Tom Pooks: "I have a dream… that we can dance again all together soon!"
We had the opportunity to chat with Tom Pooks, the founder of Family Piknik, about the label, how they have got through this year, and what’s next in 2021 for the label and the events!! Tom has also unveiled a V/A release for the label this year, with some great tracks across it (including one of his own). Find it on Beatport!
Hi Tom, great to have you involved with an interview. Please explain to the readers your background and who you are.
Thanks for having me ! It’s been 25 years of deejaying for me, already. I had great teachers late 90’s, guys like Francesco Farfa and Joy Kitikonti, who’s still my studio partner and musical alter ego. I had the opportunity to release my first tracks early 2000s on labels lie Eukahouse, it worked pretty well for me at that time, with signatures on several major underground labels : Ovum, Intec, Kompakt, Terminal M, Cocoon, Brique Rouge. You know, that time when it was not all about streaming. All these releases allowed me to perform all around the world, from Space Ibiza to Global Gathering and Kazantip. I shared the decks with Carl Cox, Josh Wink, Sven Väth and many more. But in 2011, my career had a fatal crush because of motorbike accident. I was stuck in the hospital for a full year and it broke me. So I had to reinvent myself and I had the idea to launch my own festival concept, in 2012, helped with a few friends. Family Piknik was born this way. It was a good way for me, as a promoter, to invite all the great DJs I worked with : Michael Mayer, Marc Romboy, Josh Wink and all the big ones I have always respected. Ten years later, we’re one of the biggest festivals in France, with an unique open-air concept. In 2021, we will celebrate our 10th birthday !
Being the founder of Family Piknik, we have many questions to ask, firstly, what have been the biggest challenges around pushing a brand of it’s size, both in terms of label and as a festival?
Being an open-air festival is always a challenge, because you depend on the weather and you need to bring electricity, water, network and confort to a wooden area that is not optimized at all for an event like ours. That’s the challenge each year. We grew year on year thanks to our concept and the quality of our programmation. We also managed to catch families and attendees over 30 years old, which is not given to many techno festivals. From 2013 to 2015, we partnered with El Row Barcelona, it amplified the crazy atmosphere we built each summer and people talked positively of our event. We then had a long list of headliners who already accepted to play for us : Solomun, The Martinez Brothers and Jamie Jones came in 2015, for example. Before they got such hype. Then Sven Väth, Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola, Luciano, Black Coffee and the king Carl Cox in 2019, who made us grow even bigger. It’s also challenge to deal with these artists and their agents, you know. When I started, things were easier, these artists didn’t work with managers and sub-agents and tour managers, etc… It got more complex and it was useful for me to have a good team with me to handle with all these stressful situations you have to face with.
It has been a testing time for all in the music and entertainment industry for 2020, but you end the year with good news. The release of the Casa de Flamingos All Stars V/A compilation, some fantastic music has been shared on the imprint this year – what’s been your favourite?
Yes, fortunately we had music in 2020 ! We launched our own label two years ago. It was a good step for us because I wanted to produce music again myself and after such a long break, it was easier to release on my own label, with this solid brand I had managed to build in. But quickly we looked at signing new talents and other artists from different backgrounds/ We built the label like a family and we got quality music all around. I’m very happy to have so many supportive feedbacks on our label. Legends like Sasha, Garnier, Cattaneo, Cox, regularly playing our stuff. So this compilation we’ve just released is a kind of best of, with a special mix by myself and 5 bonus tracks. It’s hard for me to pick up only one from these 20 tracks, but I think I need to underline the amazing remix by Hernan Cattaneo & Marcelo Vasami for Pontias. Check it out !
You have also put together a continuous mix of all the music, how proud are you to share this and what can you tell us for any early plans for the label next year?
I have always liked mixed versions on compilations. I released official mixes for the Kazantip festival back in the years. It gives relief to the releases and it gives me the opportunity to showcase my vision of mixing, with lots of effects, loops and hypnotic progression. Covid outbreak stopped us a bit in making long-term perspectives, so I can’t tell you more about 2021 plans for the label, as it’s still depending on how we’ll go through this crisis. We want to keep on pushing our own talents for sure and we receive more and more demos from good producers. We may start releasing full artist albums, too…. Stay tuned !
The good news continues with the very recent revelation that Family Piknik festival will return in 2021 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the festival. Tell us more!
Fingers crossed ! After this blank year, we had to struggle and find resources to keep on being alive. We didn’t want to give up because we knew 2021 was an important year in festival’s history. 10 years is something ! So we’ll do 2 full days, a full weekend of open-air extravaganza, with 3 stages each day. We also have a very cool surprise in mind but we need to wait before announcing. Most of our headliners from 2020 will be rescheduled over the weekend (7 & 8th of August) but we also have planned to add much more, with special rare performances. We’ve also decided to give much more space to women in our 2021’s line-up.
Over the years, what have been some favourite memories from the event, you have had so many outstanding artists involved, there must be so many?!
Yes, there are many good memories for sure ! Hugging Carl Cox on stage while he was playing my own track ‘Jocker’, that was emotional. Sharing the decks with my mentor Josh Wink, the same year (2019) was also amazing because he’s one of the very best I’ve ever seen. But I have to say that in 2013, I had a very special feeling too, at the end of the day, I felt like something big has started for me as festival’s director / event creator. It was a very satisfying sensation because building a festival from scratch is not easy. Financially, technically, humanly, artistically… So when you get success on your second year only, and get to grow as a whole brand, you feel proud.
Is there any artists you would like to introduce to the label in 2021 who you have not been able to showcase on Family Piknik yet?
I think we’ve managed to build our own family already, with 7-8 artists. We won’t be in a perpétuons seek of new artists just to fit with a hype or make buzz. Our philosophy is to grow as a family, really, by pushing our talents and giving them exposure through the label. We’ve had world class remixers in 2020, we’ll try to maintain this quality all around next year, for sure.
Finally, what would be the perfect gift for you this Christmas?
I have a dream… That we can dance again all together soon! That would be a good gift for me to receive a green light for 2021 summer. These 10 past months have been a nightmare, we urgently need to get freed of this shitty virus!