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Agent 86 - Getting Smart

Author: Cyclone
Monday, 3 November 2008

The latest instalment in the Balance Presents Electric series comes mixed by none other than DJing chameleon Agent 86. 3D’s Cyclone speaks with the genre blender.

There is no other DJ like Agent 86 in Australia, let alone Melbourne. He plays across the spectrum – house, techno, electro, urban, funk and rock – while executing turntablist scratches. One night, when rocking the now defunct Honkytonks, a visiting Pharrell Williams gave him props.

In 2008 DJ Agent 86, AKA Nigel Reynolds, has assembled a mix-CD for the Balance off-shoot Electric that, in mining the deepest electro disco, is simultaneously spacey and street. “I wanted to do a mix that was fun and you could play on a Saturday evening before you went out, just to get you all fired up,” he says.

Curiously, Stomp, the local label behind Balance, is sending 100 promos off to the UK, with global interest in Australian dance culture at a premium.

Reynolds’ last official mix-CD was the techno Fringe Dwellers, which surfaced on Undefined a decade back. The DJ, who started spinning at the end of the ’80s, moved to Melbourne from Adelaide eight years ago and was soon adopted by the city’s often cliquey scene. The sometime DMC competitor impressed hipsters with his versatility – and his cult mixtapes. He’s since promoted the post-electroclash club Roxy. He’s played alt-RNB nights. And today Agent 86 even cuts up rock at the pizza boutique Lucky Coq. But it wasn’t always about the groove.

Reynolds, who’s also worked in music retail, recently abandoned a prospective career in the wine industry to focus on DJing. He dropped out of his viticulture studies.

“The time involved – and also the work involved – is just basically diametrically opposed to nightclub life,” he laughs. “I’d finish [DJing] at five in the morning and then have to be up at seven to be out at the vineyard by eight – or even earlier.

“I would love to have done it, but then, from a bigger perspective, there was a lot of people studying viticulture and oenology at the time and eventually the huge wine industry bubble was going to burst and there will be all these people left out of work. With the financial world crashing down, one of the first things that’s gonna go is luxury items.”

Reynolds has made auspicious forays into production. Early on, he was half of The Paradroids with DJ Breeze. As DJ Dumb, he remixed old Adelaide mate J-Wess’ Bang This. In later years he’s enjoyed a club hit with So Hot. Still, Reynolds regrets that he isn’t exactly prolific.

“’Cause I’m DJing so much, and doing so many different styles, it’s hard to find time, honestly,” he says. “Once a month I’m knocking out a new track or so – whether it’s a successful track or not is arguable – but I’m doing a little bit, not heaps. I’d like to do more production.

“There’s a lot of producers who get DJ work because they’re producers, whereas it’s more old school for me. I’m a DJ first and then everything else is secondary.”

WHO: Agent 86
WHAT: Balance Presents Electric 04 through Stomp
WHEN: Out now
MORE: stomp.com.au / myspace.com/djagent86

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