Techno-Trip 009: Agent Orange DJ

Techno-Trip 009: Agent Orange DJ

“Stay Young. Love Techno.” has become a mantra for New York techno producer Ara Krikorian aka Agent Orange DJ, a man who has released a mind-blowing seventy plus Beatport top 100 tracks over his career.

With DJ support from the most iconic names in the industry from Beyer to Cox, his exuberant raw sound has seen him remix classics from artists such as DJ Rush and Armand Van Helden. We caught up with the prolific producer to talk about his passion for techno, his formula for long-term success and the art of remixing.

Agent Orange DJ

Firstly, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. We’re really excited to have an exclusive guest mix from you coming up on Trip and we can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

Can you tell us a little about how your passion for and connection to techno came about?

Well, I think I was very lucky to grow up in New York during the 1970s and 80s because I got to witness, first-hand, the early creation and rise of Disco, Electro, Rap, House and a bit later, Techno. It was an exciting time for music and culture.

People were experimenting with new sounds that were shocking and different from what was usually happening on the radio. Also, synthesizers and samplers were becoming more workable and affordable.

You have managed to sustain your career since the nineties releasing on some of the most iconic techno labels around. What do you think has been the secret to your success?

I don’t think it’s much of a secret. 50% of it is working hard at my passion and strive for quality with all of the things I put my name on. The other 50% of it is having a solid network. I have travelled far and wide to meet people and attend music events. That’s also a lot of work, fun work but work!


Agent Orange DJ

Your motto is “Stay Young. Love Techno.” what motivated you to adopt this phrase, and how do you think it applies to the techno scene today?

We had started my label Gotham Grooves in 2001 while I was working at Satellite Records in NYC. My colleague Dijon and I would talk about music for hours (typical record store nerds ha ha). One day I was looking for a catch phrase to put on the back cover of the records, so we thought about putting into words the feeling we got at the specific moment on a dancefloor.

That moment when you just get totally lost in the music and everything feels like it’s connected, and you just elevate to another plateau. We understood this moment to be absolutely pure and timeless and that there was a youthful innocence tied to that. As I’m getting older it becomes more relevant haha.

You have an active social media presence. Many artists complain about having to use social media, but you seem to use it playfully. How important is it for artists now to use this tool as part of forging a music career?

I’d say it’s really important these days. Even more important than the music itself, unfortunately. It’s become all about image and algorithms. Social media has really shaped this world in new ways.

The algorithms seem to favor things like selfies and short form types of content, not really DJ mixes or Tracks. But I discovered that if you can make something very clever and/or relatable people will share it and it will jump-start the algorithms.

My purpose now is just to show people that there is a more authentic and artistic way to go about social media. Partially to satisfy the algorithm, and partially to benefit your art. Being more creative, instead of just posting selfies every day.

You don’t seem to take yourself too seriously online (which is quite unusual in the industry). For example, we loved your Boiler Room video. Was this a conscious approach or did it happen naturally?

I’ve been doing DJing and Music for a long time and I feel I’ve proven myself in many ways already. Now I’m having fun with it and trying to leave some kind of legacy behind. And yes, haha, yes, my boiler broom video. It wasn’t really a conscious thing. It was kind of sporadic.

I appreciate good satire humor. I get ideas as I read over my emails and timelines. Some things just stick out to me when I see how differently things are done these days than when I started. I find humor in that and try not take things too seriously. Life is short and we’re all going to die, so might as well laugh along the way!

This same sense of fun seems to pervade your music with the manipulation of odd vocals and a fusion of unusual elements being a real trademark of your sound. For example, your ‘Flipped Out’ shorts that were then turned into a series of tracks featuring samples from interviews. Could you tell us a little bit about your creative approach and process?

I’m so happy how that series is going because each video is an insane amount of work, 2-3 weeks each. I do feel that they are worth it in the end because people have received them extremely well and they each got around 250K views across several platforms and these have all been organic.

Hundreds of people reached out to me with positive things to say, from OG DJs and even the newer younger DJs. People are frustrated at how the scene is going and I feel it important to put things into perspective. That’s what the series is all about.

You have had great success with your ability to rework classic techno tracks. What do you think is the art of a great remix?

Great question. I like it when a remixer can really catch the essence of the original they are working on, while adding their own twist in a more modern way. That spirit and nuance of the original must be in there enough to re-awaken that emotion in people that have heard it before or even for the first time.

That’s the magic for me. I close my eyes and remember how the dancefloors felt and sounded and smelled like when I first started clubbing during the golden era of 90s NYC night life.

We also loved your twenty classic techno tracks in eight minutes mix using only one deck and a looper! How did this concept come about and how was the challenge of working with these limitations?

That was a cool project, I’m really proud of it because it was so difficult to pull off! I appreciate the art of DJing and turntablism so much, all the technical aspects of it.

During lockdowns, I had a lot more time at home and in the studio, where we have over 8000 records, 6K mine and 2K my wife Becka’s.

One day I came across a Cut Chemist video where he was using a similar technique, I got super inspired, and my mind went a billion miles an hour and I immediately designed a set up where I could try it out. It took about 2 months, too much work for an 8-minute clip haha. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot, highly recommended.

If you had to describe your production and/or DJ’ing style in just three words, what would they be?

Raw, Groove, Fun

Finally, what is on the horizon for Agent Orange DJ in 2023?

More Flipped out series videos, I’m working on some remixes and tracks for Tronic, working on my secret project and I’ve been playing some great gigs again so far this year.

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