I.X.O.P. is the given name of a Chill out/Downtempo project by Themistoklis Xafis. He is a Greek musician born in the city of Thessaloniki but since 2015 he lives in France. Being always surrounded by music, from child he’s showing an innate talent to create rhythms and a special passion for percussion. With a musical career built in the last 2 decades, he considers music to be the food for his soul. His productions are wings of the mind able to translate its magic visualizations of electronic sounds in space. As an artist he has released 2 albums “Feelings for Healing” (CandyFlip Records, 2007) and “Ibiza Sunset” (Panmusic Records, 2011) and was integrated in 3 compilations “Floating Point – Time for Sweetness” (Iboga Records, 2003), “Mountain-High 2 – Forever” (CandyFlip Records, 2005) and “Seeds of Thought – Shaman Tales” (Liquid Seed Records, 2014). He played in many events and festivals, mostly in Greece.
Interview is made by Gagarin on 21/06/2017
Thank you for taking time to talk to us!
I just discovered your project recently, as I noticed a new name on a line-up for a festival. I really like your sound, and that’s a pleasure to be able to ask you about your music. Can you introduce yourself and your first steps in music production and parties?
I received my call for music at a very early age. According to my mother, by the age of 4, I used to be in the kitchen ‘playing drums’ for her, with panels! Apparently, from that time there was already the need to create rhythms. I think I was stimulated by my older brother who studied music and was playing piano often. Then, through the ages of 14 to 18 I was part of a Death Metal Band, indeed, playing drums. It was in the mid 90’s that I got contact with electronic music. In 1995 I attended the first Psychedelic Trance Party realized in Thessaloniki, an outdoor gathering organized near the sea of Halkidiki. It was an amazing experience, all happened in a pure magical and friendly environment! I was fascinated, walking around, contemplating, the fire warming the souls, people smiling and suddenly I found ‘the drums’! Yes! I found the drums but nobody playing the drums! Interesting, like they were waiting me. Naturally I took the drums and I passed all night playing. In this party I met very special people that quickly became my friends. So, vibrating in the same mental frequencies, together, we started to organizing Psychedelic Gatherings in Greece. My engagement with electronic music evolves from here. It appears to be natural for me to combine electronic music with drums. In the year of 2000, at Volos Party, I was playing drums upon Ololiuqui’s music, then I continued to explore percussion combined with electronic sounds and I made the passage to hand drums. In what concerns my engagement with hand drums and electronic music there’s one underground party in Thessaloniki still rooted in my mind as a life turning point. It was then that I truly discovered the trance/ecstatic aspect of drumming, in other words, I have an experience of Astral Projection induced by Hand Drums.
Well, that episode symbolizes a personal powerful experience as I could see myself in journey with the rhythms (laughing…). Since then I started to produce electronic music.
Did you have some education for music production?
Not at all, I’m an autodidact.
Can you speak a bit about your creative process?
I can either start with samples that give me inspiration for the creation or I can start directly with the creation of a drum and a bass. It depends, but when I have some musical starting points already defined I often go for the keyboards in order to create a solid melodic core. At this point I can usually identify the soundscape type I’m shaping and I search for vocals that are suitable for the idea I have in mind. It’s all about interpreting the evolution of the rhythms, to figure out the beginning, the middle part and the end of “the story”.
What does the name I.X.O.P mean?
In Greek mythology, I.Χ.Ω.Ρ. is a term used to identify an ethereal fluid present in the blood of the Gods. Ultimately it is what identifies the divine nature of human beings. In an analogue thought, I would say that music has the power to make that ethereal fluid emerging in our skin – perhaps that’s why we have goose-skin when hearing some music. Music connects man to his own Divine Spirit. Hence, the name given to my Chill Out/Downtempo project.
If you could go back in time, which message would you like to give to yourself younger in order to improve/accelerate your music productions skills?
If I could go back in time I would have allowed myself to be totally dedicated on music from an early age. Probably I would have followed the academic path in order to gain more awareness of musical technology… but I guess it’s never late to learn and nowadays I’m trying to engage myself as much as possible with education training and to enhance my existing skills in the Sound Engineering field.
