Hello Yiorgos and welcome to Metal Invader. We would like of you to share you the idea came up to meddle with music distribution firstly with the e-shop “Pare Kosme” – when I initially met you, and later with Floga Records.
Hi Nicola. First of all thanks for your invitation. Our project began in 2002, after I returned from Germany, where I studied and had lived for ten years. What caught my attention was that while there were many record stores and sales, and through them one could get new releases, mail orders had slowly starting to become a thing as well. There was no internet, but there were printed catalogs. I always had in mind to try something like that when returning to Greece. I suggested it to my brother and he agreed. During our first steps, we sold used vinyls and since they were in really low prices, we called it “Pare Kosme” (a Greek phrase used by sellers in markets when something is very cheap, urging the buyer to take it), hehehe. Then we realized we could go a step further, and there had to be a name change. We wanted something from the Greek language, and something that sounds easy to remember and nice. I don’t know if we succeeded, but that’s how FLOGA (=flame) was decided.
How did the change into Floga Records happen? Was it your need to cover stuff you didn’t find or was it a request from the people?
Our decision to release vinyls had to do with the fact that many albums had been released many years ago and in a certain amount of copies, resulting in being hard to find or extremely expensive. We approached this in a different way, putting for example a gatefold cover and offering to the public a good product in a good price. Ourmainrequirementwasalways to have a good result even if it would cost us more. We would like the buyer to be pleased with what he got and not to curse us. A landmark moment in our journey has been the collaboration with Panos Argyriou (Aenaon / Katavasia), who is responsible for all our graphics for eight years now. Panos is a freak with perfection and likes what he does a lot.
How difficult is it for someone to have a label? What were some problems that you faced that let you down a bit to continue, and what was that made you go on?
To run a label in Greece is as difficult as running any similar business. Lot’s of stuff to do and not enough profit. For me though, FLOGA is my personal psychotherapy. My main job covers big parts of my day and energy, FLOGA comes to fill my energies. Even though my free time is minimized now and I’m occupied even when I’m sleeping, I wouldn’t change this situation. I enjoy it and it rejuvenates me!
For the newer readers, let’s say that you were once an editor in the printed Metal Invader, talk to us about that period of time. You know you always have a place here, hahaha!
Haha, thanks. If I ever stop sleeping completely, I will write again for Invader. I don’t remember how the collaboration with Metal Invader happened, to be sincere. I had the urge from way back, when during the 80’s and 90’s, we released a fanzine with a friend named Christos, called Headache. We only had three issues. In Germany during the 90’s I went to many shows, then my need to write again returned and I asked Yiorgos Zacharopoulos if I could write reviews of some of the gigs I went. Along with the live shows came and two interviews with Manowar and Savatage.
In your releases, there are rare pieces of big bands, as well as Greek forgotten pieces. How do you approach a band, what do you see in them and want to release a record? How well do your predictions go?
My motive is one of a fan only. If I like something and I know there is a good chance it will not go well, I will still try to release it. On the other hand, I’m trying for each release to cover its expenses, so that we don’t actually lose money from it.
What would you advice bands that want to contact you or want to do their first steps in the scene?
I don’t know if I’m good at that. I’m always open to listen to new bands and new material and if something feels good, I do the next step. I talk to the band to see their demands.
How easy is it to find material to re-release? Apart from re-releasing older material, have you thought of going more actively towards releasing new albums?
When we started doing re-releases of classics and not albums (first was A Dead Poem), things were easy. Interest in vinyls was not really high, as it is now, so labels gave rights rather easily. Also, the people interested were much less. As time went by, this has changed. More people are interested and labels are not giving away albums’ rights now. They prefer to release big names by themselves.
What is a big dream release that you would like to host in Floga Records?
I don’t really have a dream to be sincere. We are moving step by step, and whatever good comes up is welcome.
Having to do with musicians and strong personalities, how do you deal with their pet peeves?
I’ve been lucky not to have come across with unreasonable musicians. All these years I’ve talked to legends, like Jeff Becerra, Tom Angelripper, Schmier, Sakis, Yiorgos Zacharopoulos, and many others. Everyone is down to earth, friendly and easy to work with. Any crankiness that we have dealt with has come from artists of less popularity.
Most people obviously see only the final result of an album… What are some common difficulties until a record is released?
To reach the moment of holding a vinyl in your hand, many things have happened before. One of the most common difficulties is finding good quality layout. Many releases are really old, so there is not high quality audio in digital format. That’s where Panos Argyriou tries hard to produce a result that is acceptable at least.
You have the fame of a metal fan, so I would like to name some of your favorite bands and records? One top five.
Even though I have now reached 45 years of age and many years have passed since the following were released, to my ears these albums still sound very fresh:
METALLICA – RIDE THE LIGHTNING
MERCYFUL FATE – DON’T BREAK THE OATH
KING DIAMOND – FATAL PORTRAIT
POSSESSED – SEVEN CHURCHES
KREATOR – PLEASURETOKILL
I could name 50 more, hehehe…
Your base is in the rural city of Xanthi. Do you think that the evolution of Floga Records would have been different if you were in a bigger city?
No, on the contrary I think Xanthi is an advantage. We have lower costs and the customers see that. The internet is the means today, it’s not important where you reside, but how you move. If you see labels in Germany, none of them is in big cities, but in the outskirts.
What are your relations with other labels in Greece and outside of it, as well as distros? How competitive is the field?
I have good relations with everyone out there, in and out of borders. Fair play is essential to me. I try to collaborate with other labels, respecting their personal space at the same time. Not to try to get in something someone else prepares, for example. I have received the same respect from others. There was a big label that was trying to sell records to a dutch label, when we had already signed contracts with them. In my honor, the Dutch guy sent me a message and the issue was solved in good spirits. Apart from that, there are some back stabbings, but I’m not gonna stand on those. They do not deserve to be discussed.
How do you see the label in 10 years? What would you like to achieve that you haven’t already?
We are moving step by step. We don’t have specific plans for the future and we don’t know where it will take us. As long as we have fun, we move on.
That’s all from us. Thank you for doing an interview with us and we hope to see you again in our team.
Many thanks again Nicola. Thanks for giving me the chance to say some words on our constant effort. I wish you all the best in Metal Invader and I hope to see you again in printed format.