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Test Pressing
INTERVIEWS / READ

ILIAS PITSIOS / ECHOVOLT / INTO THE LIGHT

Test Pressing, Interview, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Ilias Pitsios, Into The Light, Echovolt, Athens, Redlight Records, Tako

Where are you based?Athens, Greece.

Is this your hometown?Yup, I was born in a suburb of Athens but now I live in the center. I’ve also spent 5 years as a young kid in Egypt.

What is your first musical memory?That’s a hard one…hmmm I guess that would be a mixture of the kind of music my dad was listening to and some Arabic songs … so imagine like music by famous Greek composers like Hadjidakis, Theodorakis, and Loizos, mixed with vocals by a muezzin or imam or something.

Test Pressing, Interview, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Ilias Pitsios, Into The Light, Echovolt, Athens, Redlight Records, Tako, Egypt

What was the first record you bought?Actually there were four at the same time. I remember when I was 10 years old I went with my dad to the biggest record store in Athens back then and got hold of the following: Public Enemy`s “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back”, Run DMC`s first album, N.W.A.`s “Niggaz4Life” and another one that I cannot recall right now… Possibly it was an Ultramagnetic MC’s LP or a Beastie Boys one…

What was the last record you bought?I just ordered that DJ Sprinkles 2LP compilation under the name “Where Dancefloors Stand Still”. Generally I’m not into most of the compilations that come out but this one is really something special. Each track is pure class.

I`ve seen the track list for that, very classy Deep House. Are you into Sprinkles` productions as well?Hmm…I’m not really familiar with most of his productions. Actually I don’t have any of his records but I do listen to some of his albums on my ipod very often.

What inspired you to start the labels?At the moment I’m involved in two labels. “Echovolt” and “Into The Light”. I run Echovolt with two great friends of mine, Dimitris and Xpiths. The idea came to us during our usual summer vacation on Crete. I guess it was just a way out to do something music wise that had the potential to be appreciated by more people than our local circle of friends in Greece. And I guess we kind of reached our goal. I run Into The Light with Tako Reyenga, of Redlight Records, Amsterdam. We did that official double vinyl compilation with obscure Greek electronics from the 80’s. We spent a lot of hours trying to find all those rare albums and 12’’ in almost every record store and flea market in Athens. Those records themselves were already more than inspiration to us.

Are Dimitris and Xpiths school friends?Not at all. I met Dimitris around 2001 at a small party in Athens. He was the first guy that I met in Athens and had similar taste on music plus he is one of the funniest and most good mannered guys ever. So since then we became like best friends and a DJ duo. When I had the idea for the label he was the first person I spoke to. He is originally from Crete but recently moved to Berlin. Xpiths is also from that circle of friends who spent summers in Crete, but he lives in Thessaloniki or at least he lives there when he is not in India or Mexico or Island or Egypt or some other place.

How did you meet Tako?Tako spent a whole winter in Athens about two years ago. It was probably the coldest winter in Athens in recent times. I still remember going digging and then getting back to my place to eat and listen to the records still wearing our jackets…

Test Pressing, Interview, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Ilias Pitsios, Into The Light, Echovolt, Athens, Redlight Records, Tako

I do like the way the two labels compliment each other, Echovolt largely banging new House / Techno and Into The Light largely chilled Electronica from the past. Was that the intention? Would Echovolt ever put out a Downtempo record?Exactly, I also feel that I found a balanced way to release almost all the kinds of music that I love in those two labels. I don’t know about a totally Downtempo record on Echovolt but we have lined-up a release by Crystal Maze that the b-side will be like 2-3 pure Experimental / Ambient tracks.

How did you discover the artists and music on that Into The Light compilation? When, for example, did you first hear Akis?I had not heard most of them until Tako played them to me. Tako knew those records from a friend he had in Athens called Petros, who unfortunately passed away. The “Into The Light” compilation is dedicated to him, as we kind of only know all of that stuff through him. After Tako left Greece I kind of got obsessed with those obscure Greek records and started digging alone again and found some more. You can listen to some of them in the mix I prepared for you!(On its way very soon)

Do you have any spares of that 141 G 12”?Unfortunately I have only one copy but I did not know that it was so rare. I remember that it used to be a 20 euros record or something.

