A chat with Agonis
Agonis has earned his growing cult status thanks to an increasingly impressive CV: resident at the club Elysia in Basel, co-founder of the amenthia recordings imprint with good friend Garçon, a debut performance at 2017’s edition of the revered Labyrinth festival and a trip to Taiwan for Organik festival slated for 2018.
This Friday, Patterns of Perception hosts his first international live show, in which followers can expect to hear lots of unreleased music and new productions from the versatile Swiss DJ/producer. Ahead of his set, we sat down to chat about his influences, the diversity of the Swiss scene and his ghetto house loving doppelgänger.
Tell us a bit about the Agonis sound. How would you describe your live set to someone who hasn’t seen you play before?
I would describe the Agonis sound as subtle, trippy and atmospheric techno for the dancefloor. When playing live I try to present my productions in a different way and arrange some tracks on the fly.
What or who has been your main musical influences as a producer?
This is something that changes constantly, but when I started producing it was mainly house artists like Chez Damier, Argy or STL. That was almost ten years ago, so it is a bit hard to remember. Then I got into Detroit techno artists like Jeff Mills, Robert Hood or Joris Voorn (no, he’s not from Detroit, I know). My first release Panspermia, which I produced around that time, is actually a tribute to that sound. I also love dub techno, especially artists like Moritz von Oswald, Mark Ernestus, Levon Vincent and Prince Of Denmark. But in the end I find inspiration in all the music I like (there is so much good music out there) and even in my own productions. Because every track of mine is sort of like a snapshot of my timeline, it’s like looking back at old pictures of yourself and thinking stuff like “hmm, you looked fresh in 2012! Why don’t you grow your hair out again?”
How have influences like Detroit techno and even house music defined your sound as a DJ, and what differentiates it from your live sets?
It is very important for me to be a versatile DJ. It’s so boring to stick to one style and it will certainly not help anyone to become a good producer. Playing all these different styles – from deep house to jungle to disco to dubstep – shaped the way I play in general. My DJ sets should work in every situation, depending on the location, the time, the vibe, the headliner or the crowd, while my live set is something I cannot really adapt to special circumstances and where I have to decide in advance if it will work in the specific setting.
Tell us a bit about the local scene in Basel: how would you describe the Swiss sound? Any standout acts, clubs or parties for you? Is there a strong appetite for deep techno locally?
I don’t think there is a Swiss sound but it’s very interesting to see how different the scenes in the cities of Switzerland are, despite being so close to each other. There is not as much exchange as in other countries, but that’s probably because of the Swiss mentality. Here in Basel we are quite spoiled, because there are amazing venues, artists and promoters. Elysia is one of the coolest clubs I have ever been to (full disclosure: I am a resident and promoter there) and has gained a strong reputation among fantastic DJs. There are a lot of deep techno acts playing there and the music is often well-received among the guests, even if it can be considered niche music in our city.
I’ll be performing a lot of unreleased and new productions for the first time. I’m very excited and looking forward to playing at OHM for you guys, because the environment really suits my music!
You played at the famed Labyrinth festival in Japan last year and now you’re on the bill for Organik in Taiwan this coming April. Have you enjoyed playing to crowds in Asia, and how much do you find the vibe differs in countries around the world?
Performing in Asia is amazing and of course playing at Labyrinth is a once in a lifetime experience. I played in some Asian countries before and the scenes are always different. What I find remarkable in Japan for example is that the crowds are very aware of the music and there is not as much debauchery as in Europe. Being respectful and kind to each other is very central to Japanese culture and you can feel this on every dancefloor.
You run Amenthia Recordings along with Garçon, with your latest EP Maschinenlogik released on the label in December. What’s coming up for the label this year? And what else does 2018 have in store for you?
In spring we are going to release the next EP by Tafeit (1/3 of Varuna). A wonderful breakbeat release! Then we are planning to release a remix record with amazing artists on it, which will hopefully come out in summer/fall and we want to put out our first album on the label by the end of 2018! I will soon be part of an amazing new label from Asia and the first EP is a killer V.A. with awesome producers on it.
In researching this interview we came across this Instagram account and just had to ask about the story here. Who is Trauminic?
Haha, many people think it’s me but he just resembles me. I think he’s from L.A. but I’ve seen him performing a couple of times in Basel. He plays Ghetto House, House and Hip-Hop and like many people on Instagram he’s a social media addicted narcissistic dickhead. Looks like he totally lost track of what is really important in life. Have you heard the productions he has on Youtube? Haha, hilarious!
Lastly, what’s the release you’re most looking forward to in 2018?
Two good friends of mine released a human baby last week, that was really sweet!
Catch Agonis on February 9, 2018 at Patterns of Perception feat. Agonis, Jacopo & Paula Koski
Photo credits: Main image taken by Jimmy Hochstrasser.
Labyrinth images by Kazuhiko Kimishita.