Tomorrow evening, they offer us a gigantic plateau at La Machine du Moulin Rouge, inviting 3 ambitious labels on the three floors of the Pigalle room, along with their friends Smallville and Release The Groove. It is the occasion for us to exchange with Sntwn team about past journeys, actual successes, and tomorrow’s plans.
In two years, two guys imposed themselves as Parisian nights spearheads, giving us the opportunity to assist to more and more ambitious parties, multiplying formats and collaborations. First a webzine, Sntwn has today become a trademark, a guarantee, a quality label, and even tries an entry in the Trax magazine this month. Co-programmers of La Machine du Moulin Rouge, pioneers of the 75021, strong support of numerous Parisian collectives, Sntwn is, without any doubt, one of the essential motors of this dynamic moving the nightly landscape of our capital, and from other places as well. Between head-butts, let’s travel back with Julien and Marc on this genuine and passionate adventure, which leads loads of people and well-done parties.
We don’t expect for them to be 10. Not a legion, of course, but a nice team, childhood friends, or an effective team formed by using good manager strategies. But they are only 2. Julien and Marc. Two cool guys, unpretentious, who deal with their business seriously, but still using a little messy organization which makes the contact more natural and totally genuine. Their friendly team spirit has to be their strengths in their work. Let’s find out.
At first, the answers sound a bit reflective. Of course, our question was common. “How did Sntwn start?”. It’s not that they have done a lot of interviews, but this question should have been asked more than once. By the way, Marc lets his friend answer in his stead. “I let Ju answer this one”. But the real reason is that Marc is not one on the founders of Sntwn.
Sonotown, from webzine to warehouses
Actually, Ju, Julien Boisseau, had launched a webzine associated with friends he made when he was at the university, majoring in history some years ago, “in the end of 2008”. It was called Sonotown. At this time, they are bachelor freshmen, and what they want to do is being journalists. Blogging is like the ideal platform: you can talk about whatever you want, as you like, and whenever you want it. They have the idea of an “interdisciplinary platform”. A website through which they can share and write about their interest on the internet, about visual and graphic as well as musical domains.
Julien decided to become a journalist because of a certain frustration, as it seems to be the case to everyone who feels there are some ideals which have to exist. “I was really critical of what I was doing. I used to listen to Rephlex, Planet Mu, Aphex Twin… I couldn’t find it in the articles. So why wouldn’t we launch our own concept?”. This typical Parisian, who grew in the 15th district at Glacière, brings a huge hip hop background with him, and a special culture, “more geek than club, wearing headphones at home”. Even if he used to stay at the Batofar or Tryptique, as Jeff Mills or DJ Krush did.
The team decided to organize an “interdisciplinary” party for the launching of their website in an ancient movie studio, in Malakof. There is DSCRD –who was still called Discordance-, Noob, Djedjotronic… “Mates”. 400 people were present. From now on, the website was working well, but as it always happens during this kind of projects, energies whiter, motivation gets away, and some people leave and that makes it refretful.
However, a second party has been organized, in January 2010. It took place in the old movie studio, but this time, 1200 people came to dance on heterogeneous music such as O2zen, Débruit, or 69db. “We were like, it’s fabulous!”, Julien remembers, who gives a new impulse to the party management. Gradually, publications gather toward electronic music, and the event promotion gets away from the rest.
In June, the team invested the terrace and the Trabendo room with a dozen of artists, and among them, Machinedrum. In the beginning of 2011, the UH sonorities are really highlighted by The Big Fish night. “We have been to the Nouveau Casino to meet James Blake, Mount Kimbie, and Machinedrum as a line up, they cost like 500€ per artist. At this time, Paris was in a minimal techno period. We have been turned down: our party was too much of an electronica party! Finally, we ended up at the 6B, and we gathered 600 people”.
After this UK like party, we made another night in June, dedicated to Berlin techno, with a special edition with the label Fachwerk and the German artists Mike Denhert, Roman Lindau, and Sascha Rydell. “We never got to create a deep techno line up like this, was written on the website the following day, so let’s do that strongly and well”. Finally, at the Générateur, in Gentilly, the air conditioning system was down and made the audience boil, and they were ecstatic. “Those two parties kind of defined what we were looking for in terms of events, Julien tries to analyze today, mixing up UK bass music as well as Berlin line ups or strong and heavy techno”.
