Stay Young. Love Techno. Interview with the Agent Orange Dj. Taken by Ольга Година
Agent Orange Dj aka Ara Krikorian is a brilliant and legendary USA Dj whose way began from the 90`s raves in New York city.
His motto is “Stay Young. Love Techno. This ideology perfectly represents the energy of what I do. Not just aimed at a specific genre but an attitude, a code to live by where our passion for the things we love keeps us connected to the pure, youthful, energy we all posses inside.” And he has an incredible style and music that stays unique and fresh for several generations from the 90`s to today. His results and goals are very impressive.
He has had 70+ releases and tracks that have landed in the Beatport Main and Techno Top100 charts – 7 of which rose to #1 and 20+ in the Top 10 – for labels such as Tronic, Elevate, Toolroom, Bitten, Nervous, 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. His resume of remixes also includes DJ Rush, Ken Ishii and more recently Armand Van Helden’s “Witch Doctor” which was released on Pig&Dan’s ELEVATE label and was a smash hit in the second half of 2018, gaining support from a lot of the major DJs at the biggest festivals of the year. He also had a full length video created for it which is a rarity these days in this genre. It includes a cameo from Armand himself and It was premiere by Mixmag on their YouTube channel. His biggest hit of 2019 was his remix of Josh Wink’s timeless Winx – Don’t Laugh classic released on Nervous records. I was released in early summer and found it’s way into pretty much every major festival in the world this year in the sets of Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, Amilie Lens, Pan-Pot and lots lots more. In 2019 he also had the chance to rework one of his favorite classics Sume Sigh Say from his all time hero Todd Terry as House of Gypsies, in a collab with Alexandr Technique.
Agent Orange Dj is touring all over the world with a great schedule to the most popular events, clubs, and festivals. EDC Las Vegas, Ultra Music Festival Miami, Electric Zoo NY, ADE, BPM, Miami Music Week, Sonar and more.
He is one of the most respectful figures of the techno scene with a support of such friends and colleges as: Сarl Cox, Adam Beyer, Chris Liebing, Pan-Pot, UMEK, Joseph Capriati, Christian Smith, Monika Kruse, Paco Osuna and many more.
1. Ara, your biography is really impressive, where did your passion for techno music come from? Why did you decide to link your fate with music?
Hey Olga, thanks for inviting me for this interview. I think it’s really great to have techno bloggers doing what you do with so much passion and quality.
I was born and raised in New York. Growing up during the 80s there was so much going on here in music: Disco, Punk, Rap, Electro, House, Latin Freestyle, and DJ culture in general it was all happening here to the highest degree! There was a lot of musical cross-over happening too which was so exciting and felt like things were moving forward very fast. Synthesizers and samplers had become fairly affordable as well, which had a huge impact. I fell in love with the electronic side of music early on just from the radio. NY and Chicago House, Electro Rap, and Freestyle were my first loves. I started to collect records in 1988 after spending the summer in LA and going to a lot of house parties and hearing and seeing live DJs working for the first time. I fell in love with the roll of the DJ in the party. Crowd control and knowing when to play what. When to play a big track and when you can experiment with something new, how a good surprise can make the people go wild! Another thing that I found very exciting was when the DJs would play new edits and longer versions of songs people knew from the radio but had never heard before. I wanted them all! When I came back to NY and told my older brother Deekron about my new found passion he convinced me to jump right in and start to DJ. He even bought me my first 3 records to start with and introduced me to his DJ friends who started to teach me the ropes. I started to play at neighborhood parties and quickly became of of the go to DJs in many different communities around New York. Around 18 I started going out to more underground clubs in New York City where I discovered more underground sounds and eventually the Rave scene came along and I got sucked in. That’s were I discovered Techno for the first time around 1996.
2. Tell us more about your new 2019 year releases Winx – Don’t Laugh (Agent Orange DJ rework & DUB mixes), Agent Orange DJ X Alexander Technique Rework ‘SUME SIGH SAY’ Todd Terry.
2019 seems to be the year of the “Rework” for me. It started with my rework of Armand Van Helden’s classic “Witch Doktor.” My friend Mark hit me up one day and said “Hey, why don’t you remix Witch Doktor for fun” so I said “Yes!” and I did. I gave it to Carl Cox and he start to play it at Resistance Ibiza and Adam Beyer heard it and emailed me the next day asking for it and it slowly made its way into lots of sets from the biggest DJs which eventually led to in being released on Pig&Dan’s label Elevate. It hit #7 on Beatport Techno and stayed on the chart for many weeks. Everything seemed to fit with how that worked so I decided to do a few more Reworks of some of my favorite 90s tracks. Before Miami Music Week this year I finished up 2 more.. Winx “Don’t Laugh” for the Techno DJs and Todd Terry presents House Of Gypsies – Sume Sigh Say together with my good friend Alexander Technique, for the more House playing DJs. Again they both found their way into the sets of the biggest DJs and the labels contacted me for official releases, they both did better than I had imagined! I was just so glad that so many people got to hear my work this year. That’s the thing that makes me happiest… knowing that the people on the dance floor are experiencing those first rushes of excitement I had when I fell in love with the music and DJing, to my own music!
