Last Updated on Monday, 03 September 2012 21:58 | Hits: 4455
There’s a lot of different artists coming from France these days, but only few manage to create music as emotive and deep as Agoria. Sebastian Devaud, as he is known to his mailman, was born in rural France and got infected by the electronic virus when he witnessed Jeff Mills playing in nearby Lyon in the mid-nineties. He released his first EP in 1999 and 2003 saw the release of his first LP, the critically acclaimed Blossom which includes the chart-topping hit single La Onzième Marche. With recognition coming from a worldwide audience plus artists outside the electronic spectrum, Agoria went on to pave the way for what would eventually become his trademarked sound: emotive, intimate, classically textured house and techno with deep and at time melodramatic vibes. 2006 saw the release of his second album -The Green Armchair-, an absolute masterpiece in which Agoria further explores the depths of electronica on beautifully layered tracks such as Les Violons Ivres.
But Agoria’s talents stretch way beyond just creating separate tracks. In 2008, film directors Luc Besson and Olivier van Hoofstadt asked him to produce the soundtrack to the movie Go Fast, which lead to the brilliant Dust and Solarized tracks. After his sensational Balance mix released early last year, Agoria is about to release his third album, the long-awaited Impermanence on which the artist continues to redefines his own sound. It has once again lead to a one-of-a-kind album that already received rave reviews the world over. Click here to read ours.
We recently spoke to Agoria over the phone to talk about the new album, the art of making music, his activities for the Nuits Sonores festival, and his many, many plans for the future…
Hi Sebastian, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. What have you been up to lately? Life’s pretty crazy at the moment! I just returned from London where I did the mastering for my Fabric mix which will be out in May, and I’ve been doing a lot of promotion for my new album Impermanence as of late. It’s pretty hectic but I’m not complaining though. Some artists hate to tour to promote their music, while they also complain when they do not get any attention at all haha.
Let’s talk a bit more about your new album Impermanence. What has been the main idea behind its conception? How do you feel the album differs from your previous LPs? Well, I always try to produce very eclectic and homogenic music that’s easy to listen to. This album has turned out to be a more accurate reflection of my personal tastes as opposed to my previous albums Blossom and The Green Armchair. I’m not saying those were shit, because they most certainly are not, but they were more based on collaborations with artists I was a fan of since I was young, such as Tricky, Neneh Cherry and Peter Murphy. I’ve been purchasing their records for years so naturally I wanted to work with them when I had the chance. Now that I’m a bit older, I chose to work with people that are very close to me. This also made stuff a lot easier since they knew what I was expecting from them.
Talking about those collaborations, how did you get in touch with album guests Carl Craig and Seth Troxler in the first place? I’ve known Carl for quite a few years. He invited me to play at the last Movement festival in Detroit, and he has also played at the Nuits Sonores festival in Lyon, of which I am one of the co-founders. Carl is a pretty militant guy in that sense that he is really involved in everything that has to do with Detroit. He’s one of those guys that really pass on the Detroit spirit and he’s very interested in other people and their music. When I visited him in Detroit he showed me around his studio and we really got to know each other. He’s a real cool guy.
I met Seth a few times at various parties during last year’s Amsterdam Dance Event. He’s very easy going but a real party animal! I visited him in Miami and later he dropped by at my place in Lyon where he stayed a few days to work in the studio. I gave him a pair of Chicago Bulls socks as a gift, haha. To me, Seth has the voice of an angel. It’s not dynamic, it’s angelic.
You just mentioned the Nuits Sonores festival which takes place each Spring in the city of Lyon. How did this event came about? What’s your role in the organization? The idea was conceived around 2000, a time when Lyon was a real boring place to live in. Nothing happened there. There weren’t any clubs, no parties, nothing. The mayor of the city wanted to change that so he contacted a few people from the local scene, including me. The goal was to create an electronic music event in the broadest sense of the word and after a night of heavy drinking with the mayor and all artists, we wrote the event’s final concept at the kitchen table the next morning. Today, the event has grown out to become the number one French music festival. The first years were hard, but things have worked out pretty good with last year’s edition having attracted 80,000 visitors.
Back to the music. You produced the soundtrack to the Go Fast movie in 2008. How do you look back on this project? Can we expect more soundtracks in the future from you? Absolutely! I really loved doing it. It’s kinda funny really when you receive the movie with no sound included and they say: “now it’s your turn, do whatever you like.” Cinema is a completely different thing than music. But I love doing it. I’m actually working on a few film scores right now.
So how does it work when you’re in the studio? Do you just sit down and start jamming or do you work from a pre-conceived idea? There aren’t any fixed rules really. My studio is online 24/7 so I can work whenever I feel like. Sometimes I don’t see the studio for weeks while other times I do not leave it for days. The vibe has to be right to me. I often make music when I’m down and feel melancholic or when I’m really, really happy. Music made in between these emotions often sounds monotone to me.
I usually start by playing the piano, an instrument I use a lot in my tracks. I find that melodies are easier to conceive on the piano than when playing the synthesizers. It’s much more organic. Later on I add elements from synthesizers and drum machines. The track Libellules on the album used to be a piano-only track in the beginning but came out completely different in the end. The same goes for Kiss My Soul, although this one remained unaltered.
Speaking of Kiss My Soul, this track features a very remarkable guest in the form of Kid A from Virginia. How did you get in touch with her? I didn’t get in touch with her, haha, she found me. The co-programmer of the Nuits Sonores festival heard one of her demo’s on Myspace and immediately forwarded it to me. I was really amazed by her voice so we invited her to Lyon to do a few tracks in the studio. I remember thinking “wow, what a surprise ”when I picked her up from the airport. There she was, this 22 year-old black woman from Virginia, with a voice that’s somewhere in the middle between Billy Holiday and Nina Simone.
In 2006, you launched the Infiné label. How would you define the goal of the label? How do you see the label develop in the coming years? Good question. I would describe the label as a home to and a breeding ground for emerging talents. I remember when I released my first records... They were real crappy but I got a lot of support from people who believed in me. That’s what Infiné is trying to do as well. It’s based on giving talents the attention they deserve. Next to that, the imprint was never intended to be an outlet for ‘DJ food’. We’ve got enough of those already. I consider the label to be a laboratory for all kinds of experiments. Overall speaking, music sales these days are dramatic but in a way that is a good thing. It enables us to experiment a lot since nobody is buying it anyway.
What music outside the electronic spectrum do you listen to? I listen to an anything that has an emotive touch, regardless of genre. Just check out my forthcoming Fabric mix, it’s gonna be very diverse. And we’ll have a very special guitar & cello release on Infiné this May… What more can we expect from you in the future? First there’s the Fabric mix in May, which will be completely different than my Balance mix. It will be much more club-orientated because that’s obviously the aim of the series. There’s gonna be dub, acid, house, Detroit techno and a lot of surprises on it. Mixes like this enable me to blend various genres that normally wouldn’t match. We’re also going to have an Infiné label event in May spanning two nights during which we’ll be spotlighting our artists. Then there’s my co-operation with Anish Kapoor, an Indian/British artist in the field of minimalistic contemporary art, with whom I will be working on a project later this year. So there’s a lot in the pipeline! My wife’s not going to like it…
That almost wraps it up! Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Yeah, let’s talk about wine the next time we speak haha! I love it. I recently got back from Japan where I got this bottle of Japanese wine as a gift. It was an awesome gift!
We'd like to thank Agoria for his time and answers!