It’s been going on forty years!

It’s been going on forty years!
It’s been going on forty years!

There are only a few places left for the Jean-Michel Jarre concert on July 14 and for the young talents from the Chantier des Francos. The meetings with artists at the Francos village remain open.

The Francofolies have been a success for forty years. Pierre Pauly, the festival’s artistic director, explains how he has sought to continually renew himself since the first edition.

More than a week before the start, the concerts on the Foulquier and Verdière stages were already 95% sold out. How do you explain this success?

“I think we benefited from the fact that we released the programming very early, viewers anticipated their purchase at a time when they could afford it.

“Between festivals, we talk to each other and it turns out that the situation has become more complicated economically. We were lucky to benefit from this combination of the very early opening of ticket sales, the loyalty of our festival-goers and an ambitious program.”

What makes this edition particularly ambitious?

“For the 40th anniversary, we gave ourselves more technical and financial resources. With Gérard Pont [le président]we said to ourselves that it had to have some style.

“There are headliners that regulars at the Francos already know, like Alain Souchon, Patrick Bruel, Eddy de Pretto. We also allowed ourselves a few exceptions like Sting, who is neither French nor French-speaking, but who has collaborated a lot with French artists – he actually speaks our language quite well. He holds a special place in the hearts of the French public and vice versa. He had expressed the wish, several years ago, to come and play at the Francos.

“We invited Jean-Michel Jarre. He now only tours internationally with big shows combining sound, light and pyrotechnics. We asked him for a unique and tailor-made concert, with surprise guests. He closed the last evening, on July 14, with the fireworks in La Rochelle.”

“We like to say that we go from Sheila to Chilla”

A book and a documentary are in preparation tracing these four decades. What is your view on the evolution of the festival?

“The initial wish of the Francofolies, which is still ours, is to be a showcase for French creation. Successive teams have always known how to adapt to their times, like when the festival was able to move from songs in French to tunes in English sung by French speakers.

“There have been moments in its history when the festival has been able to take artistic risks. I’m thinking of the creation of the hip-hop evening by Jean-Louis Foulquier [le fondateur des Francofolies] twenty-five years ago.

“It was the first festival in France to highlight this genre. The organizers were called reckless, rumors were that it was going to turn into a riot, there were police everywhere in the city on the day. In the end, it went very well and it opened the door to other hip-hop scenes.

“Today, we have a rap scene and an electro night. We have always worked to reach all generations. We like to say that we go from Sheila to Chilla [rires]. »

How do you create these bridges between generations?

“Each evening is divided into audience types. The four concerts must be likely to please those who initially come for one or two artists.

“Hence the association of PLK, Josman, Zola and Vladimir Cauchemar who are related to rap. Jean-Michel Jarre, Phoenix and Zaho de Sagazan each embody “the French connection” in a different style.”

What is the Francos’ recipe for renewing themselves every year?

“I listen to everything, everyone, and I go see the artists on stage, in showcases or at festivals, like at the Transmusicales in Rennes. On the ground, we discover some really good surprises, sometimes when we had come to see something else.

“Les Chantiers des Francos are also a hotbed of talent, of course. I also immerse myself in the latest musical trends. I travel abroad a lot, particularly to EuroSonic (Netherlands) or South by Southwest [Texas]. I also read a lot of the specialist press. I try to always keep my mind open to discovery.

“After the artistic aspect, we look at statistical software that allows us to measure the attractiveness of artists – through record sales, concert admissions, etc. In short, it’s a balance between the artistic quality of the artist, their relevance to the times and their popularity.”

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