Paris is often thought of as a place of soaring beauty, art and poetry, so it is only natural that great friendships are borne from this romantic background. I met Ondine Benetier in the toilet queue of La Mécanique Ondulatoire; a tiny, cellar bar in the eleventh arrondissement of Paris. Ondine, a native of the volcanic forests of Clermont-Ferrand, lives in Paris working for Les Inrocks, the biggest music magazine in France and La Blogothèque, a Parisian music collective. Here is the result of a chat we had on a hungover Sunday afternoon.
What is La Blogothèque?
La Blogothèque is “a child with two heads”. It is first and foremost a music blog where contributors write on whatever they want; there are no restrictions, there’s no set way of writing, nothing is forbidden. It’s a personal and intimate approach to journalism. We write and post videos of artists, make playlists, talk about genres or artists that we like or what’s going on in a city, musically speaking. The other side is the production part which creates Les Concerts à Emporter (Take Away Shows) and Les Soirées de Poche (Pocket Parties). La Blogo is mostly voluntary, ran off the love of music – no one is paid for writing articles on the site. In this way, La Blogo is a different way of talking and filming music.
The Take Away Shows started in 2006 by Chryde and Vincent Moon. They are stripped back performances of artists filmed in the streets, bars or parks of Paris, the main character of the video, using only one camera, so what happens…happens. Take Away Shows are totally unpredictable, you don’t know who the audience is going to be, you don’t know where the show is going to happen, you don’t know what the weather is going to be like – sometimes we don’t even know where we’re going to shoot. We don’t know how up for things the musician is going to be or how much danger they will put themselves in. This brings unpredictability and danger, the emotions are different, rendering the show is unique. They’re unpredictable even for us. If everything is planned… it’s just not interesting. These shows are thus the antithesis of the “perfection” that you find in manufactured music. The point is not to discover the “next big thing”; we choose new bands that we think have the potential to be incredible.
Our other production project is Les Soirées de Poche. When you see a show, it’s difficult to feel an emotional connection with the artist, so the main goal of a Pocket Party is to connect the audience and the band. Thus, we have no backstage, no musical equipment and there’s no stage – which is a main element- as it’s a performance, not a showcase. The whole point is to break all the barriers between the audience and the band, so it’s really common that people cry – such is the intensity of the experience. It’s intense not only for the audience, but also for the band. Its not a “normal” gig, you certainly can’t fake the emotions found during a Soirée de Poche.
I met Chryde, one of the founders, at the Beirut Take Away Show circa 2007. One day, Chryde suggested that I write for the blog. As I was a huge fan of La Blogo, I was taken aback…but I wrote my first article was on Folded Light in 2009. My second article was on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I wrote a piece on their first album which came out four years earlier which emphasises that La Blogo is just an appreciation of good music, it doesn’t feel the need to follow the trends. It was a freeing experience as I could express my love and emotions for any music, not just the music of “now”.
What does the future hold for La Blogo?
At present, la Blogo has so many projects going on as we don’t want to continue to do the same thing, we want to evolve. We now film music videos, for example, for Lianne la Havas and Oxmo Puccino. We’re also expanding from France into elsewhere; we’ve had projects in the US and now in the UK. But really, the future is whatever is in Chryde’s head!
Images: La Blogothèque Facebook