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The man behind album covers: Simos Saltiel on SKG Fest at deBόp.

by Efi Chryssou

Simos Saltiel is Creative Director / Photographer and one of the men who lived things from the inside. He photographed the Thessaloniki rock scene in the nineties and directed music videos. Today he is art director and photographer at Red Creative. On the occasion of the SKG Fest at Gagarin 205 on 9 &10 February, he tells us his own stories from the Thessaloniki scene of the nineties.

You have photographed, designed album covers and directed music videos during the nineties. What are your strongest memories from that time?

Our life and our work were interconnected. The musicians were friends, we hung out at homes, in studios, in practice rooms, in concerts, backstage, on the street, on trips, in hotels, at bars. It was a way of life.

I remember endless conversations with Yannis Aggelakas - I learned a lot from him. I remember the first Lycabettus concert where a part of the audience started a violent riot and Yannis calmed them down by addressing them with a straight and honest voice. I remember conversations with Pavlos Pavlidis about Veria, Paris and his dreams. I remember the big party with live bands that I organised at Kapani.

Which bands have you worked with?

We designed album covers, cds, booklets, posters for Mora sti Fotia, for Trypes (from 9 payed songs and on), for Xylina Spathia, for all Yannis' personal projects, for Psarantonis and Psaroyiorgis, the first Lost Bodies album, Sokratis Malamas' live album, Yorgos Christianakis first 3 albums, for Maskes, Ghetto, Rothama, De Facto, Nanoi, Underwater Chess, Vassilis Goudaroulis, Mad Max, On Lacrimae, Eleni Tsaligopoulou's ta-ri-ra, and all of Babis Papadopoulos' personal albums.

Which album covers would you like to have designed?

Velvet's banana, the first albums by the Clash and the Sex Pistols, Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures, Τhom Yorke's Eraser, all albums by the Pixies, Spiritualized, Blue Note, and Pink Floyd.

Which are you favourite album covers and why?

The first album by Mora sti Fotia and the first album by Nanoi for their straight forward approach.

Could you give us a photograph and tell us the story behind it?

When Trypes were recording the album 9 payed songs, I went to the studio and asked each musician to sit for a quick close up portrait. I developed and printed one photo of each member, than I cut parts of their face and created a collage made of all parts. I used a staple gun to hold the pieces together and photographed the end result. That became the album's back cover.

Many influential bands came from Thessaloniki. Which ones are your favourites and why?

The influential bands are pretty much known. I would rather mention Thessaloniki bands that never reached a wide audience: The Mushrooms, Boomstate, Ziggy Was, Underwater Chess, Sancho 003 and Nanoi.

Do you believe that this explosion will be repeated in the furture?

The city's conditions are in favour of that: its a small city, musicians know each other, the younger ones stick with the olders, every body goes to the same bars and clubs that play good music. The issue for me is more global: will there be something big in music soon? The digital homogenization of society, placed the arts in the passenger seat.

SKG Fest brings the Thessaloniki music scene in Athens. How important is that action?

Something similar was done in the mid nineties: a 2 day event organised by music journalist Makis Milatos at Rodon Club. 4 Thessaloniki bands played one night and 4 Athens bands the next. The idea was great but the attendance was not good. Also the bands didn't really interact with each other.

I hope that this time things will be better. What is really important in Yorgos Christianakis' idea is that lesser known bands will have the opportunity to perform in front of a large audience.