Interview with Pardon My French: Bread, cheese and sunny beats
Over the last couple of years I’ve kept a keen eye on my former home, Bristol – without a doubt one of the UK’s hotspots for music of many forms. My first connection with the West Country city came via drum n bass; Roni Size, DJ Krust, DJ Die, MC Dynamite, Bill Reilly and many others inspiring me to move west, where I went to university. I also discovered groups like Massive Attack and Portishead, Tricky and many more great artists who came from Bristol.
Fast forward over a decade and the city is still booming, and party promoters Pardon My French are two guys with their fingers on the pulse. The twosome, Luke Sutton and Tim Smith, have been hard at it for a few years, slowly but surely creeping up the ranks in Bristol (and further afield) with their own distinct brand of party vibes; with disco, house and various other forms of dance music intertwined at their events. They also give away bread and cheese at every event, which is a massive plus. Here’s an exclusive mix from the duo and some words, too.
How did Pardon My French first get started?
Fresh out of Sixth Form, which we both attended in the delightful Wiltshire market town of Devizes, we put on a one-off clubnight named after a Bloc Party song. It was called Positive Tension, and it wasn’t very good, or busy. We eventually changed the music policy, the location (moved it to Bristol) and name, and started a radio show called ‘Pardon My French’ on Hub Radio, which was nearly four years ago now.
What was the original ethos behind it?
To play as many tunes off DFA Records as possible, and take as much credit as possible.
Can you tell us about the first Pardon My French party?
In Bristol’s Stokes Croft area is The Bank, a really good late night bar. We fancied doing something a little different to set ourselves apart from the many other quality house nights around in Bristol at the time it began. Naturally, we decided the best option would be give out free French cheese and baguettes. On the walls of a PMF party we’d post up set times for the DJs, as well as cheese, on when each variety would be brought. To this very day, punters are more excited for free cheese than they are on seeing us, and our carefully selected guests.
How has your whole set-up as Pardon My French evolved since it first started?
The only thing that has evolved has been a wider array of party shirts and Tim’s beard. The set-up has remained exactly the same with the two of us.
What have you learned about promoting parties?
The main thing is that nobody ever arrives to a night before 11.30.
What have you got coming up?
One of the most exciting things is that we’ll be hosting our own stage at Farr Festival this year, just north of London, with a few of our favourites including Outboxx and Alfresco Disco. We’re also looking forward to our Ibiza and Croatia debuts, as part of Crack Magazine residency. We’ll be popping up at Glastonbury too, and a few other festivals.
What promotions/parties have really inspired you?
Alfresco Disco, concentrating on putting on amazing parties with great decor, great venues etc. rather than building a night around one headline act.
Which recent parties have made an impression on you?
A great bunch of people recently launched Arc Festival in Bristol, held in Eastville Park. Essentially, six tents of techno, great visuals, great sound, no nonsense, it was bloody marvellous. There’s also Studio 89 in Cardiff which books our favourite house and disco names in small basement underneath a noodle bar.
Another great event was Alpfresco, run by Alfresco Disco, held in the Tirol region of Austria. Lots of skiing and parties in classic Austrian settings.
Tell us about the following…
Best ever party experience?
We’ve already mentioned Alfresco Disco but they put on a new year’s party in a mansion on the outskirts of Bristol, allowing 700 people to literally run riot in a massive house and its grounds. There was even a secret room behind a bookcase.
Worst ever party experience?
Has to be well over three years ago when we trundled all the way across Wales to play an all-student festival (which we won’t name). Calvin Harris was on during our set on the main stage. We’ll leave it at that.
Pardon My French anthem?
Tensnake – Holding Back (My Love)
Pardon My French motto?
The tune that got you into this crazy world of music?
Soulwax – Krack
What have you been listening to recently?
Our pal Christophe from Bristol has just done a really cool boogie/disco track on Futureboogie with Crazy P’s lead singer Danielle Moore, it comes with a tasty remix from Casino Times too. Most tunes from Nick Chacona still gets us going. Aside from dance tracks, the new !!! (chk chk chk) album is really great.
One to watch (new DJ/producer we should be aware of)
Hard to pick just one. We’re really big fans of Earl Grey at the moment, who’s just realised this six-track EP of weird trippy slow jams, and it’s great. Also, some friends in Berlin have recently launched Odd Socks Records, and anything off their roster is worth a listen.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about starting their own party?
Have a selling point but cheese and bread is taken.
What does the future hold for you both?
After the summer, we’re planning a party for four years of Pardon My French, so look out for that. It’s going to be great, and not in our usual location.
Tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done.
We rarely get the chance to play really slow weird music which makes up a lot of our tastes, particularly sub 110BPM, so we’ve done a mix entirely of those kinda tracks. Also, we wanted to keep it in line with the time of the year, which is technically summer. So expect soft airy melodies mixed with some deep grooves, best enjoyed in the long shadows of a warm evening.
For more information on Pardon My French head over to their Facebook page here
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