Marc Resplandy Sntwn
While the Sntwn project is redefining and a musical orientation takes shape, a young man appears, coming from Pau with his best friend to organize an event in the capital he would not be able to find down south. “I’ve been to their parties and I immediately got into that, Marc remembers. It has been done quickly, around a coffee. We made an appointment, I told him “It’s wicked, I really dig your approach, the planned artists, the atypical places”. And as Julien is always into meeting new people…”
Marc Resplandy first cut his teeth with festivals, like the Electromind in Montpellier, or in Barcelona’s Sonar festival, and then by traveling in Berlin “winter as well as summer”, when he was 18-20 years old. At 21, with a professional business management bachelor, he left for Barcelona. His house sharing is oriented to techno, and the clubbing rhythm is high. “The Moog, Be Cool, Loft du Razzmatazz, my fetish location!”.
Convinced he wants to work in the music business, he then leaves for London during 5 months to study on a cultural project manager master, and to go to the Plastic People; the Fabric, warehouses…
After getting back to his homeland, in 2011, he went to Paris and met Julien before the summer. “It was a hard time for Sntwn at this moment”, he says. Julien adds: “We made a second team with the girlfriend I had back then. We broke up and it went astray. I ended up all alone, carrying on the website, and it then became secondary for me”. It’s at this moment I met Marc. “From this time, events chained up”.
The strangest in this meeting between Julien and Marc is that they both found out their grandparents’ families were coming from Spain, from two villages close to Valencia, located only 6km apart from each other! The felt it was fate.
The Sntwn Machine
From August to December 2011, they didn’t organize less than 11 events. “It was the hard period for the association, Marc tells, we did 5 dates in like one month, it was a lot. We spent a lot of sleepless nights, we had a lot of work, the team was starting to split up, and I was the inheritance of the association’s history”. Polar Inertia, Moritz Von Oswald Trio, Dimlite, Paul White, Jacques Greene, Beans, Eskmo, Boddika, 2562… A lot of names for several different and various parties, all assembled in the “one step forward” musical orientation. It’s also during this period that the two first parties at La Machine have been organized.
“We basically got ditched in an atypical place”, Julien redraws. “I happened to call Peggy [the place programmer, Ed], who told me she fancied our parties, she came to the 6B… We were on the same wavelength. And we also got the same approach: people from La Machine don’t come from the night but from the concerts, lives… We attended Samiyam, Free The Robots, Nasty Nasty’s performance in November… And, one month later, we were celebrating the website’s 3rd anniversary with Dorian Concept, As Patria, Machinedrum, Shed…”.
The rest, the La Fonce party and its thirty MC’s coming from all over the country to delight around 800 people, but, above all, the collaboration with Warp for Clark’s release party during the Bleep night. “Sntwn X Warp was an enourmous blast!”, Julien jubilates. “We registered 1200 entries this night. It convinced La Machine’s staff of our potential and they contacted us when they were looking for a programmer during supper 2012”. The meeting should have been btween Peggy and Julien, but the two mates are not letting go of each other. “We are sold by pair, so we came together!”
Since then, Sntwn is in charge of half of the place’s scheduling, dealing with the web communication, and some collectives could appreciate the support the team gave them by programing them. “We kind of established our Sntwn shape to La Machine!”, Julien winks.
If the 2012 programing was very eclectic, we notwithstanding notice a tendency to invite more and more techno artists. “I can see the difference with last year”, Marc acknowledges. “Last year was more various, coming from hip hop to Warp, from techno to beatmusic”. “Our taste also change, Julien admits, and Joss, from Release The Groove, already invites this kind of scene”. “I confess I also injected my tastes, but we didn’t discuss it: everything is about the feeling. We get an artist and we think of who we can schedule with”.
This feeling rule however contains certain exceptions: for example, when it’s about collaborations, like the one with Warp, who was coordinating his plateau with Clark’s album release, or for the Bleep night at Trabendo, which corresponded to diverse EP releases at a special day. “We are not the only one programing here, Marc nods, it’s the same thing with the Smallville, with whom we called Omar S. It’s this artist I first wanted to schedule when I started to create parties, with Virgo Four, in live. Those are impulse programing.”
Among those key 2012 moments, the two mates speak altogether: the party at La Fonderie de l’Image in Bagnolet with DSCRD, and the two Smallville, which were, for them, magical. “The first one in Le Point Ephemère, it was like 1000 people in the room, people were crying! There were dancing everywhere, even on the stage!”, Julien tells. “Yeah, well you were actually the one dancing on stage”, his accomplice corrects.
75021, ephemeral district
For all that, the fact of having their (big) offices in La Machine does not prevent them from going elsewhere when they want to, as it happened on the week-end of the 7th of June at the Batofat, and in Bordeaux –“it was part of the deal, we are not shut-away”-, and it did not cool down their desire to conquer atypical places to organize shindigs with friends, like with the 75021. “We really thought of that as a collective meeting, and they are mostly our friends”.
