Agency: Resist – interview
Resist is a powerfully political, regret filled, love and hope aspiring, awareness provoking masterpiece of sound and fury, by Agency, mostly focusing upon the United States government, and its sorry state. Their musicality is a mix of soul R&B, acoustic, electronic, house, alternative hip-hop, Indie, rock, something for everyone, and probably one of the coolest projects I have ever listened to.
The album was conceived with the song “Desire”, that was created the day that person in office announced the ‘Muslim’ ban, when the anger felt was embraced creatively. The duo Agency just wants to create from the heart, with the freedom to do what they want.
Although out in the Caribbean, bracing for a category 4 hurricane, Agency agreed to answer some questions. They proudly explained their songs and the meanings towards them. This release is an essential for all Americans and everyone living in the world.
Louder Than War: Can you explain exactly what Agency is?
We are a multidimensional two-person act with roots in different genres and backgrounds. We set out to make expressive art without needing to adhere to any formula that is dictated by pop culture or a business plan. Having the freedom to do what we want, we just create from the heart.
Resist sounds very powerful. What are some of the stories and themed covered in resist?
The idea of the album was born with the song DESIRE which was written the day the current “president” announced the horrible “Muslim ban”. That very day, all the anger and distrust we had for this “president” just poured out in words. It was a pointed statement against his mistreatment of humanity, his mistreatment of women, of society. His brazen disregard for democracy and his self-centered, arrogant and crass demeanor.
One of the songs, RED TO THE MOON, predates the album. It was written shortly after the shooting of Philando Castile.
Till and Marrow touches on the harrowing stories of Emmett Till and Henry Marrow, two separate examples in history of injustice and discrimination resulting in their deaths and subsequent acquittal of the men who blatantly did so.
What’s most striking to us is how a song we covered on this album like Black Boys on Mopeds written by Sinead O’Connor has lyrics (some of which we updated to apply to the USA instead of the UK) that are sadly very timeless: racial profiling.
And then come the words of Maya Angelou on SENSES OF INSECURITY, a song we created directly from her poem. We offered it as a sort of soothing song, a respite of sorts from the pain and insecurity felt in the rest of the songs. Comfort in the chaos of the world. There can be hope in one another.
Who wrote the music, and what was the motivation for taking on such a task?
We both share the joy of writing the music. The motivation was to make an album about the reality of being insecure and worried and angry in this country today… it is akin to writing a long and important chapter in a history book. We are putting facts (and some of our feelings and fears about those facts) on “paper” by way of song and sound. So many music critics (like Bob Lefsetz, for example) continue to criticize artists today for not making music with purpose or meaning and claim the music world only cares about the hit single and the “album is dead.” So we wanted to make an album that is a true concept album, that incorporates our truths and our love of various musical styles into a cohesive themed collection of stories. Making music has a three-fold purpose here: it’s cathartic (both emotionally and in the way it satisfies our love of writing and making music), it’s emphatic (making bold statements), and it’s ecstatic (in the sense it can also excite the senses).
Do you think that music can change the world, and if so which song would you pick to help change it?
I don’t think music itself can change the world but it can help to spread a message. It can inspire! But “changing the world” takes a much greater force than music. Honestly, we can’t pick one song here to propel that inspiration but if we had to, it would be DESIRE.
God gave us woman, God gave us man
then gave us children to start over again
each generation gets worse than the first
it’s all about greed, it’s all about the thirst
This is one of the coolest releases ever. Have you done similar projects?
Why, thank you so much for saying that!
We did! The EP that we did BEFORE the election, POLITIKARAMA, tackled similar themes to some extent and traversed some sonically different territory.
Any future projects similar to this one in the works? This would seem a great soundtrack for a movie?
We had the true follow-up to our debut album (IDENTITY) already recorded and ready for release this fall before we recorded RESIST but the itch to get this written and recorded temporarily derailed that album (but it will come out in 2018). Being how insanely prolific we like to be, after the emotional journey of creating RESIST, we felt like being somewhat playful so we have an album about life and love and turmoil ready next. We don’t want our fans and future fans to think we are only about brooding and making socio-political statements and that we can have fun too! That album, PHILOSOPHIES, is coming. But, here we are taking a long-winded way of finally answering your question… in the PHILOSOPHIES sessions came out a few more socio-political themed songs which makes up yet another EP… with songs called WARRIOR and ZION that continue the exploration of what it means to be fighting for equality and truth in this day and age.
Whom does “Rumours refer to? I could ask you about every song, however I’d need to write a book.
It is about the man who sits in the office in Washington DC and calls himself the “president.” It’s about his distortion of facts and his outright lying that he twists to make people believe are truths.
He’s spitting fire with every single word…
telling lies to build up his evil kingdom
but once the nasty little rumour spreads
the truth is just a thing of the past
making us believe what we thought was reality
is nothing but a greater conspiracy
I won’t let this ruin my faith!
More pointedly and harsh words about him and his transgressions are detailed in the rap bridge of DESIRE which are here:
The issues that really matter
Things that could make history
to end the class distinction
End the definition of discrimination
Every woman child or man
No matter the definition
Every race religion or creed
Shouldn’t have to bleed
All have desires that are never met
The key is to feel and then act
We all have desires that are never met
It’s the things we do then regret
Gotta think twice before you take that advice
We all have desires that we shouldn’t regret
You’d screw yourself if you thought it would raise your status
Instead you lie in bed with everyone else
Your temper tantrums are not really laughable
Cuz they’re at the expense of our security
This melting pot is gonna boil over
With the fire from the storms you’ve enraged
You’re propping up your ungodly towers
While letting Mount Rushmore cower
as the glaciers recede
You got me questioning my faith
My faith in humanity.
Giving me doubts about my sanity
from JFK to Marvin Gaye
we worry ‘bout what’s goin’ on today
i’ve tried being hopeful, i’ve tried to respect
but it’s difficult to keep the mood straight
keep these things in perspective
How can I have any respect for the man?
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All words by Eileen Shapiro. More of Eileen’s writing can be found in her author’s archive.