Chatting to Skrufff this week, Concrete’s label manager Brice Coudert is both upbeat about Concrete (recently hailed as having ‘the most impressive DJ booth in Paris’ in a 25 Best Clubs in Europe feature in the Guardian and Paris’ thriving underground club scene in general.
It was quite slow in Paris in the 2000's. There was a maximum of just five really cool parties per month, and it was always the same few people who were going out... “What is particularly interesting in Paris right now is that because of the freshness of this new clubbing movement, people are really enthusiastic and energetic during the parties,” he smiles, “and most of the artists who play here, are really impressed by the special atmosphere on the dance-floor."
In another euphoric feature on Paris’ underground techno scene last year, the Guardian singled out Concrete for additional credit, declaring “since opening in 2011, two years after the city's nightlife was being described as "dead", it has shaken up the scene in Paris more than any other venue.”
"It changed a lot of things," says Jean-Baptiste (aka dirty tech maestro Para One) told the British newspaper, "It marked the return of after-hours Paris."
Today you can count more than 15 very good parties every weekend and all of them are packed...Brice, however, impressively modest, is not so sure. “We were not the first after-hours club actually,” he corrects, “For example, at the end of the 90s there was the famous Kwality after-hour, organized by Dan Ghenacia.
What we did manage to do was to change the image of the after-hour party a little, by organizing them on a bigger scale, with high profile DJ line-ups and more than 2,000 party people coming out dancing during the day. I think we managed to provide a slightly less dark image of after-parties than the one people previously had,” he continues. “We’re actually not offering strictly afterhours parties as such but instead all day long events. That means that some people are coming in the morning after being out clubbing all night, like at a normal after-party, but others come around midday who’ve just woken up. I think that period in the party when the after-party people meet the fresh people is kind of magical.”
Skrufff: You routinely book loads of Berghain DJs and similar types: how much do underground clubbers in Paris look to Berlin for inspiration?
Brice Coudert (Concrete): “Berlin is an inspiration not only for French people, but for everyone who is listening techno and house today. It's a kind of Mecca of electronic music. But we're still trying to do it our way, and not just copy Germany.
Paris is not Berlin, so we need to develop our own club culture and our way to party...Paris is not Berlin, so we need to develop our own club culture and our way to party. We don’t have the same laws or the same economic environment as Berlin. Paris is way more expensive, so we have to deal with that. What is not easy everyday.
I must also add that Parisians are not really similar to Berliners. We are generally not as laidback as Berliners and in fact Parisians are really famous for being assholes! They are always complaining and seeing the bad side of everything. We’ve never stopped complaining since we killed the king in 1789 (laughing). But on the positive side, Parisians are really full of energy and passion, and give a lot of themselves on a dance-floor. So in the end, it’s OK.”
The reason why we forbid pictures is to avoid having 10 people lined up at the front of the DJ booth, filming the DJ while he or she is playing...Skrufff: Like Berghain and all the best Berlin clubs you have a no selfie/ photo rule: what's Concrete's attitude to door policies?
Brice Coudert (Concrete): “It's not about forbidding pictures, or being like Berghain. I think we are a multimedia generation, so we can’t avoid Facebook, Instagram, selfies, shazam and all these things; even if, in my opinion, it's killing a bit the spontaneity of the parties.
The reason why we forbid pictures is to avoid having 10 people lined up at the front of the DJ booth, filming the DJ while he or she is playing. I’m in the DJ booth quite often with the artists, and I’m really horrified whenever I see that happening - it's not good for the atmosphere, but also for the artists playing. So we just forbid this.
Concerning door policies, we are trying to be fair, even if it's a really difficult task. The club is open to everyone, as long you are over 18, have a positive attitude and aren’t puking up in front of the bouncer.”
Skrufff: What types of music (and producers) are exciting you- and Concrete these days? What are you looking for when you're signing producers and tracks to the label?
Brice Coudert (Concrete): “We're excited by good music in general. We are known to be as much into Techno, than House or Micro House. We also love to bring artists who play even more eclectic music. You can check our line ups, and you will see we are quite open.”
But the fight is not over, especially regarding sound levels. It's still not easy to be allowed to put the volume high enough...Skrufff: How do authorities in Paris regard underground club culture these days?
Brice Coudert (Concrete): “It’s been a long and difficult journey, but they are finally starting to be more cool with us and accept what we're doing. But the fight is not over, especially regarding sound levels. It's still not easy to be allowed to put the volume high enough. I think that's definitely one point which still prevents us from being at the same level as German or Dutch events.”
Skrufff: What do expect will happen to the club scene in 2 years?
Brice Coudert (Concrete): “More clubs, more parties, and an even bigger scene. We have a big scene here now already but I think it can develop a lot further particularly in terms of the quality of events; What I’m personally looking forwards to us seeing the next generation of DJs and producers who will emerge from the scene. I think we have some future talented artists coming up.”
Skrufff: Anything to add? Do you have any particular releases you'd like me to mention?
Brice Coudert (Concrete): “ Yes the 3 last Eps on Concrete Music: