Cercle’s approach to all that they do embodies the spirit of timelessness; from their locations which tell rich stories of history and culture, to the sweeping scenes that inspire lifelong memories captured within a single moment, to the talented artists carefully selected and given a distinctive space to showcase their unique self.
When you watch a Cercle stream, the amount of dedication that they have put into each minute detail is immediately apparent, with each piece designed and arranged to create an experience unlike any other. Not only is Cercle producing spectacular events in historically and culturally significant locations, bringing in top level artists, and streaming to millions around the world, but they are doing it every single Monday. It’s an accomplishment that could only be achieved by a team who is passionate as they are hard working, and who join together with a shared goal and collective vision. To learn more about what it takes to get these epic events off the ground and in front of millions of people around the world, I caught up with their Artistic Director Philippe Tuchmann, whose experiences gave a fantastic viewpoint into what makes Cercle stand apart.
Phil has been an Artistic Director in the Paris electronic music scene for years, working with multiple venues and programming his own “We Want Dance” events. It was the success of these events that caught the attention of the venue Faust, where Phil began both programming and managing, working with artists before and during the shows in order to create the best possible experience for all involved. One night at Faust, Derek, the founder of Cercle, approached Phil with the idea to live stream one of his events. Phil was hesitant at first, worried that people may prefer to stay home and watch instead of coming to the club, but his fears were quickly eliminated as the live stream brought more and more people to the show as they could see the exciting night was happening just around the corner. He was sold on streaming, and ready to take on what’s next:
“I totally changed my mind and then we decided to work together, me taking care of parties and bringing my experience to the company. And then one day Derek sent a request to the Eiffel Tower on their website, and they said yes, so I programmed a very nice artist who was releasing an album on Universal. The artist was Møme and the album was Panorama. We did the stream on the Eiffel Tower with this artist and we had amazing feedback with the TV, a huge audience online, and a good number of views, so we understood that there was a real interest from the community to make a stream in a historic place. We decided to continue and to find a new venue each Monday.”
Of course with this new concept came new challenges. To get historic and cultural locations to agree to host electronic music events could take some convincing at times, but their persistence and vision has paid off, with many locations ready to host the next event as soon as possible. (As Phil said, “I think they all want to do an event the week after!”) By starting small when necessary, and focusing on forging professional and courteous relationships, Cercle is often invited back to host at the same location on a larger scale. Because they had earned the venue’s trust and exceeded expectations during their successful earlier shows, they were able to do new events in other interesting areas of the same location. Some examples include multiple shows at Château de Fontainbleau, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, and Castle de Chambord, where a 300 person event on the terrace with Deborah De Luca led to a 3000 person event in the garden with Carl Cox.
Nurturing the on-site relationship between the venue, artist, and crowd often falls into Phil’s hands, where his experience at Paris’ clubs laid the groundwork for his ability to manage many different areas at once.
“I always need to stay focused in the end, because when you’re in this kind of venue you always have to look everywhere; it’s important that the location is very clean, to find if anything is broken, so it’s always important to take care of everybody and look everywhere.
I always manage that there is no queue at the entrance, no queue at the bar, no queue at the restrooms. All our events are very short, it’s about five hours and the artist plays for one hour and fifteen minutes, so everything has to go fast. They don’t have to wait. If they wait, they can say ‘Oh the venue is not well organized’ or ‘Cercle is not well organized’, and this is not possible for us. We want the people to leave the location and say it’s a great place, it’s well organized, and we had a great moment.'”
Fortunately he’s found that while managing the on-site experience can be very involved, there are advantages to the crowds which come to the Cercle events:
“When you are doing a venue it’s during the weekend, at night, and you can have more problems with your audience. People arrive drunk or on too many drugs. Also, in the end it’s always the same when you book an artist, you pay a price, you sell some tickets, it’s always the same. And so when you work for Cercle it’s during Monday, so the people go out from work and they just want to have a kind of drink, like a glass of wine or a beer, they don’t have time to get too drunk. Also the feedback we have from the artists is like ‘I’ve never seen a crowd like this’, because the people are really focused on the artist and they can really listen in on the music.
The probability of a spectator to see his favorite artists in an unusual place like a museum, castle, or airport won’t arrive two times in their life. The people feel so privileged to be there and do the party in a very nice place, to be close to the artist, so there is a great energy.”
