Published by Alessandro Violante on May 16, 2021
Today we talk with Alex of the Greek label Pi Electronics, sub label of Modal Analysis, which has released music by artists such as JK Flesh, Ontal, Stave, Geistform, among others.
Hi, what can you tell our readers about the history of Pi Electronics?
Τhe project, π was initially founded to express the techno leaning tendencies of the platform and record label, Modal Analysis. Modal Analysis was founded in 2012 by Athens based artists Kondaktor, ANFS and Alex π. The conception of the π project dates in January 2014, with the first official π parties getting listed in February and April of the same year. Pi Electronics is the record label of the project, aiming since day one to bring together Greek and international producers under the roof of a coherent, in sound aesthetics, catalogue.
Even though the label was made to communicate with the environment of the club culture, the fact that many of the producers come from music backgrounds out of the electronic music spectrum, brought up a catalogue of different genres crossing over with techno. A bit like having producers, who come from a mindset of different music making, on a take of making techno structured tracks. From the JK Flesh project of Justin K. Broadrick, known also for his legendary industrial metal band Godflesh, to ANFS (1/2 of VOFA), who used to play in a hardcore band in Athens before producing techno, to the Greek master of industrial broken beats and hiphop inspired vocals, Sawf, the DnB vibe of Pessimist or the wavy electro of Silent Servant. Underneath the layers of crossed-over genres, the label is standing on the solid base of the industrial/noise leaning techno sound. Maintaining coherence on the curation, doesn’t particularly mean to stick to the same genre or style. There can be aesthetical symmetry throughout the catalogue on the level of the mood and vibe of the music, which allows a smooth crossover of genres.
I’ve read on the web Pi Electronics is a sublabel of Modal Analysis, what can you tell to our
readers about this label?
In my perception, the story of Pi Electronics is the ‘season’ after the first era of Modal Analysis (just how StarWars has sub stories of the main scenario…haha). There wouldn’t be the need of founding the π project, if the Modal Analysis label was not there from the first place. Modal Analysis is the initiation of our Music family in Athens, the promise we engaged in with Kondaktor and ANFS ten years ago to bring our ideas about music to the real world.
George (Kondaktor) was the one who proposed to ANFS and myself to join forces, at the time that I was just moving from Athens to London. Looking back to that moment, it seems like an oath we pledged to each other: on influencing the Greek electronic music scene with our very own understanding of music and showcasing that process on a record label (and its events). The people released on the label are the ‘heroes’ we believe in so to make our promise come true. Since over the years the vision of each one of us became more precise, we created individual projects to voice ourselves further. So, Pi Electronics was born. ANFS founded Vanila and Kondaktor initially focused also on Fasma Festival. Other people joined the family on the way too. Think about it as the mythological creature of ‘Hydra’: the monster with several heads and necks that end up to the same body. The body is definitely the Modal Analysis project.
Besides your project, can you make us an overview of the most important projects active
in Greece? Do you collaborate together?
As I said, there have been quite some people standing along with our vision over the years – like other heads of the same monster (Hydra metaphor above). A fundamental face to the creation of Modal Analysis and beyond is Sawf, who also started his label KAFTA later on. I would say that meeting Sawf shortly before the founding of Modal Analysis, can be considered among the reasons to start with the label. Another project that was very close to us was Morah’s and Ifi’s Phormix: infamous podcast series, event organiser and tape label.
Pi Electronics had collaboration nights with them in Berlin and Athens, same as with the Athenian record shop of ‘Habeat Records’. But by going back to the early days in Athens, there should definitely be a mention to Astron Bar. Even though a small venue, it is the one that hosted us all even before the appearance of Modal Analysis. It has certainly served as the music hub for our club sub-culture in Athens, since the times when electronic music was not as pop, as it is at the moment. It is the place where people of the music in Athens would meet and have a nerdy, music chat – let alone the fact that its decks hosted my first ever official dj sets.
What can you tell us about the π collective? What’s the reason behind the choice
of this letter of the Greek alphabet?
I do not like the idea of having one person alone on the top of a pyramid. The π collective can be seen as the sum of a lot of different music individuals and in the same time none of them. I am talking about all the people who have contributed to the project over the past 7 years: from the mastering engineer and the artwork designer, to the friend who we borrowed a cd player from for a night, the one who made some cool suggestios on the curation without having any interest out of it, or even the one who stood for an hour at the door of a party in order to replace somebody who couldn’t be there then. In that manner, the collective won’t stop growing until our activity does. I am talking about all people who got involved in one way or another. That’s what it comes to my mind when you ask me about the π collective.
There are indeed some Greek djs who have been representing Pi Electronics in a frequent basis, though. They are the residents of the collective: 3.14, Zorz, Nemmett, DΛS, Katra and Devika. Of course in every real life activity, there are people guiding the ‘ship’ and carrying the responisbility of its journey. For the sake of functionality, usually it should be one person pressing the button of the final decision. But to me, that person is not the frontman of the band, but some head secretary in the back office.
