“Stay Young. Love Techno.”
That is the theme that perfectly represents the groovy, dark and hypnotic music of Agent Orange. Having cut his teeth during the legendary ’90s era raves and clubs in his native New York City, he has proven himself over the years as a pioneer and architect of modern day dance music. He’s spent the last 25-plus years pushing a sound that holds true to the raw unfiltered soul of his youth with a decidedly modern flair.
The New York based producer and DJ has had over 40 releases and tracks land the Beatport Techno Top 100 – two of which rose to #1 – for labels such as Tronic, Toolroom, Bitten, Nervous, Deeperfect, and Terminal M. His thumping hypnotic grooves have captivated the most discerning ears in the industry and led him to remix the legendary Carl Cox, who set off his 2015 Ibiza residency at Space with the Agent Orange track ‘No FAQs’ as the very first track of the season.
Today, he presents his latest release with an exclusive 6AM premiere and interview. “Overshadow” is a strong original track featuring a heavy tribal groove and carefully crafted synth lines. Hypnotic European Techno meets New York groove. The featured remix from Techno legend Joey Beltram is a really hype dance floor bomb. Big breakdowns with very mental use of the voices from the original which create lots of mesmerizing tension and killer drops!
You can catch Agent Orange playing these sound and witness his turntable wizardry on tour this summer in the following cities: New York, Philadelphia, Guatemala City, San Jose Costa Rica, Amsterdam, Barcelona and more to be added.
Let’s talk about the upcoming EP first. Where did you produce “Overshadow” and what was the inspiration behind it?
Overshadow was produced in my underground lair in Long Island New York, which I call the “The Orange Grove.” I arranged it in Ableton Live. Lately I’ve been feeling really dark grooves with some tribal beats and some nice vocals sprinkled in. Those sonic elements sound really fantastic on a big sound system in a nice dark room. So I start with putting a good drum and percussion groove together and take it from there. I always try to test my tracks out a few times at my gigs on a big sound system before I finalize them and I am happy with the results of “Overshadow.”
Joey Beltram adds his stamp with a remix for the EP. Why and how did you come to choose Joey for the remix duties on this one?
The very first time I heard Joey Beltram’s “Energy Flash” in the early 90’s I had a life changing moment on the dance floor at The Roxy in NYC. IT’S dark hypnotic vibe and clean powerful sound really struck a chord with me. It really changed the way I heard electronic music from that point on. He’s been a big influence on my music ever since, so naturally I’ve wanted to do something with him for a long time. When I finished “Overshadow” I sent it to Sandy Huner from Bitten Records who always gives me great feedback on the stuff I’m working on. He’s a real OG from the electronic music scene in Amsterdam. He sent it over to his label partner, 2000 and One, and they agreed that Joey would be a good remixer for it since we had a similar sound, both growing up in the NYC scene. Joey was also on out minds because had charted “Ur Love” my previous release on Bitten in his Top 10 on Beatport. Of course I though it was a fantastic idea, so I reached out to Joey. He liked the original track, so we took it from there.
What is the difference between the original and the remix? Would a DJ play them in different settings.circumstances?
I think he did an amazing job on the remix. He used the core elements while putting his own trademark sound on it. I feel that’s what a good remix should be. I did actually play them both in a 3 hour set I did at Black Label in Philly last weekend and they both had a vibe of their own. Mine is on the tribal driving side while his is also driving but a bit more mental and dark (it’s Joey Beltram after all!).
The EP is coming out on Amsterdam’s BITTEN Records. What was the choice behind the label?
I’ve been a big fan of Bitten for about the past 7 years. I love the sound they put out and I have been releasing my own stuff with them for about 2 years now. This will be my 4th release with them.
You rose up the ranks from the legendary ’90s rave era of your home city of New York. Do you still find yourself influenced from the music and ethos of those years? How so?
100%! Those years when I first discovered non-commercial dance music and the scene was truly an underground phenomenon, I will cherish forever. It was an exciting new world for me and I had so much to learn and so much to see. All of the different styles, DJs, venues, promoters. It was truly an amazing time that taught me so much about music and DJing. The NY super club era was a fantastic time to be alive! People were just coming together to dance and have fun and it really felt like we were breaking the music of the future, especially with Techno! I was able to play at so many clubs and raves back that when I was ale to learn lessons that I keep sharpened in my DJ tool box until today.
