Sergio Picón from Aloud • Interview
Wout | On 22, Oct 2015
Sergio ‘Aloud’ lives and works in Barcelona. To be more specific, he is the founder of Aloud Music and all it’s activities such as Aloud Music Festival. We are loyal Aloud Music fans and never missed an edition of the festival. We are already prepared for the upcoming edition with this post about the line-up and we had a chat with Sergio to see if he’s ready for it. AMFest 2015 will happen on Nov. 5-6-7.
Hi Sergio, how are you? You’ve been living in the Dominican Republic for a few months. How was that?
Hi! I´m doing great! I was at Dominican Republic for 4 months, adopting my daughter Jazmin. That was a nice adventure, really hard at some moments, but beautiful overall. It were stressful months, a lot of changes, but the experience is totally positive. It’s not the best country for music, too much reggaeton, but … I have to say I´ve listened to some good reggaeton songs in these 4 months .
Because you were living abroad you even missed your own festival last spring. But I was there and it was great! How did you manage to get everything organized for the festival?
Because AMFest is not just me and Nuria. We are a big team, and we set up a lot of meetings before we left, and the whole team made a great effort to make everything perfect. Seems it worked really ok. I was sure about all of them, I assembled the team cause all of them are friends and they are so talented. That was the reason to create an association called AMF, to work on the festival and some other activities here in Barcelona.
How many people are working on the festival? How many people have their full time job at Aloud Music?
There are 11 people in the festival. We split the festival and the label in 2014, Aloud is now a partner but not the main organizer. Until this moment, I was alone in Aloud Music as a full time job, some months ago Sonia and Natalia spent their time here, but actually they are just helping me a few days. And from 2016 (well, from now), Mau will be my partner in Aloud, trying to do a better job in Europe and Asia specifically.
The first edition was the one Toundra headlined right? The place was fully packed with more than 1000 people. Did you expect such a great success for the first edition?
Yes, it was a nice surprise. We wanted to make the 10th anniversary and finally we made a festival. Toundra were in their best moment I think, with “III” recently released, and with the orchestra. We didn´t expect 1000 people, it´s too much and it´s our record in 10 years. But we knew that we can’t have 1000 people every year. The reality of instrumental music is another one. That´s the reason to move the festival to La , with a 350 people capacity. Because we can not bring Toundra every year and the big names are really hard to get for a small festival like ours.
You moved the festival from spring to fall. Why is that?
Especially for international tours. There are 2 good periods to get bands on tour: April/May and Oct/Nov. In May here in Barcelona there is Primavera Sound. It’s sooo huge, we can’t make a festival the same month as them. So we decided to move to November. Now, bands touring in spring can play at dunk!festival, and bands touring in fall can play at AMFest .
Who’s in charge of the line-up?
The whole team, but I´m the supervisor. It´s the only thing I asked to all the team members. And they accepted.
All the bands on this years line-up are great but is there something we really can not miss out on no matter what?
Just to not fall into the classics (Maybeshewill, ASIWYFA, Maserati), I´m going to suggest Stearica from Italy and El Ten Eleven from USA. And maybe you can find a surprise into the spanish bands. We work really hard to find spanish bands every year and I´m really happy with the bands in this edition.
Anything else we need to know about the upcoming festival?
No changes from the last editions. Well, I will be in the festival, that´s really important to me! I will be doing the sound for the festival for the first time ever, really happy about that. Food will be great as usual, we will try to make the schedule work, bands will play complete sets (from 50 to 70 minutes), you can talk with the bands at the merch stand…
When did you start Aloud Music? It started out as a record label right? How did you evolve in what Aloud is today?