The pi charachter relates to the home country of the project. I think it is one of the most remarkable and widely known Greek symbols inernationally. It also brands the project with the science related identity of the Math character, just like Modal Analysis sourced its name from the Physics experiment.
What has brought you to start a label? What do you want to communicate and express
with Pi Electronics?
The Pi electronics label hails from the ideals of Modal Analysis, among which it is to spread the music of Greek artists and producers to the international world of electronic music. What alters it from the project of Modal Analysis is the further focus towards the dark mood and the techno orientation of the industrial noise aesthetic. That’s how we end up to the term of “noise-techno” I guess. The artworks have also been a standing out factor in branding the label’s identity: Middle Ages, raw caricatures, dating at least 200 years ago.
Most of them are satiric drawings of the Pope in illegal (back then) protestant publications. In a time that people were in conflict because of their Christian believes, the minority of Protestants was breaking against the status quo of the Vatican in great, dark humour.
Can you talk us about your new release, SPLIT #1, featuring music by Fragedis and
Split#1 is the first release of the new split series on the Various Artists label catalogue. I wanted an alternative to the classic form of a 4/5 tracker EP, involving two different artists that can possibly be compatible. There are more changes to come on the label in the following years: for example, after the 4 th compilation, the Pi series will be only hosting albums. Also, I will be working with photographers who will be given the freedom to curate the artwork in the way they interpret the music of the release. Fragedis and Nemmett, they are both very familiar faces among our music niche in Greece. Fragedis, based in Crete’s Chania, apart from being one of the most prolific figures of the electronic music scene of the island, he is also a producer with unreleased music dating 10 or 15 years ago. He has followed the evolution of electronic music since the 90s and been playing all different sorts of genres. Having the chance to meet and release such a great Greek producer, who has not appeared all these years in the ‘surface’ of the so-called electronic music scene in Europe, is exactly what I mean above by aiming to spread the music coming from the label’s home country.
A similar case is the one of Nemmett’s. He is a very talented Athens producer and sound designer, with a very characteristic sound, built up over the years. But even further, he has been a part of the π crew since day one. I find it very important to know the person behind the music I release. I want to know their perspective and what they aim to voice with the music of theirs I release. If π was a newspaper or a magazine, I wouldn’t want to release some right wing, populist article. In the same way, I wouldn’t do the respective move with the music, even though music is not such a ‘direct’ medium, as written words are. I like to see music as an output to express one’s inner world, just like book writing, making a movie or a theater play is. So, back to the question (haha): Nemmett is definitely that type of artist.
What are working on at the moment?
Well, it is a transition period for me, as for many others. I guess we are all waiting to see how life is going to be like when the measures will be eased and hopefully taken completely away in the next year. I’ve spent most of the quarantine in Berlin, going to the studio and hoping that soon this will be over. I have focused on my own creative process in a way that I have never done before. Hopefully some of this music will reach the surface and be available in the public. I treat music making as my own therapy. It is about me being creative and getting the good energy of it. That’s what kept me away from depression during the quarantine: the fact that I was giving a purpose to myself by just aiming to be creative without any further ambition. Jamming in the studio for my own entertainment and not with the scope of making a record out of it. When the career claims come, the myth is then gone.
So, I try to discipline on keeping the useful part of it. Other than that, I am working a lot on the development of the labels, as well as doing the orders, back office and being in close contact with the distributor. Recently, I managed to go for a month to Athens and spent quality time with my biological family, but also my music family there. It was important for me to do so, as over the past 3 years my visits back home were short and not relaxed at all.
In some way, this pandemic is having an effect on music. What do you think about it? What do you think music can do?
Yes, the bloody pandemic…
It has a massive effect on our lives, so it couldn’t skip its effect on music. My thoughts on how it changes our music life have changed a couple of times since March 2020. Obviously it has killed the music market: gigs, venues, agents, club managers and workers. Even though it can work as a massive filtering out of who is on board for the post pandemic era, I am getting to be sceptical on which sort of companies and professionals are going to survive this. Hopefully, not only the most ‘corrupted’ ones.
In the creative side of things: lately, it seems to me that I am watching the same movie like in late 00s in Greece, but on an international level. The Greek crisis maybe made some Greeks abandon the ambition of making money and getting rich, so some of them turned to their need of expressing them selves via alternative mediums. So, there is the idea that the music scene in Greece grew because of the crisis. Now, with the crisis going global due to Corona, I can observe a similar effect in Berlin and all around Europe. The world wants you to be productive, but not essentially creative. But even that aspect is now blocked because of the pandemic. I really hope that isolation and the takeover of the remote, social media life will not turn artists into influencers – since artists these days only exist on phone screens. The market oriented thinking for example has made a lot of artists and producers to hold on their new music until they can cash in out of it again, when the gigs’ market is on. At least there is a positive side out of the latter: there will be a lot of great new music to listen very soon!
Thanks for your time. If you want, greet our readers and invite them to buy the
new release of Pi Electronics.
Split#1 by Fragedis and Nemmett is officially out on Friday, the 21 st of May. Check our Bandcamp page or contact your vinyl seller referencing the catalogue number ‘PEVA05’.