The techno scene in the United States and NYC has changed immensely over the last few years. What’s your take on NYC’s current techno industry?
NYC seems to be in a cool place right now for Techno. We have good clubs in Manhattan again, and now in Brooklyn as well. Output, Cielo, Flash Factory, Schimanski, TBA, Good Room, the list goes on. The festivals like Electric Zoo and now Governor’s Island RPM parties are starting to give Techno more representation too, which is nice to see. There is a lot to choose from for Techno and (good) House music on any given weekend. Most of the time I’m traveling for my gigs but it’s always a nice, special kind of magic, to play on the home turf.
“Stay Young. Love Techno” is the mantra you stand behind in everything you do as a producer and DJ. Is that really your only secret for staying young and relevant in the constantly changing techno scene?
I don’t know any secrets!! I wish I did haha because a lot of times this industry can be very tough and unrewarding. There are a few lesson I keep in mind that help me keep my head up and keep pushing forward. While I was living in Spain and traveling in Europe from 2006-2009, I met a lot of people that taught me a lot about this game. When I felt discourage they would explain to me that being in music is a way of life and you have to enjoy the ride. There will be ups and downs but once you realize you are actually living this way of life full time, you start to let things come and go more easily and have a lot more fun on your journey. That’s the most important thing about Stay Young. Love Techno. It’s a phrase that my friend Dijon and I came up with in 2001 when we were working at Satellite records in NYC. It described the passion that we felt when being in that special moment at a party when everything fits just right and you never want the beats to stop! You feel ageless and eternal. Your passion for anything will keep you young and hopeful in life. As far as other tips… be consistent, be friendly and do the things that you enjoy the most, more often.
Do you have any other music coming out this year?
I have a track called “Mean Street” coming out on Christian Smith’s Tronic label in June. I have been following Tronic since I was a regular DJ at the Tronic Treatment parties in NY, Miami and Detroit in the early 2000s. I’m really happy how “Mean Street” turned out. It’s a bit less groovy and more synth driven and dark that some of my other stuff. I’m currently working on a few more tracks coming out with that sound as well. After that I have an EP coming out on Funk’n Deep (Black), a label that has had tremendous success in a very short time. Run by Mike Ly aka Dutrysoxxx, it shows a very bright future. UMEK and others have even called it the “soon to be Drumcode of the USA.” It will feature 2 tracks “FreeKay” and “Grimd.” On remix duties will be 2 of my favorite artists who both delivered dance floor smashers! The legendary Filterheadz from Belgium and the fresh and always consistent The Reactivitz from France.
You also have some international gigs on the horizon… can you tell us a little bit about those?
For the first half of summer I’ll be doing US dates in NY, Chicago, possibly El Paso, LA and a few more cities yet to confirm. For the second half of summer I’m happy to be going to Central American countries south of Mexico for the first time, Guatemala and Costa Rica. I’m working on something for Spain and Holland in Sept and then back to Holland again for ADE in Oct.
You’ve been around for 25+ years. What keeps you motivated still?
Pure passion for the music and the art of DJing! Being a witness to the development of where it came from, I’m always just amazed at how it grew up. It has always been an important part of my life. Also the actual art form of DJing is something I that I really love as well. Creativity, the element of surprise, cleverness and crowd control, these things keep me happy and motivated. Especially going above and beyond just 2 decks and a mixer.
Do you feel you will be doing this job in 20-25 years from now still?
Yup! Stay Young, Love Techno!
What’s in the future for Agent Orange?
Another flight, another club… Another flight, another club… Another flight, another club… Also I want to keep developing the sound of my productions into something unique that’s truly my own and working with the labels that have taken good care of me.. Toolroom, Bitten, Tronic, Terminal M, Funk’n Deep and a few others. I’d also like to get back to releasing my own and other people’s music on my own label Gotham Grooves, which has been on hold for about a year.
And what’s in the future for Ara Krikorian?
Being the best husband to my super wife (DJ) Becka and best dad I can be to our amazing daughter Violet.
Overshadow EP by Agent Orange with Joey Beltram Remix is out on BITTEN on May 22nd
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