Stelios Vassiloudis Interview
MusikBeats: First off, I would like to say thank you for taking time out of your day to do this interview for us. Also, what an amazing job you did on your album. I have been listening to the SoundCloud samples links over and over again, for the past two days. Truly a beautiful piece of work!
MusikBeats: What made you finally decide to release your debut album, “It Is What It Is”?
Stelios Vassiloudis: Thank you very much for your kind words-I’m delighted you enjoyed it so much. To be honest, I didn’t “decide” to actually do an album. My initial intentions were to write material that I liked, free from any formula or parameter, and enjoy the process. As things started to take shape, my good friend and Bedrock label manager, sent John a sample of what I had written up until that point and I guess they (I was still skeptical at that point) heard something worth developing into an album project.
MusikBeats: This was a project spanned over a few years, exactly how long did it take you to get the final product you wanted?
Stelios Vassiloudis: That’s a tricky question because in some ways I still haven’t managed to get it! I’m one of those self deprecating music nerds that always shoot holes in and over analyze his own work. However, it took me about 2 and a half years to get it to a point where I was comfortable with letting a wide audience hear it.
MusikBeats: What is the meaning behind “It Is What It Is” and how did you choose that to be the title?
Stelios Vassiloudis: While the common vernacular would dictate a certain negative overtone to the saying, my intention is for it to be a pretty literal description of the music. These days there are some many expectations, so many external and musically unrelated factors that inform our judgement and opinion in art; My hope is that this diverse collection of music is judged on it’s own merit and as nothing more than what it is: a body of musical work.
MusikBeats: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome with the album during its production?
Stelios Vassiloudis: My limited amount of spare time. The vast majority of artists and musicians working professionally never hit superstardom and rarely attain that level of success that allows them to earn a living through their craft. The majority of us mere mortals have to pay bills and make ends meet through regular jobs and other (hopefully legal) endeavors. That said, it was great to not have the pressure of making an album in order to feed myself! I’ve tried to live off music in the past and the strain and undue urgency placed on the creative urgency takes the fun out of it, completely.
MusikBeats: You collaborated with multiple artists such as Darren Murray and Astrid Suryanto. Out of everyone you collaborated with, who did you enjoy working with the most?
Stelios Vassiloudis: I’d hate to single any of the guys and girls out. Obviously, the singers will undoubtedly get most f the credit since their involvement is significantly more pronounced. However, I had a great group of friends and colleagues that contributed to the album and it would never have been what it is without ALL of their input. To totally go ahead and contradict myself, working with the vocalists was a treat since they all live in different countries. Vocalists are notoriously known for being pains in the butt so keeping them at distance and working over the internet kept me somewhat sheltered!!!
MusikBeats: Producing this album took a lot of time, effort, and dedication. What does this album mean to you personally and as an artist.
Stelios Vassiloudis: This album has restored some my faith in my artistic process. The album is pretty personal and autobiographical. I did things how I wanted, when I wanted and according to my own warped and skewed design, long before any label signed it or any big DJ take an interest in it. In that sense, it was a total success for me and an emphatic reaffirmation of faith in my ability as a songwriter-people liked the album!!
MusikBeats: What is the story of the album that you are trying to tell to your fans?
Stelios Vassiloudis: There isn’t much of a story behind the album, I’m afraid. The tracks are just snapshots of what I like to do and where I am at as a songwriter-for now. The titles of the songs are predominantly inside jokes or images and experiences that I associate with the music.
MusikBeats: What message are you hoping your fans will embrace from your album?
Stelios Vassiloudis: For those that have any artistic inclination, I am hoping that through the extensive press that has accompanied the release, I can inspire like minded musicians to consider following my example and just write what they know and what they like. Good music is good music any way you look at it and sometimes, being happy with and proud of your stuff is more gratifying and rewarding than a playlist from a famous DJ.
MusikBeats: What were the things that inspired you the most during the production of this album?
Stelios Vassiloudis: That’s a tough question you know. I’m inspired by a ridiculously wide array of stimuli on a frequent basis-as I’m sure most people with a hint of creative flair are. The duration of the “making of the album” was pretty lengthy… a little over 2 years. I must have seen 100′s of movies, listened to 1000′s of hours of music, started relationships, ended relationships, the country I live in started crumbling around me-surely some of this crept into my unconscious and helped get those creative synapses firing!
MusikBeats: What was the first thing/feeling that went through your mind once you finally finished this massive project?
Stelios Vassiloudis: Are we done yet? Haha. I actually had so many of those false “OK, I’m definitely finished and happy with it” moments that by the time the real thing came to pass, it was pretty anticlimactic. Getting the songwriting all wrapped up before moving on to mixing, mastering etc was good though- and I do seem to remember I celebrated it accordingly.
MusikBeats: What is your most favorite track out of this whole album?
Stelios Vassiloudis: At this point in time, I have to say “I Burn Like”. I love Darren’s vocals. I’d always wanted to make a track in that kind of style and with that particular feel to it and it was fantastic when all the organic elements fused so well with all the electronic ones and the track came to life.
MusikBeats: If you could only choose three words to describe “It Is What It Is”, what would they be?
Stelios Vassiloudis: Intelligent electronic music
MusikBeats: Now that you’ve conquered this massive chapter in your artistic career, what is the next project you’ll be working on?
Stelios Vassiloudis: John (Digweed) recently joked that since it took me over 2 years to write this one, I should be on track to starting the followup any day now! In all seriousness, I’d like to promote the album as much as I can first-before committing to anything overtly demanding or time consuming. I am currently working on remixes and some more original material so I’d like to take things slowly and see what happens.