Saristra is one of the most special summer festivals in Greece and again, from August 2nd to 4th, gives life to the abandoned village of Old Vlachata Sami in Kefalonia for three days full of music, art, cinema and many parallel activities.
In a unique setting with half-ruined buildings and winding dirt roads, Saristra strives to bring the past of the place together with the festival’s present, giving the visitor the opportunity to browse through every corner of this magical village while enjoying a variety of fun.
Having hosted numerous notable artists from Greece and abroad in the past, this year returns with a very versatile line-up. With two scenes, the central stone scene focusing on the guitar, and the more electronic and “hidden” amidst a spooky landscape in the area’s olive grove, will present some of the most interesting names of the Greek independent scene, as well as important guests from abroad.
Shortly before this year’s event, Sarotra ‘s Fotis Vallatos spoke to newsbeast.gr .
– What exactly is Saristra?
Saristra is a three-day festival with free admission that includes mainly concerts of major Greek and international alternative names, as well as lectures, exhibitions, movie screenings, theatrical performances, yoga classes and many more activities and is organized by the Non-Profit Organization of the Old Village of Vlachata in the area of Sami Kefalonia. It is a village that was abandoned after the devastating earthquake1953 – which almost flattened Kefalonia and Zakynthos – and has remained untouched and unchanged since then. The visitor can stroll through the dirt streets and see the school, the church, the houses, the café in an environment of olive trees, pomegranates, walnuts, herbs and sheep. It’s a “ghost village” – like a movie set.
– How did the idea of organizing it in a desert village come about?
The need to create a link between the past of the place and the present and the need to explore how a later generation (like ours) translates such a significant event – such as the great earthquake of 1953 – and transforms it into a a contemporary cultural event, a postmodern festival we like to grasp. And because we enjoy the festivals and watch them in the various villages of Kefalonia and all over Greece, we said to set up one with the materials of our generation.
– Do you know if something similar is happening elsewhere in the world?
In recent years there has been a worldwide trend towards smaller niche summer festivals in more ‘unexpected’ places – I think a trend originally created to meet the concert needs of 40+ music festival-goers but by age are looking for more quality features in them and with the minimum of hassle – but without at the same time removing points from the overall experience. Remember, we live in a time when experiences give (to their ‘owners’) perhaps a bigger status symbol than ‘traditional’ material goods. This is why concert tourismflourishesworldwide (such as wine etc) – and it’s a great opportunity for Greece to take advantage of this. We at Saristra are very happy because the number of foreign visitors to the festival has been rising for the last 2-3 years.
– You are one of the creators of the festival and I imagine you have lived through it all these years. Could you tell us about what they are experiencing or what those who watch it want to experience?
It is almost a mystical experience to attend a festival in such an environment. And it’s great to see Saristra as a very special experience – quite different from a “classic” festival.
– Are there any special events that impressed you and can you share with us?
The emotion of the older people who were born and raised in that village and saw it come to life again after so many years, through an event that is theoretically far from their interests. And yet: Our grandmothers, and older people in general, come and tell us how much they liked the punk band or the electronic music producer.
– What are the criteria for organizing the events?
Our criteria are largely imposed by the place. This is the aesthetic guide of the festival, not us. Couldn’t for example to include in our program a folk / pop artist because it would wash away the environment itself. That is why we select artists who appear with very strict aesthetic and artistic criteria and in no way commercially. As I mentioned at the beginning, the festival is not-for-profit, but fortunately it manages to get free admission and is sustainable through support from organizations such as the Onassis Foundation and the Ministry of Culture– while also contributing to the Ionian Islands Region and the Municipal Benefit Enterprise of Kefalonia, as well as businesses that have believed in our vision and the high aesthetics of the festival. It is also based on the charity work of the production and production team and the voluntary work of dozens of people – including our parents and relatives.
– Which artists does this year’s program include?
This year’s big guest of this year’s Saristra is Ian Svenonius , an active form of the Washington DC underground scene, the great Japanese psychedelic Minami Deutsch with the reputation of one of the best live bands in the world right now, Blaine L. Reininger’s “legendary” frontman by Tuxedomoon, Acid Baby Jesusreturning to the old village scene after their last appearance in 2017, The Callaswith their holistic artistic universe, Territroy the explosive partnership of Larry Gus and Stathis Kalantzis (Mr. Statik)Shortly after the release of their album on the influential Dutch company Dekmantel, Jay Glass Dubs with his dark dub and bittersweet reviews from world music press, Corfu Restive Plaggona with his industrial techno, the $ OFT $ KULL supergroup with their ‘dirty’ guitars, the newly formed Sclavos with post punk worries, the Strawberry Pills electro / darkwave duet with one of the best single (‘Verbal Suicide’) of this year’s Greek production, the Turbo Teeth with the post-industrial fragments by Dury Dava with their idiosyncratic Mediterranean (and almost “eastern”) psychedelia, the s̶i̶s̶t̶e̶ r̶with their improvisational mystery, Georgios Karamanolakis, who will set up a wall of sound using various electroacoustic techniques, MarcelDune in an improvisational set that combines analogue and digital sounds with natural sound recordings, Kolida Babo with a sound that is heard amidst Greek traditional music and free jazz form, Beyond the Mounts (project by George Kontogiannidis of Numb Capsule Records) that combines techno with IDM, Kostadis with improvisational moods and introspective low tempo sound, by Bill Anagnoswhich will attempt to combine vaporwave with drone and lo-fi with world music, Echo Canyon combining field recordings and noise-ejecting throwing multi-rhythmic spells, Odysseus Tzirita – the new star of the Greek scene – with Aikelis pop and Johnny Labelle with the dreamy lo-fi sound and crooner voice, and after the live decks of the two scenes are taken over by great djs and producers such as Xyn Cabal and ASTYTEKK , the Cannibal Radio web radio with b2b set by Simos Ares and The Prudence Tapes, while the more rock’n’roll program is played by bands such as Nolo Areola (Acid Baby Jesus) and Taboole + Big Baby (Dury Dava). The festival’s traditional closing party takes on the Express Skopelitis duo this year .
– What are the goals for the future?
Saristra’s main goal is to establish (already largely) one of the most important alternative summer music festivals in Greece, but to get on the radar of more and more foreign visitors.