SHA Interview // Stelios Vassiloudis
It’s about time for another big interview on SHA. For the last 5 years Stelios Vassiloudis has been working under a series of guises releasing emotive, powerful electronic music. Recently finding a home with Bedrock Records, Stelios been on top production form with a string of releases and his debut album. Here SHA’s Craig delves deeper into what makes the man in this extended interview. Enjoy and check out the soundcloud links at the bottom…
Hello Stelios and welcome to SHA. How are you today?
Hi there. Thank you for having me-I’m very well, thank you.
You grew up in Athens, Greece. Did you have a musical upbringing and what inspirations did you have at a young age?
I did indeed. Apparently, my mother used to play a wide variety of classical music to me when I was in utero. So I guess you could say it all started there! I got involved with musical instruments at a young age as well – I started the piano when I was about 4 and then gradually moved on to the guitar and the bass and whatever else I could get my hands on! My inspirations at that time were predominantly the music my parents were into so I got Bach, Beethoven and Debussy from my mother and Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles from my father.
Still based in Athens, one of the World’s oldest cities and famed for its culture and architecture. What is the music scene like in Athens and Greece in general?
The clubbing scene in Athens and in Greece in general, are in very bad shape. People still do go out and try to enjoy themselves, but for the most part, they’re clueless and I guess the rapid decline in standards and value for money have subverted their expectations. The majority of the people running things are even worse and they have less of an excuse, since really, they should know better. On the other hand, there is a wealth of talent on the production front. Most of the activity has very little to do with the music scene in Greece, but there’s no doubt there are some very talented compatriots of mine out there doing their own thing!
Your new EP Reaching (remixes) is available to buy now on Bedrock Records. What is the story behind this EP?
“Reaching” is one of the clubbier tracks from my recent album on Bedrock (“It Is What It Is”). When choosing which tracks to release as singles the guys at the label obviously go for productions that can “stand” as individual releases in the hyper competitive EDM market, as well as possess a reasonable enough scope for remixes. “Reaching” seemed to fit the bill well enough, as is evidenced by my further 2 re-interpretations and Samuel L Session’s outstanding contributions.
This EP closely follows your debut album “It Is What It Is”, a two disc album of original tracks which was released back in November also on Bedrock. How has the response to the album been?
The album has received some extremely positive feedback, which is a relief! The whole project was rather ambitious and completing it was a demanding affair. I’m really proud of how it came together and to receive encouragement and support on this scale has, by far, exceeded all of my expectations.
Most producers would be happy to produce an album of one disc, you opted for two. With 33 tracks in all this must have taken a lot of hard work to compile. I read that you have tried to avoid making an album in the past as you find too many albums out there in electronic music seem to be rushed and sub-par. Why was now the time to make your own and how happy are you with the final outcome?
That’s a pretty expansive question and when in that context 33 tracks do seem a little excessive! Basically, as a music lover (and consumer) I find the album format to be a very exciting and particular medium, especially in the over-saturated, instant-gratification, disposable niche contemporary electronic music has carved out for itself.
Albums inherently invite you to examine a larger body of work at length, encourage repeat listens (irrespective of your listening environment) and I think that’s what artists who get the opportunity should cater to and strive for. Putting 12 dance tracks that are engineered and designed for a club environment on a CD and calling it an album is lazy and contrived in my own humble opinion.
I don’t know if I achieved anything noteworthy or even different with my own album effort, but until I was able to make these important distinctions and address them in my song-writing I always resisted the idea of doing an album. In the end, I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic label such as Bedrock take an interest in my music and a really insightful and knowledgeable group of people to collaborate with in order to sculpt and shape all my musings into a coherent collection of music. Having said all this, and to quote the great Ed Wood: “Next time I’ll do better”.
You have previously released under several guises on labels like Moodmusic and Dieb Audio. How did the connection with Bedrock come about and how does it feel to release an artist album on such a revered label?
I got my first break in the music industry from the label manager (Scott Dawson) at (the now defunct) Audio Therapy label, who signed my first ever productions and with whom I forged a very healthy and long-standing friendship and working relationship, over the years. At the time I started piecing together material for the album, Scott had been working for John at Bedrock for a few years and been an integral part of their team. As (I suppose) good friends do, he sent John a very early and rough mix of tracks from the album and I guess they both saw some potential in the project as a whole. The truth of the matter is, that without either Scott or John’s interest, the album would probably not have taken the form it did and it’s a pretty safe bet to say that it would have never reached the amount of people it did. I’m very thankful to both of them for the amazing opportunity and feel very proud indeed to be associated with such a professional and respectable group of like-minded people.
Given the sheer amount of music you have produced and remixed not only for the album but over the last few years, what inspires you when working on a new piece?
It’s very hard to say, really. I think I’ve exhausted a lot of the grand, conventional inspirational themes: love, happiness, sadness, break-ups, movies, literature, philosophy, art, inside jokes, gimmicks, ha ha! In all seriousness, I’m very rarely conscious of my influences or inspirations when I write music. The modern creative process in which you need to be the composer, producer and engineer simultaneously (and especially in this particular genre of music) often allows for some very unconventional approaches to work. Very often I’ll start making a piece of music by working on a weird percussive sample, or a sequence of pitched glitches and build the track up around those motifs – maybe I’m not pretentious enough or lack profundity – but I think I draw most of my inspiration from the wacky, wonderful and wild machines I work with!
Your work finds its way into many an elite dj’s box. Supported by the likes of Sasha, Laurent Garnier and Satoshi Tomiie, is there anyone you would like to work with given the opportunity?
To have support and validation from such revered artists is obviously a tremendous compliment but the people highest on my collaboration wish list would ideally come from a different musical sphere than me. I get very uncomfortable with the mechanics of a collaboration, since I can rarely navigate the minefield of clashing egos and get everyone involved working in the song’s best interest. I would have loved to work with Miles Davis or John Lennon, but I’d “settle” for people like David Bowie, Ryuichi Sakamoto or Roger Waters – off the top of my head.
As a DJ you have travelled the world playing in diverse locations from Brazil to Russia to China. What have been the highlights of your dj career and is there anywhere you would love to play?
I would love to play more in South America! The energy and enthusiasm of the people that go clubbing and follow electronic music seems to be quite something. I haven’t travelled there as extensively as I would like and the sheer beauty and diversity of the continent fascinates me. I’ve had a fair share of highlights over my relatively short career and have been privileged enough to travel to some very unusual places – it’s a natural perk of this job. I really enjoy going to Asia – Hong Kong and China in particular. It’s a rapidly evolving part of the world, with a very unique and rich culture and I can’t resist the food there!!
Finally, what can we expect for you in the near future? Any plans to release more singles and remixes from the album?
Yes, there are plans to do one more single from the album, I think. In addition to that, we’re developing a larger remix project inspired by and centered around the album – but it’s quite early in the process to talk about that now. In the meantime, I’m trying to keep busy and write new music and take advantage of the momentum and broader audience range the “It Is What It Is” album has afforded me. Thanks.
STELIOS VASSILOUDIS – IT IS WHAT IT IS (Bedrock)
Release Date: Out Now
STELIOS VASSILOUDIS – REACHING (with Samuel L Sessions Remixes) (Bedrock)
Release Date: Out Now
STELIOS VASSILOUDIS – WEST // SASSE & STELIOS VASSILOUDIS – BENEDICT
are featured on: VARIOUS ARTISTS – BEDROCK_UNDERGROUND SOUND OF MIAMI (Bedrock)
Release Date: Out Now