If French dance music had a Bible, its opening line would read “In the beginning, God created electro,” but Agoria’s roots actually run more to the techno side of things. His story, like many others, begins with Detroit. "I started DJing in '93 so when I first started buying records that period was especially good for records from Detroit or Chicago," he says. "Back then I was into Underground Resistance, Mad Mike and all that stuff and each week I would spend all my money on records. The owner of the shop and I would open and listen to the records together. It's funny but I've always had a much stronger connection to Detroit than to say Germany."
These days, however, Deutschland and Devaud are getting closer. "I was so happy to see Chloé on the cover of Groove recently. I find it a bit sad that in France we only ever have Justice or Daft Punk on the covers. You know what I mean? If it were Chloé I would be really happy because she deserves it. The Waiting Room is my album of the year," says Devaud slipping in an unofficial eleventh choice.
So what about the latest Gallic heroes in dance (rock) then? "No. Ed Banger is not for me at all," he says, obviously shaking his head furiously. "They asked me to do a remix of Krazy Baldhead but I didn't do it. Of course I really respect them because they are not arrogant or pretentious. But this is not my music. For me, it's not techno or electronic music. The attitude, the marketing, the concept is much more rock and roll."
Still Devaud isn't exactly a dance music purist. As a DJ, he's shown a knack for sneaking in the odd curveball. On Cute & Cult (2003) he sandwiched Iggy Pop between two Carl Craigs, and his latest mix, 'At The Controls' even features goth rockers Bauhaus. "I've played with Peter Murphy two or three times this year and he was really awesome," gushes Devaud. "His voice, his charisma on stage. He's a legend." But not legendary enough it seems to make his top ten.
Here’s ten Agoria picks you won't find on the MP3 blog du jour:
Inner City - Good Life [Virgin]
"This is the first record I ever bought. I got it when I was like twelve or thirteen years old because it was a mainstream hit in France and was even played on commercial radio. I think I saved up for it by washing cars or something like that and I still have the original copy. I didn't even know it was from Detroit until after I'd bought it because I just liked the sound. I met Kevin Saunderson five or six years ago and I showed him my little 45. He said, "Oh my god." At first, he didn't know it because the French cover was different. I asked him to sign it but he said, "No. C'mon. Please don't ask me to do that." Later he asked me to remix 'Big Fun' and I thought it was really fantastic that the guy who made the first record I ever bought asked me to remix his record ten years later! Afterwards when I heard that he really liked my remix I was thrilled."
YouTube: Inner City - Good Life
Francesco Tristano - Not For Piano [Infiné]
"Francesco is a pianist, and me and my partner Alex from Warp Records in France created our label Infiné just for him. We think he's a genius so we really wanted to spread the word about his music. At the moment we are introducing him to guys like Maurizio and Carl Craig, who's actually just done a remix of his track 'The Melody'. 'Not For Piano' is his album and it's fantastic. We created the label especially for Francesco, but afterwards we saw that a lot of people were into it so we decided to continue looking for other artists. I think it's really important to support the younger generation of artists because it's so difficult for them to get recognition right now".
MySpace: Francesco Tristano – Not For Piano
TV Victor - Agai [Tresor]
"This is a really old track from the nineties, but for me, this is not a track, it's a piece. I'm not so much a fan of all the minimal stuff, but I'm really a fan of minimalism. For me, the two are totally different. When people say minimal, to me it means lots of plug-ins but on the other hand minimalism is guys like Basic Channel etc. This track is a loop that's one hour and ten minutes long, but it's really warm and deep. And you don't realise the track is so long because things change and it keeps you in the track. It's one of the best in the minimalist vein - techno but dubbier. I'm a big fan of Basic Channel but this one is really a masterpiece. A lot of times I put this on in the morning while I'm making a coffee. Or when I'm in a bad mood I put it on and it makes me really happy. I love this song to death."
Official website: TV Victor
Radiohead - Kid A & Amnesiac [Parlophone]
"I'm a big fan of Radiohead but again it's really hard to decide which one. I really love them although there's a few tracks on In Rainbows that I am not so mad on - they are too radio-friendly. Sometimes I also think the new album sounds like a collection of older tracks that they didn't put on their other albums. How much did I pay? I think ten or twelve euros, but I will also get the collector's edition for seventeen euro because I don't just want the MP3 files. So I will end up paying for it twice. Now that's great marketing! But back to these releases: Kid A was fantastic and I really love Amnesiac too. I have the CDs in front of me now. Let me see. Oh, I can't decide. (sighs heavily) Oh, I just don't know. Just put Kid A and Amnesiac."
