I love your new “Beatz, Loops, and Bullshit” series that you have been posting up on Soundcloud. I know you’re a big hip hop fan, are you into hip hop and down tempo as much as you are into house?
Yes I am! I grew up listening to Hip Hop as much as I listened to House or Techno. It always played a role in my life. I enjoy making some beats from time to time. Good to get a timeout from the straight bass drum.
Did you get into music production through any style of music or just your love for music in general?
I always wanted to have my own record. When I started collecting vinyl in like 1990 I thought, “Damn… one day you need to have your own.” But it was more like an abstract dream. I didn’t make any moves in the 90s other than collecting vinyl, though I tried messing with Amiga Trackers, but failed big time. And then one day a friend showed me that silly Playstation 2 program “Music 2000”. So I started messing with it. Spent whole nights making “house” or break beat tunes with like 5 seconds sample time, LOL.
That was fun and I realized, “Ok, I need to check out some real shit” because in the end it was jus a really limited program. So then I checked out some music programs and realized, “Wow, so many possibilities!” I’m a slow learner though, so it took me ages to come up with something that wasn’t sounding totally crappy. And the main goal was always to make house music one day. But man, it was a slow painful process to get where I am now. I always thought my music wasn’t good enough. I still do think that sometimes. Anyway.. I always wanted to make bumpy garage tracks, but then had too much respect, and fear, so ended up doing something else. But it’s all good now. Eventually it all made sense and I enjoy where I am now.
Can you enjoy music the same as before you started producing or do you find yourself constantly critiquing the song you’re listening to (good and bad)?
Yes that happens automatically, but only with House music really. I don’t really care much for the technical side of things I’m more judging the “song” writing. The melody. The use of a vocal etc. Worst thing for me still is listening to my own music though. I always think, “Damn, it sucks what do people hear. Why they even bother listening to this”, LOL. It does get better with time. I don’t stress it anymore. Back in 2006 when I uploaded a track to Myspace or whatever and someone made a comment saying, “Eh, its not that great”… I was ready to give up. I doubted for days. Couldnt make any music then for weeks. But it got better, confidence grows. I still don’t like my own music that much, but at least I don’t care anymore what other people say.
It’s kind of bizarre what is and what isn’t being categorized as “Deep House” these days, what are your thoughts on the current “Deep” house sound?
Well to be honest, 80% of that so called deep house ain’t even house to me, so I don’t bother listening to it. People forgot where house music came from really. Just cuz there’s a Rhodes and an open hat and it’s like 118 BPM doesn’t mean it’s house. I can’t associate with it. So I keep my distance. To me, House is music that speaks to my soul and creates feelings, atmospheres, and moods. But most of today’s music is just boring. People spent AGES on the sound design, but forget the catchy elements. Theres nothing that makes you remember that certain tune in 1 or 2 years.
I don’t even like the term “Deep” because it doesn’t mean anything anymore these days. People think stretching a pad sound over 7 mins and put a reverbed vocal sample on it makes shit deep, but that’s just not what it means. To me eat least. But you can’t blame people really. A lot of the Producers are very young and just don’t know it any different. They grew up with this Euro deep house stuff and that’s all they know. So it’s all good. Times changed. People do what they have to do.
Are you burnt out on some of your tracks being referred to as “90’s” or “throwback” rather than just what they are?
Yeah, I am kinda… to be honest. Sure the music I make now is sounding a certain way that maybe makes people say, “Oh that sounds old school”, but I don’t do it to get that label. It’s just the music I wanna make. In the end that sound was always there and strong in the underground. People just forgot about it. Labels forgot about it. So now a few people put it back on the map and other people come up with BS labels like retro house. I don’t know why people need all these words all the time to describe things. Its House music. We already got the best term for it. HOUSE MUSIC!
This new release of ours features some out of print gems from the Kolour LTD back catalog that we've received so many inquiries about. Of all the tracks on the original “Promised You Love” EP are you pleased the Tornado Wallace remix was included or would you have preferred another track from that EP?
