Florian Bourdot (Bordeaux Open Air)
Welcome to Festivals Insider's Organizer Q&A series. Here, we have intimate conversations with some of the festival market's most exciting and influential innovators.
We caught up with Florian Bourdot, co-founder of Bordeaux Open Air, an independent festival based in Bordeaux, France. Hosting Sunday events throughout the city in various public parks, and inviting artists that represent where they are from not just in music, but nationality too. Expect an electronic vibe with flairs of techno, soul, jazz and so on...
What is your name and what is the name of your festival?
Hello, guys, my name is Florian Bourdot. And I'm the co-founder of the festival, Bordeaux Open Air, happening over the summer in Bordeaux, France.
When did the festival start and what inspired it?
So our festival started in the summer of 2016, so about six years ago, now, five years ago.
The idea was to hold events in places that are very well known by the general public in the city. And you know, to have electronic music, be a part of these places, all these parks. So the original idea was really to, yeah, to use public parks and to bring some life and some music there, and this is what we've been doing mostly. So it's on Sundays during the summer, every summer in Bordeaux, and we started in 2016.
Tell us about the site and how it influences the festival?
So like I said, the idea is to hold events on Sunday, so they're usually starting at 3 pm, in public parks around the city, usually until 8 pm, so afternoon times. And we really want to be as close as possible to the natural regime of these parks, which means that we are doing our event hours at the times where the parks are usually open. So definitely the location of the festival is a big influence on how we actually create everything around it.
I will also say that it's a big part of the magic of our events is that they are places that maybe we wouldn't expect electronic music to be there. And yet, we managed to bring it there, and with the people being there as well, and dancing, it really creates something special, and the location is definitely an influence for that for sure.
What kind of musical artists play at your festival?
So the idea behind Bordeaux Open Air's booking is always to try and bring artists that have something to say about their scene. You know, it's very hard to find artists that will represent maybe, you know, a genre or a city or a scene, but we really try and bring in people that are like ambassadors of these, despite the fact that it can, you know, never be thorough and perfect. But we really want to have, you know, whether there are house or jazz, or maybe more techno, anything that is you know, electronic-infused or based, but as wide as it can be on the electronic music scope. We do care about who they are regarding their scene and how they contribute, etc, etc, etc.
And then we haven't been - because of our independency, and because of our philosophy, we've been trying to stay away of the big circuits of the, you know, the main headliners that you see every year on the big festival, not because we don't like what they do, but because we believe that we can be a stage for another type of artist and we want to enlighten these guys. But yeah, everyone is welcome as long as you're a good vibe, you know.
What’s the most memorable set or sets for you?
There's definitely been several. I think that I'm always amazed when an artist can, you know, either take the whole public on his or her story. And, you know, I remember the French DJ, Chloe, who was playing in 2017. At the end of the event, it started to rain pretty heavily on the venue, and it was outside, but she managed to use the energy of the weather to make the party even more crazy. And that was a very, very cool memory, because of the general feeling in that park that day.
Who is the target audience for your festival?
You know anybody that wants to come, we are really trying to be as broad as possible. The entrance of the festival is free. So that's whether you are a huge fan of electronic music or whether you are someone that just wants to discover more about it, you can come, you're welcome.
We've had the artists coming with their children, with their parents, with their brother or sister, cousins, you can bring your whole family or your friends, anybody you want, we really want to, we are really dedicated to, you know, inviting everyone and feel like, make everyone feel like they are welcome. That's something that we really care about. So please, please, please, if you're watching this, you are invited to the festival, for sure.
What is unique about your festival? What sets it apart?
Every festival is unique, you can, you know, because they are so connected to the place they are created that I think, you know, each, each place has their own festivals. And I think that's for the better.
Definitely, we, as you know, we're an independent team, most of the team is under 30 years old, we started with our own money. I think that sets us apart from you know, several of our colleagues, because, you know, we're quite a young structure. And then I think that philosophy wise, we are trying to create events where the location is a lot more connected to the actual events, and both of the experiences can you know, answer each other, whereas maybe some other events, you know, they tend to put more work on the actual experience and maybe less on the venue. And I think that we're definitely on the side that believes that to make a great event, you need a cool experience, but also a great venue and a great place, a place that people will want to take care about to - yeah take care about.
Then what is unique about our festival is also the fact that you know, we are free and we're trying to stay like that so that anyone that wants to discover electronic music can come.
So yeah, but I think that what's the most unique about the festival is definitely the feeling when you're on sites in the location downtown Bordeaux. And I really, really encourage you to come and try it out for yourself.
What are some of the challenges you've faced in organizing your festival?
So the challenge that we faced organizing such an event where definitely you know, the first year is when we started, was trying to think of everything, of course, lots of little mistakes that we did in planning and such. But I would say that you know, once we had both, like the artists and the cultural scene, and also the city and the cultural officials that once everyone was on board, that, you know definitely everything became a little bit easier.
So I think that the most, the biggest struggles we've had, were getting started, you know, once we had, once we were going, it became easier and easier. But it's also, we know that there's always going to be little issues and you know, the, of course, the pandemic these days, definitely sets that up. But I think that the hardest was just getting started because after that it's only about trying, you know, to find a solution for each and one of the issues.
You know, it's okay, it's definitely worth the trouble. So if you feel like you could start something in your hometown, just go for it.
Anything else you'd like to tell us about?
I think that our world and our times definitely call for more partying and time together, and if you feel like you could, you and your friends could start such parties, you know, don't hesitate to reach out to others that are already doing it or that have been doing it and they'll help you out. You can do the same with us if you want to, you can always reach out.
I think that the more solidarity there will be in between the people that organize parties and the people that attend those parties, the best the parties will be, so you know when they'll be back, take care of your local scene, take care of your local artists try and support them.
And yeah, let's spend some time together dancing, you know.