CCPA Summer Series 2018: La Blogothèque

CCPA Summer Series 2018: La Blogothèque

By Bilge Yilmaz

One of these pink-filtered, cloudy Paris mornings, I wake up to a simple workday. I take the subway line 8 to République, then 11 to Place des Fêtes, and arrive at the Blogo offices. Paris has an impressive rail system. I seat myself by my desk, right across two walls, respectively decorated with various posters of “Soirées de Poche” and with simple illustrations done by markers: Beirut, Kings of Convenience, Low, My Brightest Diamond, Electric Guest, Bon Iver, Andrew Bird, St. Vincent, Local Natives… It’s as if someone sneaked into my Spotify to curate this series. Everyone whistles the catchy intro to Arcade Fire’s Everything Now today. No complaints. The post-production process of their Paris concert’s footage from April is about to be over. Awaiting the final cut, we hear parts of the recording from the video room. Plus, it’s *finally* not raining today. Speaking and hearing French daily is a little bit harsh on me, but I will get through it.

I start the day by going through all the very old videos on La Blogothèque’s website to help archive them. I rummage through music-hungry, passionate articles, and detect which ones are missing videos in good quality. Not your typical HD from 2000s camcorders, but so much technique, history – so many layers.

In the early afternoon, we head to a studio to make an interview recording with the respected French artist Yves Simon, he tells stories of Zelda Fitzgerald. I accompany a small crew of a director, a sound engineer, an assisting producer, and Bedouine, a Middle Eastern descent singer-songwriter, as we go off to le Jardin du Port de l’Arsenal in Bastille to record a Take Away Show. For the video, Bedouine sneakily gets on a pretty boat with flowers, and tells her stories. We record her. She invites us to her concert that night. I go. End of the day. Maybe I’ll grab a salty crêpe (gallette) from that street food spot at Rue Mouffetard. Voilà, a not-so-ordinary ordinary day at La Blogothèque.

Two weeks in, I still cannot believe that I am in a place that produced the content I always adored. I’ve already been a huge fan of La Blogothèque since I was 13. Their approach to music, and recording music, changed my whole perspective growing up. The thing about me is I simply love bands. I love live performances. I remember digging these favorite bands of mine, finding out about their videos by La Blogothèque on YouTube, and getting completely carried away. I was blown away by this simple video of Grizzly Bear performing “Shift”, squeezed up in the bathroom of a Parisian flat, filling the bathtub with harmonies. What a simple, yet extraordinary idea. This is 2006. There isn’t fancy equipment or Instagram whatsoever. A camcorder, some mics, and pure music. I go to actual concerts all the time, and all I ask for is this same extraordinary feeling I get when I watch one of these videos… It rarely happens, frankly.

I can’t imagine a life not immersed in music, and my interests in Haverford validate this. Chamber Singers, a cappella, FUCS, all explore different fields of the industry. My intended minors are music and visual studies which relate heavily to the work done here. I observe how microphones are attached, how cameras are positioned, how post-production works in details from grading to montage, how the sound is crafted, how budgeting is done, how management is done. But above all this, I think I witness a very key aspect of this business: interaction. In the kitchen of all this, I experience a very unique working environment where everyone is immensely passionate about what they do – they communicate and brainstorm so intricately, and so naturally that I can now understand how the magic happens. I hope to learn from these work ethics and collaboration skills. This industry and specifically this job requires very well-calibrated communication skills, since it majorly revolves around the idea of collaborating with bands, artists, companies, brands, directors, sound directors, promoters. It’s very important for me to be in the hub of all this traffic, and observe patterns of cooperation.

Today I’m working on creating polls for social media to interact with followers, editing endscreens of YouTube videos, and creating visuals to accompany posts. So far we have recorded exclusive performances with artists like Bedouine, Theo Lawrence & the Hearts, and Palatine in places like les Jardins d’Eole, Saint Germain, le Jardin du Port de l’Arsenal, the home of Eugène Delacroix which is now a museum. We might record on a boat or in a flower shop. It’s interesting to see what’s happening behind the camera. Some exciting artists are on the calendar for the following weeks – this Thursday it’s Fête de la Musique (which is the big music holiday of France) and we are invited to the presidential palace for an event! In the meantime, I’ll pass my time discovering gems of Paris, enjoying the food, getting inspired and busking on the historical streets with my guitar.

Looking back, two guys who love bands and cameras ended up changing music for many people. Me, irreversibly inspired by this innovative enterprise (and quite irritably persistent on getting a reply with my e-mails), I ended up changing myself for good as my path crossed with these amazing people. A big thanks to CCPA and the Smart Family Fund for making this happen.