The French Festival with a Buzz
By Jacklyn Janeksela
Step over the threshold and into spaces that seemed impossible to dream until you actually dreamed them. Press up against the looking glass, fall through it, dream bigger if you dare. Open energy channels, open your entire being, be open, get ready. Become one with all you see, feel, touch, and hear. Become the sound waves that touch your body, let the electronic wash stimulate your nervous system into bliss.
This is no ordinary festival, this is Château Perché. You are equal parts ready for it and not ready for it. That is the magic of music. Château Perché will serenade you to astral levels and you will never look at music, festivals, or castles in the same way again.
At Château Perché, the objective is to become something you didn’t expect to become. No longer is the goal simply to enjoy electronic music, staring beyond the DJ’s agile fingers, closing your eyes for the third-eye chase, and dancing with electronic urge. Now, the goal transforms – you transform. Be the music, let it seep into your pores and redesign itself as a drop of sweat falling from your body after a long DJ set. At Château Perché, your whole body vibrates for the sound art cause. Listeners are not listening anymore, they immerse, then emerge. They fall into the ether of sound, only to be born again as an electronic pulse in the next note – the flight of the electronic bumblebee.
The creators, a group of seven French students who came together on Berlin’s techno scene, set the bar high. Their intention was to create a cultural clash that took the best of Berlin techno and gave it a decidedly French context. Perché has taken its influences from two countries (France and Germany) and ended up creating a festival that reminds me of the heyday of UK festivals, such as the early Big Chill Festivals – that’s a pretty sweet combination,” says Ben Osborne , who was the first British DJ to play the festival and has played the last five editions. “The name literally means the perching or moving castle. So, each year they find a new chateau. It’s a very French setting, but one that ignites the universal imagination. Every year you think, ‘That’s it, they’re not going to find a better castle next year. But somehow they always find a better one.’
Sound bounces across the courtyards of the castle in the heart of France and into the hearts of listeners, many of whom don extravagant, DIY haute couture egged on in their creativity by the festival’s proclamations: ”For the time of Château Perché, let’s turn ourselves into those coordinated itsy-bitsy creatures in a heavenly microcosm. Insects pullulate in Paradise. Costume themes:Day 1: The Surge of Insects, Day 2: The Ephemeral Togas of Paradise, Day 3: And the firefly shined.”
Château Perché is not just another music event – it includes all artistic forms. As it says on the website, Château Perché is literally a poem. But it is also live, interactive theatre, where the lines between guests and performers are blurred into one. Reminiscent of Sleep No More from New York, this is the go-to music festival of the summer for those into theatrics, electronic harmonies, and regalia. It makes perfect sense, too.
Château Perché’s festival grounds are enchanting, sprawled across l’Arboretum de Balaine, both glade and exotic forest, and France’s oldest private arboretum. The space houses 3,500 plant species that will provide ornamentation for a four-day celebration. From Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 July this year, guests are invited to have a kinesthetic experience. They are requested to be the sound of the world around them, particularly the world below their feet, as the creators beckon them to transform. Interpretations and renditions of insects present the perfect theme for a midsummer dream. The festival also asks guests to engage through expression – and there is plenty of that going on.
There will be vital calls to Mother Nature by respecting the grounds where the festival takes place. And through mindful action, guests ground themselves in kindness. They become an integral part of the scenery and not just visitors. This is also expressed in the festival’s zero tolerance for non-biodegradable products, a ban on cigarette butt littering, and overall adoration for nature.
Excitingly, this year Château Perché is hosting a showcase spotlight on for Czech acts. Over the last few years, Ben Osborne has been working with Jaroslav Rauser, the man behind several Czech festivals and former head of Prague’’s Acropolis, to present three rising stars of the Czech electronic scene ‒- Bratri, Himalayan Dalai Lama, and Kalle.
At the end of June, Himalayan Dalai Lama and Cross Club hosted a warm-up party for Perché with festival founder Samy joining Cross regular Osborne. No other place (apart from a Czech castle) would do for the warm-up party, as Cross Club is famous for its eclectic exterior and interior, pointing to similar vibes for the big event in France.