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Agoria On Making His First Album In Eight Years, Playing Coachella & The Architecture Of Dance Music

Agoria at Coachella 2019

Photo: Valerie MaconAFP/Getty Images

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Agoria On Making His First Album In Eight Years, Playing Coachella & The Architecture Of Dance Music

The French DJ/producer discusses the long road to his return with a new album, his set at the desert fest's Yuma tent and how he builds songs like stories

GRAMMYs/Apr 15, 2019 - 01:04 am

French DJ/producer/composer Agoria is passionate about musical freedom and the pursuit of playing beautiful music free of genre limits. With his forthcoming fifth studio album, Drift, which is rich with collaborators and diverse sounds and his first LP in over eight years, he is ready to take listeners on a well-executed musical drift.

Before you can listen to the LP on April 26, read on to hear more about his passion, influences and more from Agoria himself, who we caught up with at Coachella, after a rare U.S. performance from him, at the fest's underground-club-evoking Yuma tent.

What does playing Coachella and in the Yuma tent mean to you? How do you feel after your set today?

Actually, it is my first ever Coachella, so I feel blessed to come for the first time. And being invited to play, not just randomly just coming and going. So it's a privilege... Yesterday [during a suprise DoLab stage set] was fantastic, I'm just starting to play in the U.S., and so the crowd was huge. I don't know, five or seven thousand people, it was fantastic. This morning [at Yuma] it was a bit early, so not the same, but what I love when I come here is like the positive vibes, everywhere.

Are there any other acts that you've been able to see or are excited to see this weekend?

I really wanted to see bit of Rosalía. So just before I played [yesterday][, I caught 10-15 minutes. I loved getting the energy!

As a musician growing up, what were your biggest influences? What do you feel is the base of your sound?

Well, it's good that I come to the United States because I'm the kid of Detroit and Chicago scene... I grew up on the [French] countryside, around Lyon, close to the Alps. So I organized many parties, I run my own festival in Valencin… When I started it was much more U.S. [influenced] than Lyon and French. Definitely much more. And my mum is an Opera singer, and so I started then to call this new album Drift. I worked a lot with musicians, singers because I felt the life of a DJ is kind of lonely. You travel alone all week, or with your tour manager, but you don't get to see your friends, and so when you're in the studio, or your home studio, it's just you and your sound engineer. So that’s why I really wanted to do collaborations with further acts and get the influence and feed me. And then we're moving forward. I love that.

Your album all flows together so well, it's different, but it all makes sense.

The best thing you could tell me. That's really what I tried to achieve. That's why it took me so much time to finish this album.

How long have you been working on it?

Four years. I wanted it to be very diverse but meantime homogenic, which is tough to achieve because sometimes it can sound like a compilation of tracks. And that wouldn't make sense for me. So I really did as fast as I could, and at the end I had to delay it, because I could not do a 20-track album. I had to delay, delay, delay it. Just one month before it released, I took off three tracks, because I thought, exactly as you said, the flow [is more important], and you can start [listening to the album] from the first track. I know its, nowadays, difficult to listen to an album from the first track to the last one, because it used to peak here and there. But I really wanted to make this like, just press play. Be lazy, and let you go.

Did you feel a lot of pressure because there's been so much anticipation going into this album? How does it feel to have it almost out in the world?

I'm super excited. I can't wait actually, for it to be out. Because when you work that much, the difficult thing is that you're already on the next one… But I'm so excited. Because I want to see, also my scene, what they're going to say, because its goes beyond just a niche techno underground electronic scene. There are pop tracks like "Remedy" or "Call Of The Wild" with STS. And that's why I call it Drift. Because I want it to be like you don't [have] control, you don't doubt [it]… It's like when you're between the innocence and the guilty pleasure, when you surf in between both. That's what I tried to achieve in this.

What do you think makes a dance track stand out?

It really depends, because there are so many moments you can play club tracks. A very good track for warmup is not a very good track for, of course, a daytime moment. And so, you don't build the track the same way and let's say for a club track, a festival track, I think you need to set up the mood, to bring the audience into the track, to let them go into your tunnel.

And then when you are in the tunnel, you need to put the lights. And the lights, most of the time arrive and they break (finger snap), and then you go out with the light in the tunnel. That's exactly how I feel when I do the track. Actually, it's funny you ask me this question because I love to write.

Actually, the architecture of a track, it's similar to what a story is. I mean, when you have your story, or your book, you have kind of the vertebral column. Even if you do like this then, you know what's the direction? The same way when I do a track I have the main loop, and the name, the base, the drum. The whole thing is existing and then from this I need to write the whole song… Sorry it's a visual, I don't know how you will translate this, but you know.

Lastly, what are you looking forward to the most in 2019?

I hope in 2019, we will all be Drifted [laughs].

Mon Laferte Talks First Coachella Performance, 'Norma' & More

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GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.

 

Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

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Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 GRAMMY.com

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or ticketing@grammy.com.

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy

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Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske
Seattle

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards