Robert Rigney: Robert Soko is in Croatia at the moment and unable to make it to the interview. So it’just me for now. Do you know Robert Soko?

Rodehihi: Yeah, yeah. He played with Pyramidos one night.

Robert Rigney: I’ve been looking at videos of Pyramidos on Youtube. I particularly like your rendition of “Niška Banje”. Why did you decide to cover this particular song?

Rodehihi: This song is from Serbia and it is a fun song to play. 

Robert Rigney: How popular is Balkan music in Japan?

Rodehihi: Few people like it, but the few people who like it are maniacs.  Ska, reggae, World Music makes people happy. And the kind of people who like this kind of music, know Balkan music. 

Robert Rigney: When did you start getting into Balkan music?

Rodehihi: Ten years ago.

Robert Rigney: What instruments do the band members play?

Rodehihi: Guitar and bouzouki, drums, clarinet, bass guitar.

Robert Rigney: How did the band get together?

Rodehihi: We started to play belly-dance music and Egyptian music, Arabic music and got into Balkan music through this. We were curious about many countries’ music, not just Egyptian. We were also influenced by the movies of Emir Kusturica and Goran Bregović.

Robert Rigney: Is belly-dance music big in Japan?

Rodehihi: Yes.

Robert Rigney: Did the band play Balkan music right from the get-go?

Rodehihi: Maybe three years ago, Pyramidos started to cover Balkan music. And then we started to put out videos on Youtube, which opened up a very nice chance for us. And people from many different countries reacted to our Youtube videos.  And so we started to play more songs. North Macedonian songs. The reaction was big. Next, we started to play Greek songs, Bulgarian songs and Serbian songs. The response on Youtube was huge.

Robert Rigney: Can you recall some of the comments of people who responded to you playing “Niška Banja” and “Mastika” in Japanese?

Rodehihi: They were so surprised. They would tell us, “My grandmother sang this song.” We were on North Macedonian radio. Also we were on TV in Greece.

Robert Rigney: What are you favorite Balkan songs?

Rodehihi: “Niška Banja” is one of them, for sure. But actually, we don’t know what the lyrics mean.  We were just curious, and, by the way, got a lot of good feedback from Serbia. But we also like Bubamara, Mesačina, Mastika, Chaj Shukarija, Opa-nina-ni-a-nija: that one. So many songs.

Robert Rigney: Can you describe the fascination for Balkan music?

Rodehihi: We like the irregular time signatures and quarter tones. Balkan music is a little bit difficult to play.  And so it is very interesting for us. I don’t even listen to English music anymore. 

Robert Rigney:  Where do you play in Tokyo?

Rodehihi: In very small places. Pubs. And at festivals.

Robert Rigney: When you play, how many people come to your concerts?

Rodehihi: Few people.

Robert Rigney: How few?

Rodehihi: In Greece we play for audiences of one thousand five hundred people. We played in Greece three times, and also in North Macedonia and the response was huge. But in Japan maybe thirty people. Ha-Ha.

Robert Rigney: A small but quality audience to be sure.

Rodehihi: Yes. And we also played at the Serbian embassy in Japan.

Robert Rigney: When people hear you play in Japan what do they say?

Rodehihi: Few people are really maniac fans and dancing like crazy. The audience is very curious. 

Robert Rigney: When people come to your concerts, they drink raki or saki, or what?

Rodehihi: Beer and traditional Japanese saki.

Robert Rigney: Some people in Western Europe and America have said that Balkan music is like punk. What do you think?

Rodehihi: We also think it’s like punk.

Robert Rigney: Gypsies. Are they any in Japan?

Rodehihi: No Gypsies. 

Robert Rigney: What do you think of Gypsies?

Rodehihi: One of our band members had his wallet stolen by Gypsies in Greece.

Robert Rigney: Gypsies live for the moment. They don’t worry about the future. This is probably foreign to the Japanese way of thinking. 

Rodehihi: Gypsy lifestyle is different from Japanese lifestyle. But many in Japan are ambitions about Egyptian lifestyle.

Robert Rigney: I see you don’t make the distinction between Gypsies and Egyptian.

Rodehihi: Yes.

Robert Rigney: You have nice costumes. Where do you get them from?

Rodehihi: They are copies of Turkish costumes from the sixties. The mother of one of the bandmembers made them.

Robert Rigney: Why do you call yourselves “Pyramidos”.

Rodehihi: Because we like to play Egyptian music.

Robert Rigney: Thanks for the interview.

Rodehihi: Thank you.