Sakis (Nano Infect) says:
I had zero experience with electronic music composition
Inside a church in Ukraine a woman started yelling at me
At music festivals, all the money goes to the big names
On Spotify I have 43,000 plays, and I’m wondering where all these people are
The Electronic Corner goes industrial once again, with this interview to Sakis, a.k.a. Nano Infect.
Sakis is not once to mince words, so let’s find out what he has to say.
Sir Joe: Nano Infect sounds quite scary to me. How did you come up with that name?
Nano Infect: People who are familiar with me personally know that I’m a bit of a hermit, verging on a touch of misanthropy. Therefore, when the photocopy shop where I worked informed us of its closure, I was like, “Good, no people to deal with”. And, indeed, I became very creative. I started recreating music, old songs, and I started composing new stuff.
I also created and released two dungeons synth album during the pandemic. My sleep schedule was turned upside down and I had to create music at night, but that is what works best for me.
SJ: In your lyrics, it’s obvoius that the Church is not a friend of yours, to put it mildly. ‘Sex Abuse’ is about the Church sexual abuse cases, then we have titles like ‘Jesus is Dead’, ‘I am the Devil’ and so on.
Did you ever run into truble, in Greece or abroad, because of your attitute toward the Church?
Nano Infect: Actually, I have a funny story for you. I am against Church, I’m not against Christianity as teachings. It’s just not my thing, you know?
However, when it comes to the whole mess of Church scandals and the money issues, come on, that’s a different story. It has nothing to do with the actual teachings of the Bible.
Anyhow, I was on a tour in Ukraine and had a specific church in Lviv in mind. Why? Well, it houses the remains of the Greek saint Athanasios, who, by the way, is my real name. Sakis is just a derivation from Athanasios.
I also enjoy the vibe of being in a church, so I thought, why not? I wasn’t wearing any upside down crosses, I covered my tattoos and I was wearing just plain black, out of respect.
Nevertheless, inside the church a woman went ballistic, yelling at my friends in Ukrainian. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying.
Suddenly, a crowd gathered around us. I asked, “Hey, what’s going on?” She started screaming that I shouldn’t be there. My friend Andrew said “Why not? He’s Greek and he wants to visit the church”, and she said, “No, he’s not Greek”.
I suddenly turned into English language, and I said, “What the heck?” Everyone else chimed in, “He’s wearing a shirt.” I just shrugged and said, “Yeah, whatever.”
Andrew grabbed me, and we bolted because people started chasing us.
That’s the only crazy incident that ever happened to me, probably because everyone generally knows I’m a fanatic anti church guy.
SJ: You did a cover of Hellraiser, by Suicide Commando. How did you get this opportunity and how did it make you grow as an artist?
Nano Infect: Actually, it was my third attempt at it. There’s an older version of Hellraiser that I usually play as the final song before leaving the stage.
But I felt like something was off, so I had to give it a makeover. I remember Johan texted me saying he really liked it.
It was actually the third industrial song I ever heard. A friend of mine wanted to take me to this club called ‘Underworld’ back then. I was like, “Sure, let’s go. But what’s industrial? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
So, she played the Psyclon Nine – Clinik song from the first album, and I thought, “Why haven’t I heard this style before? I really love it.”
We went to the club, and I distinctly remember Hellraiser starting to play by the DJ. I loved it, and I instantly became a fan of Suicide Commando. I bought all their CDs, vinyls, and T-shirts. I’m like a groupie, you know?
That’s why I decided to remake Hellraiser. I’ve also done covers of “See You in Hell” and other songs. I just love covering Suicide Commando.
One day, while chatting with Johan, I suggested, “Why not do a tribute CD? So many bands are covering your stuff.” He quickly texted his distribution label, Out of Line, and they reached an agreement.
After he released the album “Forest of the Impale,” he said, “Alright, we’re doing this, and I want your track. If you can help me get some other bands that covered the songs…” I replied, “Yes, sure.”
It’s still my number one song on Spotify, even though it’s not originally mine. When people listen to Suicide Commando on Spotify, they also come across my track, so it’s working.
Most people know me because of Hellraiser, which isn’t ideal, but it’s effective and helps me out.
SJ: If you had the chance to compose a soundtrack for an existing movie or series, which one would be and why?
SJ: What gear do you mostly use in your studio?
Nano Infect: Well, when it comes to Nano Infect, I typically rely on a midi keyboard. I have about 4 or 5 of them, but one of my students, who I teach sound engineering to, sent me a gift – an Arturia KeyLab 49.
I’m confident that I’ll start using it soon. The great thing about it is that it functions as a controller, and it has a screen where I can directly access and modify my plugins. I can make changes, handle automations, and so on.
For vocals, both in recordings and live performances, I use the Digitech VX 400.
It took me a while to get it working properly because I use various effects like pitch shifter, reverb, delay, distortion, compressors, EQ, and more.
In the initial 4 or 5 shows, it didn’t sound great, but I kept tweaking the parameters and now it’s working perfectly. I really love my VX 400, and I also use it for recording.
Occasionally, I might experiment with different techniques, like using the metal zone distortion pedal for vocals, which surprisingly sounds amazing.
I also have a door controller, and interestingly, I use a Four-track Behringer mixer. Despite people sometimes making fun of the brand, it gets the job done, and I don’t really care if others like it or not.
I like to send the signal from the sound interface (an SSL) to the Behringer mixer and then recording it back with some EQ and details to give it a more organic feel, especially since I mostly use VST plugins.
