The Grape Sound Collective is an independent DIY organisation dedicated to helping Luxembourg’s alternative music scene by organising & booking shows and promoting artists from throughout Europe. M3 caught up with Mathis Krier, one of the Collective’s founders, to talk about the joys of live music, and picked up some pointers for budding concert promoters along the way…
M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Mathis Krier – Officially brought to life in 2012 by a group of friends, music enthusiasts, musicians, artists, and other creatives, “The Grape Sound Collective” is an independent event organizer/promoter from Luxembourg. Driven by a DIY attitude, our main goal is to support alternative, experimental, and independent artists and musicians from Luxembourg and abroad. Furthermore our aim is to promote Luxembourg’s alternative music scene outside of Luxembourg, and establish relationships between Luxembourgish and foreign artists. All this basically means, that we help with tour bookings, PR and advertising for artists and bands we like, and whose work we feel is worth promoting, and sharing with people.
What inspired you to start The Grape Sound Collective? What are your own musical backgrounds?
It all started in October 2010 as a favor to our mates from Alright the Captain (Nottingham, UK), where I, Yatsch (Mathis Krier), organized a last minute show for them in the East of Luxembourg.
On that day, I met the guitarist Benni (Benjamin Renz), who kindly volunteered to support with his band “Siamese Zessions”for a few free drinks. We immediately connected through our interest in music, and a new friendship, and with that, the initial idea for a music collective was born.
We have both played instruments for quite a few years already, me as an hobby/ amateur drummer and bassist, and Benni as an professional guitarist, who over time played in quite a few different bands in Germany as well as in Luxembourg, and also teaches guitar at a private music school in Luxembourg.
Inspired by the foreign music scene,and especially the British independent rock music scene, we both felt the need to support the alternative Luxembourgish music scene, by organizing gigs ourselves. We like our collective to be an addition to the Luxembourgish scene, and by no means want to be in competition with the existing independent promoters, and collectives. In a way we see us as a community project as well, whose aim it is to bring alternative art and music fans, friends, lovers, artist, musicians…together.
How has the internet affected what you do? Would you say it’s made your job easier, or more difficult?
The internet has definitely made our job easier, and I would even go as far as saying that the internet made our job happen. For us as an event organizer, the internet is the prime communication tool we use. The various platforms, social networks, blogs, music sites, and email allow us to stay continuously connected with the scene around the world, and offer us a way of keeping old contacts and making new ones. Furthermore, for us, the internet is an essential medium in advertising; fast and easy to use, with low to zero advertising cost, it allows us to reach the vast majority of people straight from our office.
Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
Obviously as a small DIY promoter, we can’t comment on the bigger industry, but looking at the independent/ alternative scene we are involved with, I would say that this sentiment is definitely true for most of the bands we worked with. I wouldn’t go as far as saying, that there is no more money in record sales at all, but free file sharing, and the fact that most songs are available to download on the internet at any time, definitely made actual record sales more difficult. I noticed that, especially the lesser known bands, that are not signed up with big labels, have to tour as much as possible in order to get their share of the cake. For most of them touring is half the battle in order to increase their popularity. At the same time, selling albums and merchandise on the road is essential in order to earn some money, and therewith keeping these music projects alive.
What would you say are the main challenges facing an up and coming concert promoter in the 21st century?
In a time where people are supersaturated with all kinds of impressions and emotions, a main challenge for most promoters is to get people’s interest for their projects, and events. This means that, advertising as well as the right promotion is key in getting your idea across and making yourself heard in the vast ocean of cultural offers. Linked to this, a main challenge is to offer quality music, for a reasonable entrance fee, working with a limited budget. Here every promoter has to ask himself, in how far he is prepared to “prostitute” himself in order to draw in the necessary founds to keep his projects alive.
What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Obviously looking at sound quality and authenticity, one would have to say Vinyl (considering one has a decent vinyl player) or CD (less warmer sound than Vinyl, but still decent), but out of practical reason the digital music file has to be king. The digital file is easily accessible over the internet, can be shared over mobile devices, MP3 players etc…, which allows people to have access to music anytime, wherever they are.
Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
In a fast moving time, where people get continuously bombarded by all kinds of sounds, visuals and emotions, the classic album, one listens to from start to finish, has definitely lost in popularity.
Nevertheless, for the real music enthusiasts, especially for people like myself (I am a graphic designer), who, through their interests or work, are involved with arts, and visual media, the idea of an album, as a piece of art still lives on strong. Similar to the false statement of people proclaiming the death of the paper book through e-books, I believe that the experience of the physical album as a piece of art you can touch, can’t be underestimated, and by far is still not forgotten in the more and more fast developing digital age.
Similarly, do you feel that the abundance of recorded music that is easily available on the internet has led people to place more importance on the live experience as the ‘authentic’ way to hear music?
Looking at my own surroundings, and sharing my own experiences, it’s a definite yes. I think that the recorded music on the internet, is a very powerful way of getting peoples interest, and motivating them to take part in real live action (playing music, going to gigs etc…).
For me as for most people, often the internet is the first medium to discover a piece of music; nonetheless I think, we all agree, that the live experience is the most authentic way to hear (see, feel…) music, and for the real music fan this experience can’t be replaced by some internet tunes or clips.
What do you personally believe the future of music distribution will look like?
More and more the idea of going to your local music store in order to buy the new album of your favorite bands has disappeared. Beside internet downloads, selling albums and merchandise at live gigs, especially for lesser known bands, seems to be the most effective way of distributing, and sharing music.
Finally, what does the future have in store for The Grape Sound Collective?
In a continuously changing world where everything is possible, it is very difficult to predict the future, but being a very young collective, our main goal is to grow up and establish ourselves as an art and music promoter in Luxembourg and abroad. Our vision for the near future is to organize quality, as well as fair priced events with international and local artists/musicians in Luxembourg. At the same time, we would like to promote Luxembourgish bands and music abroad. This means, helping Luxembourgish bands to organize gigs abroad, and establish relationships between the Luxembourgish and the international scene.