Secret Thirteen Interview - FASMA Festival


Interview with FASMA Festival 2015

Elias, George, and Antony, three individuals behind FASMA Festival give an exclusive interview about Greece’s underground music scene, this year’s festival’s musical highlights and the importance for each festival to expand globally. Moreover, the guys reveal some metaphysical insights about how, in their opinion, antique surroundings affect human listening senses, and answer some other related questions. For those who have never heard about FASMA Festival, it is important to mention that its core concept is to bridge art, technology, culture and music to present the most up-to-date and inspiring audio-visual installations, effective workshops and the most open-minded electronic sound nowadays, where experimental, noise and dance music coexist in harmony. Read the interview below to find out more about this friendly and exciting festival, which is happening at the really alluring, yet magical place - the historical center of Athens.

Justinas Mikulskis: When was the first time when you realized that you are going to start FASMA Festival? Was this a spontaneous moment or did you come up with this idea step-by-step? It would be interesting to know about the origins of the festival.

Elias: It was a couple of years ago (early 2013) and it was an act of spontaneity. We have started each of our series of parties around the same time and our projects were moving towards the same direction. After 5 years of organizing events in Athens, we were at the same exact point, where we wanted to take the next step and do something bigger that would reflect our musical aspirations. We felt that a festival exploring a wide spectrum of music genres of electronic music was something really missing from Athens. Through an organic process of interaction and exchange of ideas it was obvious that we shared the same ambitions and a common vision, so despite all the practical difficulties brought by the economic crisis, we decided to move forward.

JM: At which point of the year do you start working on the line-up? Is it the day after the festival ends? What are the biggest challenges you face each year?

E: It really is a never ending process. Since we talk about music all the time with each other, we constantly discuss possible names for our next lineup and we have a long list of artists that we would like to perform in FASMA. In that sense, we start working on the next line-up the day after the festival ends. One of the biggest challenges we face is the lack of economic resources. Neither the state nor the private sector are willing to risk funding new cultural attempts that go beyond traditional perceptions of what entertainment and education is. Therefore, we have to adapt and fit our ambitions within our limited fiscal capabilities, without comprising the artistic quality of the festival.

Check this nice playlist above, it contains some music/lives by the artists, which will be performing at FASMA Festival 2015.

JM: Has anything new or different been done in this year’s edition of the festival in comparison with the previous festivals?

George: One of the main things we have added at this years’ edition is that we chose to collaborate with local promoters like Reform, Phormix and Habeat Records. Amongst us, we share the same love and passion for music and the digital arts as well as a common ambition of promoting the local scene to a worldwide audience. We are also happy to launch the six d.o.g.s basement, a brand new space at the six d.o.g.s complex, where we will inaugurate some intriguing live sets from Valerio Tricoli, Svarte Greiner and Virilio.

JM: Description says “FASMA aims to bridge art, technology, music and culture under one single event”. Could you explain how do you to bridge these mediums? Could you provide some examples? Do you think it is essential these days to bridge different mediums to create the most exciting experience for the visitor? Or maybe you have some educational intentions like showing the artists’ endless possibilities of how they could complement each other with their artistic ideas?

Antony: We try to bridge these mediums, first of all by bringing them all together under a single roof (i.e. FASMA Festival), and from there on, by strategically planning and placing our events so as to create a context of continuity between the different mediums. Thus, the spectator can - for example - watch a documentary about synthesizers at noon, then follow a lecture and a workshop on how to build one later in the afternoon, then visit an audiovisual installation that utilizes synths, closing the day with a live act by an artist that uses them in his set. And whilst doing that we offer a carefully planned walkabout in the athenian capital where one can enjoy a variety of architectural idioms spanning for over 3000 years. Besides the obvious educational purposes of our approach, we believe that in doing so we strongly enhance one's experience by stimulating their senses in as many ways as possible.

JM: What importance do you put on including the local artists in the line-up? Is there an intention to present local artists in the global context?

A: We put a great deal of importance on including local artists in our line-up since we strongly believe that the local scene has a sheer volume of brilliant artists to offer (see below). Music works as a getaway and there are a lot things that young people want to get away from nowadays, having as a result a plethora of artistic expression with new idioms and personal touches that would amaze even the most demanding audience. Therefore, it is only natural that we should aspire to present those artists in a global context.

Labels: Orila, Echovolt
Promoters: Phormix
Producers: Sawf and ANFS
Djs: Morah

JM: Please share your insights about the current Greece’s underground music scene in general? How do you see Greece in the global underground context? Maybe you miss something or think that there are some essential barriers to reach much wider international recognition?

G: It can be argued that the Greek underground music scene is really booming at the moment, being particularly active compared to a few years ago. It is building up its momentum and starting to form its own character. Still, it is small, cosy and yet healthy in a way. There are quite a few really good labels, producers, djs and promoters that one should definitely keep an eye on.

What is missing is a better infrastructure. There need be more venues that can host and support the digital arts, but creating them is a venture that one would think twice before getting involved in, due to the crisis. In parallel, besides the financial problems, electronic music is not yet deeply rooted in contemporary Greek culture. Folk and pop music are still at the core of the mainstream Greek mentality, leaving less space for the digital arts to evolve and become extrovert. We still are at a germinal phase compared to other European cities, but we are optimistic for the future. With enough patience and effort the festival will grow organically, further giving us the freedom to fully realise our potential and ideas.

