With over two decades of service to Electronic music under his belt and his own record label, we welcome NYC’s Ara Krikorian (Aka Agent Orange) to the Rhythm Distrikt family. He has headlined at events such as Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Movement Festival in Detroit, South America, Europe, and Asia. In the year 2001, Agent Orange, along with Deekron Krikorian started their own label, Gotham Grooves. An outlet for underground Dance music. We caught up with Agent Orange about his early musical influences from New York, producing and his sound now…
Would you say that coming from New York City has had a big influence on your sound?
For sure. NYC is a huge melting pot of culture and I grew up in the middle of it, absorbing many things from my environment. The city has a rhythm and it’s history with clubs and dance music is legendary. I was lucky enough to attend the best clubs that NYC had to offer back then. I’m glad to see that it is on its way back up again with places like Output, Verboten, Space, TBA, etc.
At what point did you start getting into electronic music?
It pretty much became my favourite genre in the summer of 1988. Mostly House and Latin Freestyle. There was an abundance of new and exciting stuff coming out back then from all over the world and I got hooked.
What were some of your earlier musical influences?
I fell in love with the house music that was coming out of NYC very early on. I was really feeling what Todd Terry and Roger S were doing and that stuff was a staple of the NY sound. I would listen to the radio as much possible, especially the late night mix shows: Tony Humphries, Louie Vega, Glenn Friscia, Charlie Casanova, Armand Van Helden and more. I was also a huge fan of a lot of the stuff coming from Chicago, Detroit and UK/European Rave stuff: DJ International and the Hip House sound, Trax and the Acid Sound, Inner City, Josh Wink, Derrick May and Derrick Carter. Then when I got more into Techno, the first guys I got really into were T-1000, Adam Beyer, Christian Smith, The Advent, T-99 and the Belgian sound, Jeff Mills etc.
How long have you been DJing and producing music, Which one came first for you?
DJing came first, I was 12 when I started (1989 you do the math!) I wanted to collect all of the music that I loved and play it for people at parties. I traded in my skate board for my first set of shitty, belt driven turntables. I had no idea what Technics or pitch control were. I didn’t start producing my own stuff until 1995. I started with hardware boxes… A Boss drum machine, Roland mc-303, and EMU esi-32 sampler.
Please tell us a little bit about your studio setup. Is there any particular piece of gear or software that is essential for you?
My room has some pretty decent acoustical treatment, that was a big deal for me to get that right and I think of it as super important. As far as hardware, I have a Joe Meek SC2.2 compressor, Nightpro EQ-3D, Roland SC-880 Synth Module, Maschine MK2 and a UAD Apollo Twin Duo. I mostly write on Live 9 and my go to plug-ins are Brainworx DigitalV2 EQ, Brainworx Saturator, Pultec EQP-1A, 1176NL-Legacy, Precision Maximizer, Softube TubeTech CL-1B, Massive, Sylenth, and Drum Racks.
I know you spent some time living in Barcelona, what did you think of the scene over there?
Incredible!! The 3 years I lived there was life changing for me. In Barcelona and Spain in general people are warm, kind, welcoming and they love to go out and have a good time! They dance a lot and party it up. Sonar and Monegros were always packed and great and they have many other great festivals that go on during summer. The clubs are really great as well.. The Loft, City Hall, Fabrik, Florida 135, Industrial Copera, the list is long. I suppose I should add my old flat to that list because my wife Becka or my room mate Rafael would invite people back to our place for an after party almost every weekend!
How was it playing at EDC this year? Any highlights from the weekend?
EDC was fantastic! It was like walking around in Mad Max’s world. They really go all out with the stages and decorations. People wear wild and funny outfits. All the stages get mobbed with people and they are really going for it on the dance floor, pretty much from start to finish. I had never played a set with so many fireworks and flames going off above my head before! Hanging in the Carl Cox and friends area where I got to hear Jon Rundell play one of my tracks was really awesome, as well as hanging at the Toolroom Live stage where I finally got to meet Mark Knight, Prok and Fitch, Dosem, Harry Romero and more, which made me happy since I’ve been hammering their tracks for many years already!
Do you still find it exciting when big names like Carl Cox drop your tracks, or is it just another day in the office for you?
I love when people ‘get’ what I was doing while I was working on a tune in the studio. If they like it enough to play it out that always feels amazing. I like to hear how they bring it in and out as well because the way you ‘present’ a track to a dance floor really matters as well. Plus there are a few guys like Carl I will forever be a fanboy of.
Any parting Agent Orange facts of wisdom for us?
Be the best yourself that you can be. Surround yourself with awesome people and always lift them up. Read your freakin’ manuals.