Interview with Tom Pooks

INTERVIEWSMUSICSTAFF PICKS

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Family Piknik is largely known for its annual summer festival. Taking place at the picturesque Grammont park in Montpellier, past editions have included the likes of Carl Cox, Josh Wink, Sven Väth and more. They operate as a label as well, and have supported local up-and-coming artists such as Abstraal, TIME, Mood Gorning and Pontias. Considering the vital role they have played in bringing a vibrant, local dance music scene to Montpellier, the ‘Family’ aspect to their name is clear. Tom Pooks is the man behind it all, working with producer partner, and close friend, Joy Kitkonti. We caught up with him to discuss his plans for the new decade.

How are you, how was your 2019?

It was a great year! Our Family Piknik events were all very successful and we clearly reached another level thanks to all the artists who gave us their trust. It was an honour to welcome artists like Carl Cox, Fisher, Sasha & Digweed and I had the chance to share the decks with my master Josh Wink. It was emotional because he’s one of the first big names who trusted in me mid-2000s. I’m also very happy about our Family Piknik Music, we’ve released our first compilation and I’m proud of all the talented artists we’ve signed so far. It’s promising.

What are the key challenges when running a music festival?

You never know how people will react and get engaged with your line-up. Nor can you anticipate the weather as we are an outdoor event, in the south of France, which means people want sun but not heat, not rain but free water… But we he have the luck to run a very special concept, without any other similar festivals in our country.

What are some of the best moments in Family Piknik’s history do you think?

There are many good memories. In 2013, when we first invited El Row, it was a very nice feeling because we felt something special was happening. Then, we first received Sven Väth and straight after his set, he told me he’d spread the good words about us because he really enjoyed the vibe… And this year, for sure, when Carl Cox & Sven Väth cheered up on stage, I was almost crying because I was proud to be the man behind this magical moment. These 2 monsters played for 3 hours each and they were so happy to stand together on stage. Wow!

What state is techno in in France right now? Healthy? popular?

Yes, techno is quite popular in France but there are many sorts of techno. Family Piknik is not really about hyped techno or Bonzai techno. We are not a dark atmosphere festival, we really are open-air and talk to happy-faced people. But anyway, there are many clubs and festivals promoting techno music in our country, like everywhere else in the world.

How important is it to you to bring through local artists and promoters?

It’s really important because as an artist I know how hard it is to find places to perform when you begin your career. So we try to give slots to talented artists, especially now we run our own label and can work with them on different aspects. 

What’s it like working with Joy Kitkonti?

He’s my soul mate. He taught me how to produce music and we are very close when in studio. I’m really happy of the tracks we released together through past months. We got great feedbacks from legends like Sven Väth, Carl Cox, Laurent Garnier and Sasha. It’s motivating and we try to keep up the good vibes. 

Tell us about Heal The Beat – what inspired it?

Heal The Beat reflects the dancefloor energy we want to spread in our sets. Catchy synth, sparkling bass, straight forward techy beats… And we’ve added this small vocal loop that remind us of Underworld. 

Why is that the anthem for 2020? What does it say about the festival and its sound?

We chose to push it as the official anthem because it defines quiet well the energy people looks for when they attend our events. This is a kind of trademark tech-house we like to represent as artists, too. We’re used to performing B2Bs and this track is powerful enough to turn a dance floor upside down. We love this energy!

What are you most exited about for the festival in 2020?

We’re currently finalizing our running orders and we are excited to disclose first names in a few weeks. We’ve decided to extend to 2 full days, so we’re more than excited to work on a very strong line-up. We’ll have the first day focus on Live Acts and sunday will be more dancefloor/Djs with the happy vibes we all love during the summer…

What else have you got coming up?

We’ll go on tour in 5 or 6 French cities, we’ll do our event in Montpellier airport on June 6th for the 3rd year in a row. We also might do our first tour date as Family Piknik in Moscow. Many good things ahead, 2020 will be very busy. We also want to develop our label and grow as a real family of talented artists. We have great artists around us now, we want to make them grow as much as we can. Big up to Time, Cioz, Abstraal, Pontias, Mood Gorning and all the other wonderful artists we work with.

Download Heal The Beat, Family Piknik’s 2020 anthem, over at Beatport

Family Piknik 2020 tickets here

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