French DJ, Aghamar joins St. Romain for SR0036 with a mix that brings in house, Italo, nu-disco and indie dance.
Full of energy and packed full of positive vibes, this mix will bring you out of the lockdown blues.
A lot of things have changed since 2015...
I am a French DJ based in Paris, France. I was born and grew up in this city. And now, it is really exciting being part of its life through the electronic music scene. It has been four years now since I started Djing under the stage name “Aghamar”.
At the very beginning, my love for electronic music came from Chill Electro music, Future House and EDM sounds. Indeed, as a child and teenager, I have always listened to widespread artists and just wanted to be entertained by music. I was not sincerely interested in what I listened to. Thus, during the year 2015-2016, I learned the basics of mixing playing these genres, in my bedroom and at friends’ parties on my tiny Hercules controller.
Then, the first step that took me into electronic music as I mean it today is my best friend – who is now the President of our collective named ‘Time Machine’ – taking me to my first Techno festival (Weather festival 2016, in Paris). At that time, I did not know anything about House, Techno, and about the Electronic music scene. The only two tracks I knew in this genre before that night were: Octave One – Black Water and Yves Deruyter – Back To Earth.
And then, before going to the festival, we were randomly listening to techno tracks and the playlist took us to Bicep – Just. The track made us crazy, we were so excited after listening to it I will never forget. Since then, every single Bicep track I listen to or live I attend really moves me. To me, they are amazingly good at conveying emotions through their work on sounds. It is impressive, and we should all appreciate that no matter what we think about their music.
Anyway, we next got to the festival, and I was not ready at all for an event that big. I had never been to this kind of festival before, and the only things that I remember are: a massive warehouse, tons of people, stack cars behind a scene, lasers, and Laurent Garnier taking the mic and saying “Good morning Weather festival! How are you doing?” at 5 a.m. between two powerful tracks. So this is when I started loving electronic music and the spirit, the parties & the people going with it.
After that time, between 2016 and 2018, I played and listened to many different electronic music genres and moods (from Funk to Hard Techno). During this period, I made a lot of mistakes but also learned a lot: a crucial element, in my opinion, is exploring and trying, because if we don’t, our music would be incredibly boring and impersonal.
Now, since the beginning of 2019, I feel more confident in my choices and feel that I have found myself as a DJ. I know what I want to play, what I want to listen to, what inspires me. And I think it worked: it is since then that I played at more events, that I have a little more.
I wanted to be part of the energetic Parisian scene
After 2016 and since 2019 when things got more serious was when I really got involved in DJing. I think it is a willingness to be active in the electronic music scene, culture and nightlife of the city I am part of that got me started. In Paris, since the 2010’s the electronic music movement is breathing again, and reaching a momentum. I guess I wanted to be part of what we are living here, it is really exciting sharing this with people.
Having that said, what drives me when I am playing at an event or sharing a mix on the Internet is when people come to me and tell me they have had a great moment to it. This is my main driver. Sometimes, it goes further and people tell you that your music selection & tastes are great and were great in the moment, and sometimes ask you for the track ID: to me, this is the best reward because you feel that more than sharing a great moment with these people, you brought them something more personal.
I do not define my music selection in terms of music genres.
What is important to me is the energy that comes with the mix. Here, sources of inspirations are multiple: mostly other DJs (for instance – and in different styles – what Octo Octa & Eris Drew, MCDE, Palms Trax, Denis Sulta, Honey Dijon, Haai do as DJs really touch me), but also movies I watch, parties & events I have attended, or people.
Regarding other DJs, I think what they have in common that echoes to me is their sense of dance music. These DJs have strongly different mixing approaches but, to me, they all take people to a maximum level of what I would call “dance energy”. This is what I try to do when I am behind the decks.
Also, something really important regarding inspiration is the party & people you are playing at. They say a mix is a dialogue between the DJ and the dancers: I believe it is 100% true. And following what happens in that particular moment is, in my opinion, the greatest source of inspiration. If you don’t, your mix will sound generic and will not take people to that state of energy.
So, to sum this up, I would say that my music is covering up various underground dance music styles, from 110 to 135 BPM approximatively, with an accent on positivity and enthusiasm. I can play funk, disco, different styles of house music, techno, indie dance, Italo, new beat, breakbeat and “trancey” sounds, depending on the mood. And I can switch radically from one style to another during a mix, but it has to always remain consistent, because of the emotions: when I switch from a style to another, it would feel gross if the emotions conveyed by the tracks don’t fit. But this is my main concern from one track to another: matching the emotions. For instance, if I play a deep/moody/sad track, I may choose as a next track one that feels like the issue of this intense mood.
My first mix in real life since lockdown began.
The mix starts with Mark Lower – Retro Futurism, released on Nervous Records. I chose this track as an opening because I opened my first mix in real life since lockdown a couple of weeks ago with this one, so it represents something super positive to me. The event was for the French National day of music, on June 21st, I had not played a set since March the 6th I think, so it was extremely positive being able to be back with this track.
