Few bands have the reception that Agar Agar has. The duo – made up of Armand and Clara from Paris – formed only two years ago, released one EP and several singles and still managed to become Electronic pops next thing – without much promotion or help of big record labels. Singer Clara originally hails originally from a Garage rock band, while Armand hails from the electronic music scene. Their debut album The Dog & The Future was released in October this year and was inspired by web memes about animals. It takes the material they’ve presented on their EP Cardan in 2016 to an even more futuristic, experimental and dark level.
What’s striking about Agar Agar is not only their music, but also their characters. In interviews they talk about their love for synths, about wanting to be dogs or feeding ants with the gelling agent Agar Agar (which is made of algas). I meet the two ahead of their concert at Berlin Hip Hop venue Prince Charles, which already sold out months prior to the concert. Armand and Clara sit in the backstage, smoke cigarettes and wonder about the weird German definition of cheese. Despite being silly in most other interviews, the duo seems almost serious this time.
So, I played them a few gems from the current French music scene to find out their opinion about them and whether we should have them on our radar or not. Let’s start with Myth Syzer and his fellow friends Bonnie Banane, Muddy Monk and Ichon.
Clara: I like his album I lot – I collaborated with him on a track. It’s not huge, but people in Paris would know him. Thats the only collaboration I did solo, I collaborated with the French DJ Mad Ray.
Armand: I collaborate with people in a different way, I collaborated with a baroque singer and did other things with people in the electronic music scene.
Clara: If you hear her voice, you can tell who it is. I love her voice so much – I never saw her live but I’ve heard its intense. Bonnie Banane’s a true musician.
Armand: She collaborated with Flavien Berger, who released a very emotional album the same day as us. It’s very sweet and ecletic. There songs is 10 minutes long and a symphony. It starts with a sample and ends with violins.
‘All of these people are on the same crew, they do everything together. We’re not in the clique’ (Clara)
Clara: The Parisian music scene is open, we don’t know every one and want to collaborate with a lot of people. I find the UK music scene in its outcome way more interesting than the French one. Our indie music scene has a lot of material, its pretty good. But the UK music is more creative and takes more risk. They like more niche music; the niche is wider because people are into more specific stuff.
Clara: It’s nice – I don’t know what he does, I barely know his music. He’s independent, not huge. But he’s famous in the indie music scene and very young. He always produces music for other people.
‘I guess there are a few bands like La Femme that got big or Christine And The Queens. But its not a lot of bands that get huge elsewhere. Neighboring countries like Germany also have only a few rare projects that can travel through the globe.’
Clara: The music funding in France if you’re a musician is a really good thing. You get paid by the number of concerts you do. It’s like a salary but only if you do enough concerts you can receive it. If you want to have it, you have to tour a lot but then once you do that you can have it for a year – like a salary. Even if you don’t play for a month, you would still get it. It’s for theater and performances as well. If you perform the number they ask you for – let’s say 50 per year – you can’t get it. Anything concerning a show. It has to be declared – you can’t play in Italy, you have to play for France. Not everyone can have it, you already need to have toured for a while.
Before that we were students – our parents paid for it. We both did classical music conservatory when we were young. We were really young and we pretty much hate the way of teaching music that way – I’m not rejecting it, but it’s really traditional and they wouldn’t consider a song made with the computer as music.
Armand: You have some business where music is narrow but mainly its about teaching people how to be a good violinist. There’s just a few to work in that business, like in orchestra. A lot of people try to get in there, but just the best can. We like the more modern approach of music and teaching music.
Watching Agar Agar later on stage that night compares to the weirdest and most intense live experiences you have probably seen. Clara mimics on stage (think of John Maus only without punching), searches for contact with the audience and there’s even a security guy stripping to their single Prettiest Virgin (which turns out to be a friend of the band, but nonetheless). After their official set, the duo improvises a techno rave set. With their energy, wit and even their corporate design in press images, music videos and their album artwork, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear a lot more about Agar Agar next year.