Home » Interview: DJ Agoria tells us how he fell in love with Web3

Interview: DJ Agoria tells us how he fell in love with Web3

by Patricia

A veteran of the French techno scene, Agoria is now one of the most prominent Web3 artists. Fascinated by this revolution, he tries all the experiments allowed by the blockchain technology. He has released several collections of NFTs and is about to inaugurate his Land in The Sandbox. Meet a jack-of-all-trades artist seduced by the exceptional powers of Web3.

From electronic music to artistic NFTs

A major figure on the international electronic music scene, Agoria from Lyon has been touring the world’s biggest clubs and stages for over 20 years. As a DJ, producer, composer for the cinema and sound designer, one can say that he’s been in the music business a long time.

Over time, and through collaborations with artists such as the French visual artist Philippe Parreno, he wanted to reveal other facets of his creative personality. That’s how, from 2019, he started to exhibit his photographs under his real name, Sébastien Devaud.

In the meantime, he discovered Bitcoin and the manifesto of its creator Satoshi Nakamoto. Skeptical at first, he ended up immersing himself in blockchain technology until he created his first NFTs. He tells us about his journey to becoming one of the most interesting Web3 artists of the moment.

How did you get into the blockchain world?

” It was in 2016 thanks to DJs Danny Daze and Patrice Bäumel, two musician friends who told me about it at the same time. At the very beginning, I didn’t really believe in it. It was quite opaque, a bit blurry from the outside, so it took me a while to really get into it. Then another friend, the musician Gesaffelstein, advised me to take a closer look at it because he found it interesting, especially from a philosophical point of view. That’s how, from 2017-2018, I started to get involved in this field and understand the issues. “

When did you decide to create your first NFT (non-fungible token)?

” It’s really during the pandemic, because it takes a lot of time. One day, I was contacted by the gallery owner Victoire de Pourtalès. She wanted me to sound the harvest of a hemp field, the cousin of cannabis. As I had already been playing in the fields for years with the rave parties, I thought I could do something else. So I called two of my friends: Nicolas Becker, a great sound designer who won an Oscar for the film “Sound of Metal”, and the biophysicist Nicolas Desprat. We thought it would be cool to study and sound what happens in the soil when hemp micro-organisms grow, to observe how cannabis develops. We set up a CNRS microscope to film this process, and after a month we started to get the first results. We found some incredible things, green filaments that develop. It becomes very architectural, very constructed, with almost motorways, circuits… And all this, we didn’t know it before filming it, it was a surprise. What I find beautiful is that, starting from a very simple idea, we made a film. And as it was a video about living things, I remember saying that it would be cool to propose the first plant-based NFT. It was a way to put living things on the blockchain. “

Clearly, the NFT format inspires you…

“Yes, that first project gave birth to my whole current practice which I call biological generative art, at the crossroads between the intelligence of living systems and what is called artificial intelligence. I find that there are many interesting things to mix between the two. So I did some drops on Foundation, then I met some people from Tezos and I was pleasantly surprised. I felt like I was in the early days of electronic music, when no questions were asked, when everything was possible. The artistic community on Tezos is magical, both in terms of collectors and creators. I don’t know how long it will last in this benevolence, but it’s really incredible. So I made a few drops on Objkt with my photos, and people immediately joined in. “

Does Web3 allow for creative freedom?

It allows me to mix my different passions easily. It doesn’t matter if I do photography, video, music or writing. At the end of the day, I present a piece of work and the audience decides if they like it. Before the NFTs, we were in a very sclerotic era, where you had to be really focused on one thing. But for my own sanity, I need to go and get inspiration from everywhere. One day I’m doing photography, the next I’m visiting my scientist friends, the next day I’m visiting my coding buddies, and at the end of the week I’m recording Nile Rodgers. I can’t spend my life cooped up in the studio, my artist brain doesn’t work like that. Web3 allows you to invent a lot of things, and that’s why it’s for me.

Do you think Web3 makes art more accessible?

” Clearly! It allows anyone to show and sell their work, which was impossible before. We often hear that artists can exhibit their work very well in a museum or a gallery. But 99% of artists don’t have access to them. For the first time, everyone can present their work in complete freedom. Not only that, but the NFTs have also brought art into every home. Before that, you had to go to a museum or a gallery, you had to know, you had to dare to take the step, you had to have the money. “

In your opinion, do NFTs facilitate collaborations between artists?

