Back in the booth with Ison

For 13 years Reworks festival in Greece has been a highlight on the festival calendar, combining an uncompromising attitude to the dance floor with an exotic location. With Dixon, Paul Kalkbrenner and Ben Klock on the bill for this year’s edition, Reworks continues to bring the cream of the crop to Greece shores, while at the same time motivating the scene around them through artists like Andreas Athineo and festival mainstay Ison.

Ison, aka Anastasios Diolatzis and one half of Actor One is the figurehead behind Reworks and a tireless contributor to electronic music both in the booth and the studio. As Ison, his sole focus is the mix, bringing a diverse selection to a wanting crowd, channeling his years of experience through the dance floor.

A facilitator and DJ “first and foremost”, there’s some congruity between his career as a DJ and working behind the scenes at Reworks, holding up a light to the underground and the timeless and sincere artists and DJs that make up the electronic music scene.

A year on from his last visit that saw Ison join us in the booth for a Sunday mix, he makes his return to Jæger, this time sharing the Frædag bill with G-Ha & Olanskii. In a different context, we’re eager to see how his set might unfold this Friday, and thought we might send him some questions to that effect and ask him a little more about Reworks and what they’ve accomplished over these 13 years.

Thanks for answering a few questions for us. What are some of the highlights that you are expecting for this upcoming reworks festival?

This year is very special for us for various reasons. Not only it is the second year that Reworks will last for 5 days but we are introducing some new projects and artists that I am very happy about. I am also happy and honoured with the artists that will honour us with their presence again this year and they are many. So obviously well known artists such as Paul Kalkbrenner, Solomun, Bicep who return on Reworks once again will create high moments but also artists who have never performed before in Greece or Thessa such as Ata Kak, Aleksi Perala, Tijana T, Adriatique, Trikk.. I am confident they will create a stir.

G-Ha is making a return appearance at this year’s Reworks. We are very familiar with Geir’s distinct sound. What is it about his style and sound that you think works well at the festival and speaks to Greek audiences?

I first and foremost like Geir for his wonderful character and i think this reflects a lot on his music as well. He holds a great selection of tracks in his sets and has a smooth gentle mixing style. As I am fascinated by the Nordic sound, we constantly invite artists from Norway to perform during the last few years for the Greek audience to discover. Last year Geir played so beautifully,  that we immediately came to the conclusion to repeat the booking.

Geir is in good company yet again, with the likes of Dixon, Ben Klock and Recondite. There is a lot of continuity between the artists on the line-up. What was the theme or thoughts behind the major bookings for this year?

Being the only international electronic music festival in Greece, Reworks holds a kind of responsibility; it is important to maintain a balance between presenting established artists but also to propose artists that the audience never had the chance to see or hear before. At the same time it is also important  to present the domestic scene and artists that do not have many opportunities to perform in the country to experience playing at a festival. So those elements consist the general mosaic of how we design Reworks, musically. Considering that Greece suffers from a crisis which is on its 7th year the longest post war economic crisis a country has ever experienced in Europe which is now also a social crisis, Reworks carries also a symbolism around it. We are fortunate to have artists supporting what Reworks stands for and we are grateful for their support

Techno makes quite a significant contribution to the line-up this year. I imagine that in Greece, like in Germany and Norway, this genre is really at the height of popularity. But with that kind of popularity there’s always a danger of people just jumping on the bandwagon. What do you look for in artists/DJs you book, that set them apart from the hype?

First and foremost Reworks tries to present the wide spectrum of electronic music, it is our duty to do so here in Greece. So it basically presents from Modern Classical to jazz and indie associated to electronic music, downtempo, electronica, abstract, disco to house and techno of course. All these genres share a common element. They last in time.

It is true that on a first glance the line-up this year there are more techno acts, but in general I would say that techno was always on our agenda. Reworks has been representing this genre since day 1, and in fact as I consider it, it is  a timeless genre. It is true, that globally the genre is enjoying some glory days again and I fully understand the nature of your question. When I design the line up though the last thing that I take under consideration is the hype. I think it is more important to have artists that present timeless performances, music that you can hear 10 years from today and it still sounds fresh and inspiring. It is a hard task but we try our best to meet this standard… we hold a certain ID musically and there are genres that have popped up during those years, hyped ones, that we did not include in our programming.

It marks 13 years for reworks this year. How do have you seen it influence the Greek electronic music scene outside the festival?

I think this is a question that needs to be answered by the audience or the artists in Greece. All I can say is that we try our best to keep the spark alive here even on the darkest days. And I am happy that after 13 years Reworks is still here holding the same principles that it started with.

What have been some of your favourite moments over these last 13 years of Reworks?

Oh there so many. I would definitely pick Autechre, Mika Vainio and Alva Noto in 2010. They were all so amazing.. Moderat on their first tour ever but also Apparat and Modeselektor back in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Ben Klock and Maceo Plex playing 6 hr sets unscheduled with the audience in tears smiling at the end.. Last year it was KiNK that totally blew our minds playing for 5hrs live not stop till 9 in the morning.  

What’s happening in terms of the studio around Ison and Actor One lately?

Actor One is actually on a hiatus since last year. We still make music with Chris but we always do it on a very relaxing way actually. When we feel like it. To be honest with you I consider myself  a DJ first and foremost; making music is like my escape on a personal level… So most of the music stays at home..

Your mix last year recorded at Jæger floated around Micro House and was very much about catering for a Sunday vibe. This year you’re playing the Friday slot. What can we expect this time around?

Something different… I come from the 90s and during that time there were no boundaries regarding the music that was played. That’s why I love playing long sets where I can share everything. It can be house, techno, ambient, electronica  simply everything..

Is there a particular track that would sum this up for you?

Lhas – learning to live