“It got settled with Yoann Till, the previous 6B programmer. We threw the idea of an “open air meeting” in August 2012, an electronic open air. We forwarded an e-mail to all the collectives and finally got to reunite 2500 people in Saint-Denis. We thought there was something there”, the two men remember. “We moved on with la Nuit Blanche, in three rooms in La Machine, and it was completely free. There were more than 2000 people! We told ourselves, with Yoann, that we were into something and that we needed a name in accordance to the local aspect and the nightly outings in Paris”. Guillaume, Sntwn’s longstanding collaborator, and also Martin both found the name. 75021 was born.
The first one took place in La Machine on the 21th of December in 2012. It was paying, and at the beginning of the Christmas holidays, the bet was pretty risky. Finally, 1500 people came to sink into this deep Parisian techno, almost acid and heavy. It was memorable. “We got something like 600 likes on Facebook in only 3 days, Marc remembers, it was crazy. We launched the second one something like 3 weeks after, on the 12th of January 2013 at the 6B. The other ones followed”.
Yet, the after/club concept is not an end in itself for the two mates. “It is not necessarily the format which suits us the most. It’s mostly the idea of promoting the Parisian collectives we like”, Marc says. “And we didn’t necessarily the dedicated space, on big parties, to let Parisian artists play, and who are good”, Julien confirms.
The last one, on the 3rd and 4th of May, reunited almost 8000 people during a 24h-long party. “It’s typically the kind of parties I wanted to do when I arrived, Marc says. L’Atypique, it’s kind of the perfect shape”, like Soukmachines, with Yoann Till. During the last one, by the way, Yoann let the Sntwn deal with “room 75021”. “We tend to forget it, but we ought to remember the 75021 are the real combination between Soukmachines and Sntwn”, Marc repeats.
Finally, people who got there could only admit the atmosphere was special during those events. “The population is kind of eclectic, there are people from the Concrete, sound geeks, people from squats… And all the audience is respectful, there is no fight, people are not bumping into each other”, Marc analyzes. “There is always a protesting side. In my opinion, Champagne parties have always bored me, Julien flings. And everything also comes from the way of communicating over an event: we don’t do a lot of promotion, we don’t have a PR. And people who are here don’t really take pictures, don’t tag themselves, it’s kind of a private event”.
“Even for the artists, they don’t get much pressure because they know people are receptive, Marc tells. It’s really motivating for them. We got some feedbacks from people who said they were moved, and former regulars said it had been a long time since they had seen something like that in Paris. We get to work with a nice security service, which made its first party with the first Sntwn!”. Julien then said: “We want to get a blast with this, so we don’t want to do it twice a month, we don’t want to kill the idea. There is a lot of work behind this, it takes two weeks to plan, and there is also La Machine and our parties beside it”.
And tomorrow ?
Besides, our projects don’t stop at the next 75021 –which could be planned for this summer, but not at the 6B- for the Sntwn team. As for next season, they are going to stay in this huge glass office, on the first floor, above La Machine. The final aim is “kind of a fusion” with Sinny&Ooko, le group which occupies the place (but also Le Comptoir Général), to raise a producing agency where we will be able to find a booking agency, a communication agency, and a structure permitting to produce events of different breadths in France, but even abroad.
“This year has been active for us, Julien admits, implying a lot of fatigue. It permits us to get a structure, not to get down all the time, when you don‘t even have time for yourself or even to listen to music!”. Also, eventually, there will be a particular concept for La Machine… “We are going to give La Machine a great impulse. A lot of things happened during this year, and we are going to confirm them”. Finally, for this fall, the team warns us: there will be Sntwn 5th anniversary party in November at La Machine as well as in another atypical place!
Meanwhile, Sntwn’s guys organize an awesome party this Saturday night in La Machine, by inviting their friends from Smallville and Release The Groove, three labels on the three levels of the location. Each of the programmers invite their favorite, as Marc explains: “We just want to enjoy La Machine’s configuration to point out three labels, without any op of the bill, with our friends”.
Thus, Smallville invites the Sweedish Aniara’s house in Le Bar à Bulles, with Genius of Time and Fabian Bruhn, Release The Groove, who by the way became co-programmers of La Machine, with Sntwn and Peggy, inviting the eclectic German label Uncanny Valley at La Chaufferie, with Jacob Korn, Cuthead, and Credit 00, and finally, Sntwn offers, on the central, the Dutch Crème Organization, with live artists like Tevo Howard and Orgue Electrique, using experimental sounds which can make people dance, as well as Aroy Dee and TLR, Crème’s boss. “One step forward”, always.
Traduction by Flora Marteau
Sntwn’s Soundcloud : https://soundcloud.com/sonotown-1