Paris International Fest of Psychedelic music
Parisian streets will be steeped in both audial and visual iridescence this July as the inaugural Paris International Festival of Psychedelic Music hangs its streamers from the sidewalks. The youngest in a flourishing collection of psychedelic celebrations taking root in cities across the world (such as Austin and Liverpool), the Paris installation also presents itself as one of the most interesting, due to its eclectic, carefully-chosen line-up and unique artistic fusion. Chloe Mayne spoke to the festival curators about its inception and ambition:
“We were doing nights in Paris, Berlin and London under the name REFRAKTION,” explains Michael Mateescue, festival co-founder and musical curator (pictured, above). “It was mostly techno nights and psych rock concerts. But the idea was to have the artists we liked without thinking about their musical genre. I believe that music must be something without any borders. If you like music, you can like every genre. In November 2013, we [myself, and co-founders Mark and Tom] decided that it was the right time to make it happen. At the same time, I met the people from La Machine Du Moulin Rouge in Paris (the venue of the festival for Day 1 and Day 2), who believed in the project straight away. They have helped us a lot in building this festival.”
While the obvious theme of psychedelia is consistent between all of these internationally blossoming festivals, such as the Austin and Liverpool Psych Festivals, each is a distinctly separate interpretation. For the Paris instalment, what makes the festival particularly distinctive is its decision to incorporate psychedelic art as a crucial component of the proceedings.
“We have a lot of respect for Austin and Liverpool Psych Fests,” says Michael. “They’ve been doing it for years now, and they are doing it very well. We just felt it was the right time to make it happen in Paris. We are also trying to make it our way. These festivals are not linked to one another; they are made by different people, who have their own way of doing it. The exhibition is a very good example of this. Psychedelic art is a really important aspect of psychedelia, in my opinion. Music and art have a very strong link when you talk about psychedelia.”
The line-up is an impressive one, from Berlin outfit The Blue Angel Lounge (whom we recently spoke to) to dark electronic craftsmen The Soft Moon and Toy, The Underground Youth and Zombie Zombie in between.
“Choosing the bands for such a festival is very difficult,” says Michael of the curation process. “It’s a bit like a puzzle. You need to find the right bands to fit with each other and put them at the right times. It’s also difficult to have all the bands you want available at the same time. Also, everything needs to fit in your budget.”
“We had a lot of submissions from bands from all over the world that wanted to play at the festival, and we received a lot of high quality music. The choices were really difficult to make as we have a very limited number of bands for this year’s edition.”
“We really tried to make the line up as special as possible. Psychedelia is very large and we didn’t want to only include psychedelic rock – for example, you have psychedelic electronic music. We really tried to show our own definition of psychedelia with this line up, by mixing a lot of musical genres.”
Anastasia, curator of the festival’s artistic component (pictured, top), has concocted an otherwordly mix of pieces that morph into a synaesthetic psychedelic vision – one that, given the scope of its base, is decidedly unique.
“I guess the definition of psychedelic art is very personal to everyone,” she says. “Academically, psychedelic art encompasses the works of the mid-Sixties until the end of Seventies with optical art, rock posters and saturated colours. But in my choice of works shown, I rely on the etymological meaning of psychedelia, psyche. Soul, mind, and deloun – to open, to unleash. I have chosen to gather artworks in different media and styles, extending it to live performance (one piece included will be Come Clerino, pictured below, left).”
“There will be two exhibitions,” she explains. “The first one is called ‘Brainwaves’ and is a travelling show between Bordeaux and Paris. The works shown will include prints, drawings, paintings – and video, as both venues offer us the possibility to project on big outdoor screens.
“Brainwaves will stop first in Bordeaux, at the IBoat, on June 7th and then in Paris, at the Batofar, on July 6th, (the third day of the festival), with live bands playing. It’s all free and on the docks of La Seine; an amazing location.”
“The second exhibition, called “Turn on. Tune in. Drop out” (a quote from Timothy Leary), will take place at La Bellevilloise in Paris. We are planning a very intense programme featuring conferences, performances, dance, live visual shows, and acoustic music with different instruments such as the cithar. The happenings are scheduled only from the 27th of June until the 29th, but the exhibition will not be taken down until end of July.”
Through a number of callouts in the press and through their social media outlets, submissions were received from locations as far-reaching as India and New York. This intercontinental mix, says Anastasia, is integral to the festival’s aesthetic vision.
“It was essential for me to have as many nationalities as possible, to create a strong, multicultural event – as psychedelia touched many backgrounds all over the globe,” she explains. “It was also important for me to gather artists from the emerging scene. Being in an art school myself, I know how harsh the art world can be for young talents; it can be difficult to have opportunities. I’m really proud of what we’ve assembled here.”
While the artistic and musical aspects of the event are inevitably intertwined, Anastasia also draws attention to the separations and complexities found within the genre.
“The exhibition – the big one I mean – and the Festival are still two distinct events. Most of the musical acts planned for the exhibition will be acoustic, world-music oriented, focusing on meditation, relaxation – almost therapeutic. One of our goals while planning the show was to make people realise how wide the term of “psychedelia” is, to offer something different, unusual.”
“We hope that it’s going to be a lovely trip into psychedelic culture and everything around it: from the bands, to the DJs and the authentic projection and light shows we have planned,” says Michael. “We hope that people who are already into psychedelic music and art will enjoy this first festival in Paris. [However], we would also like to invite people that are not so into this culture and this music to discover it and form their own opinion as to what it is.”
The future of the Paris International Festival of Psychedelic Music is only set to flourish, reaching long fingers from its current annual position into a number of interrelated cultural events.
“We currently have a lot of projects planned for the future,” hints Michael. “I can’t tell you everything, but we are already working on the 2015 edition. We are planning something bigger, with more artists, venues and attractions. We are also planning to make a series of events in between – both in Paris and other cities in France.”
The Paris International Festival of Psychedelic Music will be held from July 4-6. Find out more, including information about ticketing, on the festival website. You can also keep up-to-date with future events by checking out the Facebook page.
Interview by Chloe Mayne. Top picture courtesy of Helena Burchard.