How long have you been DJing? What inspired you to start DJing?The truth is that I started as a battle DJ / turntablist. That was around 1998-1999. So the Invisibl Skratch Piklz crew was a big influence back then. Those retarded video tapes they were making were so fun and helpful at the same time.

I stopped following the Hip Hop scene from the around 1999. But I still listen to some of my favourites now and then. Probably my favourite Hip Hop track of all time would be Souls Of Mischief “’93 Til Infinity”. I feel so touched every time I listen to that tune.

What brought about your move from Hip Hop to House / Techno / Electronica? It all started from the instrumentals that were on the DJ tools records. They were mostly instrumentals from classic old school Electro jams so at some point instead of scratching I started mixing them together. Then I started to listen to tons of old school Electro mixtapes and then somehow I ended up listening to all the Model 500 and Underground Resistance records. The rest you can imagine….

Test Pressing, Interview, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Ilias Pitsios, Into The Light, Echovolt, Athens, Redlight Records, Tako

Which production / release / remix are you most proud of?Obviously I like all the releases that I was involved in as an executive producer but if I had to choose one then that would be the 2LP compilation “Into The Light: A Journey Into Greek Electronic Music, Classics & Rarities (1978-1991)”. But then I always play that Steve Summers’ “Seeing Things” track and that remix D’ Marc Cantu did of G String’s “Ghoul” track.

Do you DJ regularly in Athens, or anywhere else?Not so regularly at the moment because it is summertime and everyone is on the islands. But before that I DJed quite a lot including some gigs in Germany, Poland and Bucharest.

What are your favourite places to play / hang out in?Anywhere my friends would be at.

What is your favourite place outside of a bar / club / record shop?That would be my old place where my brother and one of my best friends still live. We call it “The GK57”. I usually go there to listen to my new records while drinking Campari and talking bullshit. I feel so comfortable at this place that I recently reached to a point going there by wearing my pajamas.

I assume it`s close then?It is like 20 minutes on foot but I always go by car there as it will be weird to walk at night next to the hill wearing my pajamas.

Test Pressing, Interview, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Ilias Pitsios, Into The Light, Echovolt, Athens, Redlight Records, Tako, GK57

Do you see yourself as part of any scene?The scene where you can sell roughly 300 copies per release.

Who does the label`s artwork?A very good friend of mine called Xpiths is responsible for all the artwork, the site, the videos, the posters, etc. I think at least half of the label’s success is due to him as he really gave us a simple and strong identity from the very first release. He also did that “Into The Light” gatefold cover and the labels as well. Sometimes I kind of give him some rough directions but also when I don’t he always comes up with exactly what I have in my mind. He also belongs to a very obscure project team under the name Super8mmbeatnikethnographicproductions. Check their website and you will get a picture. They actually did most of our videos which I am very grateful for. It is kind of relieving actually because I was always friends with them and we always had separate projects and now we found a way to collaborate and exchange ideas, etc. I have so many great memories from our endless conversations, most of them in Crete during summertime, and the whole experience working with them is so inspiring.

Which visual artists would you cite as a source of inspiration / influence?Well personally I always find the Archigram projects radical and inspiring. But to be honest I have no clue what kind of artists Xpiths has on his mind, if he ever has.

Test Pressing, Interview, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Ilias Pitsios, Into The Light, Echovolt, Athens, Redlight Records, Tako, Archigram

Which artists are you currently working with?We just released the Bridge & Tunnel Kids “Omnii EP” which is basically Jorge Velez aka Professor Genius. We had those tracks more than a year but they finally made it onto vinyl. There is also a great Willie Burns remix on one of the tracks. We also recently decided to do a re-issue of some early Vil-N-X productions from the early 90s and we have some forthcoming releases on the regular Echovolt catalog from D’ Marc Cantu, a guy named Ray Escortienda, Miltiades, probably the best producer from Greece as far as deep House / Techno stuff is concerned, and Lord of the Isles. Also there is a 2LP compilation coming soon with most of the artists who have worked with Echovolt over the years. Last but not least, I’m also preparing, along with Tako, the next release on Into The Light, which will include some rare and unreleased productions by Vangelis Katsoulis.

