Pavlo's Mediterranean Magic

After its initial release on September 11, 2001, Pavlo’s album Fantasia [Justin Time Records] is again available in America. Pavlo’s diverse blend of sounds—which he calls “Mediterranean”—earned him the “World Artist of the Year” title at the recent Canadian Independent Music Awards. Pavlo wrote music that was included in two episodes of The Chris Isaak Show; R. Kelly’s hit single “Fiesta” included a sample from Fantasia; and classical guitarist Liona Boyd commissioned Pavlo to compose the duet “Café Kastoria,” which he performs with Boyd on her Camino Latino album. Now 35 years old, Pavlo began playing guitar at age ten.

What inspired you to pick up the guitar, and what music did you play when you first started out?

As a normal kid listening to rock and blues, my heroes were people like Yngwie Malmsteen and Eddie Van Halen. I would go to school and hang out with my rock band friends, but at the same time I always played classical and flamenco, and you’d always hear Greek music in our household. So I played all of those styles of music, but separately throughout my life until I finally matured as an artist and musician, and started to integrate and combine these influences. That’s how I came up with my Mediterranean sound.

“Seleni (Full Moon)” sounds very Middle Eastern.

Absolutely. I come from a Greek background. Greece is positioned in Europe where it’s European, but also very Middle Eastern. I grew up listening to doumbek and Middle Eastern belly dance rhythms. That’s part of our Greek heritage. “Seleni” is an example of this part of me.

How would you describe your right-hand technique?

It’s a combination of flatpick and fingers. I use a pick on faster pieces; I go to fingers when I’m doing rasqueados and other rhythmic picking techniques. I normally use a pick for tremolo, but if the tremolo has more than ten notes, and I’m playing three or four notes in a partial chord, then I might use a sort of rolling rasqueado.

What kind of pick do you use?

I prefer a hard pick, but they produce a thump on nylon strings, so unfortunately I have to use soft picks.

Describe your gear.

I play a Yamaha APX-9NA strung with D’Addario Pro Arté nylon strings. I plug directly into the sound system and blend the tone of the guitar’s soundhole microphone with its undersaddle pickup.

What would you tell a person starting out on guitar?

Remember the reason you picked up the instrument in the first place. If you enjoy playing the guitar, never forget that. I love it so much, I can’t even explain it to you. It just makes everything worth it. •