French electronic music producer Sébastien Devaud creates a sophisticated blend of house, techno, and hip-hop, taking experimental sounds into the charts in his home country and beyond.
Born in 1976 in Valencin in rural south-east France, the son of a music-loving architect and an opera singer, he fell in love with electronic music at age 12 when he heard Inner City's "Good Life" on the radio and spent the next few days washing his neighbors' cars to earn the money to buy the record, his first. After house music he discovered Detroit techno and decided to become a DJ after seeing Jeff Mills perform with his legendary three-turntable-and-drum-machine setup. He started throwing parties with his friends, and his first proper nightclub gig, at age 17, was opening for Richie Hawtin and Carl Cox. His first release as Agoria came in 1999 with the "Influence Hivernale" 12" on Kubik. Over the next few years he put out a steady stream of releases on labels like UMF, A-Traction, and Zebra 3, before beginning a long association with PIAS sub-label Different, which put out his first two albums — Blossom (2003) and The Green Armchair (2006) — and his motion picture score Go Fast (2008). These albums, which solidified his international reputation, saw him move from a kind of raw, filtered house to a more expansive, epic style influenced as much by breakbeat and techno and containing both melodic and sometimes challenging, avant-garde, and even concrète elements (Edgard Varèse was an acknowledged influence). In 2006 he started his own label, InFiné, through which he released his third album, Impermanence, in 2011. Another label, Sapiens, was launched in 2016; Agoria's fourth album, Drift, appeared on it in 2019, boasting a more hip-hop-influenced sound. Devaud is also renowned for his skill as a DJ, with several well-received mix albums including Balance 016 and Fabric 57. ~ John D. Buchanan