Agar Agar: “There is clearly a part of us that is wary of becoming adults”

In the five years that separate “The Dog and the Future” from “Player Non Player”, Clara Cappagli and Armand Bultheel seem to have felt the need to divorce men, to assume their fantasies and to carry out each of their desires. . The result is an ambitious second album, ultimately in the image of these gentle dreamers.

On what impulses did you start this second album?

Clara Cappagli When the confinement was announced, in March 2020, we were coming out of six years of touring. Mentally, we were exhausted, completely drained, even almost jaded. For a year, I became quite sociable, I lived locked up. I had no courage, but I continued to write. Then, we met up with Armand and we tried to work differently, to travel a little and to do residencies in unusual places.
Armand Bultheel Giving ourselves the time not to follow up immediately with this second album also allowed us to grow our inspirations, to test something else. When we got together to compose, we had a lot of energy, ideas and desire again. The sequel unfolded intuitively, much more spontaneously than the first album.
CC – For Player No Playereverything was thought out live, together, with the desire to distribute the tasks well.

Are you aware of the luxury it represents, in an era where everything goes very fast, to have the time to compose, not to rush the production of a record?

CC – We did not allow ourselves this time in this idea. It’s just that I’m too sensitive and fragile to be able to bounce back quickly. It’s really personal, I need to digest the creative process.
AB- For my part, I also need time for emotions and ideas to grow in me. Our approach is not calculated, but so much the better if it can reassure other groups who feel pressed by the rhythm of the industry. There are no rules, except that the act of composition must come from a very personal feeling.

In your opinion, where does this need to digest things before reformulating them come from?

AB- Let’s say that Clara and I have somewhat the same relationship to what we listen to. We plunge into it without any control. Therefore, we probably need to take a step back so as not to offer music that is too close to it, so as not to be in an immediate dialogue with what we love. Once this digestion time has passed, the creation process can finally be very fast.
CC – In the end, this approach, quite inexplicable, allows us to finalize a song in barely two days after two months of wandering.

Does this mean that, on Player No Playerdid you mainly focus on the twelve pieces on the tracklisting?

AB- We don’t try to compose as much as possible in order to sort things out better and keep only our favorite songs. We try a lot, we fill notebooks constantly, and we quickly select what we like or not.

During the sessions for this second album, did you mention the idea of ​​extending the success of The Dog and The Futureto satisfy any expectations?

CC – No way ! The good reception of our projects is a fatality, not a questioning. Besides, it wouldn’t be interesting to think about our music according to the expectations of the public. To tell the truth, we also don’t care about taking risks simply to assert ourselves: we just want to be as sincere as possible, to go where we want to go, without worrying that a sound is mainstream or not, identifiable or not.
AB- If we take this type of consideration too much into account, it is obvious that we run the risk of falling into easy recipes. Fortunately, we are artists, not industrialists. We have a fairly clear vision of the music we want to develop. Above all, we are lucky to have visibility and a label that allow us to enjoy a certain freedom from a creative point of view.

Player No Playerit’s also a video game, the idea of ​​which you already mentioned in 2017. Can this ambition explain the five years that separate your two albums?

AB- It is possible, yes. What is certain is that all these years have allowed the game to develop, expand and become as ambitious an object as it is. If it had been released two years ago, as originally planned, there is no doubt that it would not have been successful enough. We needed to solidify our universe.

On a personal level, what video games have marked your career?

AB- Undeniably, Myst, if only because it happened very early in my life, not even five years old. Also, he made me understand what a game could be in terms of emotional impact, artistic research and immersion.
CC – For me, it would rather be Journey, a very contemplative game, very beautiful, very immersive. So much so that I cried.

Is this notion of immersion something you are looking for musically?

AB Through our scenography, we actually seek to create an experience that is totally immersive, a universe that can approach a total performance.

Clara, I read that you had suffered from emotional disturbances, which is reflected in your words, without ever falling into pure and hard confession. Isn’t relying on a video game a way to remain playful, not to pour into a subject that is too heavy to bear?

CC – Even if I write constantly, you have to keep in mind that Agar Agar is not just me. There are two of us, which obliges me not to be too frontal, too personal. I need Armand and I to understand each other on the topics discussed. This is no doubt why we opt more willingly for concepts than for personal emotions. From then on, video games were a way for us to extend these concepts, to tell stories in a different way that fascinate us, but do not necessarily concern us.

“I love hiking and my next goal would be to trek with a donkey”

Troublethe first single from Player No Playeryet seems quite introspective…

CC – It’s a piece that came quite late in the process. The structure was quickly found, but the piece evolved a lot. We kept coming back to it, if only to rethink the melody, rework the instrumentation and the toplines… Until the moment when we ended up finding this formula which, in our opinion, recalls what Agar Agar is while announcing new intentions.

Lost Dog on The Dog And The Future, Dragon and Dude On Horse on Player No Player : is it me or do you harbor a certain obsession for animals?

CC – When I try to imagine scenes or words, it’s true, there are always animals. Because I like them, because it decenters the subject, but also because it immediately projects into a fantastic, magical universe that is less boring than any world populated only by humans.
AB- I too have this fantasy of connecting with an animal. I love hiking and my next goal would be to go on a trek with a donkey, probably the only animal able to carry my instruments without suffering too much… The idea would be to take refuge in nature, to compose and think about music differently. I see this as a global experience. Nevertheless, I have to check with the associations that offer this kind of trip to find out if it is feasible.

We find here this contemplative side which ultimately makes all the charm of your music. Can we say that you are sweet dreamers?

CC – Yes, 100%! We are not often on Earth, which can be quite a constraint in a society where we are constantly asked for attention. That said, I don’t consider myself naive, just very carefree, the type to pay attention to things that aren’t encouraged by society.
AB- There is clearly a part of us that is wary of growing up, of adopting a way of thinking that would take us in directions we don’t like.
CC – Personally, I would never feel like an adult. My goal is to maintain this feeling of naivety for as long as possible, although the children are far from being as naive as we want to pretend. I know that many don’t believe in this approach to life, or simply refuse to believe that it is possible to remain carefree; me, on the other hand, it seems quite possible to grow old without being an adult. It is even an obligation if I want to survive and continue to enjoy life.
AB- Let’s say that the preservation of this relationship to the world is our personal fight, our positive act of resistance.

Player No Player (Cracki Records/A+LSO/Sony Music). Released January 20.
Concerts on February 23 and 24 in Pantin (Magasins Généraux).


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