Argy is a Greek born, Berlin-based producer and DJ who has released a steady and solid stream of classically informed house and techno. Active for years, he has made a big impact and won himself plenty of acclaim. Releasing on labels like Jerome Sydenham’s Ibadan, Deeply Rooted House and Cocoon, he has turned out full lengths like Fundamentals and is soon to release a new album that is a collaboration with a top vocalist, Mama.
This weekend he’s on the bill for Sankeys LDN at Studio 338 in London along with Brawther, so ahead of that we quizzed him about the message in house music, the state of affairs in his native Greece, how crowds around the world compare and much more besides.
How are you, what’s made you happy and sad recently?
My new album ‘Dominonation’ that came out a month ago on BPitch Control Records made me happy. The actual challenge more than anything else. I have been writing on that with my collaborator and singer MAMA for a long time now so I am really proud that its finally out. The extreme violence on all levels worldwide at the moment has had me relatively frustrated as well as the marathon of my country’s journey out of the crisis since 2009.
Now that you have hit the milestone of 30 years of age, have your musical goals changed?
Well, I am almost there, my birthday is on May 1st! The only difference is that when I was 20 my musical goals involved the next decade although now I try to have a more mature, a more in the moment perspective, trying to plan as far as the next year.
How has your sound evolved since your last album, Fundamentals, do you think?
After Fundamentals I took a little break from the NY/Jersey House chords and structures as that album completely got that style out of my system! So I focused on harder things, a bit more obscure sometimes and this latest song-based album of course. I also really did a lot of gigs after that album which influenced my studio perspective too.
And how do you feel now you look back on that, Are you still happy with it?
I am very content with it and this comes from someone who is only really content with 50% of his music. What’s also really important about this album is that it came out at a time when a lot of people were still into darker minimal techno! The house revival started almost a year after that.. I usually tent to be a little more brave with my albums, which was also the case with ‘Dominonation’. Going out almost naked before a trend hits the market. And even when sometimes you know that the trend will never hit the market like with my Zodiac Free Arts Club album on Permanent Vacation which was basically Krautrock..
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Your track ‘Love Dose’ had a huge resurgence last summer on Ibiza. Relative newcomers to electronic music were digging your track almost a decade after it originally hit the terraces. Do you think there were any reasons for this? How did you feel about that?
Love Dose had a basic structure and there weren’t really any obvious elements to it in order to tie the song to a specific music era. On top of that, although the record was quite popular back then, it was never commercial sounding as it’s actually a really underground track, that goes for the original and the Luciano remix too. This kept it out of the radio radar which helped with the longevity of the song.
The synth line has such a huge sound. How did you make it?
Believe it or not but back then I was making music with one speaker and one laptop. I was 19. That synth line sound is from the ES1 synth in Logic.
How did you come to work with Mama, and how much of an extra challenge is it working with a real vocalist – have you had to learn new recording techniques?
I graduated in 2006 from a very good university with a bachelor degree of Music Technology. We did a lot of studio work during that time, mainly for classical and rock/pop music. Those three years studying in London helped a lot improving my recording techniques, mixing abilities and generally sonic perception.
Might you ever head out and do a live show or PA with Mama on vocals and you DJing or playing live? Would you like to do something like that?
That’s actually what we have been doing more or less during the last six months. A lot of promoters asked for an ARGY & MAMA show before my DJ set. In this case we do a pumped-up big room version of our live show which is a 40min rave party with uplifting vocals and basslines.
Should house music have a social and political conscious like it used to with tracks like Joe Smooth ‘Promised Land’ or CeCe Rogers ‘Someday’ etc that spread messages of love?
I don’t feel like there should be a “should” anywhere in art. Some artists feel like they should go public with their political views and some not. For example I stay away from that as I feel that I am still evolving as an individual and don’t want to communicate messages that are not going to be timeless. At least I try to.
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What do you make of the state of lyrics in house music – are you ok with ‘Ooooo baby’; or do you think there should be properly thought out words, messages, ideas, themes in house – or is that not for the dance floor?
As I said before, if “oooooo baby” is what you are feeling at the moment then go for it. There are great RnB records out there that are amazing and feature a lot of that. D’angelo for example or even Maxwell! I mean music IS sex and everything evolves around sex. Obviously I prefer when the artist finds a smarter way of communicating it rather than being too literal about it. Truth is that the delivery and context make everything tasteful or not.
Do you get back home to Greece very often? What state is the country in? What do your family make of the situation and things? Do you discuss it?
Of course we discuss it and people who were never really into politics are now very much into politics. This crisis has taken too long to fade and austerity was the wrong way to deal with it.
You’ve played Sankeys Ibiza, Sankeys Manchester and the Sankeys parties in London at Studio 338. How do they all compare? Do you have a favourite?
The great thing about Sankeys is that it serves a different purpose in every city. Manchester is the birthplace. The archetype. In Ibiza its one of the most underground clubs on the island and in London it fills a gap in an area that hasn’t got many places to go out to party freely. The new year’s day party in London was magic!
How do London crowds compare with the rest of the world?
Musically speaking, English people especially in the north are very educated and very open minded I must say. This is because of the country’s immigration which made the UK such a wonderful melting pot. The rich and diverse music culture, Hacienda for example and acid house, as well as tons of great personalities that paved the way has made England a very very interesting place to perform.
What else you got coming up/are you looking forward to?
Several remixes by talented artists who took the original songs from ‘Dominonation’ to a different world and transformed them to club bombs. I also have remixes coming out soon in spring for Kele from Bloc Party, Sante, Steve Lawler and Kerri Chandler. I am also looking forward to a very special Ibiza season. More info coming soon..
If you could own one record no one else was allowed to play, what would it be and why?
I am not possessive with records AT ALL. In fact I share all my music. I would be possessive with my flow but thankfully every person has their own..
Argy plays the Sankeys LDN 2015 Opening Party at Studio 338 this Saturday with Valentino Kanzyani, Brawther, Jozef K & Proudly People so check him out. Tickets and more info can be found here.