Who would you most like to work with?I would love to work with George Theodorakis for a whole LP on Into The Light. Actually we are kind of waiting to get the rights to re-release most of his early stuff. I really consider him to be the most interesting and talented composer as far as Greek electronic music is concerned. I have all his LPs that came out during the 80s and every time I’m listening to them I’m blown away. His productions are so unique and so far ahead of their time. He is a genius to me and it is too bad that only a few people are familiar with his productions. Will do my best to fill that gap.

Does playing and releasing records pay the rent?Of course not. At least not in my case. Actually my day job is working as an architect which by the way is getting harder and harder lately in Athens. But I never tried to make money from the releases or from DJing my ass off. I usually spend any money made buying more records. In other words, I`ve always been involved with music for the creative part and never took it so seriously to do it as a regular job. And even if I had the option now I think I would pass because then it will lose all its fun.

I was in Greece recently, in the countryside, and talked to the locals about the downward spiral the Greek economy seems to be stuck in, no one making any money, no one with any money to spend. What is the situation like in Athens? As with everything it is impossible to filter out the truth from the outside.Unfortunately that is true. Personally for me the last 2 years were the worst years ever money wise. And for most people I guess. You can easily see it on the streets of Athens. But I try to face it as a unique chance to be more creative, and to do the stuff that I was complaining I had no free time to do before the crisis.

What sites, if any, do you regularly check on-line?gmail, Facebook, Discogs, Greekarchitects, youtube, imdb, soundcloud and rushhour, in no particular order.

What was the last book you read?I just finished a great book called “Romanian Modernism: The Architecture of Bucharest 1920-1940”. I recently visited Bucharest as well and I was astonished by the quantity of high quality modern buildings from the inter-war period that still exist there. Too bad though that most of them are in such a poor condition. I’m telling you that if Bucharest ever finds the money to re-furbish them, then it will become one of the most popular destinations in Europe.

Test Pressing, Interview, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Ilias Pitsios, Into The Light, Echovolt, Athens, Redlight Records, Tako, Romanian Modernism

Was the trip to Bucharest business or pleasure? Do you know the Future Nuggets crew?Both I guess. It was a study trip with my postgraduate classmates and a few professors. But I also DJed one night there. So yeah both. Actually I listened to that compilation after I got back here. By the way it is a great compilation and quite underrated in my opinion.

Test Pressing, Interview, 20 Questions, Dr Rob, Ilias Pitsios, Into The Light, Echovolt, Athens, Redlight Records, Tako, Bucharest Collage

What is your favourite book?I’m not really a great reader, and to be honest and when I do I mostly read books that are attached to the architecture / urban planning field. But the truth is that I always loved the books by a Greek writer called Chronis Missios. His writing was so intense and direct but with a gentle erotic touch at the same time. He could describe stuff that might commonly be considered inappropriate as the most natural and human thing to do. Which is true in my opinion. I will never forget the amazing way he wrote about a guy performing oral sex on his girlfriend while they were swimming at a beach on a small island. It’s interesting because he learned reading and writing while he was in prison for his political views during dictatorship in the 50s-early 60s.

What was the last film you saw?The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1972)

What is your favourite film?Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)

What makes “Sunset Boulevard” special for you?Well almost all Billy Wilder’s films are amazing but “Sunset Boulevard” got me from the first minutes. It has something to do with the narration style I guess that is so direct, mysterious and funny at the same time. I generally like such combinations of seemingly opposite elements. Take the Twin Peaks TV Series for example which was the best combination of thriller and soap opera.

What`s your current favourite piece of music?The forthcoming Gigi Masin release on “Music from Memory” label.

Can you name 3 records for sunset / sunrise?

Edgar Froese / Maroubra Bay

Arthur Russell / World Of Echo

Brian Eno / Another Green World

Can you name 3 records to start a party?

Velma Wright / You’re Not Right (Dub)

Rocky Jones / Choice Of A New Generation (Deep Underground)

Omar Souleyman / Dabke 2001

Check Ilias Pitsios aka Dynamons and Echovolt Records on Soundcloud.

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