As part of our support for the DJ Awards, we sat down recently with a number of the Newcomer nominees to discuss their careers, the nomination and more. First up is the fun-loving Greek giant – Mihalis Safras.
If you think of Greece you might perhaps think of sunny islands, ouzo and historic ruins. But look a little deeper and you find a vibrant underground electronic music scene and Mihalis Safras is definitely one of its most important representatives.
As the Material head honcho, Mihalis curates the very best in house music bringing together artists from all over the world. Its sub-labels Materialism, Playmobil, MrCarter and Sonics cover a multitude of sounds and show the depth of knowledge Mihalis has for his chosen genre. But it’s the passion he has for the music he plays that has won him so many fans, and as a vinyl ambassador, his joy is very clear to see. #Nosafrasnoparty has become a global call to the dance floor and further enamours Mihalis with his army of admirers.
Daz Pearson delves into his career, the new remix for Marco Carola and his fascination with vinyl.
Welcome Mihalis, thanks for dropping in and taking the time to chat with us at Decoded Magazine. There’s a lot going on for you at the moment…
Pleasure, yes indeed busy times for fat Greek guys like me!
Let’s start with your exceptional (I refrained from using the term mammoth like DJ Mag ha!) ‘Play It Loud’ remix for Marco Carola on Circus Recordings. How did you get the opportunity to be involved and what was your production and thought process behind the remix?
Mammoth seems to be quite right as I gained some kilos lately haha… Well, I started the project just for fun, as I like to spin some special edits in my sets. Then one thing lead to another and we (Yousef and I) decided to sent it to Marco and he loved.
Congratulations on being nominated for Best Newcomer at this year’s DJ Awards which will be held at Pacha Ibiza. What does this recognition mean to you? your fan base would have been aware of your productions for quite some time now?
It’s quite strange cause my very first vinyl release was back at 2006 (no digital back then). And since then I’ve been constantly firing tunes, so term maybe Newcomer sounds strange. But I am guessing that last year was my breakthrough year, as I have changed my production style to more underground vibes.
When this recognition came in, I was really happy and I believe that the fans will select the winner correctly as the other nominees are top class acts too.
You have already earned the accolade of Greece’s No.1 DJ courtesy of thedjlist.com and I’m sure you’ll agree there are many great artist emerging from Greece such as Stelios Vassiloudis and Axel Karakasis, but who are some of your favourites?
The strange part on this is that for 9 years straight I’ve been voted No.1 DJ in Greece, but I was not DJing in my home country for personal reasons. Last year I decided to come back to Greece and promote the scene from my side too as the electronic scene is evolving rapidly.
Slightly moving on from DJing and producing you also run a number of labels which make up the brand ‘Material’ each specialising in their own sub-genre of house music. Could you talk us through these labels and their ethos?
I started the Material label back in 2007 with the legend that is Mark Broom. We were focusing on releasing our tracks but soon the label became quite a big pool for well-respected artists. Today, Material is ranked among top 20 tech house label worldwide and I’m feeling proud of it.
All the artists involved are good friends and they have given us so many good tunes throughout the years! Thumbs up to them for trusting Material and the sub-labels Materialism, Playmobil, MrCarter, Sonics. What makes all of us happy is to see the tracks played on the floors worldwide with clubbers dancing to them.
A recent release by the label is a track called ‘Fabulous’ by Noir. How has it been received so far in your sets and other fellow DJs who have been playing it?
We’ve been friends and I have been producing with Noir a few months back for Adam Beyer’s Truesoul label. Rene (Noir) decided to throw his first solo EP with Material in January and now we have released the remixes of that Fabulous EP. Feedback was great and tunes are still on the top charts on both major digital shops.
Speaking of recent gigs, you played G BAR in Liverpool, which, from social media, looked like you thoroughly enjoyed the vibe of the crowd?
The north of England certainly has a thriving passionate scene. The crowd was ecstatic about getting to see a vinyl DJ. Can’t wait to be back this time for my good friend Yousef’s Circus nights. You know.. Nosafrasnoparty!
How are your touring dates shaping up over the summer?
Pretty good. I just got back from an amazing night at Barcelona at Cityhall and in 3 days I’m off on my Russian tour. I feel happy with my summer dates as my agent Luke from NGE keeps quality in the events he locks in. I’m a happy fat Safras!
Is there anywhere you will be playing for the first time which you are really looking forward to?
As I said before, I can’t wait to spin for Circus at the end of the year. Also, my bad boy Luke is planning a NorthAmerica tour that would be fun as per usual.
You openly talk about the fact and promote you are a vinyl DJ. What freedom and enjoyment do you get from performing that way?
I feel that digital has helped electronic dance scene so much in growing overall. It gave all of us the opportunity to explore new artists/new ideas as is quite simple to do a digital release now.
But for some reason, I feel “horny” when I touch the wax! When I spin with 12 inches it is something unique, ‘cause I still like searching my record bag to find the right track and I enjoy doing real beat matching. I’m an old school guy I suppose.
The hashtag nosafrasnoparty reflects your fun and contagious attitude towards the scene. What funny moments or experiences from memory still make you laugh to this day?
#Nosafrasnoparty is strictly confidential… It’s like Vegas – what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Attend an event and witness it haha!
Haha, we will! If you were to do a ‘back to mine’ style mix what tracks or songs which have musically had an impact on your life would definitely have to be included in your selection and why?
As my record collection goes back a really long time, I would have to select classics by Massive Attack, Portishead, Bronski Beat and maybe some good old UK breakbeats.
Mihalis, it’s been a pleasure catching up. I hope the DJ Awards vote goes your way and I will hopefully be there with the Decoded team to grab a drink and celebrate. Before we wrap things up is there anything you would like to add for our readers and your fans?!
Yeah.. Dance while you can!
You can vote for Mihalis along with all the other nominations for Best Newcomer at the 2016 DJ Awards here.