Interview with Agent Whiskers
Agent Whiskers is the moniker of Essam Ghamadi an electronica artist from Saudi Arabia. I have reviewed his first album “Abstract forms of Solace” and third album “A Perfect State of Disarray”. Essam released his 4th album “A Method of Symmetry” last week.
Find out more about the album, his recording set up and also his plans to go live in my interview with him below
Tell us a bit about your new album, “A Method of Symmetry”
“A Method of Symmetry” is my 4th full-length album under the stage name Agent Whiskers. After my last album which was, in a way, a spiritual successor to the album before it, I wanted to go in a completely different direction and sort of challenge myself. What can I do different? How can I keep things fresh without resorting to gimmickry and repetition? I’m very happy with how diverse the 10 tracks are and it’s by far my most focused album yet. It’s also my longest album yet, coming in at just over 45 minutes.
How does it compare to your previous 3 albums?
It takes more from my debut album “Abstract Forms of Solace” than the other two. The vibe is more atmospheric and less confrontational. I used some new recording techniques and software that I’ve picked up during my downtime between albums. I think you’ll agree that it’s a step up in production quality.
What was your songwriting process this time around?
It’s funny. This is the first album I’ve done that I scrutinized and reworked to perfection. My previous 3 albums were written in the order you see them, with the exception of a track or two. With this album, I reworked the song order about 3 times until I was finally satisfied with the pacing and the balance. I guess it’s a more mature approach to songwriting than in my previous albums. Since the album shifts through different styles, it was a challenge keeping it fresh and interesting. I’m very happy with how it came out in the end and I would do it no differently if granted a do-over.
What equipment/software do you use for recording?
This album was recorded on my beat-up 2009 MacBook Pro using Logic Pro. Software VSTs used were Native Instruments ‘Massive’ and Lennar Digital’s ‘Sylenth1’. Some of them were presets I found online and some were sounds I worked on from the ground up using both those VSTs. Drum sounds (kick, snare, cymbals, and FX) are samples found in any Vengeance sample pack.
You have released 4 albums in the past year. How did you manage to get the time?
Lots of free time and caffeine! I’ve always stressed that this is what I want to be doing for a living and I’m trying my hardest to make it a reality. The challenge of being a musician in Saudi Arabia is one I’ll have to overcome on my own if I plan to keep doing what I’m doing. Music just comes naturally to me regardless of genre. I’ve played and written music for many bands and genres but to get to express myself my own way is a luxury you cannot get when playing in a band.
How has the response to your music been so far?
Extremely overwhelming. I’m in awe at some of the responses the latest album managed to get out of listeners. It’s very rewarding to work hard on something for months and find people who are appreciative of your work. It’s one of the main reasons why I’m still doing this.
How/when did you get into electronica?
I started writing electronic music when I first opened up GarageBand and realized I had an entire music suite on my laptop. This was sometime in 2010. I don’t typically listen to the genre much but it gives me so much freedom to express myself musically that it gives me a deep appreciation for it.
You have mentioned that Radiohead are a big influence on your music, who are other artists that have influenced you?
There’s a lot of Radiohead and early Muse prevalent in my style. There was also this game called “Shatter” that had an incredible soundtrack by an amazing artist named Module which came out a few years back. That soundtrack flipped a switch that sort of made me say “hey, I can do this too”. The layering of the tracks and the production was something similar to what I wanted to achieve that I can’t help but thank him for giving me that drive to commit to this new project.
Are you aware of any other electronica artists in Saudi Arabia?
There’s plenty of guys out there that are just like me who have played in bands but do electronic stuff on the side. I’ve been encouraging them to try and get official releases out there so we can have a decent Saudi electro scene going.
What are your plans for rest of the year? Another album or single?
Whatever influences me next! I’m going to be focusing on making a live set based on my previous 4 albums and a few singles. I want to take Agent Whiskers on the road and try to get myself as much exposure as I can.
Any Final words?
Head over to my Bandcamp page and if you like what you hear, let me know on Twitter (@AgentWhiskers)! Peter, you were an early supporter and we go way back a bit so I want to thank you for your support. And I’d especially like to thank everyone who’s taking part in making my dream a reality. Couldn’t do it without them. Thanks for the interview!