When presented with the opportunity to interview producer, remixer, and artist Yiannis Elia (aka Outstanding Productions), I was thrilled. It had been several years since he and I had last spoke, and I was very much looking forward to reconnecting. His creations are authentic and relevant. Yiannis Elia continues to be one of the brightest artists of dance music, both today and for our future. His work? Simply "Oustanding."
Cory Glisson-Munier: Yiannis! It’s so good to connect with you again
my friend, congratulations on your new release, Reloaded! How does
it feel to have your first, and I emphasize first, full-length album
Yiannis Elia: Ha! Well, after almost 15 years in the industry, emphasizing "first" makes me feel like it was a long time coming! There were times when I felt like it may never happen for me... and even though I was surrounded by the best in the business, and have the best fans in the world, I felt like I was Sisyphus - constantly pushing a stone up the mountain, only to have to do it again, and again... I was never able to enjoy an accomplishment like I can now. It feels absolutely Amazing! it was quite a journey completing the album, overcoming all the obstacles, and finishing all the mixes on time. This is a collaboration of friends, and while I've spent countless hours working on remixes and projects with the other artists on the album, I was really the captain of the ship on this and was responsible for everything from track selection to the final approval of everything. So this is a huge accomplishment as a producer as well for me. Also, I am so thankful and grateful to Music Plant for being very supporting and experienced- and making my album Reloaded possible!
Cory Glisson-Munier: I’ve recently reviewed this album and was
impressed throughout by the production value and song choices you
included. What was your selection process behind this and how did you
decide what would appeal most to your audience?
Yiannis Elia: Very good question. This album is very personal to me, and for that reason I chose the artists and remixers who are on the album as well as the song selection. Success in the music industry is fleeting unless you can maintain relationships with good friends in the industry. This album was not just about who could do the best remix of a hot song... this album is a reflection of all my years of hard work and the people who have always been there for me, and I wanted definitely to include them on my first album.
As far as appealing to my audience, I have always trusted that my audience doesn't need to be spoon-fed popular music or the latest diva hit... that's one of the aspects of my life as a DJ- anyone can play the same mix of the #1 song in the country over and over. I wanted to give the audience a chance to hear something new that they won't hear anywhere else, while at the same time including the people who have influenced my work.
Cory Glisson-Munier: Let’s talk about the beginning. I know
that your original home is in Greece – is that where you began your
Yiannis Elia: Yes, yes it is! I started DJing when I was 14 back home in Greece... Though I definitely enjoy a Mediterranean flair here and there in my music, I've always been captivated by American pop music. When I was growing up and trying to learn English, I would listen to Madonna, Kylie, Whitney, and Michael Jackson and try and mimic what I was hearing... as I grew older, I would like listen to the insanely popular Euro-Dance music that was also in English- so I think those styles influenced me even before I saw the inside of a DJ booth. I would accompany my brother to a local club and because I was underage, I would hang out in the DJ booth and just watch everything from the safety of the booth. One night the DJ was in a minor car accident and couldn't make it to the club... it was summer and the crowd expected something- anything- to be blaring from the booth... so the manager asked if I could try and wing it... and the rest, they say, is history! I'm classically trained in music, and understood the basics, but to actually have to maneuver the turntables and beatmix was a challenge. I'm also old school. I loved the addition of CD players and computers to supplement vinyl, but I love the feel, the smell, the sound of vinyl. It's a true art, I believe, to incorporate lots of media into a set, and when I was DJing back in Greece all those years ago, I had it much much more difficult than young people today!
Cory Glisson-Munier: How often do you visit Greece? If I remember
correctly, you shared a story with me once about walking into a club
in Greece and hearing one of your remixes being played and the
reaction crowd had and how much that impacted you – do I have that
Yiannis Elia: Wow- good Memory! Yes you do have that story- almost right! Actually I was in Brazil, when I was spinning for pride in Sao Paulo and the promoters took me to several clubs the night before to give me a taste of the local flavor. I will never forget feeling half overwhelmed and half completely giddy when I walked in and heard "He is the Joy" (my 2nd remix ever! a song by the amazing Donna Allen) - I didn’t know that my remix was so big there, I couldn’t believe it- they were singing every single word and knew every step of the mix- I was totally blown away from their reaction. Later the same thing happened back home in Greece with a different song- and the funny part is that none of the DJs that were spinning that night knew I was in the club. To go overseas, away from my home now, and see the reaction of people enjoying your music is quite amazing.