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French DJ and Producer Rayan Hermes, also known as Aert Prog launched his Sagmen imprint in 2017, alongside Ecuadorian powerhouse Tech-House producer Andre Salmon. The label has overseen a variety of artists including Eskuche, Ekai, Carlo Lio and the label bosses themselves releasing music.
We caught up with Rayan to hear about his Sagmen imprint, details about his new release ‘Flashing Memory’ and exciting collaborations on the label in 2020.
Hi Rayan, thanks for speaking to us, could you tell us what you’re up to currently and have you got any plans over the Christmas period?
Hi! I’m actually living in Ibiza now, and I’ll also be there over the Christmas period working on new music, and the release schedule for Sagmen in 2020.
Your Sagmen imprint alongside Andre Salmon launched in 2017, with many releases being charted by yourselves. Could you tell us a bit more about the label, what’s the backstory behind it?
The Sagmen story is incredible and it all started thanks to the internet. Back in 2017 I was still living in Paris and was about to create Sagmen, at this moment in time, I discovered Andre Salmon’s music and followed him on Soundcloud and Facebook. I’m precise about it because I don’t do this very often on both social media platforms, but I knew I had discovered a unique artist and I wanted to know more about him and get in touch to have a release from him on the label.
After following him I didn’t get in touch immediately, but Andre noticed me and listened to my music, then he sent me an email saying he wanted to have me on his label Anima Somnis. It was fun, I told him I wanted to contact him for my label. We had a great connection and we had the same feelings about many things and music, and even if he was in Ecuador and I was in France at that time, it came out naturally that we should make the label together, and it started like that.
The first release was ‘Elixir’ from my previous alias Aert Prog, Andre also remixed this alongside Jonny Cruz, then Sagmen was born. The story is totally from our decade with the rise of the internet and social media. We have a seven-hour time difference between us, so it allows us to give maximum energy to Sagmen.
This November saw your ‘Flashing Memory’ EP released on Sagmen which features remixes from many artists including Citizenn, Lubelski, Andre Salmon, No Else and Vincent Casanova. What can you tell us about the release? What’s the philosophy behind the tracks and was there anything that inspired them?
‘Flashing Memory’ is very special to me, when I made this track I knew it was different, it sounds a bit like old school electronic, and doesn’t really follow a trend. The tone and attitude with the vocals are fun, and gives it an underground feeling, almost close to Rock. Vocals and lyrics comes up like a flash, it’s 100 percent improvisation, there are two vocals types in the track verses and chorus, and they both come up straight together and were recorded once.
What’s fun with this track is that my girlfriend, close friends, and Andre told me instantly ‘you made a hit!’. What about this song, is that you can feel a mainstream pop thing like it could go on the radio, and there is something very universal about it, it gives me a good feeling, but there is still something underground based inside. We are super happy to have such great artists involved on the release, the remixes are all unique, everyone made their own version using their individual proper styles, the release is for us is a complete picture of all the style we love going from Techno to House and Deep Minimal while the original is more Electronic.
Your release features different tones ranging from sharp drums to punchy subs. Let’s talk more about your creative process on this release and your process in general, how did you start the single and could you tell us your techniques when approaching a new track?
When I was in the studio I played with different synths and tweaked tones with a drum machine running a beat, until I found something that caught my ear, a bass, a groove and a melody. Then I tried to find a ‘bridge’, something that would allow me to go from a theme to another so I could build the track with a story to tell.
For me, the bridge was a surprise to make the track interesting and I built breaks that were more cinematic. Also, one important thing for me was to add vocals to the track, it gives it some complementary notes that can’t be produced with a machine. So when I heard the theme, every time the vocal ideas came up I recorded them but with some effects, it gives a little touch of characteristic like my sound. For ‘Flashing Memory’ it was strange, I made the beat with bass, and vocals came instantly, but this time it was a long recording, like a song. Music brings many surprises and I love to experiment, nothing is really prepared or thought before, but when you play and put your soul into it, something always happens.
Where’s your favourite place that you’ve played at over the years? Are there any clubs or events you’ve had sets at that have stood out for you?
Over the past few years, I’ve focused on my production and the launch of Sagmen but I would love to play more in 2020! Playing in the industry is quite difficult, there are fewer places, and many fears, it takes time, you need to chance it and make as many sacrifices until your day comes, and even if I had the chance to play in the past I didn’t play as much as I wanted to.
Before I played as Aert Prog in various clubs in Paris, with Popof’s Form label, my favourite places were little clubs where you could see the crowd, I think it’s the best to feel all that energy. One thing that stood out for me was Zig Zag club which doesn’t exist anymore. I played a live set there, it had a great sound system and great people. Big venues like festivals give great feelings too, and one gig is in my mind because it’s my biggest, it was at festival Garorock in France near Bordeaux, I played in front of a massive crowd, it just doesn’t compare to a club but I love both.
Have any artists caught your eye this year? Are there any you would like to work with on your Sagmen imprint?
What I love is originality, when you can recognise an artist’s work instantly, for me Bryan Kessler is a great artist, Clarian sense of melody is inspiring, Lubelski & Rybo with Percomaniacs, they are all creating something new with good energy with a great fusion of styles. Joyce Muniz is also a very good producer and I would love to have her on Sagmen. Demuir, Kevin Knapp, Nathan Barato, and many more great artists will be featured on Sagmen in 2020, we are super happy about it with Andre, it’s crazy.
A collaboration between MK (Marc Kinchen) and Andre is on the way. I want to say something also about Andre Salmon, he is one of the greatest artists from our generation in the world, he is a unique talent artistically and technically, I am very proud to call him friend and work with him on Sagmen.
Can you give us your ‘pinch-me’ moment in all of your career or a couple of moments that have been memorable for you?
For me, the most important moment was the day I received my first email from Andre Salmon, since that day everything started with Sagmen and I will never forget it. One recent important moment is when I received support from the iconic Laurent Garnier for ‘Flashing Memory’, saying it was amazing music, what a great feeling!
I also remember all the difficult moments, when you see everyone around you scared about your situation, I can’t forget it, it gave me strength for all those years. Always believe in what you do! Also after playing live at Zig Zag back in 2015 I stayed until the end of Toni Varga’s set, we talked and he told me I was on the good way, that it should take me around 2 more years until it would go well for me, I’ll always remember this moment, and think that 2 years later Sagmen was born, it’s only the beginning and the road is long but I’m confident it’s on a good way!
Can you give us three of your favourite records right now?
I would rather pick three labels, at the moment would be Diplo’s called ‘Higher Ground’ I’m curious about it, ’LuckyMe’ I love their last release from TNGHT (Hudson Mohawke & Lunice), ‘Gimme Summn’ released with Warp Records, the video clip is amazing, and new label created by Citizenn & Deepchild called ‘Roomservice’ which is one to keep an eye out on.
Have you got any major plans for 2020 as a DJ, producer and label owner that you would like to mention?
2020 will be busy, I have many releases scheduled, and we also have amazing releases coming on Sagmen. We’ll be holding a Sagmen party which is also one of the main goals for the label, and to play more! I hope we will be able to do it in the future.
I would also love to go to Ecuador, me and Andre Salmon are thinking about playing together in various locations, so I’m really looking forward to it. As a Frenchman I’m very proud to have this connection with Ecuador and South America, there are many talents there and Sagmen is also here to show them to the world. I will end saying that everyone should definitely check out our label Sagmen, 2020 will be an important year!
That’s really exciting to hear and we keep an eye out for your Sagmen party and yours and Andre Salmon’s sets. We can’t wait to hear from you again soon.
‘Flashing Memory’ EP is out now on Sagmen
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