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Hallouminati Are Playing Boomtown

4 June 18 interview: Eve Smallman
photos: Georgianna Scurfield
illustrations: Raph Achache

Hallouminati. A conspiracy theory combining two of the world’s most powerful influences. There’s not much about the band online, yet somehow everyone round here has heard of them. They’ve become well-known enough to play at festivals across Europe, and have even performed in front of Snoop Dogg. We tracked down the band’s bouzouki player, Korg player and loud person, Emilios Georgiou-Pavli, for the cheesiest interview you’ll ever read...

I’m sure you get this a lot, but what’s the story behind your name?
About seven years ago, we wanted to come up with something that sounded vaguely Greek, because I’m Greek, and I wanted to show that it was Greek music, but not strictly that. We’re also obsessed with really bad puns. I wanted to call it Boom Boom Halloumi to begin with, but luckily we changed that. I’ve had loads of people come up to me and say “Oh, respect bro, nice one” who genuinely think we are part of the Illuminati and quite terrifying people.

You have your album coming out this month. Why has it taken you eight years to release it?
We’re really f**king disorganised. When we started, we quickly did an EP, lost members, gained members, then lost some members again, so we’ve never had a solid enough line-up to write. Also, our music is never in one genre; it purely depends on what we are listening to, and if I go to a concert I’m like “Oh, I want to do this!”

We spent four years writing and recording this, and then laziness turned into getting particular about things. I’m just relieved to get the damn thing out now. I’m finally happy with it, so now I can send it away and never have to think about it again.

You’re playing at Boomtown again this year...
We’ve been playing it on and off for six years, and it’s easily one of my favourite festivals of all time. I’m getting to the point where I get scared each time we go; I’m thirty now and I wonder if I’m getting too old for it. This year we’ve got our best slot so far; 9pm on a Saturday, which is what real bands do rather than playing on a Sunday afternoon when everyone’s knackered. Boomtown’s the funniest place in the world; it’s where we belong.

What’s been the most brie-lliant thing to happen to you so far?
We’ve been really lucky. We aren’t very good at promoting ourselves so it looks like we haven’t done a lot. We’re really bad at social media, we’re really bad at advertising and we’re just terrible at our media game. When I was younger, I looked like Will from The Inbetweeners so much that I never thought I’d be doing anything cool. Without sounding too cheesy, I think the best thing to happen to us is that people have been watching us for eight years. The nicest thing in the world is having people come up to us and saying how much we’ve cheered them up.


You’ve promised your grandma’s moussaka recipe to people who donate to your album launch Kickstarter. What makes it stand out from all the other moussaka recipes?
We’ve definitely not just Googled “moussaka recipe.” My grandma wasn’t the best cook in terms of appearances so it’s going to look pretty grim, but it’ll taste peng. Without giving too much away, it’s all in the béchamel sauce.

What was the last thing to make you cheddar tear?
I was hungover, and I was watching Ice Age. The baby runs off and comes back to hug the mammoth. It was three o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. I was so glad no one was there because I was trying to figure out why the f**k I was crying so much.

Imagine if you were the Willy Wonka of cheese. What would the factory be like, and what sort of products would you produce?
I’d try and stop the cheese factory smelling horrendously bad, because I can’t imagine a cheese factory smells that good. I’d be making the original halloumi you can get from Cyprus; the original stuff is really hard, with bits of mint in it. You could make a house with that stuff. You can’t bring it back from Cyprus, so I would make it so we can have it in England. There would also be loads of Greek goats, and someone playing the bouzouki in the corner. With the windows open, so it doesn’t stink too badly.

If Hallouminati became a secret, world-dominating organisation and you guys ruled over it, what cheesy controls would you implement?
When we started the band I wasn’t trying to be vegan, and now I’m vaguely aware of how bad cheese is. I would make it an obligation that everyone must learn how to make vegan feta with cashew nuts, because that is ridiculously nice.

Are there stiltons of things you guys want to achieve as a band?
We’re all getting a little bit older, and we can’t gig five days a week like we used to when we’d sleep for an hour and keep going. We all desperately need to start doing more yoga. It’s never been about being massively big. It would be amazing to play in Greece and at as many parties as we can. It would be great to just carry on with what we’re doing, making sure people have a really fun time.

Hallouminati’s album launch takes place at The Maze on Friday 8 June. Tickets are £5.50 and available from Gigantic.

Hallouminati on bandcamp

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