A festival created by local groups
In 2012, I’m from Rennes was born out of a desire and a need of a certain number of groups from Rennes. A desire to unite, to be stronger together, and a need to make it onto the national scene. Ultimately, the I’m from Rennes festival is the musical representation of the expression “strength in unity”.
“The concept was brought about by five groups wanting to promote the Rennes music scene,” tells Maxime Rezé, festival chairman and head of communications. “With the emergence of new groups like The Popopopops, the Juveniles and Success, there was a need to escape from individualism and that’s how the festival came about: they wanted to work together with the support of a team of family and friends”.
That was in 2012 and the festival soon got a positive response from Rennes and beyond, and that’s exactly the aim of the festival: to make Rennes music scene known outside of Brittany.
Pride rather than chauvinism
“Groups know how to promote themselves within Western France but it’s a lot harder to get people to take notice of the local scene on a national scale,” explains co-curator and assistant director of the festival Cédric Bouchu. “It’s not about being chauvinistic, it’s about being proud of our music scene.”
Rennes, much more than a “city of rock”
While Rennes has little to prove in terms of its music reputation, thanks to the first generation on the scene (Marquis de Sade, Les Nus, Marc Seberg, etc.), the city has found itself lost in mists of the 70s and 80s and the very first wave ridden by the “greats”.
Rennes’s new music wave is much more mixed, concerning the styles, but is still gripped by the undeniable dominance of rock. “Rennes is a city of rock, you can’t deny it but it’s also a cliché that has stuck with us. Even though 40 to 50% of our programme is rock-pop, that’s not all there is!” insists the festival chairman. “Rennes boasts a diverse music scene today with a lot of electro but also hip-hop, world music, funk, chanson, etc. Even in rock, the lines are becoming blurred and the garage trend is really gaining ground with big internationally renowned high-quality groups mainly thanks to the Beast Records label,” states Maxime Rezé. I’m from Rennes tries to explore each and every one of these styles every year, “without leaving anyone out”.
Over 40 groups in the line-up
Each year, the festival welcomes around 40 groups, proof of this musical proliferation in the Breton capital. “I”m from Rennes is a snapshot of the music scene in Rennes at a given moment,” sums up Maxime Rezé. Among the traditions that have been kept alive since the beginning of the festival is the “family photo” which gathers all (or almost all) of the artists appearing each year. One big family, both on stage and in the city, with many links and connections between the various musicians.
“Bring unconventional venues to light”
Another distinctive feature of this festival lies in the desire to “bring venues to light”, explore the public space just like other festivals do in Rennes, including Les Tombées de la Nuit and Big Love. The festival seeks out an audience in public places, for example metro stations, to get them interested in the music scene in Rennes. Or even in parks to get them to “rediscover Rennes”. “Having Mermonte play in the Thabor bandstand is a good example of what we try to do to make the event accessible to a wider public, being more family oriented,” explains Maxime Rezé. “There is a real wealth of places all over Rennes, not only in the centre,” he adds.“We try to perform in new places, find a link of belonging between the place and the group by favouring unconventional venues”.
25 venues for one-of-a-kind concerts
The musical exploration doesn’t stop in public spaces, it also invades private premises. Apartment concerts are one of the festival’s magic moments. These are the only concerts that charge a fee. The location is kept secret until the very last minute, the audience gathers in a square close to the apartment and then all head there together. It creates a more intimate concert with a homely feel. Guests begin by chatting, having a drink before watching a live, exclusive performance.
Silent raves, apartment concerts, musical bike rides…
Other musical experiences illustrate a “certain way to experience music in Rennes”. Silent raves, a bit of fun started by City Kay in 2015, and musical bike rides with the Bike Bike Disco association in 2016 are some good examples of the just how far of the festival organisers’ imaginations can go. A total of 25 different venues will serve as stages for the festival, from cult music venues (Ubu, Antipode, Jardin Moderne, 1988 Live Club, Etage), to bars with a different musical slant (Chantier, Oan’s Pub, Dejazay, Bistrot de la Cité), “unconventional” addresses (private apartments, the Poterie skate park, the Magic Hall hotel, metro stations) as well as squares and gardens (the Thabor’s Théatre de Verdure, Square Hyacinthe Lorette, etc.).
Shaking up the conventions of the stage, offering the audience “a sensory perception” of the diversity of the Rennes music scene, this has been the festival’s ambition since it launched in 2012.