In the Booth with Ison

Anastasios Diolatzis is one of the heads behind Greece’s longest running electronic music festival, Reworks.,a formidable selector and a producer you might have heard of before as Ison or one half of Actor One. As a producer Diolatzis has enjoyed marginal success on labels like Gigolo and Noir while his skill as a DJ is beyond compare in Greece and reaching audiences all across Europe, including the Sunday crowd a few weeks ago at Det Gode Selskab. Diolatzis adopted his Ison alias for the event that saw him travel through the microcosms of Techno and House, instilling a definite mood with a set that never drifted from a very defined course. With our recorder still running from the Jæger mix, we managed to capture this idiosyncratic figure in our booth and present that here to you today alongside a Q&A with the artist, DJ and festival organiser.

So Reworks. Tell us a little more about it and how it sprang into existence?

Well, it started out of a necessity really…  we had already been throwing parties for quite some time but we identified a major lack of risk taking by the existing clubs back then. Everybody wanted to hear the same djs circulating again and again and we wanted to break this rule. Plus there was no other festival for contemporary/electronic music existing back then in Greece. We wanted to change that, Reworks was born and is been running for 12 years now. It is today the longest living electronic music festival in Greece presenting more than 1000 artists so far their majority for the first time in the country. We try to present the wide spectrum of electronic music from Modern Classical, downtempo, jazz, disco & funk to abstract or experimental to house & Techno.

G-Ha played at Reworks this year and here you are alongside DGS. What’s the Norway-Greek connection?

It just started I suppose, but I was always keen to the nordic sound since the early days. I believe it is an amazing scene, it has so much talent and a wonderful sound aesthetic. I believe it is a bit underrated too as it is in the far north, maybe coz the country is a small number  in terms of population so the scene is therefore small too. Greece is on the other side of Europe to the far south, but still we have similarities with  each other believe it or not as we got common attributes. So I wanted very much to bring closer our scenes and to develop a connection between Norway and Greece. 2 years ago we started, slowly through the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Greece and began inviting artists from Norway to Reworks. This year we had G-Ha and he was personally a highlight musically. So much so that he also played as a secret guest on Sunday, during our closing event. I certainly hope that this connection will get more established and wonderful projects and collaborations will follow.

What’s the current creative environment like in Greece and Thessaloniki?

Greece has a major difference comparing to Norway. Its creative industry lacks financial support from the state. There are no cultural institutions or organisations where the young creative community can turn to and get a push for its first steps. In Thessaloniki especially there is almost nothing so the resources are strictly limited. And with the crisis things became even more difficult. So all communities or individual projects simply rely mostly on their own resources. This is both a blessing but also a curse. Blessing in a way that you simply start your project out of enthusiasm, ignoring any kind of compromising, but a curse also as at some point additional support is necessary to bring the project to the next level. At the moment there are different projects out there some of them are very promising and interesting. Wonderful artists, creative teams that have beautiful projects under their belt. But there is a lingering question whether they will be developed through time or not. This remains to be seen and the next generation will have a nice case study, I suppose.

Which artists should we look out for?

There are quite a few actually.. Larry Gus ,Nikola Gala, Fantastikoi Hxoi / Dream Weapons, Tendts, The Rattler Proxy, Monika, Gioumourtzina, Eddoh, Lumiere, Esoteric Sob,  Manos Mylonakis. There are also two  promising artists George Adi and Senka whom I believe in deeply.

How have you seen the scene develop there since the early days of Actor One?

It has developed quite a lot I must say. We got more people trying to make music nowadays as well as bands emerging. It is a productive period and also more event collectives also emerged and the NON events and Reworks have both contributed to that, in setting up an example. At the moment there is a booming of events, especially in Thessaloniki it feels like there is no crisis at all. It is kinda artificial though as it also includes people that are not in it for the real scene, but as in most of the cases this won’t last long. Things will return to normality and it will be productive in a healthy way again.

It was 2009 when I first came across you on that Gigolo compilation as Actor One. You’ve had a few releases out, including one with Solar as Ison, but these are very rare occurrences. What’s been taking up most of your time musically over the course of these seven years?

Actor One has gone through different phases, but it is rather laid back, relaxing project. The reason is that first and foremost I consider myself as DJ and then a producer. Add to that the fact that lots of work needs to be done for Reworks as well as the other events we do. So Actor One is active whenever both myself or Chris my partner in the project feel like it. It gives me much more freedom to make music this way. But we have been fortunate as almost every track we have made it actually went on being released, even our first amateur efforts. So we’re pretty lucky.

You started out in radio and considering Reworks, would it be fair to assume you prefer the role of selector/programmer?

You can say that. In Greece in order to support your music you have no way than throwing your own parties. It seemed that it was not enough, so we had to create also a festival, and a radio show which is aired constantly since 2005. So for the past 12 years I am lucky and happy as radio is a passion for me,  having the chance to present the newest forms of music on the FM is a blessing.

What do you hope your time at decks communicates about your to your audience?

I always want to tell a story so I like long sets. Actually the longer the better. I have a residency in Thessaloniki which is called crossover and there the sets can go up to 10hrs. This is actually my favourite way, as the night starts with ambient/downtempo/experimental or even jazz sometimes. Progressing via different house and chicago stuff to techno in the morning hours. As I collect music of different music genres this is absolutely perfect in order to avoid any kind of “dogma” in my music. Don’t get me wrong, I fully respect the people that support a certain style with passion. But I love many different styles so I try to blend as much as I can. Unless it is a 2hr set where things there become more simple.

Is there musical ideology that you like to convey through your mixes?

No rules

When you came to play for DGS, what frame of find were you in and was there any particular mood you wanted to set on the night?

Well it was a Sunday night so watching the room I had more of a micro house feeling. Something to enjoy a drink, and dance with your partner to.

There’s a great flow to this mix, where we can trace a theme through the tracks. What ties all these tracks together for you?

Thank you. No particular theme as i don’t like to prepare my set. Mood was nice, everybody was friendly and with a smile so the mix simply came out :)

Was there any personal highlight  in this mix?

Hmm i would say Kalk – Akasha is always an all time fave :)

Thank you Ison. we look forward to your next visit and until then we’ll be enjoying this mix.

Thank you !