Home Featured Feature: SKALA, Theologos & ‘Amaeo’ [Interview]

Feature: SKALA, Theologos & ‘Amaeo’ [Interview]

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SKALA's mission is for people to emotionally open up, so they leave feeling emotionally escalated, or what she likes to call it “eSKALAtion”. The passionate producer from Berlin has been making music since she was a child and combines her background in piano music with her current Melodic Techno productions. Her tracks sound like a perfect symbiosis of heavy bass lines and airy melodies. In 2023 she also started her own label ‚Amaeo’ together with her partner Theologos.

Theologos, based in Berlin, started his DJ career at the early age of 17 inspired by the House classics of the early 2000s. Over the years his sound developed towards Indie Dance and Melodic Techno and his Greek influenced grooves won’t let anyone stand still on the dance floor.

Hi Guys, thanks for sitting with us today! What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Theologos: While I’m sitting in the studio writing the answers, I'm listening to a playlist on Spotify called "Maximale Konzentration" (Maximum Concentration). Perhaps you already know this playlist. I'm naturally a very active person, and it calms me down. I can hear the birds chirping outside, and the sun is shining.

SKALA: I was listening to Indie Rock music. I was never fixed to a specific genre and especially during my downtime I like to listen to different music than the one I play during my sets.

How has your start to the year been and what are your plans for the week?

Our year started off very exciting. Amaeo was officially born on January 1, 2023, and at that time, we didn't know how the label would be accepted by the people. We tried to think of everything, listened to tips from friends who had been running their labels for a while, but there were always moments where we realized we hadn't thought of everything. But that's the great thing about it; you grow with the experience. Theologos will be playing in Copenhagen at Culturebox on the 21st of July. After SKALA’s debut at the Fusion Festival on the Turmbühne (Tower stage) SKALA and Theologos will be having a showcase with Amaeo in Turkey. The locations and dates will be announced very soon through Instagram.

First off let’s give our readers a bit of background on you both. Tell us about growing up in Germany, how did you discover electronic music there and who from your home country influenced you the most while you were coming up?

Theologos: I was born and raised in Hannover. It's a city in the center of Germany, situated between Berlin and Amsterdam. Growing up in Hannover, I found it to be quite exhausting and frustrating at times. Due to my "non-German" roots, I often noticed that I was disadvantaged because of it. That shaped my character. My uncle had a beach bar in Greece. My parents, my older brother, and I used to fly to Greece in the summer time to visit our family for at least 6 weeks every year, and I spent a significant part of my time at the beach bar. They played a lot of electronic music there, and even as a young child, I found a liking for it. Dennis Ferrer was my idol back then. He completely got me with "Hey Hey," and when I watched videos of him performing, I was impressed by his charisma and performance. When I was 25, I moved to Berlin. Now I'm 32.

SKALA: Growing up during the 90s and early 2000s definitely influenced me. Hearing songs on the radio like Children from Robert Miles or Insomnia by Faithless. However, my music taste was always very broad, I learned playing the piano at 6, so I also listened to a lot of classical music and as a teenager I preferably listened to Hip Hop. That’s also when I started producing. I made my first beats with 15 on Cubase and Reason and later rediscovered my passion for electronic music again.

Berlin is widely known for being a hub for electronic music artists. Tell us how living there has impacted the music you make, and your career path into the industry.

Theologos: When I moved to Berlin, I noticed that the dominant music here was darker than what I was used to. I also got influenced by it, and over time, my sound developed, which is now what we define as Amaeo (our music project).

SKALA: I can agree with Theologos here. Before Berlin I was living in Sydney where people mainly listened to Tech House and good vibes, whenever I played a more progressive sound over there it was a bit challenging, so I was happy to show my more melancholic side when I moved to Berlin. It gave me the freedom to explore the darker corners of my musical taste and not trying to fit into a box. Until today I think there are not many places that allow you to be completely free with your music and show people something that is different from the main stream. Berlin is very open minded when it comes to that.

What have been your favourite venues to play or attend events in Berlin and why?

Theologos: My absolute favorite clubs? Unfortunately, Rummelsbucht doesn't exist anymore. That club (together with Sisyphos) gave me countless hours of freedom. The freedom to be who I wanted to be, to listen to what I loved, it felt like kind of therapy. I was fortunate to be able to play at the last party of Rummelsbucht. It was a sad moment. These two clubs are basically responsible for Theologos' sound.

SKALA: I always love the events with my collective ‚Banausen‘ - we occasionally do events at various locations with friends for friends and it’s so lovely getting everyone together. Club wise there are many in Berlin that I like to play at. The ones I have played the most at are: Kater Blau, Watergate and Ritter Butzke. All very different vibes but all very fun to play at as a DJ. I love that there is such a diversity within the club scene here, it’s not like other cities where you only have one main club for electronic music.

