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WRITTEN BY DAN CARTERDan Carter is a British journalist and professional writer to the Dance music industry.
To call Mihalis Safras ‘Greece’s Techno Philosopher’ may ring as a hackneyed suck-up lesser associated with objectivity, but one conversation with the driving force behind Europe’s most unpredictable musical agenda is enough to pardon the careless associations with Aurelius and Marx alike. Adept to marking such vital imprints and Great Stuff, Snatch! and technological innovators Apple as a home away from home, there is still a fatal dose of heartfelt passion surrounding every note of his finely tailored sound scope and having turned his back on the Greek scene more than six years ago, the world is proving far more fitting a stage for his exotically charged House grooves.
With a resume of Techno enthusiast, profound vinyl junkie and globally acclaimed mix maestro, the addition of journalist and label head are enough to highlight the versatility that encapsulates Safras and his longstanding career. ‘I like to think I have a versatile mind, so naturally the music was always going to follow in the same vein. Music is a feeling and my actions depend on my mood at the end of the day, but I entered 2012 feeling very positive about the bigger picture.’
From iTunes adverts to compilations for Space Ibiza, Safras has proudly encapsulated the energy of several different settings in order to export himself as the essential all-arounder, diving from unique Tech fuelled gems to tropical sound clashes of exotic force at the snap of a finger. ‘I consider myself blessed to be able to take so many avenues in this industry and it truly feels like I have the best of both worlds at times,’ he explained. But to Safras, the TV spots are irrelevant and since unexpectedly dropping into the radar of Steve Job’s infamous brand, the task has been far from repetition. ‘Dropping ‘La Samba’ for Apple was obviously great, but for me that was an unexpected pleasure that I wouldn’t give sleepless nights to repeating. Producing what is in my mind is far more important than producing for the public domain.’
Still kicking, still on vinyl and still as vital to the heartfelt realms of Electronic music as ever, Material Series has served Safras’s underground legacy with increasing dignity. Daring to push the almost extinct vinly at a time when even MP3s are struggling to sell, his imprint’s victories mark not only an impressive run of like minded musical movements, but affirmative action from Safras himself to incorporate that renowned wisdom into a semi-lucrative endeavour. ‘Five years is a long time to be having your own label these days, so to say I was very proud to reach this landmark would be a total understatement. We have been in it for the right reasons and I believe this has been the key for us. The fact that we are still using vinyl and making an unpredictable yet appreciated output of music makes me feel like what we have is sort of unique and that is a great feeling.’
Celebrating with a collection of remixes from the deep pool of talent that has encouraged the expansion of Material Series, the promise of a second round of remodels from label favourites and Safras alike is a god indicator that there are more years left in this adeptly diverse imprint. ‘There was an air of skill to every track and the way the artists used the loops was so creative and impressive – it was a very proud moment for us all and it really sets the standard for the next five years. Hopefully part two of this package will add to this proud turn for the label.’
Extending on his own exploits, a more recent inauguration to Snatch! has signalled that there are many comfortable avenues for Safras’s eclectic output. ‘I really identified with what Stefano (Riva Starr) was looking for and I was happy to don a whole EP to what I believe a great imprint for good House music.’
Having set the standard to an all time high, one cannot help but wonder how the rest of Greece has failed to jump on the positive waves that have evidently taken Safras on an ideal musical journey. Amid what was previously considered as the epicentre of the European debt crisis, the substantial economic damage has spelt unprecedented downturn for Greece and its struggling Electronic music scene. Always a vocal asset to the industry’s key issues, this one that certainly hit home for the Tech induced producer. ‘Where other European countries have proven to be a factory of ideas as far as Electronic music is concerned, Greece has not been able to keep up,’ he explained.
‘Instead, the agenda is far more commercial and so there has never been room for an “underground” or natural scene to take place. This is why I stopped playing in Greece more than six years ago – I saw places like the UK doing it right and decided that this was where I wanted to take my music.’
Set to split his musical charm between Adam Beyer’s Drumcode imprint and the infamous outpost of Mark Knight’s Toolroom Records, there is a sense that Safras has little to prove other than the extent of his musical diversity. ‘These are two opposite avenues in Electronic music. As far as I am concerned, I can produce for both without any hesitation of problems and I can think of few better assets than to be able to break the boundaries and produce for two vital imprints whose music I enjoy.’
Mihalis Safras, amid his philosophical musings upon an industry he has dutifully served, is a mixed bag of Electronic gems. Where his hard-headed approach to pure club fuel makes for a outstanding attribute amid a rather predictable movement in Electronic Dance Music, the tides of time seem set to sweep this deserving asset to the Greek scene to all the right heights for 2012. John Locke once said that No man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience. In the same vein, Safras has earned the right to muse over a genre he not only understands, but encompasses on a daily basis.
Snatch! 026 is out now on Beatport.