We had a chat with Italian melodic house heroes Agents Of Time purveyors of black hoodies and magnetic dark synth lines, to find out more about their rise, their new record label, and being labeled as pioneers of their melodious sound.
In a thematic and personified aesthetic, a trio of hooded marauders have been able to dominate a certain sound, delivering it to the world with a relentless and undying fervour that has catapulted them into the lime-light of the international dance music scene. A musical crusade has been unleashed onto the world's leading electronic music institutions, a sound that can cause bouts of euphoria or deliver the listener into a state of meditation. Revellers have been citing revelational insights as a direct result of the forward thinking sonic experimentations of Andrea Di Ceglie, Fedele Ladisa, and Luigi Tutolo who make up the collective.
We saw them in Egypt at a private event that was unannounced, in Tunisia at Calypso and Rebel Fest, Israel at Bootleg, the UAE at Groove On The Grass, twice in Lebanon at The Grand Factory and around the world from Ecuador to Kosovo in well over 30 international destinations in just under four years. To us it seems, the saying that states that Italians do it better has never been more true. Together with the likes of fellow countrymen DJ Tennis and Tale Of Us they have been credited as the pioneers of the melodic dark house sound, and although we may have solid proof of such statements, the cowled threesome decidedly and humbly refused the label, stating that such allegations are at best "fake". We find out why as we interrogate the so called emissaries of scheduling, ambassadors of moments, the delegates of junctures - Agents Of Time. Agents Of Time officially formed in 2013, can you tell us what has changed in the past four years? How did you manage this growth? Is it easier or harder being a collective of three than one person carrying the sound?
First off we’d like to say thank you for this interview. Our life has really changed in the past few years. Although the business of touring makes us rarely have time for our private lives, this is what we wanted. It makes us happy that we believed in ourselves and reached this point in our career. Being three people in our outfit, It is not always easy to manage our lives, but our passion for music helps us overcome all obstacles. A strong point though is that we think it’s better to have three minds instead of one.
Many people consider you guys as on the first pioneers of the sound you're playing. Would you consider that statement true or were you inspired by other artists that you might want to note?
Well, it makes us happy if that’s what people are saying. We are constantly searching for new sounds and influences, trying to find a hook that makes our productions as unique as possible. There are too many artists that inspire us to be named here, but if theres one name we can highlight is Matthew Johnson who we consider one of our role models.
Several of the artists that carved your sound are Italian like DJ Tennis and Tale Of Us, would you say that the sound you’re all known for originates mainly from that region? Or do you consider the sound to be universal? If the prior, what would you credit in that region as the source of that distinct sound?
Its like people say “Italians do it better” [laughs]. I wouldn't say that Tale of Us, DJ Tennis, Mind Against and the whole Life and Death Crew created this genre, but they definitely gave a big contribution last year; creating a proper sound recognised and loved from a lot of house music listeners around the world.
How does being three people in the studio differ from producing alone? And if you can note what each one of you is responsible for if there is a fixed format for task delegation.
Studio wise we don’t have a proper setup. When we all produce together, each one respects the role used in our live sets. Fedele does the drums, and Andrea and Luigi take care of the melodic aspects. But keep in mind that all three of us know how to do everything so a track can sometimes come from just one or two of us.
Agents Of Time live @ Faust Club, Paris. Source: AOT Facebook
We noticed heavy use of the harmonic minor scale in your music. What is behind that recurring choice? And what in your opinion is a good representation for people who are not technically literate when trying to explain the difference between scales? Can you give real life examples of how each scale sounds like or used for.
Let’s say you want to attain a minor scale from a major one; you just play the same notes as the major scale but starting from the sixth scale degree (sixth note in the scale). Of course you also have different types of minor scales but in general they are not completely different. That’s why we believe that it is more about the sounds you choose and the atmosphere you create with them than the scales.
You’re known for constantly experimenting with your live act, you’ve played with the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich and performed alongside Cobblestone Jazz. What drives you to put forth such a diverse range of projects?
This question can be answered in just a few words: our passion for music drives us and our constant search for new ground challenges us. We have to say that if we were only DJ’s it would not be enough for us. We always try to improve ourselves and experiment as much as possible.You started your own imprint, Obscura, this year and you’ve only had two releases on it. What is the process of finding new artists or releases that match your aesthetic?
At first, we were thinking it was a hard job with a lot of responsibilities, but at the end we realised we just need to release music we love that has subtance and quality. In this day and age, finding artists isn’t the hard part; but finding the right ones who will provide something new and different whilst still holding on the aesthetic of Obscura, that’s our goal.
How do you manage to stand out musically these days? Especially since your sound has expanded and became widely sought after with other artists mimicking it constantly? When do you decide it is time to re innovate?
It is always time for innovation. We never stop looking for and creating new sounds and ideas. That is precisely why we have been jamming live for the last year, which makes us more comfortable playing together as live electronic musicians. It is also very intuitive as we don’t follow a specific plan but rather are free to improvise and give back 100% of the emotions that the crowd give us.
Did one particular track of yours evoke an unprecedented emotion while working on in it the studio? A moment when you realised you had something special at hand?
Every release has it’s own story. We don’t work like machines in the studio, flipping hamburgers [laughs]. The stories are rather intimate, so we won’t unveil them just yet.
Finally tell us what you have lined up in terms of events and releases for the rest of the year? Anything that Agents Of Time fans should be excited about?
We have different projects planned for 2018. We have a tour in Australia planned, with one specific festival where we’ll be opening for Laurent Garnier. We’re also going to be focusing a lot more on our label Obscura and our artist roster. The other projects are a surprise!