COFRESI Talks His ‘Agenda’ EP and Upcoming Festival Sets [INTERVIEW]

DJ/producer COFRESI is a one-man show of live instrumentation and electronic music, and we interviewed him about his latest EP, Agenda.

COFRESI, a Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist, has been blending the line between live performances and DJing for over a decade. His latest EP, Agenda, is another creative accomplishment in a unique career.

Ben Cofresi’s performances feature a live drum set onstage along with electronic elements like Ableton and a MIDI launchpad. He has played at festivals like Electric Forest, EDC Mexico, and Suwannee Hulaween, and will make his return to North Coast Music Festival later this year after last performing there in 2018. COFRESI has also collaborated with Matisyahu on “Daylight” and on a remix of “Is This Love”.

Agenda features five original tracks that explore a wide range of music genres. It’s one of COFRESI’s more electronic and house-oriented releases while also staying true to his brand of live music with a focus on percussion and rhythm. We sat down with Ben to chat about the Agenda EP, his first full-length release since his debut album Illuminate in 2021.

Agenda is your first full-length release since Illuminate in 2021. How has the COFRESI project evolved since then?

This project is a great bridge between my previous releases and the ones coming after Agenda. I like to think of my next releases as a beautiful blend of my classic style and some of the elements I picked up along the way. The music is definitely evolving, which I’m very excited for.

You previously said that you were inspired by the Chicago house scene while making Agenda. How did the live music scene impact your creative process and inspire you to try out new sounds?

The pandemic opened up time in Chicago for me. Whatever shows were happening, I went to. One of those was Polo & Pan at Radius. That and a few great nights at Prysm made me want to embrace Chicago’s roots in house and dance music more. All of these experiences bled into production when I would get back to the studio. 

It felt natural and I just dove in to the point where I eventually had enough songs to put the EP together. What I learned during that time really took my production to new heights. I’m thankful I challenged myself to go outside of my standard approach. It really opened the door open to a new world of sounds and sonic spaces in my music.

The opening track “Follow” immediately hits with a four-on-the-floor beat and atmospheric samples, while “Violet” focuses on harder bass music sounds. What do you enjoy most about experimenting with different genres of music?

The challenge of taking an idea that’s outside of my comfort zone and making it into something I can vibe with is enjoyable to me. I tend to learn the most when dabbling in different genres of music.

“Make U” is a collaboration featuring Jason Leech. What was it like working with an artist as dynamic as Jason?

Nothing short of a pleasure. Jason is a dear friend and this collab for us was so much fun. He’s a beast on the keys so it was amazing to see him bring out some smoke for my track so cohesively.

COFRESI live shows are known for combining electronic music with live percussion. Following the release of Agenda, what are you most excited for regarding your shows later this year like North Coast Music Festival?

I’ve spent this past year changing up some of my live setup, so I am excited to roll that out at one of my favorite festivals. North Coast will be epic. I have some other surprises planned for it as well but I’ll let you guys find them out at my set!

Finally, what are some of your goals for future of the COFRESI project, and where do you see the electronic music scene going in the future?

I like to think that we live in an era where we have been tossed all these amazing new tools at our disposal when it comes to making music. I think the electronic scene is going to find a perfect balance between classic instrumentation and technology, and my goal for my project is to keep incorporating all these exciting new elements with more traditional pillars to make for one awesome fusion.

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