Greek-born, Milan-based producer and multi-instrumentalist, Panagiotis Melidis makes heavily-sampled, densely melodic dance music under the alias "λάρυγγας" (larynx) transliterated as "Larry Gus". Originally coming from a computer engineering background, the curveball into music production back in 2006 makes a whole lot of sense when listening to the sample-heavy, psychedelia of Years Not Leaving. The ten-track LP, out now on James Murphy's label, DFA is a restless, genre mash-up, giving a nod to everything from hip hop to 60s free-jazz, a testament to Melidis' skilful engineering. You can stream Melidis' Congenial Blue mix, made exclusively for Dazed below.
Here, we speak to Melidis about being an acquired taste, how the financial tatters of his homeland drive him on and his recent launch into film.
Dazed Digital: Talk us through the inspirations for Years Not Leaving - Georges Perec and Lucio Battisti?
Panagiotis Melidis: Georges Perec's constrained way of writing informed the way I approached sample-based music composition. I started reading Life, a User's Manual right at the point when I also started deciding that I should change my life as a whole (spring 2010). I needed to stop trying to persuade myself that I am a computer engineer, no matter what my diploma says, and just focus on music. I found everything in that book, all the answers to all my creative dilemmas were in it. It is literally the most important thing that ever happened to me.
Lucio Battisti's songs were a much more personal and emotional influence because my girlfriend (we are now married) had recently moved to Milan around the time I was working on my LP Years Not Living, and Lucio Battisti reminded me of her and Milano. Also, Anima Latina is my favorite album ever ever ever ever.
DD: Your influences are described as "off-kilter", why do you think this is?
Panagiotis Melidis: Well, I think that people might describe my sound and influences as "off-kilter" because in the general context of DFA Records, I sound a little bit denser, more maximalistic, less direct and all over the place, which can put people off. Most people that listen to my album never like it the first time around and even DFA itself decided to put it out after spending three months listening to it.
“Failure and zeroing down at the same time - it can only be amazing and exciting.”
DD: Tell us about the film My Friend Larry Gus?
Panagiotis Melidis: It's a documentary, based mostly on my life in my hometown Veria, Imathia while recording YNL (September 2010 - june 2011). I moved out from Barcelona to my small hometown in order to work on those songs, and that was quite a risky and thoughtless decision, which right now seems like it has payed off, but on the other hand it is still too early to tell. Life tends to fuck with you in the least expected moments, and I am constantly trying to come to terms with that. It's not easy.
The movie is intertwined with many crazy stories about my Greek friends, and it was shot by one of them: Vasilis Katsoupis (AKA Dipyadeep) who is also responsible for most of my music video work so far. He is my favorite director ever (Moon Of 20 Days is an underrated classic), and overall My Friend Larry Gus can also be classified as a weird comedy film.
DD: It's set against the backdrop of Greece's financial crisis - I read recently that you say the current financial instability is actually helping a new generation of musicians to thrive?
Panagiotis Melidis: Exactly. We no longer have to follow in our parents' footsteps, and that's because there's no money around anymore, which would have maybe pushed us to actually follow their paths 15 years ago. Also, our parents all failed miserably, so everything right now is just set back to zero practically - it's really an amazing feeling! Failure and zeroing down at the same time - it can only be amazing and exciting.
DD: Any underground Greek music we should be tapping into right now? Or in Milano?
Panagiotis Melidis: I have so many good friends who are make amazing music in both places and it is always super hard to mention all of them. Two of my favourites in Milan are Giuseppe Ielasi's records and his record label Senufo Editions have been a constant inspiration over the past two years. In Veria, Mpampis Bozoglou runs a super warm and inviting recording studio, still finding time to make weird, tribal folk pop as Dozen Draft.
Years Not Leaving is available to buy now on DFA.
Follow Sian Dolding on Twitter here @SianDolding