Alex Agore is somewhat of an enigma. I was first turned on to him when Managing Editor Terry Matthew sent me a review of Alex’s Mizz Honey EP out on MK and Scottie Deep’s label Say Ahhh. He said “I know you’ll love this.” And sure enough I absolutely dug his style of ’90s, garagey, female-vocal infused House. And while this sound is what is currently trendy among so many DJs, the music he makes has a level of sophistication that elevates him way above his peers.
Aside from running the No Matter What label with fellow producer James Johnston from the UK, he pretty much seems like a man with a philosophy completely opposite to that of today’s fame-hungry electronic artists.
Alex, what is your musical background and how long have you been making music? I’m curious because I don’t see you spinning anywhere…
I started making music around 2000 but it took me a loooooong time to get where I am now. I didn’t take it too seriously for many years but then I realized one day that it was now or never. With my background – well, I’m just a music lover like so many others out there. I started listening to House and Hip-hop around ’88. Then I started buying records and always somehow knew I had to have my own records one day. But as I said it took me a long time…
I don’t DJ, no. No plans on doing that, although I do enjoy mixing at home every now and then. But I could never do that as a career, I need my sleep.
As for instruments, I don’t play any… Basic chords on a keyboard? Yeah, but that’s about it.
My music is a lot of trial and error, and usually my feelings gets me to where I want to be.
You come off as quite the enigma…no photographs, not too much press, just a very low-key kinda guy. Is that intentional?
Yes it is. I want to make music but that doesn’t mean I want everyone in my business. If you make music, you give away a piece of your soul, and people can relate to that or they can’t. But I think that’s more important than anything else really. It doesn’t matter what I do in my private life and I’d like to keep it that way.
So you have over nine hours of unreleased Hip-hop beats which like your House stuff, sound phenomenal! How exactly did you put those together? Are those samples?
Yes, 99% are samples. I start with a beat and then go sample digging and try to add elements ’till I get what I want.
I really have no ambitions with the Hip-hop stuff right now. It’s just that I need a break from the usual every now and then and I enjoy doing it.
I guess the obvious question would be who your influences are… With Deep House being such a big thing right now it would be interesting to know which producers made an impression with you.
Okay, top of the list is of course my label partner James Johnston, and then you’ve got Inner Sense, Kool Vibe, Washerman, Sunny Galaxy and so on just to name a few.
Your way of getting music released… I see you posting a lot of your unreleased stuff on Soundcloud, next thing you know they’re coming out. Is that how you’ve been making your connections? Is that how MK and Scottie Deep found you for the Mizz Honey EP?
Yes it is. I don’t really like the demo routine, you know. I understand why people go that way or labels operate like that but it’s not for me. I don’t have to have my music signed. If people just listen on Soundcloud and the track never gets out – that’s fine too. Scottie heard my tracks there and then he got in touch.
I make too much music to care too much about single tracks. So yeah, basically as I said – if it gets signed, great. And if not, that’s okay too.
A whole lot of successful artists out of Chicago and Detroit that get notoriety on an international level end up moving to Berlin. What is it about your city that draws all our artists over there?
I can’t really say. Berlin is huge and it really depends on where you spent your life most of the time – which district or corner. I can’t say I like where I live too much but I’m used to it. Other than that the artful, colorful inner city life – I got no idea. It’s like a different world so I can’t really make assumptions on why people move to Berlin, because they sure ain’t moving to my corner.
How heavily involved are you in the local scene in Berlin? Do you go out a lot, mix with the local talent? Or do you lock yourself up in the studio for most of the time?
I’m not involved one bit. I don’t know anyone and I don’t relate to Berlin’s music scene. I’m perfectly fine with just makin’ music and living my life.
Your sound is incredibly clean, very well produced. What equipment do you use to create that and how long does it take to make one of your tracks?
I use software most of the time because I’m simply too lazy to hook up the bit of hardware I have. True story!
But then that gets to what I like to believe – that it doesn’t matter what you use, and it’s always how you use it. A DAW is a DAW. A VST synth is a VST synth, and both can be used 1000 different ways. I don’t think there’s anything special that I do. I do have some synths I use more than others but other than that it’s not like I got “go-to” gear, although I do try to switch things up every now and then.
And the time it takes? Not too long really. If I spend two weeks on a hi-hat sound then I know I lost it. I try to focus on the feeling I have and not too much on the technical aspects. I’m not really a tech nerd. Sure you need some knowledge to create a tune that can get released, but beyond that, I spend way more time in finding melodies or chords than I spend in, say, EQing things perfectly.
My music has flaws. I like imperfection. Humans ain’t perfect, so music shouldn’t be either.
Your sample banks must be endless. Without revealing too much, what would you say is your main source for obtaining these?
The main inspiration for everything I do is of course the music I like. There are people I look up to and admire for their creativity or sound. And that does inspire me, of course. But many times it’s just random. Most of the time I start blank and then just follow my inner guide if you will.
What is your five year plan? I definitely see you needing a high-powered agent because you have star written all over you! Or are you happy maintaining your low profile?
Thank you for saying that but I’m good with where I am. I don’t plan this as a career or with future goals. House Music is a destiny to me, not a career. And even if people stop signing my music or the hype shifts to something else, I’ll still do what I do because I have to. I’m happy with my low profile and I’m glad if the focus is on other people.