We caught up with Julie Bathellier, who's been working on Pitchfork Paris since it was created four years ago...
Full name: Julie Bathellier
Job Title: Head of communication at Super Agency (producer of Pitchfork Paris, plus a thousand concerts a year across France)
Location: Paris, France
TELL US ABOUT PITCHFORK PARIS…
‘Pitchfork Paris is one of the biggest independent festivals in France. It’s also a private festival, which means we don’t receive any money from the state or the region, which is pretty rare in France.
‘In 2015 it will gather 30.000 people in 3 days. We believe the line-up is ambitious – some people say we don’t have headliners as the bands performing are not the ones you usually find on TV, or hear on mass media radio! But if you come to Pitchfork Paris it’s usually because you want to discover new artists, the ones not often playing in other French festivals, and maybe also because the festival has a certain indie vibe to it.’
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED?
‘I was 25, with not much experience, when I applied for an internship at Super and got hired. I began work two weeks before the first ever Pitchfork Paris and worked on the guestlist.
‘During the following year, I guess I proved my worth in the agency, since they put me in charge of all promotion and public relations. The second Pitchfork Paris was very intense and really different from the first, as the festival grew almost three times as big: We had two stages, and 20,000 people instead of 8,000. The festival wasn’t really known to the French audience or the press, so it was a real challenge to establish it in the Parisian scene. Looking back now, I think it’s safe to say that we learned a lot.’
WHAT DOES YOUR JOB INVOLVE?
‘Answering emails! I receive hundreds of them everyday. To work I only need a computer and the internet, and I alternate between tools like Google Doc, WordPress, ticketing platforms, Youtube, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Then I just need to stay in contact with the labels, agents, managers, festivals, venues, and media partners, etc. My job is basically to coordinate with all of them to promote each and every show.
‘General tasks range from finding a media campaign and negotiating its price, to briefing a designer, or writing presentations, to building marketing plans within a budget, thinking about the ways of rationalizing our work, and trying to find out new tools to make the job easier.’
WHAT’S THE BEST BIT?
‘Seeing a project evolve: Four years ago, Pitchfork Paris was attracting 8,000 people, and it’s now 30,000 are buying tickets. Each year, during the festival, I like to look at the audience from the side of the biggest stage, and see the thousands of people smiling, dancing, and enjoying the show. It’s a great feeling to tell myself that I helped make it happen!
‘I also love witnessing a band grow. Disclosure played the Pitchfork Paris’ afterparty in 2011 in a tiny venue (300 people), and in 2016 they will play at Paris’ Zenith ,which has a capacity of more than 6000!
‘Lastly, I like the fact that we are so close at the office and I genuinely consider my colleagues my friends.’
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE TO ANYBODY WHO WANTS A SIMILAR CAREER?
‘You need to accept that your personal life and your professional one are very linked together. The boundaries between the two are so thin. When we’ve produced an artist’s show who I admire, am I at work or I am enjoying the show for my own pleasure?’
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR CAREER HIGHLIGHT?
‘Apart from Pitchfork Paris, one of the most challenging projects was the re-opening of a venue in Paris : Le Trabendo. Everything was possible: I had to create it all from scratch – how we marketed the venue to the public, the size of the paper programme, what the website would look like, which people to work with, etc. It was a real piece of work to establish the venue in the Parisian music scene.’
HOW DO FRENCH FESTIVALS DIFFER FROM BRITISH ONES?
‘To be honest, I’ve never attended a British festival but I think the difference is in the audience. British festival goers seem to be more likely to party! I’m not saying that the French are boring, I just think we don’t have the same way of participating with a festival. We can be more reserved and shy.’
WHAT ABOUT CITY FESTIVALS VERSUS FESTIVALS IN MUDDY FIELDS?
‘I think it’s mainly about the mood you get in. If you go to a field-based festival, it might be a bit far from the city, it might be a place you wouldn’t go to in the first place. But it can be like if you were going on holiday, you need to plan how to get there, how to come back, and where to sleep. You usually don’t have to ask yourself this type of questions at a city festival.’
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE FESTIVAL FAUX PAS?
‘A bad sound system. If you go to a festival you go for the music mainly. If the sound is not good, I would better off in my apartment listening to the band on my hi-fi!’
AND YOUR ULTIMATE FESTIVAL TIP?
‘Comfortable shoes! Trust me, you don’t want to think of painful feet instead of enjoying the show! Also earplugs are crucial – I’m very often at shows, sometimes seven days a week. I always have a pair with me, they are on my key ring! But I admit I pull them out when it’s my favourite song…’
Pitchfork Paris runs from October 29 – 31, and you can find out more here.