“Sure I’ve been to some demonstrations and every time it was the police who were the main problem. The most frightening part of the experience is when you find yourself inhaling asphyxiating gas while cops are throwing stones and flash bombs into the crowd from really close up.”
Three years after he caught the attention of London industrial techno type Perc by sending him a couple of tracks in a random email, Greek producer Sawf has gone on to become one of Perctrax main acts, releasing several EPs and last year’s album Flaws.
Critically revered (Resident Advisor’s chief Todd Burns praised him for delivering ‘an unholy union of industrial techno and funky disco’) he nevertheless remains in Athens despite the country’s near terminal economic collapse. But did he say Greek COPS throw stones at demonstrators . . .?
“Oh yes, that’s a usual tactic they use here,” he confirms, “The last time it happened I saw quite a few people of all ages standing right next to me getting badly injured.”
And what was it like inhaling tear gas?
“It feels like shit like trying to breathe when they fire the gas, and lots of people pass out,” he replies.
“You also can’t run away because they usually drop the canisters right into the middle of the crowd so it’s total chaos. But I don’t want to make too big a deal of it,” he stresses, “that’s about what a million other people have experienced in the last couple of years in Athens . . .”
Despite remaining impressively sanguine about the situation, he has no illusions about the crisis Greece is facing.
“I don’t wanna’ be melodramatic about it but I’ll just say that the great majority of people who are my age are unemployed and that situation doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon,” he notes.
“A lot of people are going back to the countryside to their families in order to have a low cost of living and I think that trend will continue. The general feeling is that things are gonna’ get much worse. I don’t think that there's anyone is hoping for a fast recovery.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): How did you first connect with Perc and Perctrax three years ago?
Sawf: “I sent a mail to Ali (Perc) with some tracks of mine and after he tested them on tour he told me he wanted to release them. He did that then two years later he asked me if we could compile an album with tracks written during a 6 months period and I agreed.”
Skrufff: You're playing in London, Berlin and Geneva in the next few months; how much do you plan to stay in Athens long term?
Sawf: “well there's nothing about Athens that's so exciting nowadays music wise so a relocation definitely seems interesting. But it’s not in my immediate plans though.”
Skrufff: How much anger is there amongst you and your friends, towards Greek politicians and Germans?
Sawf: “Obviously there's anger against the politicians from the majority of the people not only from those people from my age group. And people hate German politicians as much as they hate Greek ones. The hate is also growing as the crisis worsens.”
Skrufff: What would you like to see happen to improve solve the crisis?
Sawf: “I don’t know and I don’t really care, to be honest, because whatever the solution is, it should need a zillion years in order to be accomplished. If solving the crisis means returning Greece to how it was before the crisis hit, well that doesn’t seem appealing to me at all. The crisis isn’t just financial it’s also about the corruption that exists here and it will take a few decades to make that extinct. But it’s not as though there are any serious steps being taken to deal with that anyway.”
Skrufff: How much has your music making been affected by the situation?
Sawf: “I was never a part of the Athens club scene so really it’s had no affect on me personally. The club scene was effectively already dead a couple of years before the crisis hit anyway, so the economic situation hasn’t made that difference in that sense. Right now there are some promoters introducing interesting guests that haven’t visited Athens before but it’s mostly house or bass music. Exciting club nights are pretty rare.”