Sebastian Devaud, also known as Agoria, is one of the most respected electronic artists to emerge from the ever-growing French electronic scene. Separating himself from the masses by breeding a smooth, therapeutic blend of techno with a very jazzy undertone, his drifty, minimalistic sound often speaks boldly of classical influences. Rather unsurprising, with a mother who was an opera singer. Appealing as much to a packed dancefloor as a solitary headphone journey, his sound can be equally appreciated by a wide range of tastes...from listeners who are complete strangers to electronic music to those who pride themselves with the deepest knowledge of underground dance music. His own label Infiné is hard to touch, with a roster that embraces sounds far and wide, including Apparat's immaculate grace and the harder-edged stomp of The Hacker.
Ahead of touching down on our Room Two stage this Saturday, we decided to pick his brain on all things music. Here's a trippy little soundtrack to accompany your journey into his head - Agoria's dub mix of his opera-filled 'Altre Voci'... Agoria - Altre Voci dub mix by fabric
When did you first start getting into electronic music? What were you listening to at the time?
First it was a reaction against the classical background of my family I guess. My most significant discovery was when I was 12 and I heard Inner City’s "Good Life" on a mainstream radio…my first dance song. It was totally new; I felt an urge to be part of a musical revolution. I started going out at the age of 16 when illegal raves were appearing all over France. As every DJ at that time I spent a few Sundays at police stations because I was playing at these illegal parties. Some of the policemen were coming and dancing at our parties so we never really had problem. The culture created a passion and love for the electronic world. It was not only about the music, it was a way of life. I used to spend hours in record shops listening to all the records, waiting for the UPS delivery man, helping the guys in the shop and being one of the first to listen to the new releases. It was really difficult at that time to find records. It’s a bit of a shame now that it’s become so easy. Easy access suppresses the desire. That’s also why I’ve never worked much on my image, marketing and all that stuff. I think that by becoming a fashionable guy, you'll just kill yourself 'cause there is always a new fashionable thing coming up next...
With a sound that refuses to conform to stereotypes, it's clear that you have many influences that lie outside the boundaries of electronic music. What are the most significant ones?
You’re right and my new projects are even more diverse. I can’t stand to be confined to one style. I’m not able to make one style of track ten times over. I have to push myself to make something different each time, otherwise I feel dead. That’s another reason why I’m so interested in making soundtracks for movies. During my childhood I used to spend Sundays listening to music from Edgar Varese, to Steve Reich, to some African stuff. Miles Davis was what was played at home. So I was obviously ready to be part of the repetitive electronic music from the begining of the 90s, with the Detroit and Chicago records: Robert Hood, Jeff Mills, UR, Damon Wild, Steve Stoll, Stacey Pullen, Kenny Larkin and of course Carl Craig. That educates me. I've never been so much fan of New Order or Depeche Mode - my first background is Detroit techno.
Which artists are you appreciating most from the French electronic scene at the moment?
At the moment, I really support Danton Eeprom - I'm gonna release his album in a few months on my label Infiné. He' s a really talented guy, and ambitious - in the past few months, he has imposed himself on the scene. On a totally different side, Aufgang - a band composed by Francesco Tristano, Rami Khalife and Aymeric Westricht (the Cassius drummer) - just realized an incredible album. A bridge between classical, acoustic stuff and electronic worlds that doesn't sound dated at all.
With an opera singer as a mother, did you inherit any of her vocal talent - could you ever see yourself following in her footsteps?
Well…if my English accent wasn’t so ‘froggy,’ I would sample my own vocals a little more in my tracks!
Every weekend your name features on line-ups all over Europe. Aside from France, where do you most look forward to playing and why?
Strangely, there are two places where I've never played, Canada and Ibiza, so obviously I'd love to play there. These last years I've loved travelling to and playing to America, Latina and Asia. Each time I come back from Tokyo or Sao Paulo, for example, I feel really inspired making great tracks. Last Time at Womb in July was really particular - the Japanese audience knows all records perfectly - new releases, classics,
sometimes they recognized at the very first second a bassline or hi-hat and they start going crazy! That night I played for four hours and the reaction from the crowd was so enthusiastic, on each record then we finished with birthday cakes!