All of this energy, the exceptional experiences, don’t just happen by chance. From the very beginning, the groundwork is laid for an event that goes beyond just music and dancing, but tells a story that binds the artist, the crowd, and the location, together.
“For me, my job as Artistic Director, the most fun part is to tell a story between the place and the artist. Because when you do a venue, you book the artist, you sell some tickets, it’s always the same. So we have a process when we organize an event: we talk with the location, and then we do a scouting session, and then I come with Derek and I feel the music I want to hear in this place. For example, if we go into the mountains maybe I would like something chill or melodic, and if I go visit some other place I will have a different inspiration. Also we try, like I said, to tell a story between the place and the artist to give some deepness to the event.
For example, we invited Dominik Eulberg in a Castle in France, in Alsace. This castle is in a natural park, in a protected area. And then Dominik Eulberg is a Ornithologist, he is a professor for birds, so at the end of the streaming he asked 20 people to go listen to bats, and the people who came were so happy to share this moment with him. Also, once a year the castle is organizing a bat night and Dominik is going to come as a teacher to do a professorship there. So that was a great story. And one other thing, this castle is in Alsace, and during the first World War this castle was built by German people and Dominik Eulberg is German, so it was a great symbol that a German guy is playing this castle in France.
Also for Maceo, there is a little story behind him because it’s a guy who is doing futuristic music, dark music, so the skyline fits with him. And in the end it was raining and cloudy so a bit dark, so the place totally fit with the music he does.”
With locations that vary from castles, to landmarks, to airports, mountains, theaters, rooftops, boats, and more, I had to ask, where has been the most challenging?
“I think one of the most challenging was doing a party in an airport. I think this was also really hard for the production department, as you can imagine the security is very hard in the airport. So we managed to do an event in the luggage department, and it was very hard to organize with all the security. We also had a big story with this, we invited the French artist Petit Biscuit and he was starting a USA tour the day after, he was leaving from this airport, so it was a good way for him to say goodbye and go to the USA after the show. “
More than just hosting DJs and electronic music artists in amazing locations, Cercle focuses on promoting the cultural and artistic significance of each and every place that they go. To truly create a masterpiece during each event takes an incredible amount of vision, creativity, and hard work for each member of the team.
“I think that everybody in the team is really involved. The first year had been really hard, but we all trusted in the project, so everybody was involved. Sometimes we are tired, sometimes we work on Sundays, sometimes we work on Saturday because we don’t have enough time. We make a lot of efforts to manage that everything is fine for the events, because we always want the community to be happy. So we make a lot of sacrifices, because sometimes we work 70 hours per week while not counting the hours we did, so it’s a lot of investment but it’s also a passion. We all love music, they all love cinema images, so when you work in something with all your passion you don’t count your hours.
We have Derek in charge, the founder, he’s also the movie director. You’ve got Pol in charge of communication, he’s also doing the video editing live. Then you have Anaïs in charge of production, she takes care of logistics and she also takes care of the team, and then you have all the camera men. They all know how to film live because it is very specific, so we only work with people who have had the training before. We have 8 – 10 people for the cameras, and we always try to have kind of the same team, because when you’re working live it’s not possible to do a mistake.”
With their focus on promoting cultural heritage, art and culture in general throughout their shows, the film crew is imperative to getting the best shots that reflect the greatness of the venues they collaborate with.
“The camera men, they also are artists because they do great work, and it’s important to say that we have a super movie team that is working very well. They always, 30 minutes before the stream, gather for a training, a repetition of how they’re going to start, how they’re going to finish, all they’re going to do. Derek is always in connection with them so during the live stream everyone is prepared, they know exactly what they are going to do.”
It’s this level of commitment, dedication, and pure passion that drives the team to reach exceptional levels of success, and create lifetime memories for everyone who is involved.
“Our goal is always to create a masterpiece. As we respect a lot of the artists and the places, we always try to give our best, to create great content. And then you watch it 5 years after, 7 years after and you say ‘Ahh, that was great. There were no other solutions to make it. It’s a good artist, it’s a good place, it’s a good moment, good work filming, good work starting, good work finishing.'”
These are all the ingredients for timelessness, and the reasons why Cercle stands apart from the rest. It is not easy work. It requires every team member to be focused, every challenge to be faced, every piece of the puzzle to fit together perfectly. But when it is done, there is no doubt that they all can look back at the masterpiece they have created, and smile at what they have accomplished with satisfaction and pride. And then get ready to do it all again the next week.