Mihalis Safras must be the only DJ who’s been playing for years to recently win a ‘Best Newcomer’ award — a prize that seems even more bewildering when you consider his own productions and releases on his label Material could fill quite a few vinyl racks with quality house and techno.
Safras says it’s not such a huge surprise as it’s an Ibiza award and he hasn’t been hogging the limelight in the White Isle, until now. For years the Greek DJ and producer has been a one-man banger-factory on a #VinylOnly mission, releasing dozens of records in the last decade, on Material, Perc Trax, Soma, Skint, Cajual and loads more.
He’s been known to use the call to arms #NoSafrasNoParty — a mantra that’s stuck with other DJs as he was ranked the top tech-house artist of 2015 on Traxsource and Resident Advisor, and he hit the top 5 last year.
Safras is making a big Ibiza connection this spring by teaming up with Darius Syrossian on his Do Not Sleep tour that hits Dublin’s District 8 tomorrow (March 4), along with Italian livewire Flashmob and Irish boys Kaily and Dan Stritch. He says it was a no-brainer as “the Do Not Sleep crew is at it’s best at the moment in my opinion”. He’s also fond of promoting Greek cuisine, and adds: “What’s better than combining working with people that support our scene and offer great souvlaki dinners!”
I read in an interview you had your first music epiphany hearing Michael Jackson’s Thriller in a music shop, and you had a set of decks before your teen years. How did you jump from MJ to house and techno and what was the first ‘dance music’ record that gripped you?
Haha yes that’s true, in 1987 I purchased my first vinyl, then I think in 1991 my first electronic record was Charlie by Prodigy in XL recordings. If you’re in the electronic scene one step leads to another and I now have almost 20,000 vinyls in my collection.
What other music were you listening to apart from dance music?
Any music that includes electronic elements is on my radar, from Radiohead to LTJ Bukerm. I started with the breakbeat period as said, Prodigy, Acen, SL2 etc but here I am now.
You’re one of the few vinyl die-hards still left, what do you make of the vinyl resurgence in the last few years?
Vinyl is one of my big loves on this earth. Touching the music is always a unique feeling and I wouldn’t change that. I’m happy to see that some labels are still loyal to cutting wax these days. It’s all a matter of prestige in our age so there you go.
You’re hitting 10 years of your label Material, with over 100 releases. You also have dozens of your own productions released – how do you keep up that work rate?
Hard one to answer as producing, travelling and maintaining a healthy and steady life with your beloved ones is sometimes hard. But you know what, one souvlaki a day keeps the doctor away!
And yes proud that my label Material has reached the top 20 on best selling labels on Beatport after 10 years. Seems a lot but I started the label when I was just 22.
What was your main ethos or ambition when you started the label? Has it changed any over the years?
There is literally no ambition… Material is about releasing music I love, that’s it.
Did you find it odd to win the newcomer of the year at the DJ Awards, 10 years after your first release and nearly 20 years since you started DJing? Why do you think you appeared on the list last year?
That is so true, as I’m definitely not a newcomer but on the other hand the DJ Awards are Ibizan awards and in Ibiza I am considered a newcomer because I’ve almost never DJ’d there until now, so it was not such a surprise. I would be more surprised if I was nominated for a Drum & Bass award or something.
What releases have you got planned for 2017, on your label or your own productions on other labels? Can you give us a hint?
In fact 2017 is going to be probably my best year so far. Hot Creations, Repopulate Mars and a collab with Green Velvet, enough said?