I always loved Bela Lugosis Dead and Shes In Parties so I sent him an email and in his first answer he told me Im not into electronic music or techno but send me the track anyway and Ill give it a listen, but Im really not promising anything. Then after he received it, he was quite the opposite and was really lovely, saying he liked it. Then a month after we recorded it together, he sent me a message saying Sebastian, I love this track, you have to give me the track for my next album.
Chatting down the line from his Southern France Lyons headquarters, French electro-tech star Agoria, aka Sebastian Devaud, laughs as he recalls collaborating with Pete Murphy, the iconic figurehead of seminal Goth 80s band Bauhaus.
The two got together to create Edenbridge, one of the standout tracks on Agorias upcoming artist album the Green Armchair, and, as Sebastian cheerfully points out, he said no to Pete Murphys unusually enthusiastic response.
I didnt want him to release it before my album comes out but its possible he can put it on his album afterwards, Id be glad of this for sure, he chuckles, I said No, this one is for my album, maybe we can do another one.
Other collaborators hes worked with on the album include fellow credible 80s pop singer Neneh Cherry and new generation icon Princess Superstar, to deliver a record thats markedly different from the techno hes known for.
Albums are made to be listened to at home and I also like to surprise people when they hear an album of my music, he explains.
For sure, some people would have preferred 12 tracks with a similar Agoria sound but Id prefer them to actively dislike one or two tracks. I hope people are going to be open-minded about the record and enjoy it."
Skrufff: The albums very varied, did you start with a particular plan?
Agoria (Jonty Skrufff): Not at all, in fact I was on tour so much in the last few years that I hardly had any time to make music at all. Id leave the studio to travel on Thursday and be back on Monday so it was very difficult to focus on the album. I made a lot of loops over the last two years then in January I took the decision to stop touring so much, to work instead in the studio and, in fact, I did the whole album in the last six months.
Skrufff: We interviewed Danish producer Trentemoller recently about his new very downtempo ambient style new album the Last Resort and he told us he deliberately didnt make it for DJs, and was instead targeting listeners, did you think the same, do you have any plans to move away from the dancefloor?
Agoria: Definitely not, no. I still want to bang the dance floor and go out DJing every weekend because I love it. Each time I try to get out of the club scene and stay home with my girlfriend and friends around 2am on Saturday night I find myself feeling depressed. Im a drug addict for all this airport and club stuff, I love this mystical sharing that DJs get with people in clubs. I dont want to cut myself off from clubbers at all. But at the same time I didnt want to make a classical techno minimal album with 12 tracks based on one idea. That didnt interest me at all, I think making an album is about showing many more faces, not just one. Im also very bored with minimal techno at the moment, most of the albums are all the same, with ten tracks all of which have the same intro, the same outro, its boring.
Skrufff: Do you find making dance floor tracks easier?
Agoria: It depends. To make a track like Code 1026 (his current club angled single) is a little easier because you dont need to think so much about the rhythms, for example. Id say I know the rules for making dance floor tracks, I know how to do it. So Im less interested in that now because Im always keen to do something different. I first made1026 last year then re-made it this year and I had many, many problems to mix it right because it has many different atmospheres and sounds. I find composing easier than mixing tracks and thats partly because I do everything by myself. I dont want to go into the studio with an engineer.
Skrufff: Your biography mentions youre fast approaching 30, are you changing your attitude at all as you get older?
Agoria: Ive become very posh now (laughing). No, not at all. Maybe people might be thinking hes turning 30 and hes not put many techno tracks on this album but Ive chosen to not put them there, because for the Green Armchair I wanted a rollercoaster of sounds, I didnt want to make a linear album. I could have easily put two or three more techno tracks on it and people around me were encouraging me to do that but I didnt want to. Its definitely not because Im 30 that Ive put more listening tracks on the album.
Skrufff: You live in South France, as does Vitalic, the Hacker, Oxia and quite a few more electro/ techno type producers, are you all friends and/ or part of one big community?
Agoria: Im much more solitaire, I like being introspective, just being here alone with my girlfriend. Sometimes if Im feeling bad I might not go out of my house for a week. Im a bit like an animal hibernating sometimes. I see more of Oxia because he also lives in Lyons but the Hacker lives in Grenoble and Vitalic lives in Dijon, which is two hours from Lyons.
Skrufff: Is Paris a place youve ever considered moving to?
Agoria: No, no, no, no! Im not a big fan of Paris. Its a big city but it doesnt have that many big city advantages, at least compared to Barcelona or Berlin or even London. Having said that, London is also too big for me. Maybe I need to spend more time in London to appreciate the vibe of the city, but usually I stay for two or three days then I leave. Im very happy living in Lyons and working to improve the techno scene in my hometown. I do a festival her every year thats getting bigger all the time.
Skrufff: How did you get started in DJing in the first place?
Agoria: I started like everyone else playing in small venues and clubs and organising my parties myself with some friends. Thats why Im nowadays militant about the music and for the electronic scene in general. Because when I was young there was lots of repression from the police. At the beginning of the 90s the Government viewed techno like terrorism, they busted loads of parties and tried to jail DJs and promoters and anybody involved in putting on parties. I was arrested two or three times by the police during those days and thats one of the reasons I remain based in Lyon and am still trying to build the scene here, step by step, to make techno as popular as it can be.
Skrufff: Were you locked up by the police when you were arrested?
Agoria: I was arrested but they didnt charge me, I was just arrested because I was playing at 8 in the morning in the factory or wherever the party was. Nothing bad happened to me, it was actually normal for the cops to arrest a DJ playing at 8 in the morning. To them we were considered dangerous. Though the police were actually really good with us, they thought we were cool and they only arrested us because they had to do it, because of the Government orders.
Today Id say its completely obscene because the government organises massive free parties in very bad locations with 50,000 people who are all really completely fucked up. Theres no sense in that- I think society is stupid.
Agoria- The Green Armchair is out shortly on Different/ PIAS Records.
Jonty Skrufff (JontySkrufff.com)