3. What are you thinking about when you create music?
I like to think about new ways to incorporate ideas into a song. A cool voice that I grabbed from an online video or someone ranting, or a cool musical idea I heard from something non electronic music like a Black Sabbath bassline or a different genre like Drum & Bass. I love mashing things up. I feel fusion is a great way to move things forward and keep things fresh.
4. You have been popular for many years, what is the secret of your success?
I guess I played the long tail strategy in a way by just staying true to myself and building things slowly in my own way. I have also travelled a lot for Techno parties and festivals and even moved to Barcelona for 3 years with Becka my wife, to meet and hangout with the European DJs and crowds. I try to work hard on the promotion side as well as the music side which is required these days.
5. Your wife Becka is also a Dj, how do you find balance between DJs work and your family?
It’s not easy, we both have to work very hard at things and it can get pretty hectic sometimes with traveling and such. Luckily my parents and brother help a lot – It would be very hard to do things without their support.
6. You are playing in different styles, which is your favorite one?
Techno is 80% of what usually like to play, different situation call for different vibes. I like to play some House and even Tech-House, not the commercial Fisher sounds! haha, only the deeper/heavier stuff like Mr.G The tracks I pick all have a dark groovy type of vibe that fits with my Techno sounds anyway.
7. How do you choose tracks before the party?
On Mondays I start with about 200 tracks in a folder in Rekordbox – 100 promos and 100 of my favorites and then narrow it down from there throughout the week, thinking about the city and type of party I’m going too that weekend. I don’t know the order I will play them in but I group tracks that have a similar energy together into clusters. I’m adding and subtracting tracks right up until my set.
8. How did you decide to make Armand Van Helden’s “Witch Doctor” Agent Orange Dj Rework and video?
I have a running list of all of my favorite tunes that I would love to rework for fun, that one was near the top and when my friend Mark suggested it, I felt it was the right time. The video came about from a dream I had before the release. I think it came out really cool for a zero budget video!
9. Please tell us about your recent experience at the Amsterdam Dance Event.
This year ADE was another fun one. It’s always great to reconnect with old friends and make new ones there. Some of the highlights for me way playing the Minitech party at John Doe club where I did the New York Techno Power Hour B3B with my wife Becka and our friend Mellisa Nikita – it was super fun! The Drumcode party was crazy as always and I finally met Thomas Schumacher there (one of my all time favorites!) among many others like Bec and lots more. For my panel talk at the 50:Hertz Masterclass Hotel at Hotel Twenty Seven, they surprised me into a rework challenge of Alice DJ “Better Off Alone” which was crazy and fun. I never thought I’d work on such a happy song but it was a cool experiment and it was cool for DJ Jurgen to come and present the remix stems to me in person. I ended up staying all day and catching all of the other panel talk and classes with Tom Hades, Balthazar& JackRock, Timmo, Man WIth No Shadow, Tubba, and more.
10. Recently you have made the first video about the Pioneer DJS-1000 will you continue to make such cool video descriptions?
Yes! I’m really into the concept of bring some more live and improvisational tools into the DJ booth. I’m really enjoying the DJS-1000 and all the live jamming type stuff you can do with it. I will try to do 1 video per week at this point.
11. Carl Cox very often plays your tracks, what is your attitude to him and his music?
I met Carl way back around 1999. We hit it off and he has been a huge supporter of mine since then. To me he is the perfect roll model for the DJ world. He keeps his business tight and at the same time really helps nurture many other careers and is always supporting up and coming artists. He will always be #1 for me, Oh Yes Oh Yes!
12. What labels are you published in?
I have released a lot of music over the years so there are many but the more recent ones have been: Tronic, Elevate, Bitten, Nervous, Funk’n Deep Black…..
13. What are your next musical plans and goals?
Some upcoming remixes:
Chus&Ceballos – Go On (AODJ remix) [Stereo]
2000 and One (secret project) [100% Pure]
Sean & Dee, Nakadia – Sonic Fuse (AODJ remix) [Set About]
Chip-e – It’s On (AODJ remix)
Ben Teufel – Denkma [Prospect]
Giorgio Rusconi – ATLANTIS (AODJ remix) [Funk’n Deep Black]
My Upcoming originals are top secret for now but 2020 will be a big one! Stay tuned and Stay Young. Love Techno.
Agent Orange DJ
STAY YOUNG. LOVE TECHNO.
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