We’ve talked with Agnès Aokky, a French poet amongst the electronic music producers who tells of the way lovers meet on “Vertige à la plage”
This one is for all of the poetry lovers : the sound experiments & surrealist writings of Agnès Aokky are made for you ! She has been supported very early on by important figures of the French indie side of the music industry, like Manifesto XXI’s compilation project or the French-speaking & indie talent-scouting label La Souterraine ; Agnès Aokky fills the hearts and souls of her audience with frequencies that flirt with both the worlds of alternative pop and experimental electronica. By being intrinsically poetic, her lyrics are rhymed, and automatic writing is at the core of her creative writing process. On May 20th, we’ve got the chance to discover the dream pop facet of her works with “Vertige à la plage”, and today, it is on the airy remix of La Belle Epoque that we get to (re)discover it. In order to better apprehend her own artistic realm, we have asked her a few questions!
1. Hello Agnès and thank you for answering our questions today ! Before we get started, can you introduce yourself in a few words for those who don’t know you yet ?
Hello ! So in a few words, I have fun djing and writing songs on which I sing and use my flow.
2. People who – like me – have been following your musical adventures for some time know that you started your solo project by releasing a track called “Blue Dreams”, released on the French talent-scouting label called La Souterraine. What is the story behind this track ?
This song casts a light on refusing to grow up in a world far too hostile for hypersensitive beings. It’s a kind of poetic & melancholic rebellion : the butterfly sees its wings “grinding” while looking for a lost paradise. There is also this wish, this fierce determination, even, to remain “young” forever. “Young” in the sense of “continuing to experience new things for the first time and being in awe”.
3. And what does this track mean to you, regarding your current and future discography ?
It’s the first step towards the use of autotune and pitched voices. I love these alien-sounding voices!
4. The next release that followed “Blue Dreams” is called “Vertige à la plage” (“Beach vertigo”, in English) and it was released on May 20th. It’s a softer, spoken-word piece that talks the early beginnings of intimate relationships. Where did the story of this song come from?
The song was born in Pigalle, one of Paris’ many neighborhoods, where I lived for a few years. I used to live rue Coustou, and this street has the particularity of being located between two opposite worlds: that of the sex shops of boulevard Clichy and a more toned down world on rue Lepic. I feel like I have been inspired by these two poles: darkness on one side, light on the other, very white and black. Then, the lyrics came to me while listening to a Plaid track called “Manyme”, on repeat. As for the history behind the song, it is a mystery even to me because I really relied on automatic writing for this one!
5. And where do you get inspiration for your lyrics, in general ?
In literature, cinema, everyday life, emotions and within my dreams.
6. “Vertige à la plage” came with a music video which has been shot by the sea and whose aesthetic is clearly old-school & vintage. Just like the lyrics, the images can bear several meanings, even if the main theme of the video seems to relate the early beginning of an intimate relationship between two women on the beach. Do you consider your music (or your artistic project at least) to be political, in any way ?
I feel my project is advocating for freedom ; I create as I feel, ignoring what it would be good to do or not. For example, the making of my track “Blue Dreams” is quite singular, it does not follow the classic structure “verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus”. With its distorted shape, I never imagined that this song would be played on national radio here in France ! “Vertige à la plage” is much more conventional, structure-wise. I like the blend, even the confusion of music genres. I do not want to comply to the desire of a traditional record company which would, for example, have the artist stick to the the same musical genre on all of the tracks of an EP or an album. So my music is political in a sense that I wish to be true to myself at the deepest level.
7. Today, “Vertige à la plage” comes out in a remixed version, by La Belle Epoque, and unveils a softer and perhaps even more summery side of the track. Did you give the artist specific direction to make the track sound like that or did you give him carte blanche?
Yes, it’s true, it’s sweeter! I gave Jérémy (La Belle Epoque) complete freedom. I like the way he replicated the way a voice goes up and down the octaves with the synthesizers, it gives a melancholic and a cinematic side to the track.
8. I know you’ve only just released a new song, but what’s to come in the upcoming weeks or months ? Does this single mean there is a future EP, or album on the way, for example?
Ideally, I would like to release a new single and an EP that would be quite eclectic in terms of music genres : electropop, braindance, electronica… I am in the process of setting up the creation of a new clip for a track whose melody is in a cold-wave electro mood and with a very soft spoken-word flow. This track would announce the release of the EP perhaps for next fall. And then an album in the shape of a crazy mixtape, I’m thinking about it. But, the idea of a “mixtape” obsesses me, I would like all the tracks to follow each other harmoniously, with nice interludes. I’m working on it !
9. Paris-based people can also find you at the Rosa Bonheur venue for DJ sets during the week ; are there any live performances ahead ?
Yes, I am a resident DJ at Rosa Bonheur, it’s a great experience ! This place is quite unique in terms of atmosphere and the team is very caring, I feel really safe there. As for live shows, I will rather wait for the release of the EP. I’m working on it with my teacher Ghislaine Lenoir at the Studio des Variétés – a support system for professional artists in France, editor’s note – she directs me for a live formula of 30 minutes and another one of an hour. I’ve taken the decision to be alone on stage with my machines. When the opportunity comes, collaborating with a visual artist for my performances as I did in 2019 with phormazero would be magical !
10. Finally, and I always ask this question at the end of the interview because I really like to give artists the opportunity to introduce the readers to other artists : is there an artist that you’ve been keeping an eye on lately, and if so, why ?
Kae Tempest ! Kae embodies fire, life force and a has hyper libertarian way of writing & singing. Their latest album “The line is a curve” is a pure gem in both instrumentals and lyrics. I hear letting go, appeasement… it does me good. I really like their “literary” side, which is very valuable in the music world. Kae attaches meticulous importance to each word, I like the care that an artist can bring to the choice of words.
As a music web writer for several years, I have developed a particularly devoted passion for electronic and alternative musics. From the ethereal melodies of Max Cooper to the introspective music and lyrics of Banks, my radar has me listening to the wide French and international independent music scene... all of this between communication plans for independent labels and artists !