RA sees in the New Year with a DJ mix specialist.
Harry Agius has spent the last three years attaining a broad fan base, without compromising his sound. These days, he's as likely to be name-checked in the queue for Panorama Bar as he is on the streets of Ibiza. His secret is a smart sense of balance: his productions and DJ sets walk a clever line between broad appeal and underground credibility. In 2013 he played to more people than ever before but, if anything, his recorded music became darker and more twisted. His two releases on his promising new Graded label reconfigured the melancholic approach to house music he built his name on, and in "Trace" he wrote one of the biggest club tracks of the year, a direct, druggy number that hit the top 20 on our tracks poll.
Agius also came fifth in our online mixes list, and it was a continuation of his knack for releasing excellent internet mixes. It felt like a no-brainer, then, to secure him for our final podcast of 2013, and he responded with a killer 66-minute session that acts as a refreshing riposte to the usual feel-good fluff of New Year's.
What have you been up to recently?
I have just got back from a tour of Australia and come straight back into the Christmas onslaught. In general I have been playing quite a lot of gigs this year, which has been great, but has meant that time in the studio has been somewhat limited. That said, I have just put out the second release on my label, Graded, which has been really rewarding and I'm really happy with how it looks and sounds.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded at home on a pair of 1210s, using vinyl and Serato, and an Allen & Heath Xone:92 mixer.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
Whenever I record a mix it's not about finding the newest and most exclusive music, but digging for interesting music that I believe has aged or will age well. With this mix I had a slightly scuffed aesthetic in mind when selecting music for it. I find putting together mixes quite a challenging but ultimately rewarding process; this one certainly took its time and I hope my attempts to create an ebb and flow come across.
Have you played many New Year's sets in the past? Do you have any preferred midnight tunes?
In the past I have had quite difficult New Years sets. It always feels like everyone is really trying to have a good time, but not quite achieving it. I always seem to have a better time on New Years Day, everyone is a little rough round the edges, their guard is down and finally can really enjoy themselves. That said, this New Years Eve looks set to be great, and in my experience the Dimtri From Paris edit of "I Wanna Be Your Lover" by Prince never fails at the stroke of midnight.
Has what you play and produce changed much in 2013?
I think the scope of what I play and produce has definitely expanded this year. In terms of the calibre and size of gigs, it's definitely been a step up. A good example would be playing at the We Love... opening this summer back-to-back with Paul Woolford in Ibiza. It was a combination of wanting to represent "our sound" to an audience that just isn't used to that type of music in front of about 3000-plus people. The gig went really well and I think we were both surprised at how open the crowd was, and can be.
I think therein lies the challenge: it's doing your thing, but adapting it to make sense in different and sometimes larger contexts. I think my own productions have mirrored this and they have definitely become a bit more club focused. It's always good to have music you can play out, but as a stimulus for writing music it is something I am wary of.
What are you up to next?
Over the past two years I have been writing music with a singer and my writing partner Robbie Redway under the name AKASE. What started out as a bit of fun has now yielded about 15 tracks, which we are really happy with, and in January we are off to mix them with Ewan Pearson in Berlin, who I met a few years ago before a gig in the same city. When we come back we are going to be practising the live show and plotting for the coming year.
In the Midland sphere I will be continuing to write music, I have all sorts of stuff sitting unfinished and ideas for new stuff. Gigs-wise there are already quite a few exciting ones in the diary. I think my focus is to play slightly fewer shows, and be more selective with the ones I do play so that I'm able play the best sets I can.