In 2003, Christopher ‘Chryde’ Abric launched a humble blog titled La Blogothèque with no aspirations of grandeur. However, in the years that followed, Chryde’s creative drive has seen the video platform become a pillar of the online music community, one that has gone on to work closely with the likes of Bon Iver, Mac DeMarco and Arcade Fire, building a following of passionate music lovers who have watched the channel’s YouTube videos a staggering 192 million times and counting.
La Blogothèque‘s ‘Take Away Show’s have become their trademark and sees, famously, sees an artist take to the streets of Paris for a special performance. The project, which garnered prominence in the mid-to-late noughties, have only gone from strength to strength in the decade that has followed. Due to the current climate and strict social distancing rules, La Blogothèque have been restricted in their efforts to film out on the picturesque Parisian streets to shoot.
Now, as they continue in their drive to recreate how we digest live music, Chryde has temporarily reinvented his format to create a string of ‘Stay Away’ shows to promote self-isolation—a project which will see Mac DeMarco become the first to take over their Instagram page when he goes live at 8pm GMT tonight (Friday, April 3rd).
Far Out had the pleasure to talk all things La Blogothèque with their founder as our conversation rambled from the creative process which goes into forming these remarkable films to what it’s like working with artists such as Arcade Fire and more.
See the full conversation, below.
FO: When you founded the channel as a web-blog in 2003, did you ever expect in your wildest dreams to be in the position you are now?
Chryde: “Not at all. I’m not a crazy ambitious person, and I’m very spontaneous. I usually don’t throw myself into projects because of what they could bring me in a remote future, but because of the excitement, they bring at the moment.
“At the time, I was just frustrated with the music media who were missing everything the web was bringing to music discovery. I wanted to write about music with friends that’s all… Since then, it’s always been this: getting excited, launching crazy ideas, juggling with the opportunities and building something beautiful along the way.
“I often wondered, though, how the young me would react if the old me was to meet him and tell him about the future. ‘La Blogothèque is going to be your job. La Blogothèque is going to be a company. You’ll film Feist and Phoenix and Justin Timberlake. And your parents will never really understand what it is’.”
FO: So what were the original aspirations and ethos for La Blogothèque when you started then?
C: “Sharing music discoveries, passing the love, and, being inventive and sincere in the way you do it.
“This was true when we were just writing articles about bands we loved, when we were doing a daily MP3blog, when we launched the ‘Take Away’ Shows and this is still true today.”
FO: La Blogothèque‘s ‘Take Away Shows’ have gained somewhat legendary status, which is largely also due to the Parisian charm as well as the artists involved, what makes Paris the perfect setting for your videos?
C: “It is indeed. We owe a lot to Paris and to its mythical status in the eyes of the world—especially the American people. Many of the comments we had in the first years were all about ‘my favourite artist in my dream city’.
“It’s not just that, though. Paris is a beautiful and easy city to film. Its buildings, its people, the way they react or don’t react to what’s happening… But it’s not just Paris. It’s Paris at a certain time, 10 to 15 years ago, before cellphones, before everybody was filming everything. We were young, enthusiastic and we were doing something very, very new. Nobody was doing that at the time. People’s reaction was direct, sincere, raw. Something we couldn’t get as strongly now.
“What I know for sure is that the success of the Take Away Show is a story of good timing. The sound of that time (late noughties), the acoustic/folk/indie scene was so vivid at the time and was perfectly fitting our concept.”
FO: One Take Away Show that stands out to me is Arcade Fire’s performance in the escalator before their show at the Olympia, where did that concept for the video come from and how pleasing was it to pull off?
C: “I worked for weeks, nearly months on that Take Away Show beforehand to make sure we could film the band on that day. But oddly enough, everything was decided in a few hours. When Vincent Moon and I met Win Butler in the morning, we had a few ideas, but the first thing he asked us was ‘is there a freight elevator in the Olympia?’.
“We jumped right in the idea. We found the elevator, discovered it had another door leading to a side access in the pit, convinced the band they could end playing in the middle of the crowd, asked some friends to create a corridor so the band could cross the crowd… It was frantic, an emotional rollercoaster. But wow, when I was there, in the middle of a 3,000 people crowd singing ‘Wake up’ with the band, knowing that we were responsible for that… The pride, the joy… definitely one of the strongest moments I’ll ever live.”
FO: How much thought goes behind choosing each specific Parisian location for these shows?
C: “There’s no rule. For some Take Away Shows, everything is decided in advance, and we have a lot of preparation. For some others, we decide on the day, improvising with what’s around. It can even be both. For the Fleet Foxes one, for example, we had chosen carefully the space—an abandoned wing of Le Grand Palais—one of the most prestigious buildings in Paris. But it was a nice spring day, so we also wandered around, and sang in the park next to it.
“It’s just because sometimes, a place resonates ideally with the music, and you have a notion of what you want. But sometimes, even more than the music, it’s the moment, the energy that gets the priority. When you get both, it’s amazing.”
FO: What other Take Away Shows stand out to you as poignant moments in La Blogothèque‘s history?
C: “Ouch. We have more than a thousand of them. Well, I won’t be very original: Lianne La Havas, Phoenix, Beirut, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, Alicia Keys, Bon Iver… I have a few, less known favourite: the Yeasayer one is the best example of the energy I described earlier. The Tenniscoats is pure poetry, in a completely unknown territory. And the My Brightest Diamond one, when she sings “I have never loved someone”, will always bring tears to my eyes…
“More recently, I was really proud of what we did with Dominic Fike, which was one the first Take Away Shows to be broadcasted live and was a pure moment of poetry. But also, the latest one we did with the French electronic artist Rone in an old French castle.”
FO: While we’re on the subject of highlights, The ‘Soirées de Poche’ series has seen you host special intimate shows with the likes of Father John Misty and Vampire Weekend, do you have any favourites?
C: “The one with Andrew Bird and St Vincent, obviously. They didn’t know each other, they met during this party, and played together for an hour. The intensity of the moment is unbelievable.
“I also remember the one with the Morning Benders: they played for more than three hours, covering so many songs. It was a very hot day, and the sense of communion was great. The Feist one will always be part of my favourites. I dreamed about it, worked so hard to get it done, and she was even more stunning than what I had dreamed of. And the Damien Rice one, wow, such a strong, beautiful moment.”
FO: Another beautiful concept of yours is the ‘One To One’ series, how special is it to see a project go from the idea stage to a reality and having an act like Bon Iver play to just one person for you?
C: “Really really proud. Mainly because well, after launching the Take Away Shows and the ‘Soirées de Poche’, it had been quite a long time since we didn’t launch a fresh, strong new concept. And it was this. But once again, it was so quick.
“Between the moment Damien Rice first had the idea and the one when we recorded the first ones, less than a week had passed.”
FO: Where do you see La Blogothèque in another few years down the line?
C: [Laughs] To be totally honest, I’m still very much like what I described at the beginning of this interview. I’m planning a bit more, but I still live to the moment. The idea is not to conquer the world, neither become the new MTV.
“We just want to always be able to create beautiful films, beautiful moments, and reach a lot of people with them… But hey, I hope I’ll be able to produce a feature film soon.”
FO: Finally, is there anybody left on your bucketlist that you would love to work with?
C: “I could name many. If I had to choose, just one: Nick Cave.”