Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Happy Birthday to Us!

March 16 2010 is a day that will go down in history. Perhaps. A few fumbling words about a recently
departed chanteur, a  few videos embedded, and the Vive le Roq French music blog took its first steps into the internet.

I'd been thinking about it for quite some time. I've always had a massive interest in French music and never understood why it's not better know in the UK and elsewhere in the anglo sphere, and  finally put fingers to laptop six years ago to make it happen. I was inspired by the thought that it was better to do something - however wonky or imperfect - than to have a concept for something better that never sees the light of day.

That first year saw a big total of 24 articles on the site. Fewer than I'd normally manage any month in the last few years.

I reckon most  blogs start with good intentions, but wither on the vine as outside demands take their toll, and interest in the subject matter wanes. Our tastes change over time, our interests develop in different ways. Blogs tend to be a personal take on a subject, and people change.

And the subject matter of a blog can diminish over time. A TV programme that the blog was based on goes off air, a political party changes its direction, a cause is resolved or becomes mired in lethargy. Things can get stale, and blogs die off as a consequence

But over the years working on this blog has been a pleasure. I've found so much new music I might not have  previously have heard, and discovered so much that I've enjoyed hugely.

My passion for the subject has increased hugely, and it's been both a learning experience and an opportunity to share some of this. From initially struggling to find things to write about, I've found that in recent years the issue has been more one of trying to fit everything in as best I can.

As I said, in the first year I managed 24 articles. In 2015 I managed over 500.

What have been the highlights of the past six years? It's been immense to see acts go from critical acclaim to massive success, the likes of Daft Punk, M83 and Christine and the Queens, but it's also been amazing to discover the kind of acts that never seem to get the exposure they deserve in the UK, acts like Bagarre or Grand Blanc or Feu! Chatterton. Hopefully this blog goes some way towards putting that right.

One personal highlight was hearing Sudden Death of Stars for the first time, and then seeing them live 12 months later, upstairs in a bar in Rennes on a bill with Orval Carlos Sibelius.

There have been festivals and new releases written about, TV appearances and soundcloud uploads. I've enjoyed covering things from the biggest veteran French acts, but I've also been hugely impressed by work that's been shared by developing artists who are a long way from the recognition they merit.

There is much we have done, there is also so much more we could have done but didn't have time. But that's the nature of blogging. I don't do this for a living, I have to fit it around work and family and all the other demands on my time. I've got more organised over the years, and what goes on the blog is hopefully not only better, but more regular too.

I'd like to thank some of the support I've received over the past few years, from the good people at the Bureau Export in London, as well as from the Institut Francais. Also the French Music Podcast page on Facebook, for both inspiring me with new music and for allowing me to share some of my selections on their page. And a warm thanks to all the publicists, managers and artists who have taken time to contact me and suggest things I might like and who have helped me out in a variety or ways, from arranging interviews to passing on the music.

So we're six years down the line. Still not perfect, still not exactly as I'd want things to be, but in a better place that could have been expected.  I might not manage as many articles this year as I did last year, but I decided to aim for longer and better written pieces this time, make it a but more professional and a bit better organised. It'll be a challenge, but there's plenty to write about and no shortage of great music to explore.

Here's to the next six years,

John K

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