Anastasios Diolatzis (reworks)
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Reworks Festival in Thessaloniki, Greece, invites you to party like a Grecian God. Tucked away in the port city nearby famed Mount Olympus, Anastasios Diolatzis and his crew gather electronic music artists and lovers from all corners of the country and the continent.
The lineup favors all manner of beats, from classic house and techno fare to more experimental and ambient sounds. Reworks is also about connecting electronic genres to other sounds, and it’s not uncommon to find modern classical, jazz, and indie artists sharing stages with the likes of Autechre, Dubfire, and Ben Klock.
Spanning two days in the third week of September, reworks spreads events across Thessaloniki’s various venues, giving visitors a chance to really explore this ancient city. Reworks launched as the first-ever music festival in Thessaloniki back in 2005, and it weathered the storm of the Greek economic crisis of 2007 and 2008, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic with grace. Reworks Connect brought performances, panels, and artist exhibits to an online audience with great success. It’s just another dimension of the reworks universe, which can’t wait to welcome guests back to the dance floor.
What is your name and what is the name of your festival?
I'm Anastasios Diolatzis from reworks Festival and reworks Agora in Thessaloniki, Greece.
When did the festival start and what inspired it?
The festival started in 2005. And basically, it is or was the first ever Music Festival in Thessaloniki. What actually inspired it was the fact that there was no other music festival in the city at that moment and we had previous experience from parties that we ran for almost five years in the city. Then we felt that the time is right, to move on to the next step, which was to establish an international music festival in the city.
When and where does it happen?
It happens every September, the third week of September, in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Tell us about the site and how it influences the festival?
At reworks, we like to present venues and locations of the city. So for that reason, the festival runs in different venues and locations every single day. So it might occupy the Thessaloniki Music Hall, for instance, or it can be a rooftop on the closing day. But the main two days of the festival, we always use complexes when we present, let's say events or shows in various stages.
What kind of musical artists play at your festival?
We try to actually present the broad spectrum of electronic music and its relation to other music genres. So for that reason, at reworks, we present quite a few different forms and styles of music. So obviously, there is a lot of house and techno, but we also present forms such as ambient experimental acts. Also, more than classical it can be jazz, it can be indie so it's, it's various different forms and genres that we present at the festival.
Who was the first act you ever booked?
The first act that I have ever booked was actually Juan Atkins, and it was in 1999, if I remember correctly.
What’s the most memorable set or sets for you?
Actually, there are many. But speaking about the festival, we definitely, would definitely say that Autechre performance a few years back was absolutely stunning. But yeah, again, remember, I mean, we presented more or less more than 1500 artists and acts so far at the festival, so we have the privilege to actually experience amazing sets all these years.
Who is the target audience for your festival?
We basically designed reworks first for the audience of Thessaloniki, secondary for the audience of the rest of the country. And then we wanted also to make the city a meeting point every third week of September for people that actually embrace the music that we love.
We are now at a point where we actually have almost 50/50 when it comes to the percentage of visitors from other cities and visitors from Thessaloniki itself. And that creates a wonderful mixture of cultures and of people at the festival.
What is unique about your festival? What sets it apart?
We like to believe that the fact that we engage different venues or locations and we try to create different experiences within the days of the festival, it creates quite a uniqueness. At the same time, Thessaloniki is a beautiful city. The weather is fantastic in September, so our visitors can actually enjoy good music with wonderful weather. And they can also combine if they want some holidays within the city or in wonderful locations around the city.
We are close by Mount Olympus, Mount Athos, and also we have the Halkidiki Peninsula with its wonderful seaside and beaches as well. So the whole, we like to believe that the whole experience of ReWorks is worth it.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced to date in organizing your festival?
It was never easy for us, to be honest, to establish a festival here. At first, the challenge was basically to establish a music festival in a city that didn't have a music festival before.
Also pushing music which is not that popular here in Greece, at least back then. Then as soon as the festival was already established, then we had the, I believe the notorious by now, Greek economic crisis, which basically lasted for almost 10 years, and devastated the majority of the population here in Greece, not only economically, but also socially as well.
Now we face a new challenge, which obviously is the COVID-19 pandemic. But for us, the key is to actually to, to try and think creatively and positively. And we managed to survive until today. And we like to believe that we will survive again.
Now, since the pandemic has started. For us it was, we saw it as a possibility and opportunity to create something new, at least for us here. So for that, we have created a hybrid version of reworks which is called reworks Connect. We have presented various sets in wonderful venues and locations around Greece. Also, we hosted artists visiting their work from their hometowns, and also we hosted panels and all that on an online edition. We have been extremely happy with the results. And already we are designing now the next reworks Connect, which is going to be held in 2021. And we also hope that somehow we will be able this year to have a form of a physical edition of reworks Festival and reworks Agora, our conference.