An Interview with Agar Agar

Cover Photo Credit: Erwan Fichou

French electropop duo Agar Agar is back with Player Non Player, their third studio album and also a soundtrack for a new video game of the same name. Check out our interview with the duo below to find out more.

How are you doing, guys?

Armand Bultheel: I’m not doing so bad! It’s winter, and we have a lot of work, but I can play the piano and pet my cat from time to time.

Clara Cappagli: We’re good! We’ve been working on our new show and we can’t wait to go on tour.

Player Non Player is both an album and a video game. Explain it in a nutshell, what is this album to you, and how did it come to be?

It came after a long break. We knew we wanted to make another album with Agar Agar. The video game was already being developed by Jonathan Coryn, and in there were the first stones of the album, the first inspiring landscapes and characters. Then we made music really intuitively, and we were pretty happy with what came out. So we kept going, and the video game grew with it, and our music grew with the video game. It went back and forth.

How does sharing a creative vision with a visual artist differ from putting forward your duo work independently?

Well, it makes a lore, a cloud of ideas where we can, the three of us, put some stuff and retrieve bigger stuff. It’s like growing a plant with different senses. All of us, we kept independent in what we felt we wanted to bring to the project, but putting all that together made a soup of which we couldn’t expect what the taste would be.

Credit: Naïa Combary

What instruments and tools did you experiment on for this record?

New synthesizers, and for the first time, a sampler for drum loops. Armand sold a lot of the synthesizers and drum machines that were used in previous Agar Agar sounds, in order to change some things, experiment with new stuff. It naturally took the path of adding more digital synthesizers – Well, digital from the 90’s/00’s mostly. These textures are fascinating and it felt they could play a nice role in Agar Agar’s sound.

If you were to handpick the easiest and hardest songs to write and record for this album, which two would you pick?

Easiest: “Dragon and Dragonlie”. Hardest: “Trouble”.

Would you consider yourselves gamers? If so, what are your favorite games?

A: I’m not sure I fit the requirements of the term “gamer” haha. But I play sometimes and I love it, like I read, like I watch movies, even if I don’t call myself a reader or a movie watcher. Lately I would really recommend playing: Mother 3, Outer Wilds, Disco Elysium.

C: I agree, I wouldn’t name myself as a typical gamer, I don’t think I play enough to say I’m part of that community! I play when I’m anxious or when I have the time. I am currently playing Persona 5.

A quick addition to that question: What are some of your favorite video game soundtracks?

A: Mother 3, Fez, Wip3out

C: ICO, Life is Strange, Final Fantasy XIII.

A quick game, no cheating: Reply with the three most recently streamed songs from your library.

A: I took the train, so the three last songs of Brian Eno’s LUX 1 album… I mostly download instead of streaming and listen to albums, I’m not a playlist or shuffle kind of listener. If I want to discover new stuff I don’t let any algorithm tell me any more, I listen to radios I like (like, it’s a great French web radio! Would recommend it!)

C: I’ve been obsessed with Salvia Palth, the whole album melanchole, and also been binging “R.D.L” by Nana Lourdes, and “love is a place to hide” by Puzzle.

What are some of the best memories you have of your previous Turkey visits?

A: I spent quality time with people that I didn’t really know but quickly became what I can call friends. 🙂

C: I loved walking around and checking out the whole religious part of town! It’s such a beautiful city (and love the food).

What do you think is your proudest achievement so far as Agar Agar? Does a specific memory come to mind, or is there a bigger answer that transcends moments?

A: That’s easy but true: I really like this album Player Non Player, more than the previous ones. I’m proud of what we managed to make here, despite some difficulties.

C: I think our proudest achievement is to be as sincere as possible with our music. To share a true honest message without thinking about the consequences.

If you had a chance to carve one of your lyrics to your memorial stone 100 years from now, what would you choose?

C: It’s not very humble to answer this question! But I guess it would be from “Duke”:

“Duke has magical hands

And when it moves it melts”

I love picturing somebody’s hands melting! That’s why.

You can check out Agar Agar’s Bandcamp profile here.