Champion of vinyl, Mihalis Safras, has been an extremely consistent and prolific electronic producer over the last few years. With various releases on sublime labels as there are Saved, Cajual, Repopulate Mars, Relief, 8bit, and of course his own label Material. He surely is consistently one of the most charted artists across both Beatport and Resident Advisor.
Over the next couple of months, he’s got a collaboration with Green Velvet on Relief, another collab with Prok & Fitch on Kaluli and EPs on Cajual, Material and others.
So it was about time to have a chat. Mihalis Safras talks us through his new music, his creative process and challenges.
It seems like an everlasting summer in Europe this year. How did you spend your summer months up until today?
Wow, it has indeed been really hot this year. I try to stay away from traffic etc and spend time near the beach: it’s a recipe that never fails in summer.
You are quite a busy person and time is limited. Running several labels, DJing, producing, selecting music, … how do you relax?
I honestly relax by making more music. Especially in this period of my career, I feel I am more productive than ever, which is actually a really rewarding and relaxing feeling.
And what is your ‘ritual’ when you get back into the studio or office?
As I have a faith, I guess I should say that I pray, but I actually don’t: I just work like a machine if that counts as a ritual!
What are currently your main challenges? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, or running one or several labels that make it interesting for you?
My main challenge at the moment and for the future is to try balance between a father and a music producer. It seems stupid but it’s hard. As I am obsessed with both music and my kids, it’s a difficult balance. In terms of music, my challenge is to try to have proper time in the studio to produce and enough time to travel for my events without sleeping all day from tiredness!
My main challenge at the moment and for the future is to try balance between a father and a music producer. It seems stupid but it’s hard.
About your labels. What is the trigger to even listen to a demo as you might get dozens a day?
Material and the rest of the labels we run are my other ‘kids’. We started 10 years ago and it is still going strong. The best thing is to have a person to work next to you and luckily I have a person, Keiner, that is behind the label and listens to everything, literally everything!
When you sit down to compose/produce new work, what’s generally your first move? How do you start creating, shaping music?
It’s pretty simple: I sit around and play with my gear, then one thing leads to another. I am not Beethoven obviously, I am just good at messing around with gear.
I am not Beethoven obviously, I am just good at messing around with gear.
If you could describe your perfect creating environment, what would it be? Look like, smell, vibe, people around vs solo?
I would say: small studio, far from home so your wife won’t call you to ask to bring home stuff from the supermarket!
Not so long ago you dropped a groove track together with Green Velvet. How did that come together?
Actually this week we drop our fourth single together. We are on top of our game I would say: it’s one of the blessings that life has given me at the moment.
How did you guys meet? Or was it a virtual collaboration? How did it go?
I know Green Velvet for years, from all collaborations I have done throughout the years with him it is by far the best: things just happen very smoothly and naturally.
Looking purely at the number of plays on Soundcloud, it is a massive banger. Must have been a great feeling? What’s next?
As I said this week we have a new single called ‘POSE’ out on Relief. So far things have been great and the feedback from the fans has been amazing. Of course, I’m grateful that people seem to listen to our records, not just in the clubs but finding them online as well.
Any advice on maintaining a successful working relationship in a crazy space like dance music?
The DJ seems to be the rock or pop star of our generation, Electronic music seems to be the modern Rock’n’Roll, Burning Man and Tomorrowland the Woodstock of our generation. How do you think future generations will re-invent music and festival culture to distinguish themselves from us, their parents?
What I feel is that music, in general, is like fashion: it absolutely moves in cycles. Like you said Tomorrowland is the sort of the new Woodstock for clubbers etc, and I’m sure in years to come there will be other events or cultural phenomena to replace that. It’s a good thing that future generations enjoy electronic music in all ways and although those ways might be different to previous generations, in a sense that keeps them the same as their parents. Music is here to entertain, but the way we experience it is bound to change.
What I feel is that music, in general, is like fashion: it absolutely moves in cycles.
What do you feel are typical mistakes people make when trying to pursue a career in the music industry?
They try to make their name visible, no matter what the cost. So more attention is paid to the surface than the substance.
Back to the Future. What advice would you give your father if you met him in the past?
Nice question. I would suggest to him to live wilder: life is short.
If Mihalas or Safras would have been a beverage, what would it be according to you?
I’ll disappoint you here, but honestly, I know nothing about alcohol really. Ask me about synths … that would be a different conversation!
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