Agon is an ambitious new Berlin band, set to release their debut EP ‘Talentless But Charming’ later this month. Their first music video, for the cynically catchy ‘Everyone Is Disappointing,’ is out TODAY, premiering on indieberlin.de.
Sounding as though 80s Bowie fell down a quarry and met Iceage and Andy Stott at the bottom, its five songs range from predatory to danceable to vulnerable. The trio – all in their early twenties – moved here two years ago, from Amsterdam and London, and are part of the Valspak collective.
I met up with them – Alice Jones, Elisabeth Schaduw, and Agon Lyon – on the last day of summer, on a rooftop overlooking Kreuzberg and Schöneberg, as a very red sun set drunkenly between the apartment blocks beside us. All three band members were gathered around a disposable barbeque, unsuccessfully trying to grill a massive fish they insisted had been given to them for free by their ‘sponsor’, Lidl.
IB: How did you all meet?
Elisabeth Schaduw: Alice and me met here [on her roof] two years ago trying to watch the meteor shower.
Alice Jones: It was cloudy though.
Elisabeth: You mean it was love at first sight!
Agon Lyon: Lisa threw a lit firework into my toilet cubicle because she thought I was trying to steal her boyfriend.
Elisabeth: And you were.
Agon [innocently]: Borrowing, maybe –
Alice: And I think he [Agon Lyon] just crawled into my lap when I sitting on the fire-escape.
IB: Agon, why did change your first name to Agon when the band is also named Agon?
Agon: For clarity.
IB: Can you tell me a bit about what each of you do?
Elisabeth: Alice is an artist – she does portraits and collages. And she had the drum machine. Agon is a writer.
Agon: I do readings around Berlin, I finished a novel last year. Me and Alice are both from London, but –
Alice: Lisa was a DJ for years in Amsterdam – we did an exhibition of photography this summer.
Agon: In a gallery where a girl was recently murdered.
Alice: He’s obsessed with that story.
Agon: Because I knew the killer, and I’m amazed that he’s still a fugitive, because he seemed so inept.
IB: What’s the meaning of ‘Talentless But Charming’?
Elisabeth: It means… that? It means we are talented but charmless.
IB: Listening to your EP, there seems to be quite a strong narrative arc – can you tell me more about that?
Agon: Performing an identity – the different phases…
Alice [horrified]: A narrative arc?
IB: Did you work with anyone else?
Elisabeth: The arrangements were finished but Andreas Skoglosa, an actual producer, helped us make it sound heavier. And he had a drum shaped like a pig.
Agon: We shot the music video with Sophie le Roux, aka Sludge World. She’s a video artist based in London – but we knew her when she lived in Berlin.
IB: What inspired that video for ‘Everyone Is Disappointing’?
Agon: It’s like my backstory. Of that time I was sleeping with myself. You know, trying my best to fit in. Sophie wanted it to look like if a minimalist furniture magazine filmed somebody having a sexual breakdown.
IB: And where did your dance moves come from? They’re amazing.
Agon [laughing]: From learning karate when I was younger… I have no idea what I’m doing.
IB: So when are you two going to be in a video?
Elisabeth: When my contour is ready. Me and Agon are shooting the next video, for the song ‘Ritual,’ later this month.
Alice: I’m secretly the best lipsyncer, so I’ll appear when they’ve learnt how to keep up.
IB: You seem to have quite a strong visual identity already – how do you come up with your photos? You don’t seem to have many clothes.
Elisabeth: Being naked is the cheapest way of looking high fashion.
Alice: But not erotic. We wanted desexualized intimacy – against how genders are usually presented together… When we had the ideas we asked our friend Fritz Richter to help us shoot them, here, on my roof – where it all began. It has the best lighting.
Agon: And best audience.
IB: What’s going on with your instagram (instagram.com/agon.lyon)?
Agon: It is all true. Instagram is about self-presentation – I wanted to do these long autobiographical captions, to see if I could find something out about how the way you talk about yourself effects who you are. And to think through the idea of counter-narratives… of other selves that didn’t make it.
IB: What is Valspak?
Alice: A loose group of artists all interested in artifice as a subject.
Agon: Valspak being Dutch for like ‘fake collective.’
Elisabeth: And me being Dutch…
IB: Can you give me an example of other Valspak work?
Alice: Well for example, only one of us actually answered all the questions in the interview.
Agon: And we’re not on a roof…
IB: What’s next for Agon?
Elisabeth [sweetly]: I think we’re going to have lunch.
Find Agon at:
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.