No, I’m fine with whatever your guys did decide simply because you were one of the very few people I actually really enjoyed working with. It was no BS and straight and honest. Especially props to Justin for the way he was dealing with me.
Both EP’s you’ve done for us on Kolour LTD and Undertones have a unique vibe to them, do you find yourself experimenting with styles to not lock yourself into a specific sound?
Well yes and no. I went through some kind of transformation in the past years you know. I started doing very sample based house music simply because it was, back then, the easiest way of transforming my ideas into music and I had basically no equipment. Not even monitor speakers or a Keyboard. I was just happy to get some shit done. I didn’t know anything about chords or the technical side of things. Since I’m a hip hop kid at heart, this sample approach was never a problem for a long time. Then I felt ready to make the next step and I got some equipment and started to learn. Studied chords. Checked out my fav records over and over again to get a feeling for what I wanna do and then I kept trying and trying.
So the Kolour/Undertones releases show exactly the ending of phase 1 and the begin of phase 2. The first EP was my last word on this whole disco/house/rhodeschords/sample thing because it was all said and done for me. And the 2nd EP was my first try on coming up with original house music that I always wanted to do. So I’m glad you guys helped me to end one phase and start another. Now I can do what I always wanted to do. And yeah, maybe that locks me into a specific sound, but that’s all right with me. I leave the experiments for the kids.
Can you tell us some of your all time favorite producers?
Well the almighty Kerri Chandler of course. Especially his early 90s productions. But he’s still going strong and he’s definitely a main influence. His drums are on another level. Even 20 years ago. Then there’s Eddie Perez because the way he played the keys was, and is, just untouchable. Listen to any random Mentalinstrum/Smack tune from the 90’s and you can hear these chords and damn it always gets me. I miss shit like that these days. Mike Delgado too. He’s another wizard and another strong influence. Of course there’s much more. All the UK Garage Stuff, Jeremy Sylvester, Tuff Jam etc. Todd Edwards too. On the Hip Hop side of things it’s definitely Dilla and Pete Rock.
Who are some of the producers making music these days that you’re feeling?
I know that’s a predictable answer now, but definitely my friend James Johnston. He’s always trying different things and develops on all levels very fast. Its great to watch and hear and I always look forward to see what he came up with next. Then you have Inner Sense who’s EP on Mliu was probably my fave record of the year. A true House head! I don’t know that many new things to be honest, but there are people like Deymare, Lady Blacktronika, Mike Huckaby and a few others that I always give a listen.
How did you and James Johnston get together to start No Matter What Records?
Well, we started No Matter What simply because we were tired of the way certain labels were dealing with us. Like really tired. Then one day we were just talking and suddenly No Matter What was born. It gives us control about what we release and why. Not being dependant on other people is a great feeling. And since 001 and 002 worked out very well, it all was worth it in the end.
Do you ever worry that owning a label will make music more about business then art or is it just an extension of your creativity?
Oh no, I don’t worry about that at all right now. What we do is still basically totally underground. I mean its like 350-400 records. Whats that these days? There’s no money to make unless you plan on having a DJ or live gig career which I dont. So it’s all just for fun and for the love of music. When dealing with other people though certain things and attitudes do annoy me a lot. I don’t want to get trapped in all these politics and BS that surrounds house music sometimes, so I need my time outs and get back to what’s important, the music!
What would be your dream record to put out on your label?
Nothing special really because that dream record is every record we release. Simply because its us doing what we want and what we love. Nothing could be better.
What can we look forward to from Alex Agore?
Good question. Well as I don’t plan my career or anything like that, I just go with the flow. I let things happen. If there’s a time with no releases it won’t bother me. And if I can release a lot of music then it won’t make me think I’m the shit. So I just take it day by day, step by step. What you can look forward too is more No Matter What releases. And maybe one day some instrumental hip hop cassette project. I’d love to do that one day. But as I said, I let things happen and only God knows what’s next.
Interview By Glen Hammarstrom