I started with a music magazine called Muzikalia (www.muzikalia.com) in 2000. Then, I started to manage 3 bands, and then one of these bands needed to release an album and we created Aloud Music. The label was not important for me until 2007, when we released Nothink´s “Spotlights”. It was the album of the year for Rock Sound Spain. I decided to leave Muzikalia and concentrate my efforts on Aloud. The evolution was really natural, we had 2 big moments, one with Nothink (first) and then with Toundra, from 2010 to 2013. We were really lucky with these 2 bands. Thanks to them, people knew about Aloud. Actually we have smaller bands but growing up really fast, as Exxasens, IEPI or Viva Belgrado.
What is the next goal to reach for Aloud Music?
We want to make more tours and sell more records in Europe and Asia. Especially tours, this is really important to us. That´s the main reason to have Mau on the bill, he´s young, talented, speaks english really well and it´s a chance for us to get new contacts around the world and make more noise in other countries. I´m a bit tired of Spain, I can´t believe my bands can play in festivals in Belgium, Netherlands or Russia, and some Spanish festivals never wanted my bands. Here pop is the religion, and I am agnostic .
And where would like to be in 5 years?
Producing an album to my daughter´s band (haha)! I really don´t know. Just wanna have fun, visit cities, see my friends around the world and feeling good when I see live shows. That´s enough I think.
Do you think the ‘do it all’ approach (label + booking + webstore + festivals +…) is the way to go?
Yes, totally. Do it yourself and do it all. With almost 15 years of experience, I can not give my work to another company, except when this company is a “brother”. There are really few companies to trust when we are speaking about our labels, don´t you think?
That’s true. Leaving some parts of the job for external companies is not the best idea. These companies are mostly very corporate, expensive and not always efficient and not necessarily alternative/postrock scene related. Of course there are a few very good options as well…
How is the Spanish (alternative) music scene? I assume it is pretty lively since you have Aloud covering the underground in Barcelona and with Toundra being very popular there.
Well, Toundra is a ‘rara avis’. They can have 1000-1200 people to see them in Madrid, but if the next week Exxasens or Syberia are playing there, they will have 70-100 people. Toundra is the success of Toundra, not the post-rock or instrumental success. But anyway, there are plenty of bands doing a great job, starting to work on European tours (we don´t have the European mind…) and releasing albums around the world. About places to play, it´s not the best time, the 90´s were a lot better I think. Now you have to pay for playing in too many places. But there are small clubs/bars who are trying to change this… So it´s the same fight than in Belgium, in France or UK.
I stumbled upon you at ArcTanGent the last two editions (because I wasn’t there the first time). Do you attend a lot of like-minded festivals in Spain or abroad? Which one is your favorite?
Dunk!festival and ArcTanGent are my favorites. And it´s not my style, but I can add ProgPower Europe in The Netherlands. The most important thing in these festivals is the atmosphere. People are enjoying the music! That sounds weird, but there are plenty of fests with stupid people being there just for being there: talking, taking drugs, … And for me it´s really important to attend other festivals to learn to know bands, see live performances and learn how the others do their job. It´s the way to grow up. I feel really happy to be friends with the organizers of dunk!festival, ATG, PPE, and some other festivals, and I have to say the way we work / help each other is really nice.
Do you like living in Barcelona? I really like the city and I’m always having a great time if I’m there for Aloud Music Festival.
Yes, I like the city, but there are too many tourists. Now we´ve changed city government, we don´t want a city just for the tourist, we need a city for the people who live here.
Do you have any insider hints for exploring the city? Your favorite restaurant, bar,…
For sure. My favorite and hidden place is Plaça de Sant Felip Neri. Is close to the cathedral. In 1938, there was a bomb that killed 42 kids. It´s a place with a unique atmosphere. Really small, but really beautiful. To eat, I suggest you “La Llesca” or Wok Verdi, just few meters from my home. And if you want to see live music and take a gintonic, I suggest Heliogabal bar. To buy music, don´t forget Calle Tallers, a street with 3-4 music stores (in the past there were like 8).
Thank you so much for the chat! We’ll see you at AMfest!
Thanks my friend for being soooooo nice from the first minute with us.