I recently acquired a new console, the Tascam Model 24, and I absolutely love it, though I haven’t had the chance to use it as much as I’d like.
These days, I’ve adopted a “less is more” philosophy and deleted most of my VST instruments. Now, I mainly use Serum, especially the presets by a brand called Tone Pusher, whose creator is a personal friend of mine.
He’s behind Natural Noise, so every preset he has is spot-on. Of course, I adjust some details to fit my sound.
As for drum sounds, I mainly use four kicks, a couple of snares that I crafted by blending others, and samples from Jan from Xfusion. His website has some cool samples that you can purchase and work with. Occasionally, I use some older stuff like Vanguard for a couple of sounds that I still want to incorporate. However, my future plans include buying a Korg Monologue and an Axis Virus to broaden my sound palette.
SJ: Your project uses a formula that is very popular in electronic music: solo in studio, a band when you play live.
The advantages are clear: full creative control in studio, and share the duties of entertaining people on stage, so I want to ask you about the difficulties, or challenges, if any, of such an arrangement.
Nano Infect: If you work with a band, you may have a main idea and have someone to work on it, improve it or suggest something that’s a lot better.
Most of the time, though, I’m not very democratic when it comes to ideas from other people. So I’m like, “Yeah, whatever”, but I just continue making my own music, and I lose the opportunity of suggestions coming from others.
The disadvantage in the live shows is that every now and then you might have to find a new guy because one might be busy.
I’ve also had somebody saying that he rehearsed my stuff, so we went directly to the live show and then he said: “What am I supposed to do?” “Well, you said you rehearsed, so it’s your job to know what to do”. Eventually, it was a full playback, so more like a karaoke.
Besides, when you have more people to work with, it’s more expensive to go abroad, with tickets and stuff, because, let’s face the truth: Every festival wants bands like And One, DAF, Suicide Commando, Combichrist, Agonoize.
So, they give all the money to them, which on one side makes sense because they are “A Level”, you know, but on the other it creates a problem because they don’t pay that much attention to new bands.
So, if you wanna play, let’s say, in UK or Spain or France or Germany or wherever, you have to pay your own tickets, your rehearsals, the accommodation, and maybe the venue gives you $100.
So, why should I get $100 when I have to pay 1,000? It makes no sense. At least, they should cover my expenses, that’s all I’m asking. Don’t pay me for the show, that’s fine, but at least cover my costs.
So, that’s the main disadvantage when you have 2 or more people with you on stage.
SJ: What you said about what happens in live activities is very interesting, because it ties perfectly with the next question, which is the following.
Recently, an electronic music event was canceled in Germany due to lack of interest. The bands were not super famous but not totally unknown either.
The same happened in Italy few months earlier but it could happen in Greece or any other part of the world.
The cost wasn’t a problem at all, since the ticket was only around 10 euros. When you’re out with friends on a Saturday night, it’s not uncommon to spend 20 or 30 euros, easily.
The real issue lies in people not fully grasping the significance of supporting the local music scene.
What do you think could be done to make people understand that supporting a band does not mean only to like and comment their posts in social media but it means to attend live events, buy digital or physical music, their merchendize and so on?
Nano Infect: I’m not sure, and I can only tell you about the Greek scene. I remember there was a pretty cool show, with Detroit Diesel, Preemptive Strike, Nano Infect, Psygnosis, and there were about 30 people for all of these bands.
But when Saturday night came, where the venue turns into a club playing industrial music, It was super crowded because I think, at least for the Greek scene, all they care about is … It’s like when you live in a small town, where all they wanna do is gossip and “Oh, look what I’m wearing tonight”, and “Oh, I don’t like that guy who had a fight”.
They are not passionate music fans. I buy CDs, vinyls, tapes, t-shirts, everything, because I know what supporting a band means, being a musician myself.
But, for example, I had a guy who said, “Hey, I’m a big fan of your music, I’ve downloaded everything on some torrent”. How can he be a fan if he downloaded everything illegally? I mean, it makes no sense to me.
When it comes to big festivals like Wave Gotik Treffen, watching great bands like Agonoize is exciting initially, but after a few years, it becomes repetitive.
So, they need to introduce new bands but with established names. You can’t expect a band that just started yesterday to perform at such festivals.
Then there are the new kids, but what do they do? They just go on YouTube and Spotify, and that’s it.
On my Facebook page of Nano Infect I have about 3,000 followers, but on Spotify I have 43,000 plays. I’m like, “Where are all these people?”
So, I don’t think that anything can be done.
SJ: So, if I understand correctly, you’re suggesting that these days, people prefer going to clubbing events because it allows them to socialize and flaunt, whereas at concerts, the main focus should be on watching and listening to the performance on stage.
Unless we’re talking about well-known artists, for many, gossip or showing off seem more appealing than watching somebody performing on stage. Is that what you mean?
Nano Infect: Yes, exactly. And they also don’t search for new bands, you see? They know Grendel, Eisenfunk, XRX, and that’s it.
(Now I invite you to watch the following video, starting at 26:08, where we we can watch the birth of a new track straight from Logic).
We say thanks to Sakis, i.e. Nano Infect for this in depth conversation about music in general.
If you agree or disagree with what he said about the attitude of today’s fans, you can let us know by posting a comment below.
Don’t forget to visit his official website
You are also welcome to check the other interviews for The Electronic Corner