Then, I put a few Italo / nu-disco / indie dance-influenced tracks to install that upbeat and light atmosphere. In particular, “Let The Music Take Control”, from JM Silk is when the mix first reaches momentum. I have played this one a few times and it has been sort of a “signature track” as it is incredibly powerful if played at the right moment.
Next, the mix moves to more of a “housey” atmosphere, with a track from the French talented DJ and producer “Martin Alix”. There, we also hear my edit of Patience Dabany – Dis-moi (Tell Me) which I am really proud of as it has been played by some other DJs here in France. After that, Lazywax – Optima suggests a break in the mix, as the track is slightly deeper and easier to follow. I think it was the perfect 'launchpad' for a surprise track: you would be surprised how this late 80’s worldwide hit’s bassline and rhythm fits in a house mix! With this choice, it was important to me to promote the fact that you should never feel that a track is too famous to be played in a DJ set, no matter the audience. Because, to me, the upside of some mainstream dance tracks is that they are deeply and universally linked with a precise emotion, so they precisely touch your audience where you want them to be touched.
Anyway, the mix keeps going with a track from another talented French DJ and producer: Deborah Aime La Bagarre. This one is a powerful piano house track. Finally, the house part of the mix ends with my “lockdown favourite”: Adelphi Music Factory – Uprising. About this track, my feeling is that it perfectly depicts how a less sophisticated creation can be extremely powerful: it aims to make people dance and unleash their positivity, not to be the perfectly sought track. After that, we end with two more “electronic” tracks, with synth & cosmic influences, which I found fitted perfectly to end this session.
Which prodcuers excite me?
Earlier this year, I was really excited by the French producer Kendal with his “Inferno” EP, and I have been playing his tracks a lot. For those who don’t know him, have a listen, you will be surprised by how he revisits Italo synths and basslines and takes them to a more sophisticated and powerful level. You'll find his “Moresko” track in 2nd position in the mix.
And talking about Italo disco, I feel that recently, this style really reached the public: it completely works in a dance mix when well selected. And it is not dead at all, with a lot of artists revisiting the style. I am also thinking about Lifelike “Italo Disco” EP that was released in late 2019 I think. And having world-class DJs like Palms Trax or Gerd Janson combining Italo influences with techno and house sounds is really exciting.
In a different style, one producer that deserves to be known worldwide is the French KX9000. His last EP called “Ultra Loisirs” was awesome in terms of musical influences and how he combines them. When listening to the tracks, you can hear a perfect match between house, jazz and Japanese pop, … it works perfectly and it is a monster of a sophisticated and personal creation! And the light tone and ambience is so pleasant to hear, it is great.
We wanted a really warm, friendly and generous atmosphere.
This year, my friends from the collective “Time Machine” and I organized a residency at a neighbourhood bar in the center of Paris (called “La Salle à Manger 2.0”). There, we wanted a really warm, friendly and generous atmosphere. That’s why the first thing we did was decorating the place with a huge amount of plants, light bulbs, …
We got stopped in March by the COVID situation, but the music we play there goes from funk & disco at the beginning of the night, to trance & techno at the end. The one and only thing that matter to us is that people have a great time together, smile and dance. So, no matter the styles we are playing, the mood is upbeat and joyful.
Now that events may be authorized in France in a few weeks/months, we plan to organize those events once a month. In the long term, our objective is to invite other artists outside our collective to these events and share our music influences and passion together.
The last 12 months were really rich and fulfilling.
I would say more serious things started on the French National Day of Music on June 21st, 2019. My friends and I organized our first public event in Parc Montsouris, which is one of the big public gardens in Paris. We were a team of 3 and in charge of everything: relations with the city hall, electrical equipment, installation of the DJ booth, … This plus preparing our sets & live performances were exhausting, but felt really good when seeing people having a great time at our event!
Since then, I played in a few bars and won a contest that let me play in a cool club of Paris which is called “Panic Room” and where a lot of Parisian House DJs do their first gigs. And then the next step was setting the residency I was talking about in the bar “La Salle à Manger”, also in Paris.
I also worked a lot on my Soundcloud Page, posting a series of Mixtapes, tracks and edits I made and doing podcasts for other pages, which is cool! Let’s say that this year was great to set everything up to get serious things started during the next 12 months.
Consequently, for the next 12 months, I’ll work hard with my friends on our “Time Machine” collective, to develop it and develop our residency in that bar. This project really matters to us as it is our creation. Also, we worked on a press kit for the collective, which should let us play in bigger third-party events and bars/clubs. So yes, I would have two goals for the next 12 months: developing our collective residency and playing at bigger clubs and events organized by other collectives & promoters.
Also, I did not mention it before in this discussion, but I am working hard on my creation & production skills, and after releasing a few Free Download singles and edits, I plan on releasing an EP in the next 12 months.