Im lucky because Im the only producer from Greece making this kind of music in Berlin. So when I go to a label or I meet people in clubs Im still a novelty. Its not like if Im from Canada; Berlin is full of Canadians nowadays.
Chatting down the line from his (summer) base in Athens, Leon Segka admits his strategy of splitting his time between Greece and Germany provides him with numerous distinct advantages.
I have my studio in Berlin, and I definitely prefer to make music there rather than in Athens, first because the weather here is good all the time, so its hard to focus, says Leon.
Also, the problem with making music in Athens is that the music I make is not around; the sound here is closer to progressive house. The music industry here is tiny; there are three independent labels in Athens in a city of five million people.
The music he currently makes fits broadly into the minimal-electro-house sound so prevalent in Berlin right now, and has seem him recently picked up by DJ Hells Gigolo Records (Leons Attached Theory being one of the standout tracks on Hells recent Gigolo 8 compilation). His also already released an artist album Beyond Iinstincts, under the name Joalz.
When I finished the album, I realized it sounded a lot different from my DJ sets, so I decided to change the name, he explains.
I know that commercially speaking its not the right thing to do, but back then I felt it was. Im not really good at making business decisions, but I think Im going to keep that name again if Id made an album along the same line as Joalz. Ive had very good reactions from this album from unexpected sources; Laurent Garnier used the Environment track on his charts and I was very happy about that. I took it like a sign to keep going, because with making music sometimes you wonder if its just you and your friends who like it, he says.
I recorded this album one and a half years ago though I find difficult to listen to it now because I have since discovered that I should be more specific in an album, even more than I have been, and Id like to apply this when Ill start working on the next one.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): What do you mean by more specific?
Leon Segka: Perhaps the whole album should sound like the first three tracks, because later it becomes a bit harder and then goes back again like at the start. Some listeners might find this interesting, but if you are a DJ at the same time, its hard to bring it closer to your DJ set. Which makes me wonder if the album sounds like my DJ set or not.
Skrufff: Do you think it should, then?
Leon Segka: No, really, Im only trying to figure it out as I am working on my new album now, so thats a big question.
Skrufff: What are your DJ sets like?
Leon Segka: Theyre more electronic techno, which sometimes becomes minimal, and other times verges towards the Environment track sound. Its hard to describe, but I know people like it when I play. You see, I come from the harder side of electronic music, three four years ago I was more into industrial sounds, now I have made this turn.
Skrufff: Where are you based these days, Greece or Berlin?
Leon Segka: Ive spent the winters in Berlin for the past two years, travelling from there to wherever I had to play, and I spend the summers in Athens, like now, working from here. The problem with making music in Athens is that the music I make is not around; the sound here is closer to progressive house. The music industry here is tiny; there are three independent labels in Athens in a city of five million people. I run a small label, where I keep the releases to only three hundred copies. Having said that you can listen to alternative music on the radio and you can find music like that in clubs, the kind of parties I play tend to be more underground, but theyre nice, the parties are OK here.
Skrufff: What was your route into music?
Leon Segka: Ive been playing music for fifteen years, its the only job Ive had so far in my life. Initially I studied computer programming, then I quit and moved to France then in 95/96 came back to Greece and I became much more focused on my music. Once here I played in local clubs, then slowly started getting bookings abroad, the majority of which came because I had a residency in Mykonos, in one the most international club in the whole of Greece. There you meet people who really listen to your set, which opened the way to me getting bookings in Germany. Realizing that my music would fit better there persuaded me to move to Berlin three years ago. Its nice to be in there now that Berlin is on the map of this new wave of producers/artists. You meet everybody, but competition is good.
Skrufff: Im almost surprised youve left Berlin, because so many people seem to be moving to Berlin still.
Leon Segka: Im lucky because Im the only producer from Greece making this kind of music in Berlin. So when I go to a label or I meet people in clubs Im still a novelty. Its not like if Im from Canada, Berlin is full of Canadians now. Still, I believe that everything is up to the music you produce. If you consistently make good music, and find two or three good labels to put it out, then its just a question of time before you get recognition.
Skrufff: Is the scene in Greece changing away from the old house?
Leon Segka: Yes, definitely. Its now closer to electro house/electro techno, though its still at a hype stage and I think it will take about a year before it settles. The problem is that there are no record stores here who sell that type of music, also, the tendency here is that people first go out to party, then to listen to the music they like. You might find people listening to Jeff Mills not knowing who Jeff Mills is, but things are definitely changing and coming to our side now, theres good ground for everyone who comes here to play, thats why many DJs from Berlin are coming too.
Skrufff: At the moment when you play live, do you do it all just by yourself?
Leon Segka: I have played here in Athens three times, right now I am getting musicians together to play the live parts of my compositions. Ive performed once at the Notting Hill Arts Club in London with one more guy. It worked very well, in total I have performed five times, in Berlin, Athens and London, and Ive used first two, then added three more musicians. Adam Pearson, the ex guitarist from The Sisters Of Mercy, will join me in Berlin where he now lives. Id like to perform live wherever I go, with local musicians if I can, though right now I am focusing more on getting known for my DJ sets.
Skrufff: How did you meet dj Hell? Was it in Berlin?
Leon Segka: No. I sent him the music and he answered back. I was very happy, but his company is too big for me right now. Everything takes time. I have signed for a single and an album, so far only the compilation is out, but Im still happy for that.
Joalz Beyond Instinct Is out now on Ntrop Recordings.
Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)