Interview: 5 minutes with AstroVoyager

Based in eastern France, Philippe Fagnoni aka AstroVoyager has been passionate about sound from an early age. Fagnoni was part of various bands before starting his own project exploring the boundaries of electro-symphonic music. Signed in 2006 to the Dreaming-Musea label, AstroVoyager can now give a glance at his successful concept albums Temporal Gravitation, Symphotronic Lunation and ElectrOpera. In eleven years, Fagnoni has released three studio albums, six EPs and two substantial live recordings (with no less than 4 CDs and 4 DVDs) to mark the passage of AstroVoyager. Some of his best-known titles such as ‘Telescope’, ‘Full Moon Rendezvous’, ‘Apollo 11’, ‘Oscillation V’ and ‘Modulation IV’ are cut to withstand the test of time. Launched in 2011, Fagnoni’s own label, CosmXploreR has promoted progressive-electronic and classical-electronic music for six years, with seven albums and a number of major electro-symphonic artists already signed to the label.

The highlights of his career so far include performances with the Tetraktys Ensemble for ElectrOpera and its pyromusical outdoor version in 2014, as well as Big Bang – which was presented in Dole last October with the Prague Concert Philharmonic. In 2017, Canadian artist Marco Grenier selected ‘First Lights (Original Mix)’ to be part of his warm-up set during the 2017 international electronica tour by Jean-Michel Jarre. On October 27th, AstroVoyager released his most ambitious endeavor Big Bang, a 14-track journey through the cosmos, encompassing four long years of Fagnoni’s own personal narrative. 

We spoke with AstroVoyager on classical inspiration and essential gear:
(Be sure to stream AstroVoyager’s latest album Big Bang in it’s entirety below)

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

I create music to share a moment, an experience to live through together with the audience but also with other musicians. Because music generate emotions we can’t control or change, especially in a live situation.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

There isn’t a systematic creative process. But most often it’s first a melody/idea, then comes the sound.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Oh yes, a lot of collaborations! For my new electro-symphonic Big Bang project, I’m really proud to have recorded eight tracks with the Prague Concert Philharmonic. I’m also very grateful to the 16 remixers who revisited almost the whole album!

What’s on your current playlist?

Nigel Stanford – Automatica
Marc Romboy – Voyage de la planète
Jeff Mills – Planets
Alpine Universe – The Alpine Universe
Glenn Main – Live in Dortmund
Carl Craig – Versus

Armin van Buuren – The best of Armin Only Ouverture
Jean-Michel Jarre & Gary Numan – Here for you
Deep Forest – Tiko
Joachim Garaud – Love song Sad Song

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

On stage, I want my fans to join me on a cosmic journey to travel through time and space together. I also try to deliver a message of hope to our world where we must be the architects of the future. It’s increasingly clear that we live in a society rife with conflicts, and tensions. And yet you might notice that at shows; through music, many barriers collapse!

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I tend to gradually weave my electronic synthesizers with acoustic instruments from a string quartet to a full orchestra to create an electronic symphony. I also worked with a soprano diva singer for a previous project, merging, filtering and applying synths fx on her voice for unexpected results!

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

At the composition stage, I play a lot the piano or synths, searching for ideas. But when entering the production stage, I try to follow a more strict process for not losing the original idea. In fact, almost each of my tracks have a different process – so each studio day is different! But of course, recording sessions with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra were more strict.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

There two specific moments: The first when I was a little boy (ages 4-5), discovering electronic music through a music album my father was listening to again and again: Oxygen by Jean-Michel Jarre. The second was when I was 12-14 performing my first live concerts, with this powerful sensation of communication between people and artists…

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Nothing specific except my synthesizers, especially my Korg Kronos which is the basis of my actual Big Bang set. But rather a team with whom I share this adventure.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Destillat – A fantastic EBM artist with a lot of talent…
Juan-Karl – A special pianist. I find in his pieces, an original mixing of piano and current sounds as to reconcile piano with current music.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

It’s always a very strange process. Sometimes it could be a certain emotion, something I live on that special moment that gives me an idea. Something that flows in my head from nowhere. Sometimes also, other ideas comes while playing in the studio.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

I have been a Korg synth and Logic addict from many years. For my last Big Bang project, the Korg Kronos was the masterpiece for composition. Later in the production/creation process I added analog synth (Moog Taurus, Moog Slim Phatty, Dave Smith Prophet 12, Korg Volcas etc) and of course a lot of fx. All those instruments recorded into Logic Pro. Then we went to the Czech Radio Television Studio to record the Prague Concert Philharmonic… An amazing experience!

Any side projects you’re working on?

Not at the moment. But I am working on new collaborations with artists met during this Big Bang project. Especially one which means a lot to me with Marco Grenier for his forthcoming Limitless album. I also hope that other collaborations with Deep Forest will happen. A real beautiful encounter.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I did not change my musical journey objectives. But I constantly try to create new collaborations with classic instrumentalists. From the beginning of the AstroVoyager adventure over 10 years ago, I had the privilege to create musical projects with the complicity of the musicians of Travelling Quartet (Anne Gravoin), the Tetraktys Ensemble musicians (Dominique Miton), the Electro-Diva Sophie Elert and now the Prague Concert Philharmonic.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

My new album Big Bang is my most ambitious electro-symphonic project to date, uniting four years of studio work and nearly 30 musicians. This new album is a musical mosaic of 14 tracks including numerous powerful musical collaborations with the singers Taïga and Jean-Paul Florès, the drummer Pascal Poulain and for the first time, the prestigious Prague Concert Philharmonic. It was a clash of generations and of musical styles… and that is the essence of the project. It was really what I wanted: to bring people together, exchange views and build this project together. The Big Bang project also included 17 fantastic guest remixes including: Blackbird Blackbird, Badoos, Halina Rice, Desange, Mi, Cross Angel, Olivier Romary, Glenn Main, Destillat, Deep Forest. I’m really excited about this new Big Bang project!

Purchase AstroVoyager’s latest album Big Bang via iTunes

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