JM: The description says “The festival is located in different spots around the historic city center of Athens”. What conceptual and emotional weight such an antique place as Athens add to the overall festival’s identity? Do you to try to create some kind of connection between location, artists and audience or do you focus more on the line-up/technical part?

A: The weight attached to the location both on a conceptual and an emotional level is, quite obviously, enormous. One of the core ideas behind FASMA Festival is to drive its audience to a unique multi level sensory experience through an exposure to a variety of stimuli. Athens offers a unique and highly engaging surrounding, with scattered antiquities that manifest a culturally rich historical trajectory of many millenia. By dividing our events in a variety of venues within the 3.500 thousand year old historical center of Athens we give the opportunity to all those joining us, to enjoy a visual experience that goes beyond anything that a single festival or any art exhibition can provide them with. It would have been much easier to realise a great line-up whilst concentrated in a single location. Dividing the events makes things much harder from an organisational perspective, since the more players and parameters involved, the greater the risk. However, this is a risk that we are willing to take, exactly because we want to create a connection between location, artists and audience.

Besides the rational explanation, there also is a highly allegorical value to our approach, where there is a strong contrast between the old and the new, the antique and the modern. Just imagine listening to bass filled techno pumping through the speakers while gazing at the Parthenon.

JM: Tell us about the worst experience you have ever had at FASMA festival. (e.g a band cancelled last minute, didn’t arrive, had ego issues etc). On the other hand could you reveal the most memorable experiences you have had too?

E: The truth is that we have not been against a really bad experience since we are only running FASMA for a second year. However, if we had to mention one, that would be the anxiety and stress we faced when we realised that one of our drivers was extremely late dropping off the artists at the airport. As a result we started recalculating expenses for hotels, contacting the airline to book new flights etc, only to find out that he had somehow reached the speed of light, arriving there on time. We got away with it only with a speeding ticket!

The most memorable experience happens to be the most rewarding one too. It was the actual materialization of the festival and the wide support of our effort from a diverse crowd, even though it was our first year around.

JM: Which band/artist do you think would provide the most excitement at FASMA 2015?

G: That is hard to tell because we chose all of our acts very carefully and we are expecting all of them to be equally exciting! We have some Athenian debuts that we are looking forward to, such as Headless Horseman, Beneath and Skatebård. Our local stallion Dream Weapons is debuting too, presenting for the first time at FASMA his live act, while ANFS is also preparing an exclusive audiovisual show for the festival. There are many things to be excited about!

JM: Do you have any plans to expand globally with FASMA in the same way as CTM or Unsound did? In your perspective, how important for the festival is to grow and reach new global horizons?

G: That is actually one of our main purposes. Ideally, we would like to attract people from all parts of Europe and - why not - from all over the world. Last year, even though it was our first year, we saw attendees from Germany and France and that really gave us strength to keep going. Expand the festival and give it a global horizon is important not only for the festival, but for the local scene as well as the city itself. It is very important for Athens to embrace and support our big and risky attempt, so that we can give back to it the best that we have to offer. I would dare say that Athens is one of the most “vibrant” cities at the moment, both socially and culturally. FASMA festival is a great opportunity for those who would like to enjoy some fresh music along with highly interesting artistics and technical events, in a city with a great history and an endless nightlife.

JM: Are there any big or small festivals in the world you could honestly and objectively say that are doing a very great and exemplary work? Are there any fests you look up to? And if talking in broad perspective could you also reveal what do you miss most at the festivals?

G: There are quite a few festivals we actually follow and think they are doing a very great job. CTM and Unsound you mentioned before along with festivals like Labyrinth, Mutek, Freerotation are some of them, just to name a few. We also truly respect attempts such as The Great American Techno Festival in Colorado and Krake festival in Berlin.

Personally, as a festival fan and party goer, I am not in favour of big room events and that is why I always prefer smaller festivals that can offer that very special “family” vibe. I have intensely felt that at Freerotation in Wales and that is something we want to have with FASMA as well. We want people to become part of it and make it their own in a way. And this particular vibe is exactly what I think is missing from the majority of festivals out there. Not many of them can offer it because nowadays it is all about business. As a dj I really enjoyed my sets at the Organic festival in Taiwan and the aforementioned Krake, both organised from people with huge love and respect for music and audience.

JM: What artists/projects you would like to see in the festival’s line-up in the future? Why?

G: There are many great artists that we would like to invite over at FASMA Festival. One of the artists that I really want to listen to live is the legendary Morton Subotnick, a true pioneer that still plays some live shows despite his old age. Would also like to see some live acts that you don’t get to see that often like Prince of Denmark and Gesloten Cirkel.

JM: Thank you for the answers. Any last words to our readers and festival visitors?

You are all invited at this years edition! We will constantly try to improve ourselves in order to present you the most groundbreaking artists in digital arts. We would also like to thank our crew (Eva, Iphigenia, Athena and Giannis) without which the weight of realising our attempt would have been unbearable. United we move forward.

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FASMA Festival 2015 poster

Official FASMA Fesitval 2015 Poster

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An interdisciplinary journal, offering eclectic mixes and smart interviews with original artists and label owners as well as contemporary art reviews.

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