Embarking on a journey through the pulsating beats of techno music, we dive into the extraordinary world of George Apergis aka EMEX, a pioneer whose presence has been woven into the very fabric of this genre. Born out of a profound love for techno, Apergis takes us on a retrospective tour, from the early days of the 90s rave scene to the establishment of Modular Expansion, a name synonymous with authentic techno experiences. As the founder and driving force behind this iconic label, Apergis shares insights into the challenges and triumphs that shaped Athens’ techno landscape over the past 25 years. From groundbreaking events to collaborations with Berlin’s techno elite, Apergis reflects on the influence of the German techno culture on his musical approach. In an exclusive interview, he delves into the creative process behind his recent release, “Touch Infinity” and offers a glimpse into the future of Modular Expansion and upcoming projects.

For readers who may not be familiar with your extensive body of work, could you please introduce yourself.
Since I grew up in the 90s, I was lucky enough to live the entire history of techno music from the very beginning. The first time that I listened to this kind of music and partied was a turning point for me, as I became an “pioneer” with the aim of spreading this culture. So the story starts by buying more and more records and going to rave parties to experience the whole culture of techno. Later on, I started planning my own events and performing as a DJ in order to present the “authentic techno” to the audience. Years later follows the foundation of my label, my own productions and the connections with Berlin and Europe. My goal has always been to bring people together, regardless of their origin or personality. The philosophy of what you do and why you do it is the most important and that can keep you active for 25 years and more.

Can you take us back to the early days of Modular Expansion in 1998?
In the 90s world-wide techno was at its peak. In Greece, house, trance and tech-house, which were considered to be techno, prevailed. The main reason that I started the Modular Expansion events was because I wanted Athens to have its own true techno party, which at the time was aggressive and not at all accepted by the general public of Athens. Artists such as Surgeon, Regis, Advent, Jeff Mills, Robert Hood were very tough. This is how we managed to have a presence on the global techno scene and to a very independent crowd. At the beginning, the events took place in various clubs and venues, not particularly techno ones, that, at first, attracted 100 people, then 300, then 500, then many more. Some years later, after inviting many guests from Berlin and having my performance at the old Tresor, this hard music attracted the interest of more commercial clubs and teams. That was the time when they started bringing the big names of the time to Athens and these parties became commercial and available to a wider audience. This is how the music industry works until now.

You’ve been pivotal in establishing connections between Athens and Berlin, even organizing the first Tresor events in Athens in 2000. How did this collaboration come about, and what impact did it have on the local techno scene?
The connections with Berlin came very easily as any artist who came here was first impressed that there is a techno scene in Athens and also impressed from the knowledge we had about music so we automatically had a good name in the underground scene of Berlin. This later helped the creation of the label and our presence in Berlin. This helped the local scene a lot, since then people associated us with Berlin techno and they were impressed by our progress there.

What inspired you to establish the label, and how has it contributed to the evolution of techno in Athens over the past 25 years?
The creation of Modular Expansion records has been my true dream since the beginning of my involvement with this music. Big record collector for 30 years, with my record library close to 10,000, the biggest Techno collection in Greece, was the natural consequence. The name “Modular Expansion” is inspired from the first analog modular synthesizers of which different parts were connected between each other, forming an expansion. All those years with the creation of the label we had the acceptance and respect of the biggest artists of the scene and thus we succeeded and consolidated our relations with Europe and to be heard even further as far as New Zealand and Colombia.

How has Modular Expansion played a role in shaping the techno landscape in Athens, and what challenges and triumphs have you encountered along the way?
Modular Expansion is known to play a decisive role in the local scene and is truly the longest-running techno brand name in the country. We have given a step to too many new artists to present their music over the years, almost all the DJs of Athens have played at our events. The biggest challenge has to do with the events and the forced competition with the commercialism of other teams and clubs. They only care about the present, money and glory and they are willing to do anything for it and of course it angers them when you are authentic and do it with true love. Because you will always be here!

The greatest success is to “exist” and of course you are honored when a techno fan comes and tells you that he heard techno for the first time when you played in a party. Regarding the musical transition of the scene, I believe that it has become more aggressive. “It reminds me of the early 90’s. The youth, especially after quarantine, want lots of bpm and harder music. This is also due to the fact that artistically, or even sexually, the horizons have opened. There is a cluster of sounds that you can call “meta-rave”. It has techno, it has breaks, vocals, house, disco, trance. This also existed in the early 90’s. You must always live in the present with no limits or boundaries.

Reflecting on your performance at the old Tresor in 2002, as well as at iconic venues like Berghain, Renate, and Sisyphos. What memories stand out? How do you think your time performing in Berlin has influenced your approach to music?
The influence of the techno culture of Berlin is the best thing that has happened to me. I was impressed from my first time at the old Tresor in Berlin that everyone treated me with the utmost respect. The first thing I do when I get to Berlin is to go to the record stores. Vinyls and this techno culture are a part of me. When a record store closes in Berlin it’s like an old friend dies.

