Ni Moya | Interview | John Vagenas

Uncategorized October 29, 2021

Ni Moya | Interview | John Vagenas

Following a long-held tradition in electronic music, the project by the name of Ni Moya is a one-man operation.

John Vagenas started out a life of artistic creation when he entered the Film Department of the School of Fine Arts in Thessaloniki, where he later wrote and directed Warp, a ’30s surrealistic horror film, engulfed in the teachings of David Lynch, Andrei Tarkovsky and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Shortly after, he co-founded the psychedelic rock band Naxatras, assuming the bass guitar/lead vocals duties and proceeding in the following decade to make an acclaimed career in the psych rock scene, with 3 fully analogue recorded albums and an ever increasing number of tours throughout Europe and Australia. Ni Moya as a project came to life around the same period, when deep experimentation with music-making software triggered something creative, soon to be followed by the love for analogue synthesizers, drum machines, samplers, sequencers and the decision to compose with hardware equipment. The first solid ideas led to the build-up of the four tracks that shaped the ‘Ni Moya’ album. A variety of influences marks the identity Ni Moya, from Aphex Twin’s IDM and the psychedelia of Shpongle, to Brian Eno’s ambient, GAS’s atmospheric techno and Psykovsky’s experimental psytrance, without taking out of context elements of traditional psychedelic rock and jazz. The better half of Ni Moya’s creative purpose is the setting of the forthcoming live performances, which will showcase the material’s full potential and will be taking place not only in regular venues, but, also, in non-conventional spaces, like art galleries, exhibitions, in accordance with artistic installations and will explore the adventurous nature of the tunes, through extensive improvisation and out-of-the-box perspective. Visuals will also be a vital part of each performance, in the form of edited bits from experimental, dadaist and surrealist films and animation, original film shots and various intertwined collaborative appearances by actors and dancers, in costumes or body paint. The whole project feels like it will be served properly when the sole denominator, the one thing that will be consistent, is the absolute variation of every performance being different from all the others.

Where does your love for electronic music come from?

John Vagenas: Well, the first thing I ever enjoyed as electronic music was The Prodigy. Then there was this whole wave of dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass coming out and, from there, I started to gradually listen to more stuff as I was getting into it. Psychedelic trance was an important factor and I’m still a big fan. But I think I found my first influences in Massive Attack, then Shpongle, Younber Brother, Ott, Carbon Based Lifeforms. Naturally, I was drawn to Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin and to older stuff, from Brian Eno to Terry Riley and Kraftwerk. Some of my favourite electronic artists are Eat Static, Psykovsky and GAS.

Ni Moya is a completely different project from Naxatras. When was the idea behind it initiated?

The idea of making electronic music came a bit later than we started playing with the band, around 2012 that is. I was just fooling around with FL studio. The name Ni Moya originated from a dream I had. Later, as I was more interested in creating music in this direction, I acquired some equipment, synthesizers, drum machines and stuff and got into different software. So, Ni Moya is the project where I let all my weirdness come out, all the bleeps and noises. It’s like a vessel through which I let my love for electronic music flow.

“I like to jam with hardware a lot”

What can you say about the creating process? How did you approach it?

I like working in a similar way we do with the band, although it is a more personal endeavor. I like to jam with hardware a lot and mainly keep the best parts, which I afterward build with more layers into complete pieces. Luck plays an important role and many happy accidents occur that drive the whole thing to a specific “place”, which is not so different from how we create with the band.

Would you please speak about the equipment and the effects you employ?

Sure (as any good nerd)! I started with an Arturia Minibrute synthesizer, then I got a Roland JX-03, a Korg Minilogue and a TR-606 drum machine (with those I recorded the whole album). Later on, I added a Roland SH-101, a Korg Electribe Sampler and an Allen & Heath analog console. I use many delays, reverbs and various modulations, both pedals and plugins (DP Chronos, Cathedral, PH-2 to name a few). Often I record an electric guitar, bass and vocals that I later process.

What can you say about the material that ended up on your self-titled album?

These four tracks are the substance, the outcome, of my experimentations around that time. They were made very instinctively, while jamming with synths, drum machines and sequencers. ‘Green Airplanes (What Do They Mean?)’ was a morning mellow jam, a weird happy piece, with some melodic keys that kinda remind me of Greek composer Hatzidakis. ‘Ruby’ is a Berlin-like melodic techno piece, the grooviest in the album, it features samples from Herzog’s ‘Heart of Glass’. ‘And Then I Saw the Face of God’ is a darker, psychedelic downtempo piece, I also play the electric guitar, the samples are from ‘Twin Peaks’.


Finally, ‘Careful with that Axe, Raskolnikov’, is a spacey jazz jam with some friends of mine, I only play the synth there. You can hear guitar, bass, even a saxophone played by my father Alexis Vagenas. By the way, check out his project ‘The Elephant Breath’. I helped with his dark jazz / trip-hop / world music album called ‘Fear’!

You also released an EP, ‘Love is for Everyone’ which sounds completely different. 

This is one of my older pieces, a very simple, minimal, ambient track made with software synths. Epos Laboratory contacted me, they proposed to release a super limited clear 7″ record, cut by them.


Only 30 pieces were made. B-Sides features another old track, a collaboration with my friend Liqcronium, called ‘Remember to Breathe’. The EP was released digitally too, along with the physical release.

Would you classify your work as concept-based recordings?

Not really, most of the time I apply the title and concept after I write the music, with some exceptions. It somehow works both ways and it’s like a concept was waiting in your mind for the right music to come. But I’d like to try to further explore that field in the future.

I’m always surprised how much you invest in releasing really high quality vinyl releases. You must be a big fan of the format…

Since we recorded the first Naxatras album with Jesus I. Agnew at Magnetic Fidelity, he’s been urging us to pay a lot of attention to the vinyl quality of our releases. I think that, with the right treatment, music can sound a lot better from a vinyl record. As a person, I enjoy listening to records and I have a small collection, but it’s not like I own a complete wall of them (yet!).

What’s currently in the camp of Naxatras?

Our next album, the fourth one, is ready for some time now, we will release it early in 2022, but 1-2 singles will come out later this year. Some finishing touches on the artwork, a music video later on, we’re really looking forward to presenting a complete vision. We had the luck to play a few gigs in Greece, after all this time. Let’s hope that we can get back to gigs normally again soon. Can’t wait to tour abroad again!

How did you spend your quarantine time?

The first quarantine, in Spring 2020, was far more “enjoyable” for me than the second one. I was more creative, I finished a lot of pieces that were hanging around, they will be my next releases. I was playing a lot of “Hollow Knight”, cooking, making cocktails, and going for long walks. From October on, things started dragging a lot. I managed to make some music that I liked, but it was a harder time psychologically for me.

Naxatras live | Photo by Anastacia Papadaki Photography

These days it’s impossible to predict the future, but still, what are some of the plans for you?

I really hope that we leave this pandemic behind and that I will be able to play my music live, both with Naxatras and Ni Moya. After we release the new album with the band, we’ll go on tour around Europe. And this October, I’ll probably play my first full-gear live gig as Ni Moya. I have my second album ready, two more EP’s too, mastered and everything. So, they will also be released soon, 2021 and 2022. Stay cool guys, good things are coming!

Klemen Breznikar

Ni Moya Facebook / Bandcamp / SoundCloudYouTube
John Vagenas Instagram
Naxatras Facebook / Instagram / Bandcamp / YouTube
Space Between Us Recordings Facebook / Bandcamp

Naxatras interview

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