AIM Festival is a brand new festival concept that aims to bring 32 hours of non-stop music to Parc Carillon, Quebec over 3 days. The lineup is distinctly underground with names like Tiga, Four Tet, Guy J, The Martinez Brothers, and Pig & Dan attached to it. With 3 stages, one of them dedicated to a chilled out and deeper vibe, AIM Festival is a unique festival concept in Canada that should not be ignored.
EDM Canada had the opportunity to talk to François Lebaron, a Partner and the Music Director of AIM Festival, about this brand new festival and their long term goals. This interview is a must-read for all festival goers who are planning to go or are contemplating on going to this interesting and innovative new festival that is within a short driving distance from Montreal and Ottawa.
What's your background?
My background is very diversified. I used to organize huge rave parties in the 90s here in Montreal. I then took a break from events and launched a record label called Trigger Recordings, which was on license with Warner Music Canada for 6 years. Then I started working with an established independent record company here called Audiogram. After that I was the artistic director of Black & Blue Festival from 2008-2009 and Then I started working with an another independent record company Bonsound.
I left Bonsound in 2013 to start my own own business and that's how AIM came along. Throughout all of this I always had my DJ and producer career as well as a small label (Victims Music Company) I started a few years ago. But right now I am working 100% on the AIM Festival. We have signed a 15 year deal for the AIM festival site so we're planning a long run.
Tell me about the AIM festival
Before I created the brand, I checked around what was missing here and saw that we were missing a festival with a true European approach. A place where you can go and have it go non-stop for the whole weekend. When my partner brought me to Parc Carillon, I found it completely amazing. It's also an historic site. We want to have a new approach with AIM, we want to create a movement and a community. We want to bring some digital art installations and we wanted the letters of AIM to mean something, that's why we named it Art Innovation and Movement (AIM). There are 18 huge concrete structures called ''Monolithe'' which commemorate a battle of ''Long Sault'' that took place there over a hundred years ago and the letters of the festival are also representative of those concrete structures. Those concrete structures are very techno, so it fits well with the festival.
The negotiation to establish AIM happened over a year where we negotiated with the municipality of Saint-Andre D'Argenteuil and its Mayor. We signed the agreement in November 2014 so we organized the bookings, promotion of AIM in a very short time. We had to move very fast or else we would have had to delay it a year.
How far is Parc Carillon from Montreal?
It's 50 minutes from downtown Montreal. It's only 20 minutes from Mirabel airport. We are offering shuttles from Montmorency subway station every hour from Friday to Sunday. So if people don' t have a car they can take our shuttle service. We also have buses coming from Ottawa. We are offering these services but we encourage people to come and camp at the site to fully experience it.
Tell me about the lineup, what was your philosophy in designing it?
We have two main stages and we have a third smaller stage. That stage is hosted by Multi Culti Records, a sub-label of Turbo Recordings and it's owned by Dreems and Thomas Von Party, Tiga's brother. The chill movement is coming back and Multi Culti is a chill out, psycho, deep house label. So we're having artists like Dreams, DJ Three, Axel Boman, on that stage.
The philosophy of the two other stages is to bring established artists that are cutting edge like Four Tet or Jamie XX. We want to offer a real electronic music experience. We're having Pachanga Boys, who haven't toured in America for the past 2 years. It took me 6 months to book them so it was quite a challenge to get them over here. So we wanted to bring cutting edge artists who are established but are not top 40 electronic pop artists.
We also booked a lot of local talent from Montreal and some from Ontario like Nature of Music and Alicia Hush. But most of them are from Montreal.
I noticed Eekkoo on the lineup as well.
Yep, he's from Montreal and he's part of the AIM team working for us. He helped with some of the bookings. He also gave us his opinion on the bookings and other artistic aspects.
Name one artist that in your opinion fans must see at this year's AIM Festival and why?
Can I say 2?
I would say Pachanga Boys 100%, they are a do not miss option for sure and they are the closing set on Sunday. They never come here so you have to see them. Otherwise, Four Tet live is a must-see who is playing on Friday. Four Tet is putting out an album with Jamie XX in June and his live show has gained a lot of attention worldwide. I have heard some of his live act and it sounds amazing.
Who's closing on Saturday night?
It's another do not miss live act called Paranoid London. They are very underground and are more known in Europe. Those guys are producing a pretty unique type of techno and it's very distinctive. One of the reasons why Tiga accepted to play at AIM is because Paranoid London were playing.
What's your view on the current festival scene in Quebec?
Pretty poor I think. We still have interesting events like Igloofest. We have Osheaga, Ile Sonic – but we don't have any real festivals. All of these events end at 11 pm and that's when the party starts. Quebec needs something more edgy, more immersive, and intelligent. I don't mean to sound pretentious when I say “intelligent”, I'm just saying that because we are bringing acts that are more than top 40 commercial. If you look at Ile Sonic lineup, there are a lot of interesting artists like Deadmau5, but its still the same formula than other festivals. Kids want that, but when you read interviews from Seth Troxler, John Digweed and a lot of others they talk about the end of the commercial EDM wave and when you are deep in the business you are aware of it. We feel we can go more deep.
At the same time I cannot say anything bad about the EDM movement, because it helps people to discover electronic music and they will eventually look for something deeper. AIM is there to offer something different.
Make your best pitch – why should fans attend the first ever AIM Festival?
We have a non-stop music approach with camping and with an amazing lineup, we also have a beautiful site to offer. You can go there on vacation for 3 days and it's not expensive. It's only $181 for 3 days for 50 artists, and it includes camping for early bird buyers. Everyone knows that to truly experience house and techno music, you have to offer a non-stop approach.
We'll also have workshops on site given by a music production school from Montreal and they are going to invite artists from our lineup to talk about their production skills. We'll have MOOG Audio that will showcase DJ gear, and we have Musictechnic, a music production school that will also be there. Roland and Native Instrument are also going to be on site as well.
People will also be able to bring alcohol to the camping site but not at the actual event site.
My thanks to François Lebaron for the interview.
AIM Festival will take place at Parc Carillon, Quebec from June 26th until June 28th. Tickets are still available, click here for more information.