Not too long ago, we spoke with French legend Agoria about his life and career. Hot off the heels of his latest album, Agoria has wasted no time continuing to push himself as an artist and is already releasing a new EP with rising fellow Frenchman Jacques. While this in itself is perhaps not the most groundbreaking announcement in itself, perhaps what is, is how the new EP was created. Known for his impressive live performances, Jacques' means of creation are certainly unique, using everyday items like rubber bands to make music. In this edition of How It Was Made, the duo sat down to give us an exclusive inside look into its creation.
Words by Agoria & Jacques
- JACQUES -
Hey guys thanks for your interest in our collaborative release with Seb
These tracks have been made in two times, and I’ll be able to talk about the first part of it, but for you to understand it I have to explain a bit about my usual process and my live set-up that gave birth to this collaboration. I made my first EP ‘Tout Est Magnifique’ using lots of field recordings and foley samples from various everyday life objects. But then when I had the opportunity to play my music in a live situation, I felt like it would be awesome to recreate these foley sounds on stage; and as I am from a live-band background, I wasn’t into pressing play on an APC40. So I end up doing this foley/live-looping/improvisational set, that finally led me to play all around the world and to be invited by Agoria at his ‘Agoria invites’ parties.
So Agoria was listening to my live performances, and he really saw the growth of my project and the vision behind my live set. He actually pushed me to do it the way I did it before I stopped touring. I even did my first fully improvised set at his party in Paris before Agoria and Michael Mayer’s B2B. Actually, I wanted to be able to compose/produce/record a new track at every concert. Like if I was a Jedi of electronic music production like if there was an infinite source of inspiration above me and my set-up allowed me to put an EP down every time I perform. This has been my obsession since 2016 and still today I wish that I will one day be able to do that.
The demo version of both tracks of the EP appeared in a live situation during two different improvisational live sessions I made. The interesting fact is that you can even find the rough versions of both tracks in my album ‘Jacques Sous Inspi’, they don’t have the same name but are basically made of the same melodies and rhythms. But the structures and the production level is obviously not the same :)
I used to listen to all of my shows and isolate the moments I consider cool, do quick edits, give them little names, and tag them with date and venue. Agoria has listened to hundreds of loops from my shows to finally pick up two excerpts and rework it as new studio tracks. It happened that both were from a time when I wasn’t recording in multi-track, so we had to re-record everything, and that’s why we did some studio sessions in Paris. This recording sessions inescapably led the songs to some new direction, and then Seb continued the process alone on Logic Pro, with me behind, spying over his shoulder, trying to steal some techniques that I could use during my shows, for it to sound more « studio ».
To me, this experience with Agoria is also a learning step thanks to which I get a bit closer to my idea of live producing. The way he managed the simple structures and timings, the way he treated the sound of my objects to make it have a good punch and clearness, etc… all these things I wasn't confident to do it by myself.
Track 01: VISIT :
- K7 box for the clap
- Sandpaper for the hi-hat
- Ableton's Operator FM Synthesizer for the bass
- Electric guitar into Seb's plug-ins (i don't know)
- All the quirky sounds are from an elastic recorded with a Schetler contact mic and sent into a sort of guitar fx modular I made
- my voice with Seb's plug-ins and rhythmic volume automation that makes the main pattern of the track.
Track 02: JARDIN :
- same as VISIT
- random french radio excerpt
here's how my live set is made :
Various audio sources* go into 3 Electro Harmonix 45000 Loopers.
And various Ableton synthesizers are sequenced in Ableton.
The loopers are clocked by and sent into Ableton so I can process effect to their output.
I also loop my loopers into Ableton to make some mixdowns on-the-go and empty my loopers so the show can go on.
A bunch of controllers* that allow me to change parameters on the moment (sound of the Ableton instruments, and effects on the looper)
A second receive the multi-track of the show via MADI and records it so I can listen to it and rework it properly after the show.
*Sources are lots of objects (scissors, glasses, air compressor, paper, whatever) I record with contact mics, an electric guitar, my voice, a radio, and stuff from the crowd. Audio sources can be routed to the board of twenty guitar pedals I have on hand.
*Launchpad mini, Nano Kontrol Studio, Nano Kontrol 2, Keith McMillen's Softstep, and 4 midi fighter twisters.
- AGORIA -
The second part was to inject all Jacques’ objects and maximum creativity in a production that sounds simple. Both tracks of the single are incredibly rich but I make it sound very organic and smooth. What I always loved in Jacques’ live is the freedom of his instinct which leads to all sort of experimentation. My main goal was obviously to keep this essence, I aimed to not lose any direction or proposals. I always felt a good track was the right balance between the chaos and the grace. So we drifted as much as we could re-recording his live tunes, before picking the grace! I always enjoyed the process of assembling parts, building the arrangements, emphasizing on a few elements to give depth to the final mix. It’s all a frequency approach. What spectral sound we wanna hear, what is the final mood we have in mind. I had to submix amazing guitars parts, triple and assembling some bass lines, letting the voice flying here, sounding like a nice walk up after a nap.
The main goal was the feel-good vibe. I wanted the listener to feel the positivity of Jacques, I wanted the listener to feel inviter in our cocoon.
Technically I used a lot the transient designer of UAD, the Alter Boy of Soundtoys, the spectral RS-1, the Brainworx mastering, and some simple bitcrusher coupled with Harrison Eq as an enhancer of some frequencies
The hardware was SSL sound cards, Purple compressor, API EQs.