When you’re writing music, do you think about how it will translate to a live performance? If you do, how does that affect your producing process?
Well, since I’m missing actual technical equipment at my studio to record the percussion sounds, normally I make djembe experiences in order to, somehow, plan the integration of it at live performance, up to the tracks.
What are your studio tools? Hardware, Software, work flow?
I work with VirusTI, Nordlead2 and I compose in LogicProX with other Softwares.
Correct me if i am wrong, your last release is from 2014. Do you have any plans to release new music and do you have a label for it?
Right, it was back in 2014 – Shaman Tales with Liquid Seed Records. Actually, pretty soon I will self release in Bandcamp some tracks that I’ve been working in the last 2 years.
As an artist, what inpires you?
Usually, I become aware of what has inspired me only towards the end of the creative process, or much later, however there’s some things that always have stimulated my inspiration, such as the beauty of natural Greek landscapes, my passion for ancient civilizations and cosmological meanings of existence. I think that this phenomena can actually be translated in sounds and my music is defined by a sense of “travelling between horizons” mixed with vibrations from different cultures and Space itself. I also like to think about the vibrations of planets in motion in our solar system and to imagine their soundscapes, and I really enjoy to write music while experiencing psychedelics, it’s when inspiration comes to me like a flash of lightning. Otherwise an idea never comes to me suddenly, it sits inside me for a while and then I just work on it during days, weeks, months…
Is there an artist you would like to work with?
I think I could create magic with Highlight Tribe, Vlastur, Alwoods…
Who are the artists that inspire you?
Ozric Tentacles, Shpongle, Juno Reactor are some of them.
What type of music you like to listen?
I can appreciate many different styles, it depends from the time and the mood I have. To be good, for my ears, it doesn’t need to belong to a particular aesthetic but Tribal and Electronic are definitely genres that I listen the more often.
What do you like to do apart from working in the music field?
Getting as far as possible from the cities. Being surrounded by nature. Enjoying the forest with friends. Making fire over the night, drink some tea and allow the mind to travel!
Do you have other job besides making music?
While in Greece I was divided between my 6 days/week job and my home-studio. There was not much time left for music but because music is what feeds my soul I always found time to go inside the studio. Since 2015, once I moved to France, I’am essentially focused on music and I’m trying to improve my skills (both production and mastering).
You live in France now, do you like your life here?
Well, to live in France gave me the chance to decompress, to focus on music and to get a new perspective on things. Of course I miss Greece, my family, my friends, but my life here allows me to be exclusively dedicated on music, to improve my skills with discipline and more quickly reach results. This is my goal for the moment, so I’m happy to be in France.
What do you value the most in music of others?
I truly appreciate when music generates positive energy. Music is something that you hear with the heart, with the brain, with all the muscles (by mentioning Nietzsche). The interconnection between music and the physical and mental health of human beings has been researched on since long. Music has the power to change your mood and affect you in ways that no other tool can. It has profound effects on the human body, not just superficially, but deep down within your subconscious mind (as we can all understand it just by feeling and to easily confirm with some researching pieces done at the scope of neurosciences and music).
Given that, when it comes to music, the important to me is the phenomenon of energy transmission. And, personally, I prefer when music opens the channels for positive energy to circulate, the joy of mind-expansion.
How do you like to perform music at parties ? Any preference between indoor / outdoor?
To present my music it’s always a privilege but it’s true that I enjoy more when the performance happens in outdoor locations such as in the forests.
How do you play live at events? Hardware, Software, work flow?
My performances are a combination of work with Hardware, Software, live Vocals and live Percussion (Djembe).
Thank you for your time! If you wish to transmit a message to our readers please do it
Yes, I would like to leave a message for young people who want to become electronic music producers, which is: go for what you’re feeling. Follow your instinct, whatever comes natural to you that’s the right thing to do. Don’t try to copy others or to just follow trendy aesthetics of music, believe in your original ideas and explore them with authenticity. Find people that share your vision to work together. To get results it can take a lot of time but never quit your dream.
Thanks Iurii, and thanks you to all the people that supports my music!