Tricky - Makes Me Wanna Die [Island]
"I've always been a big fan of Tricky even though he doesn't make so much music now. This is a magic track from the Premillenium Tension album. It's just fantastic and the reason why I wanted to work with him on my first album. I was so happy when I succeeded in making a song with him because we made him listen to a lot of stuff. I was just really happy he was into my music. Meeting him was a really major thing for me because I had just started to make music and he gave me a lot of encouragement and confidence. He said to me, "C'mon. Don't be shy. Just make your stuff." He was like a brother. I think it was special for him too because with all the other people he was really arrogant, pretentious and pissed off about things, but with me he was like, 'Hey, darling. How are you?'. (laughs) Anyway, this song is just so fantastic, the vocal, everything."
YouTube: Tricky – Makes We Wanna Die
Sly & The Family Stone - Anthology [Epic]
"I first learned about Sly & The Family Stone when I worked in radio in the nineties. I had to have meetings with the other people at the radio station who were hosting indie, rock, reggae shows and so on, and sometimes we'd go out and exchange music. That period was really important for me because I was able to learn about music from the people who knew the most about it. So that's how I got introduced to Sly. There are too many great tracks to choose just one: 'Dance to the Music', 'M'lady', 'Life', 'Everyday People'. Wow! All of their tracks really inspired me. I also really like their frank attitude. I thought about putting Velvet Underground but I think Sly is more important in my conception of music. I feel much more closer to them probably because it reminds me of the radio years and the parties, and a lot of friends got into this kind of music during this period."
YouTube: Sly & the Family Stone – Family Affair
LFO - Freak [Warp]
"I guess we should think about techno a bit. (laughs) Of course I'm a big fan of 'What is House' or 'LFO' but this tracks sums up everything that I like about techno. It could be released now, ten years ago or ten years later and it would still be big, still sound totally fresh. I like an organic touch in techno and I really like Mark Bell's attitude to just do music. It's quite difficult when you're also a DJ because you receive so many records every week and in a way you are influenced by the stuff that you receive. That's why I try to keep in mind that one day I might release a track that won't be understood. But it won't matter because at least it will still exist. Anyway for me this is one of the major tracks in techno".
YouTube: LFO - Freak
Nina Simone - Blackbird [Colpix]
"I love to listen to Nina Simone, Billy Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald, but I'm going to choose Nina Simone because Francesco has taught me a lot of things about her. Her story really touched me. She wanted to be a pianist and go to the Juilliard School in New York but they said no. She was so pissed off and sad that she started to sing instead in the cabarets of New York in Brooklyn. I think if she had gone to the Juilliard, Nina Simone would never have been Nina Simone, you know? So thank god that they said no because she made some very nice songs (laughs) like 'Blackbird'. I just love the groove and the percussion and rhythm of 'Blackbird'. I wanted to put Ella Fitzgerald on my ‘At The Controls’ mix but it was too expensive to licence the track. It fit perfectly but it was going to cost three or four thousand euro for just that track so the label told me “Sorry, we can't use that one."
Edgar Varèse - Déserts [Naxos]
"This is a composer from the beginning of the century who I discovered when I was working on a stage in film school in Lyon. I wanted to do like a basic sound engineer job but instead I ended up duplicating cassettes for the opera. So I had this boring job but through it I found out about Edgar Varèse. The first time I heard his music I was like, 'Wow! This is so clever. This is so new". It was actually eighty years old but for me it was really new music and a really unusual composition. 'Déserts' is one of his major pieces that I think everyone should know, much more than say Eric Satie. It's really really fantastic."
Innerzone Orchestra - Programmed [Planet E]
"I'm a big fan of everything Carl Craig's done. I'm a fan of The Detroit Experiment, eighty percent of his remixes and everything he's done on Planet E, too. He's the man! And the Innerzone Orchestra album is one I keep discovering again and again so I just have to put that. I also like Carl Craig because he did a remix for me too. (laughs) I don't like to do remixes but he loves them so it worked out well as he did a remix for Francesco. So again, there is this Detroit Connection. I don't know why but it's typically French. A lot of the French have this connection, maybe it's because of Laurent Garnier, who brought all the Detroit stuff to France."