All the big clubs in Berlin have their own character and are very special. I feel honored that I played almost everywhere, it means a lot! I generally like venues where people are fixated on the DJ and “hanging” on his mixing and selections. I like this direct relationship with the audience. And I look into their eyes, there is this union. Friends, acquaintances, crowd, you feel like a family on the dancefloors of Berlin, it’s a unique experience. Also, dance is an international language and I believe that every person responds to music based on their influences. Playing the same track, you will see below some people dancing with their hands, others with their feet and so on. They have a different approach to the same track. I do this as an experiment with the crowd, each time I try to understand the audience.

The video for “Touch Infinity” features the collaboration with Ingrid Hideki and Alkistis Kafetzi. How did this collaboration come about, and what was the creative process like in bringing this vision to life?
The Touch Infinity project involves the creation of works of art based on Spira and the way it is harmonized in modern art, an action with an emphasis on design and contemporary electronic music. We live in a spiral galaxy. The first sensation that a spiral shape gives is the image of evolution and the will to touch the infinity. Modern technology and binary code give us the ability to touch infinity. With the use of modern technology, the music has evolved in addition to vinyl and in shape and color in the form of a spiral ceramic vase.

The video by Alkistis Kafetzi had the same philosophy of Spira as you can see it in 360 filmed scenes. Alkistis is a good friend of mine who lives in Berlin, a filmmaker who engages in various independent productions, ranging from music videos to poetry films and documentaries. In her recent projects, she delves into the dynamic realms of the feminist movement, self-organized communities, and LGBTQ rights. In the video starring Ingrid Hideki, a multidisciplinary artist based in Berlin too. In her current work she addresses issues regarding Queerness, fem liberation extrapolating both in the physical and the digital realm. From my early years I was supporting the LGBTQ culture, so in every opportunity I love to give a step to people of independent beliefs to participate and present their work.

You’ve collaborated with a diverse array of artists, from Truncate to Carl Cox. How do these collaborations come about, and what aspects of each collaboration do you find most enriching for your musical journey?
In the early years it was too difficult to get in touch with someone, you were looking for FAX or telephone on the records of the artists that you like. Later came the email but it was difficult to find the email of your favorite artist! Then came My Space then Facebook. Social media in the beginning helped a lot to get in touch with the right people. Now it is a mess, too much spam and not even email helps with the GDPR rules. But if you really want something, the cosmos conspires to make it happen. The most important thing is that the contacts are based in music, regardless of the artist’s popularity, so closer collaboration relationships are always created, whether it is a production, an event or a podcast. The most important thing is friendship, like for example Alex Retsis, Alexander Kowalski and Hendrik Vaak from Sender Berlin, who have been friends for over 20 years and have done many projects together.

As Modular Expansion celebrates its 25th anniversary, what special events or releases can fans expect in commemoration of this milestone?
I realized that we have a 25 year anniversary in November haha. We have already presented an event at Renate in Berlin and a separate event in Athens with artists involved in the history of Modular Expansion. We also released two vinyls, George Apergis “Retrograde” and Emex “Touch Infinity” and a lot of Podcasts. We are preparing for the next 25 years, who is in?

Could you delve into the creative process and inspiration behind your recent release, “Hi’iaka”? How does it fit into the broader narrative of your musical journey?
Whenever a release is ready, I listen to it constantly while traveling in Cosmos. There I visualize the music and the elements of the cosmos. Usually everything is connected between them up to tracks, natural phenomena and Hellenic ancient history. Electronic music, space and ancient history is truly an interstellar journey and I hope this is the afterlife. Almost everything in the universe usually has Helenic roots but reaching beyond Neptune there is a Hawaiian ancient history that is truly special. All the names of my releases have some interstellar connection between them. As for Hi’iaka, is a Hawaiian goddess and the larger, outer moon of the trans-Neptunian dwarf planet Haumea, see the color of the vinyl, listen to the music, read the titles and travel to cosmos.

How has the support from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture shaped the direction and scope of your projects, particularly the ongoing “Touch Infinity” project?
In the period of global health crisis and the time of new world order, we were forced and sought support from organizations, where we finally had the opportunity to come into contact with valuable people from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Municipality of Athens who evaluated and supported our projects. This gave us the possibility to further develop our actions abroad and give the step to new partners. Touch Infinity is an action between two cities of Athens and Berlin and involves many kinds of artists. In project involved artists for the production of music, factory plant for the creation of a vinyl disc, graphic designer, Spyros Grammenos, who creates the artistic cover, Yiannis Vogdanis who creates two vases based on music and finally we had two artistic music videos, one by Alkistis Kafetzi and one by the Berliners the29nov. After all, there have already been events to present the works and others are planned for 2024.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of Modular Expansion and your personal artistic endeavors? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations you can provide a sneak peek into?
The most important thing of all is to exist and be active in the spirit of the times. With that alone I am satisfied! Of course, some new projects are coming in 2024, for example new releases by George Apergis & Alexander Kowalski. Also, we are already working again with my good old friend Alex Retsis, new tracks and the new EMEX LIVE! The revival of Reverb events is already a fact, multi-thematic events in special places. Many events in Athens, Berlin and some other European cities. We are open for collaborations! Muzik Is The Reazon!