For all you NPR Tiny Desk, COLORS show and music lovers, La Blogothèque will be right up your street.
Blogothèque videos are unique and intimate performances which quietly celebrate the beauty and power of music beside the frantic activity of humanity. The sessions dance in creativity with each show holding a different identity characterised by wacky venues and a questionable sound quality. The bustle of cities, leaves crunching underfoot, and nature sounds become intertwined with the tunes, allowing the extraordinary to be found in the ordinary.
Admittedly, the sessions may initially appear slightly awkward and eccentric. Seeing your favourite artist nervously perform in a cramped kitchen in Paris, water fountain in Mexico or on the roof of a memorial hall in Cincinnati isn’t the ‘traditional’ way of watching a musician play. Nevertheless, this creative exploration and expressive videography define the Parisian centred production company and leave you liking the informal covers more than the studio versions.
In comparison, Tiny Desks thrive under conventionally objective shows which are rooted in a pristine sound quality and consistent setting. The audience is positioned behind the camera allowing your attention to be centred on the music. Blogothèque shoots intentionally lack these qualities which at times takes away from the music, adding to the peculiarity of the sessions. Despite this, the bizarre camera angles and background noise only make the videos feel more immersive and natural while allowing you to learn more about the artist.
Chryde Abric, the founder of La Blogothèque, was “frustrated with the music media who were missing everything the web was bringing to music discovery” causing him to create a web-blog in 2003 which reconceptualised how music should be felt and understood through a medium. Independent filmmakers and sound artists have focused on creating an immersive and sensual experience that makes you feel like a fly on the wall rather than an online observer.
Musicians play acoustic versions of their tunes allowing you to experience a song in a rare and personal way. Take Away Shows (Les Concerts à emporter) are the flagship performances where a band is invited to play a soothing rendition of their songs in an abstract setting.
Alt-J, Wolf Alice, Arlo Parks, Sufjan Stevens, and Damien Rice are among the artists who have produced shows which capture the quintessence of musical excellence.
Here are a handful of my favourite sessions:
The Dø are an indie-pop Finnish-French duo. This session was shot in Jardin d’Acclimatation in Paris. You’re watching the group jam out in the park with nature as the audience. The director, Élie Girard, frames the groovy duo in their electric glory.
This was one of the first breath-taking Blogothèques I ever saw. Filmed in a nature reserve in Paris, the Take Away Show captures the vibrant energy of summer to shake off the winter blues. Fike’s caramel vocals are complimented by husky guitar strumming while golden hour is swimming around him.
The concept of One to One sessions was coined by Damien Rice in 2008. In these secret shows, an artist serenades a ‘kidnapped’ stranger with a stripped-down and gut-wrenching cover. Bon Iver executes this flawlessly where he adds a gospel tang to Heavenly Father, making it feel celestial. You’re listening to his vocals echo and break under the power of his voice while watching the ‘chosen one’ in musical ecstasy.
One of my favourite comments for this video includes “I don’t even know how to react when someone sings happy birthday to me let alone Justin Vernon seducing me with a choir”.
Soirée de Poche (Pocket Parties) are secret shows shot in homes where people gather to watch a band perform. An intimate videography captures the soft light dancing between the indie-folk band and audience. Buttery vocals and iridescent harmonies are cushioned by the instrumental diversity which defines the band.
La Havas has warm and soothing vocals matched by the delicate plucking of her acoustic guitar. The London-born artist sings with purpose while meandering aimlessly through streets in Montmartre, Paris. Her folk-soul tune absorbs sounds of the surrounding bustle, capturing the casual magic that circles you daily.
Sumney’s androgynous vocals elicit a potent sense of peace in this intimate session. The indie-soul artist emits an ethereal lullaby-sounding ballad. The performance is simple yet emotionally profound, submerging you in the raw beauty of music. Virtual audiences praise the pure talent captured and admire “that this is shot like we’re just a person casually sitting next to him watching”.
Over 500 bands across 10 countries have been captured making Blogothèques a great way to discover new artists or experience your favourite musicians in a new way. For over fifteen years, the cinematography has documented musicians and acted as a time capsule for music videos. Blogothèque shows are timeless and celebrate artists and independent filmmakers without compromising individualism and creativity. The sessions bring people together and tap into humanity through a visually expressive and immersive experience.
Whether you want a cosy evening or want to dissolve your stresses in music, rummage through their YouTube videos- they’re a pleasure to watch. “Come, stay a while, and be taken away”.