Allen Chen aka the mastermind behind project Aguava returns with invincible new single ‘Can We’ – and it will certainly get you making your way to the nearest dancefloor. Drawing on a wide range of influences ranging from Afro-Cuban jazz and bossa nova to disco and 90s house, he seeks to blend these genres into forward-thinking retro grooves. Born in Shanghai, China, Chen grew up surrounded by traditional Chinese folk music along with the works of Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven from his dad’s vast collection of classical music. Receiving support from various online publications such as Acid Stag, Indie Shuffle, Stereofox, and Wonderland, along with releasing on labels such as Majestic Casual, Czech Vibes Sound and Routine Expresso, Aguava is set to have a big 2022 with his unique take on house music.
To anyone new to your music, name 3 words that best describe your sound.
Groovy, vibrant, psychedelic. I think my sound is a jazzy mix of deep, lo-fi, and 90s house with disco/funk grooves and a sprinkling of latin/ethnic vibes on too.
Who are your main musical influences and why?
My main musical influences are ODESZA, FKJ, and French House (Daft Punk, Darius, Kartell). I saw ODESZA play at Suwannee Hulaween in 2016 and it blew my mind. Their live performance along with the exotic nature of their sound was something I’d never experienced before. That’s the moment when I really started to pursue music seriously. The emotional nature of their music was something I loved and I think aspects of their sound from the use of ethnic instruments to their sound design shows up time and time again in my music.
FKJ has to be the artist I’ve listened to the most in the past few years. His music is so rich and warm, with so much complexity and nuance in every song, it’s truly breathtaking. A lot of his stuff is stunningly beautiful, with orchestral sounds, soothing jazz progressions, and amazing instrumentation. Listening to his stuff has given me an endless supply of musical ideas and vibes to draw from in my own music, and I think it has also given me the inspiration to work towards that level of musicianship.
If I were to pick the biggest musical influence on my music it would be French House. I grew up listening to Daft Punk and later in college I stumbled upon it again with the new wave of producers like Darius, Kartell, and Cherokee. Hearing Cherokee’s ‘Take Care of You’ was truly a monumental moment in my life, and I still remember every detail from that night! It opened up my eyes and ears to this entire genre and I’ve been in love ever since. There was something about the elegance, hypnotic nature of the groove and strong disco influence that just did it for me. As much as I like to blend other genres and vibes into my music, a lot of it can be traced back to my obsession with French House
What made you decide that music is the right path for you?
I think I’ve always secretly wanted to pursue music, I just never thought it was an actual career or that I was good enough to succeed doing it. Over time, I slowly started to realize the significance and power that music has, not only on myself but on people in general. It has the ability to impact people’s lives on a personal level, and to be whatever you want it to be in any given moment; it definitely has gotten me through some hard times. To be able to create music that can affect people in a meaningful way seems like the greatest thing in the world, and when I realized this I knew I had to do it. Knowing all this, it was only until my final year in college did I finally take that leap, at the expense of a spot in dental school (which I had been on track to attend, to the delight of my parents). Since then, my love and appreciation for music has only grown and I think pursuing music as a career has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
There’s a lot of names that come to mind but a collaboration with Daft Punk would be a dream come true. Maybe they’ll come back out of retirement for one more song?
Tell MoggBlog viewers about your latest release! What’s the inspiration behind that?
This song came out of the turbulent year that was 2020. From being quarantined at home with my parents because of Covid, to the death of George Floyd, to all the other crazy things that happened, it felt like the world was coming to an end. I was filled with anxiety and a lingering uneasiness about the future. Most of the music I was making during this time was a response to all this; a kind of therapeutic atmosphere I could lose myself in to temporarily escape reality. This track was one of those healing vibes that I made for myself; to feel a little better and a bit more optimistic about the future. I’m very excited to share this song with the world and hopefully it can have some of that effect on others as well.