Only a short period of time ago Sébastien Devaud, better known by his artist name Agoria, was talking about doing something different with his musical performance, or at least something more than being a DJ on a stage with records. I guess in a world where everyone is a DJ these days, it must be difficult to set yourself apart from the crowd. How would you go about that? After many an online dispute between DJ's, it is clear most people are hell-bent on finding a niche in the scene whereby they can bask in the glory and benefits of being a unique, credible and respected artist.
Sébastien is one of these said artists. As one of the original creators of the hugely respected Nuits Sonores festival back in Lyon, his hometown, a label head of his very own Infiné, and now an accomplished visual artist with his work with French fashion label Courrèges, artist Kid A, various film work and of course, the subject of this interview - his FORMS conceptual installation.
FORMS is a means of building on the sounds he produces as the DJ, creating a more dynamic and immersive environment for the clubber to experience as a whole. As he says, the DJ is just part of the show - 'the motor of the music' as he puts it - whereby an array of projectors show 'mapping video, graphic composing and images scripted'. In other words - a mixture of text, graphics and film based imagery that is controlled through the choices Sébastien makes with regard to the music he plays.
Clearly influenced by his parents, as Architects and Classical teachers, this project ultimately informs us of the deep meaning behind the music we listen to, showing us its architecture and history, something I think many don't stop to appreciate on the dancefloor all to often.
There are some great video's to be checked out on his performances, some of which can be found below. Agoria performs exclusively at We Love Space this coming Sunday (19th August).
So, what inspired you to start work on this FORMS installation?
The inspiration came always from the famous Côte du Rhône's wine "Côte roti"!! Or it could be also a late night drink of champagne taken with Jean-Louis Brossard, director of the legendary festival "Transmuicales de Rennes" at "Nuits Sonores" 2 years ago. He asked me to play for him presenting a new project. So I began thinking of a DJ set associated with visuals and scenography. A real dj set, not live. Like a testimony of all the music I like, new stuff, but also classics and personal edits. The scenography is created by the collective SCALE. Their visuals are established to fit the music and develop with the flow of the set. I wanted a show that could respond to the audience’s mood as much as possible. Also one that could obviously be played in techno festivals but also in indie/ rock festivals, finding the right balance between good taste and accessibility.
Talk me though the technology involved in the visual aspect of the performance…
We wanted to set up something easy that allows us to play the visuals and the music 100% live, something controlled by human sensibility and with no time code.
Joachim had thought about building the installation from Molos around me and it has been a fantastic idea. Like an architect would do. Him and Vincent map visuals on the molos and on the huge screen behind me so that I’m totally emerged. I’m part of the decor. The artist is then not only the DJ who plays music. The whole decor becomes the artist. Music is obviously still really important but it's just one of the motors of FORMS.
What visuals have been used? Is there meaning behind the different imagery used?
I wanted a show that is well balanced and elegant. We had the chance to get adeal with Guetty images that helped us to access a fantastic library of content. SCALE have worked on making real anim with theses images, like short movies, and designed their own ones, more figuratives. They are playing all the pictures, figurative images and movies live. The meaning is more about what the music could inspire in us than a real message, and the kinds of emotion we want to associate with one tune or another. I'm French but for once there are no politics in this project! We are back to the source of when techno was underground and music was the message.
In terms of you playing within the installation, what is unique about the sounds we should expect to hear?
Each sound is not really unique as I'm djing. Even if some tunes are my own edits, it's the whole show that is a unique trip. I work on the show every week and improve the flow and tracklisting every day. I try to go as far as possible with FORMS between spontaneity and written parts. I find it more and more exciting to be as precise as possible, to develop the story of the mix but still keep my liberty to improvise the day of the show if it's needed.
You’re playing at We Love a couple of times over the coming weeks. Will it be the full live show?
Unfortunately not. Hopefully next year. I love Mark, Sarah, Andrew from We Love, they have been really nice and supported me a lot last year so I've decided to play exclusively for them this year.
A lot of acts now see the music being played as just one cog in the machine for a performance – such as Richie Hawtin, for example, with his Plastikman tour and Enter. parties – why do you think combining the sound with the visual so closely has become important now?
I think it's just a step. I find it more and more exciting to mix all the arts together, every art serving each other. Video, music, lights, architecture, performance, fashion, it has to be well balanced and not outrageous or exaggerated. As always it's a question of vibration and elegance.
I’m starting to work with the French brand Courrèges that has always been really innovative so I would like to work more in this way of associating fashion, video, installation and music for the future.
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