“It’s much more fluid, but I think an artist who wanted to collaborate could do so before. If tomorrow I release an album and make a video, I will work with a director. What it does simplify, however, is the distribution of rights between artists. There are no questions to ask: for a collaboration with three rights holders, you have three contracts, three addresses, and all the flows are automated, transparent and permanent. That’s why it’s magic.

For a musician, you don’t talk much about musical NFTs… What do you think?
If an artist creates an NFT with three minutes of music and a cover illustration, I don’t see the point personally. Today, I think that most musical NFTs have no place. But I’m sure it will happen, but not in the current formats. I think it would require a new technological revolution, new uses. You see, for example, I did my first live minting concert at the Transmusicales. During my show, you could mine a live NFT including audio and video. I think it’s this kind of approach that will allow us to get the general public on board. You go to a show, you flash a QR code and you get your free NFT in two seconds. “

Don’t you believe in NFTs?

“Yes, I think there’s a lot to be invented, especially in terms of generative audio with songs that transform. I’m sure there will be an advent of NFT music. After that, we won’t be able to take away the magic of listening to a song we know, the emotional side, so I think that NFT music will remain a niche despite everything. “

The fabulous powers of Web3

Beyond NFTs, Agoria is excited about the many innovations brought about by blockchain technology. As he prepares to open his Land in the metaverse The Sandbox this year, he revealed his vision of this new field of expression for artists. He also gave us his opinion on the potential of DAO in the field of music and art in general.

Very aware of the challenges of the Web3 ecosystem, Agoria pleads for an intelligent regulation of these new tools. For him, this is a necessary step to encourage innovation and offer greater freedom to creators while reducing the risks for users.

What do you think of the metaverse? Is it a promising tool or a gimmick with no future?

One thing I’d like to clarify about the metaverse is that there is nothing virtual about it. If you consider a film or a book to be part of the real world, so is the metaverse. It is nothing but a new kind of entertainment in our reality. At the moment I’m building my Land in The Sandbox, it should be out in about four months. It’s going to be called “One Life, Two Bodies”. I’m very happy to do it because I see it as a tool for experimentation, for spreading ideas, for sharing value. I see it as an adventure. I want to create as many bridges as possible between the real world and the physical world. You see, I’m talking about the real world and my physical world, not the virtual world. “

What is his greatest strength?

“For me, the driving idea behind the metaverse is that it allows us to be ourselves. I think that can appeal to a lot of people, because we live in a world where we spend our time hiding our true nature, playing a role. We are constantly spied on and controlled, whereas the metaverse offers total freedom. We can make up stories and be much closer to who we are deep inside. I’m a big believer in the metaverse for that, just as I’m a big believer in Web3 for its social fabric. “

One of the key tools of Web3 are DAOs, which allow for greater community engagement. Do you believe in their potential

“I believe in DAOs, but this type of governance is very complicated to implement “

I’ve heard that you’ve even thought of testing this system of governance for your Sapiens label…

“Yes, I have, but I haven’t had the time to go through with it yet. The original idea was that each artist on the label would be involved collectively, that a percentage of each artist’s income would go to all the others. That would make all the artists on the label organically involved, which would limit the little ego fights. Frankly, it would change so much. But it would involve a system with three different tokens, so it’s a bit of a gas plant to set up. And above all, the reason I haven’t taken the plunge yet is that it’s still considered a financial tool in some countries, so it’s not subject to the same rules at all. You see, even if you have a good idea that is positive, it’s not easy. “

Do you think there should be more regulation for Web3 to spread its wings?

” We often tend to oppose freedom and regulation, but I don’t agree at all. It may seem paradoxical, but I think that a minimum of frameworks leads to much more freedom. On the other hand, this regulation must be done in consultation with those who understand this ecosystem and who know the issues at stake. There is sometimes a certain lack of knowledge on the part of the regulators which can have catastrophic consequences. “

Do you think that the blockchain ecosystem has a say in regulation in France?

“We often hear that France is always shooting itself in the foot. In this case, it’s a bit the opposite, it’s France that’s shooting. We are at the cutting edge of these technologies. We have a lot of solid companies, talented people in this ecosystem who show that they are not here just for the money. On the contrary, they are building companies, they employ people, they participate in the construction of these new tools. It would be a shame to waste this, so I hope the regulator will hear us.

In your opinion, what is the major challenge this year for the general public to dive into Web3?

I think it’s a community and codes that are difficult to access. Even if it’s much easier today, you don’t really know where to start. You have to be surrounded by people who take your hand and show you. For me, one of the challenges of 2023 will be to simplify the user experience to encourage adoption. We should make the whole technical part invisible in fact, so that it’s something completely natural.”

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