, and that would allow me to express my worries with the world (my thoughts and experiences too), via a new identity, one that would offer me creative freedom, as well as a certain distance from my previous professional musical direction (which has drastically changed).
– Is there future for music on Earth or will we have to search for it in other parts of the Galaxy?
There is a future, but if we are to spread creatively and discover new musical and artistic grounds, we will have to take more risks. As artists from an experimental perspective, and as an audience from an open-mindedness perspective. For a long time now the mainstream media tell us what to listen to, what to watch, what to wear, what to eat. So lets do some exploring on our own terms… it proves to be enjoyable, I promise! All that is needed is some open minds and ears.
– So you mentioned your experience at the Calais refugee camp in Calais earlier and we definetely want to hear more on that (as much as words can describe such a thing). What sent you there?
As we all know, this year we have witnessed many disturbing crimes against humanity via the internet. The ongoing war in Syria, which is worsening by the minute, is the result of decades of poor political manoeuvring, megalomania, cultural turmoil and of course western interest, which has left thousands of people homeless, without family and friends, leaving them no choice but to escape that hellhole… well, those who survived, at least. With every video I watched, the more concerned, troubled and powerless I felt. It’s very important to open discussions regarding these subject matters, but at some point, especially if you condemn these events and find yourself getting mentally affected by them, something has to be done. Words lose their effectiveness.. So, after much thought and research, I decided to volunteer in a refugee camp, specifically as previously mentioned, at the “Calais Jungle”.
When I arrived in Calais many things left me speechless. The living conditions were horrible to such an extent, that I often found myself questioning whether I was actually in Europe. The conditions were truly unimaginably inhumane. In the beginning, I saw that there were refugees of many different nationalities, which surprised me. I didn’t only come across Syrians, and that is how I found out and learned about how many other countries follow closely in the fate of Syria. Taliban torture, control and conflict in Afghanistan, ethnic cleansing and genocide in Sudan, civil war and near famine in Yemen, corrupt government control and underage militancy in Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The Jungle had a total of 10,000 – 11,000 refugees, and one of the reasons as to why the number of people reached such heights, was due to many years of negligence from the French and British governments, due to their refusal to acknowledge this humanitarian crisis. The french government didn’t actually take any responsibility when it comes to maintaining the camp, leaving the maintenance and the fate of all these people in the hands of the NGOs (Non Government Organisations). There were many organisations present, and each one took on different responsibilities in order for the place to be maintained. The organisation I was with (Utopia 56), was predominantly responsible for cleaning the camp. So, every morning we separated into groups and began by cleaning the camp until noon, at which point we would continue our day either by cooking or teaching french and english until 6 o’clock in the afternoon. Personally, I usually taught english and music to young adults and little children.
Needless to say that there was hardly any creative stimulation over there. Many refugees stayed there because they either wanted to return to Britain, since they were given asylum there from a young age (underage asylum seekers get deported back to their remaining war torn countries, once they come of age), or because they have family in Britain, giving them the legal right to seek asylum there.
– Which thought was created most frequently in your mind?
How is it that these people are considered lesser than us, just because of their nationality, religion or culture? How is it that if we were European or other western refugees we would be treated differently? Why is it that so many people think that most of the refugees are criminals and savages, thus insignificant? Why such illusion of superiority in the west? Why me and not them? Why such hatred? Why such racism? Why does bureaucracy take so long? Why so many fascist attacks? Why such police brutality and abuse of power? Why so much teargas? Why don’t the more powerful European countries take more responsibility? The list goes on, but all these questions frequented at about the same rate.
Was any music heard there?
Oh, yes… music was heard. From both refugees and volunteers. That was one of the beautiful aspects of the Jungle. Despite the intense misery and tragicness of the refugees’ situation, in their desperation they still managed to sing, to laugh, to dance, to have hope. No human being would want to live there, none of them wanted to, but like a fellow volunteer has expressed before, we all had each other in times of extreme hardship, and that is what allowed the beauty of unity to flourish in such a bleak place. A small multicultural community was created. Of course, there were conflicts and there was crime, but these are elements that can be found in any small town, because as I previously mentioned, that’s what the Jungle was – a small community. Countless times when we’d take breaks from cleaning, they would invite us into their tents, would offer us tea and coffee, insist on sharing their little food with us, sing to us in their languages, and some times would share their painful stories with us, if they had the courage… and above all, they would be exceptionally grateful to us for our help.
– Did you leave there optimistic or more disappointed?
The biggest worry is that, as plain citizens, we cannot stop these wars. Unfortunately, we don’t have direct influence on such complicated political issues. So, many of us volunteers would feel miserable, because we knew very well and had a constant reminder that we couldn’t change anything. We couldn’t help them as much as we truly wanted to. But what we could do, was to try and better these people’s conditions, even if it was a little by offering our help, while also giving them a sense of humanity and care.
The truth is, I lost any naivety I had left in me. In many ways, I became more cynical than I was before I started doing this kind of volunteering, as far as politics and human morals go. But at the same time, I met so many beautiful souls, both volunteers and refugees alike, and while I was losing my faith in humanity, the volunteers would restore that faith, as well as a little optimism. To help your fellow human, especially if they have gone through such trauma, is one of the most beautiful things that exist in this chaotic world. It’s not an easy experience. As I previously mentioned, there were many mental, existential and emotional challenges. But because of that, we all gained great perspective, and a deeper compassion towards our fellow humans, as well as perspective when it comes to our corrupt system. For that reason, I urge and encourage anyone who gets affected negatively, even by the slightest, by today’s political and humanitarian affairs, anyone who has the courage, and anyone who is looking for a little perspective in their life, to donate a little of their time and help these pained and persecuted fellow human being. As far as I go, I will continue to volunteer as long as refugees still exist (next stop Thessaloniki), but I will also continue to spread awareness through dialogue, and especially through music.
So what are you preparing for the near future?
We are preparing a new video with Ben and another friend of ours, Charlie Hawley, for “Peacebloom”, the second track form my EP that came out a few months ago and a continuation of “Onyx Glitz”. Up until now we have done some amazing work and I am very eager and looking forward to it being released, which will hopefully be very soon!