It’s an established fact that a musical whirlwind, whipped up in Paris several years ago by the Concrète team, has massively contributed to an anewed local interest in Techno/House. This enthusiasm is particularly evident on social networks (notably that navy bannered scroll-fest that has wasted many-a-person’s day). A fairly young community formed and expanded alongside Concrète’s popularity, and now we have Weather Festival, a massive event both in terms of line up and success.
However managing contributions on social networks is a treacherous and tricky process, and the need for total compliance of aggressive commenters appears to only have one outcome. Such clashes and disappointment can quickly turn into flamewars between internet trolls, which are admittedly unhelpful, but can also spark the creation of alternative and super-positive communities. We’re going to talk to you about the latter.
As a result of one such fight, the group, Pas-Weather (« not-Weather », in French) was founded in protest against the censorship of several admins of the massively popular Facebook group Weather Festival Music and was anti-Establishment from the start. Nothing was planned! The new PWFM community expanded like wildfire in the past few months, resulting in the surprise creation of an online radio station, PW.FM (click here). And having come across their crackling techno waves, we thought it the perfect opportunity to talk with 3 of its founders, Yas, Mamar and Cami (see below for a face to a name). It’s a viral hit filled with love and music and the promise of great things, and as described by its creators, ‘the first interactive and collaborative electronic music community‘.
The Project’s Origins
Cami: In the beginning, we were all part of the official group for Weather Festival. One day they asked which was the best club in Paris. The Rex won, not Concrète, and of course they didn’t like it so they removed and banned Yas, who had originally suggested it, and who is now part of PW. I was shocked by the totalitarianism of it all, so on a whim created Pas-Weather with the hope of allowing people to express themselves freely without being censored. I did it as a joke not thinking it would last long, but within the space of a few days it already had 2000 members. Faced with such a surge of interest, which I knew I couldn’t manage alone, the other members of the PW crew came and joined me. We didn’t know each other before, and now there are 5 of us, everyone with their own set of responsibilities. With such a synergy in the group, we want to keep it going; the people are cool and share great music.
So it’s total freedom without any censorship?
Mamar: The group’s closed in the sense that admins have to approve new members, but we approve everyone and the posts are totally free. We only remove posts if they are completely irrelevant or inappropriate, but that’s very rare. But ultimately we don’t ban anyone, and we let different collectives express their opinions.
At this rate, you’ll have 15,000 members in a few months time. What do you think of this growth?
Cami: The community is it’s own strength. We can’t be everywhere at once and supervise everything, and that’s not our aim at all. Besides, it’s the kindness of this little family we’ve created that manages itself and gets involved in all the posts, all allowing for the smooth-running of the group. If someone’s being out of order, everyone smothers them with kindness! (laughs)
Starting off as a reaction against the monopolisation of power by certain admins in the official group, you now have a new name, « Provocative Wave ». What does this symbolise for you?
Mamar: We actually wanted to distance ourselves from Weather, especially for the radio that’s come out of the group. But the problem is you can’t change the name of a page once it has more than 5000 members so we kept PW.FM on Facebook but the radio is now called Provocative Wave For Music.
It was mainly as a backlash, we don’t have anything against them of course. The only motive is a shift in the situation. We’re just trying to create a movement that involves all those who have been left without a voice. It’s provocation in a good way, for music and this community of aficionados!
Where did this radio idea come from? Is it a final cristallisation of the Pas-Weather project?
Yas: It was an idea I’d been thinking of for a while. I wanted to promote young artist, but to do that you have to be pretty surrounded by it all. The PW setting was the perfect environment to create this collaborative radio. We decided to make something out of these thousands of music-lovers we were seeing. So now we’re looking to promote those in the group who send us their productions! We weren’t at all interested in playing known sounds, firstly because that’s already being done pretty much everywhere and didn’t interest us, but also there is the problem of having to pay for rights to the SACEM [Society of Authors, Composers and Writers of Music].
How does the radio work?
Mamar: We started by doing a questionnaire on the site to find out if there were any producers that would be interested in it, thinking that people wouldn’t want to hand over their files. But it happened very quickly. When the first version of the site was launched, there was a contact form to reach us; we received 400 tracks and started streaming them on the radio. I’m the one in charge of receiving new music. We get a lot of quality things so the playlists are updated regularly, people like to send in good productions so we end up playing 95% of what we receive! Production is fashionable, but it’s a goldmine. I stocked up 15GB of mp3, which is plenty for a week of radio play without repeating the same tracks. They’re all chosen at random except for when we have a specific partnership with a collective, in which case we’ll spend 2-3 hours on those.
What music style are you aiming to promote?
Mamar: Honestly, we’re pretty much defined by what people send in, so once again it’s all about participation. That basically means death by techno as it’s fashionable at the moment; we get 70% industrial techno, influenced by Perc, Dax J etc. 25% house and 5% things that can’t really be placed in either category. But it would be good to expand the range, do some themed days and add some variation to attract and reach a larger audience so everyone feels represented. For example more house and disco; I’ve received quite a few great little tracks of that recently, it’s great!
What does the future hold for the radio?
Cami: We’re thinking of doing programmes for example, but we’re not sure we want people talking on the radio. We’d like to to be able to do podcasts where artists come and do a mix maybe, but for the time being with logistical and financial limitations, we’re not quite ready to that. We’re also not sure that people are ready to spend hours on online radio listening to a set. In that way, with at least a dozen tracks an hour you have more of a chance of finding something you like.
Yas: There’s still lots to do and smooth-out; we’re currently working on a second version of the site which will be more reliable. For example, we’re thinking of creating a folder for each artists with their podcasts. Our longterm goal is to create a platform for electronic music, to become a reference site for communities. We want to focus to make something fully professional.
Mamar: It’s exactly that. We’d like PWFM to become a platform that will connect the more generalised techno community. We don’t do any self-promotion, we just want to promote others and help them grow. Some have told us that thanks to us and the radio-play, they’ve been noticed or even booked somewhere, like at the Pigallion. Even Le Trésor in Berlin sent in an exclusive EP because they like our concept.
Promises of Love
With all of that going on, surely you’re planning on organising your own events?
Yas: Why not? But, we don’t want to do it « quick & dirty »; right now we’d rather focus on the radio and not cut corners. In a couple of months after we’ve launched the second version of the radio, then we’ll be able to devote ourselves to that. We’re looking for quality, practicality, efficiency, and, above all else, participation. Once we’ve really nailed all the inner workings, then it can happen. But in any case, we’ll definitely do an evening at some point in 2016! It could work as a springboard for our best producers along with some guest. But we’re not looking to make profit from it, even if it does mean a pretty sizeable investment.
What would the concept be?
Mamar: We’d like to get a community together and offer something true to the group, to go back to its origins, not to pay to see an artist but, above all, to share an experience something amongst good people; the headliners don’t really matter.
So, in a sentence, how would you describe PWFM?
Hmmmm… : The first interactive and collaborative electronic music community!
We bring together the truly passionate people who can then get to know each other. Thanks to the internet and the group, all these people can meet. It’s now a little family.
And now for the traditional Limo question: if you were a cocktail, what would you be?
Yas: A pint. Mamar: A Picon shandy. Cami: White wine.
We wish you the best! See you on the waves! Cheers!