If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

Theologos: I really enjoy sitting in front of the computer and making music. I have many friends who are sad that I have so little time. But when we do see each other, it's even more intense, which is also beautiful.

SKALA: At the studio or at the pool table but many days I am just resting at home because touring can be quite tiring.

You’ve recently launched your own imprint ‘Amaeo’ but first let’s give our readers some back story, how did you first meet? And how did that relationship flourish into eventually deciding to create a record label together?

Theologos: We met in 2019 at the Katzensprung Festival, which is near Cologne. Yes, we didn't meet in Berlin. SKALA and I have mutual friends who brought us together. It happened at the festival that we played back-to-back. We had a special chemistry. Over time, a close friendship developed, and at the end of 2021, we also became a couple. We share many similarities, have similar characteristics, and both have a crazy side. One day, SKALA approached me and asked me what I thought about starting our own label. I just nodded.

Why did now feel like the right time to start the label?

Theologos: January 1, 2023, was simply the earliest and administratively easiest date. We used the last quarter of 2022 to plan everything, find a designer and other business partners. It just worked out that way.

SKALA: The idea of starting my own label has been brewing within me for quite some time. It's not just about releasing my own music, but also about discovering and mentoring upcoming artists. I've always enjoyed sharing this journey with others, and now feels like the perfect time to embark on something new. Plus, it's much more fun to do it with a partner who shares the same vision. That's why I wanted to do it together with Theologos, we share the same musical taste and passion for performing and I'm thrilled that we're taking this exciting step together.

A successful partnership is generally based around balance and compromise; how do you manage these things within the label dynamic?

Theologos: We divided the different departments among ourselves. SKALA is outstanding with marketing and our social media content. I handle acquiring artists for our podcast series on SoundCloud and design the covers for it. When artists send us demos, we both listen to them and decide together if the sound represents Amaeo. Our taste is very similar, which makes the decision-making process a lot easier.

You had a new release out few weeks ago, the labels first VA collection called ‚To Be Discovered‘ ft. tracks from Losless, SKALA, Argia, Mëhill and more, tell us about the project and how you went about selecting the music for it.

We contacted the artists because we saw our vision in their style. In the end, our assumption was confirmed, and we ended up with a VA that makes it seem like the artists coordinated with each other. The feedback we received from both big and smaller artists was just a sign that we are on the right path.

Tell us a bit about the label’s artwork, it’s beautiful and quite a distinctive look in the current sea of robot/AI inspired artwork.

Gianpaolo Tucci is our designer. He is fantastic at what he does. We had worked with several designers in the past, but in the end, we are incredibly happy to work with him. Our desire was to synthesize something organic and colorful, just like we do with the music, but visually. When you take a closer look at the artwork, you initially think you know what you're seeing. It's almost like optical illusions. It's simply eye-catching. You can find more of his work on instagram: @aesthetics_imperfections.

Is the importance of artwork something that has maybe gotten lost a bit as music gets more rapidly consumed?

Yes, unfortunately. We believe it is a necessary investment that makes the label more complete. Art and music have always been going hand in hand. We would love to create music videos in the future, but for now we are focusing on growing the label first.

What advice do you have for artists hoping to get signed to Amaeo?

Listen to our previously released tracks or tracks that we play at our shows. Draw parallels between the tracks. We aren’t looking for the typical melodic techno. Hearing a unique style is crucial, if it sounds like the same presets all over, we don’t understand who is behind the music. Show us what is your personal sound and don’t be afraid to be different. Everything that surprises us is more likely to get signed to Amaeo than a copy of what we have heard in the past.

What advice would you have for new or potential label owners out there?

If you don't want to run the label alone, find someone with the same vision and drive. The rest will come from the process itself. Have a clear vision and find business partners you can work with in the long run. Consistency is the key.

Who do you see as the most talented new artists in Melodic House and Techno? Who are you liking at the moment?

This question fits perfectly with our VA. That's why we called it "To be Discovered." Here, we want to draw people's attention to who we believe is "the next big thing."

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Both: Social contacts and our friends. They give you support, and they will be the ones who initially carry and reinforce our vision.

SKALA: …and being in nature. A lot of my inspiration comes from nature, so sometimes I need to get out of the city to get a free mind again.

What can we expect from Amaeo’ for the remainder of 2023 – any special releases we should be looking out for?

Our next release will be an EP by an emerging duo, consisting of two original tracks and a remix. Plus there will be more original music coming by ourselves. For other EPs we are currently listening to a lot of demos to see what fits our vision and on top of that we are organizing our first showcases to bring the Amaeo sound to different places in the world.

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