Michalis Neophytou is a 27 year old from Paphos trying to make it in the cut-throat mainstream musical scene while also working at a department store.
Battling against the odds, he is set on realising his dream while keeping one foot firmly on the ground, as singing is not really the greatest guarantee of stability.
It was not an easy decision to venture into a musical career, particularly during the current difficult circumstances where merely holding a job or looking for one become the main priorities for most.
“My true desire to sing somehow led me through the many obstacles I faced and got into recording work,” says Michalis.
For Michalis it was a childhood dream put to the side, but only temporarily as he could no longer find it in his heart to let it go. “When the dream is being realised, I feel proud to have succeeded against the odds,” he says.
But even so, like thousands his age, starting out in professional life, he is sometimes overwhelmed by disappointment by the dark sky of prospects ahead and shares the view that “if the right decisions had been made while there was still time to manoeuvre then things would have been very different”.
He talks of uncertainty and desperation, how particularly the 20 and 30 somethings no longer believe in social support and solidarity.
Sooner or later, the brain drain particularly among the young will grow to unprecedented proportions. Michalis says he doesn’t have to move to Greece to establish himself as an artist, but even if he has to, it’s a chance he has to take – “I know that my family and friends will always support me, in spite of the distance”.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Being a struggler or a steady riser?
Without taking into account what the future of the islands’ economy will be, Michalis puts it down to his own personal will and the willingness to really go for it in a business where talent is not the only factor that plays a decisive role.
“If I win over the love of listeners, through sheer work, I believe I am half way there and I am very optimistic that in five years I will be recording more and more’.
Michalis would never seek a ‘different’ kind of relationship with associates in the music business just to get ahead, as dignity, pride, principles and family are first and foremost, “they are the things I cherish most as a man”, he says.
On the other hand though he is a realist and aware that you need the right kind of people on your way up, a push by those established in the field, to take you along.
Of course, until such time as he becomes established, he will keep his second job at a department store, with its long hours and piecemeal pay.
It’s obvious that making a living in a financial crisis through singing is not really a safe or wise option.
Even if he does become well known, the salary will not be like it used to, money no longer circulates so freely.
What he hopes for at the moment is to remain humble and aware of where he started, irrespective of what he earns or might earn in future. “I do hope he says that I will never change or be oblivious to the harsh realities around me”.
Michalis has a Christmas single out in Greek –at an affordable price- and like most youths of our time, he’s giving it his all in a seven day a week schedule taking him from recording studios to department store warehouses.