Filou – The Headphone Sessions
MAKING IT LOOK AND SOUND LIKE BIG BUCKS ON AN INDIE BUDGET
Non-traditional stage setup with twelve musicians surrounding the audience wearing headphones. This was the unusual premise for this joint production with klangmalerei.tv
Filou are a seven-piece collective from the German “Ruhrgebiet” describing their musician as mash-up of funk, jazz, and hip hop. This is a serious concoction of catchy hooks and super phat beats. If this should somewhat remind you of NY jazz collective Snarky Puppy, then you’re definitely not wrong. Snarky Puppy has been and still is an inspiration to Filou, but they still maintain their own unique sound. Particularly, because every single musician in the band brings his own skills and personal influences to the table. In the end, they bring an incredible energy to the stage that I was honored to capture in a recording.
Initially the band hat contacted me way back in 2014 to produce and record their live debut album. They had a monthly residency at the well known domicil jazz club in Dortmund at the time. Titled “Filou presents…” the band hosted a show with a guest band every third Wednesday of the month, often sharing the stage altogether for one massive jam at the end of the night. The guest bands included well-known German jazz acts but often bands that push the boundaries of jazz in some way or another (Sommerplatte, Cosmo Klein, Xaver Fischer, among others). The monthly residence gave Filou the chance to experiment with unusual stage concepts. As a result, they came up with the idea to dissolve the barrier between stage and audience for the live show.
So instead of going to the studio to create a regular album, Filou wanted to create a live recording capturing all their energy and live show experience as their debut record. The concept of making the audience become part of the stage setting also sparked the idea of abandoning a PA system and providing headphones for the audience instead. It’s a very unique experience for the concert goer and obviously turned out to be a slam dunk for me to ensure the best possible audio quality without the usual PA and monitor trash in the mics 😉 To make things a little more complicated Filou also wanted to invite the string trio Duck Tape Ticket
With the concept for the “Headphone Sessions” by Filou locked down, the team for the live production was joined by my friends at klangmalerei.tv to take care of the video production end and turn the headphone sessions concerts into live videos for YouTube and DVD. All of the musicians in Filou are either still students or they’ve just finished school. There was no label support whatsoever! So it was clear from the get-go that this wasn’t going to be a big budget production with OB trucks, VIP lounges and hookers & coke. As a consequence we had to get creative to come up with the funding for the production and find solutions that wouldn’t be too expensive to begin with. The band and everybody in the team did a fantastic job doing exactly what was necessary: privat sponsors, brand partnerships, product support, ticket sales. We really too all avenues to make it happen! Due to the scale of the production I had to rely on friendly pro audio brands to support my audio department with additional gear. Massive thanks to these awesome companies who joined our efforts:
To make a long story short: it all worked out really well in the end! We had two sold-out shows to record the headphone sessions and the feedback from the audience was incredible. Many hours of post-production then followed to take care of a fair amount of editing , overdub recoding, and mixing at my Satellite studio. Since the project was planned for an album release, we really went to town to turn it into something that sounds great and captures the unique vibe of the band. I should have counted the number of coffees and pizzas that were involved in this gig!
In the end, I’m really happy with the results, which is now available on all streaming platforms thanks to the digital distribution via Hey!Blau records. The YouTube videos are even better in conveying the energy of the performance and the special atmosphere of these sessions. The album was released in 2015 and Filou played a ton of shows to promote the record. The cherry on top was winning the future sounds award at the Leverkusener Jazztage at the end of 2015. As a result, the band got to share the main stage with Stanley Clarke and Al di Meola at the festival the following year. Fantastic!
Obviously, it’s impossible to do a project of this scale on your own. So here’s a big thank you to my man Alex Kloss (mastering), Dieter Steffan (live mix), Patrick Stäudle (recording assistant), and the entire team at the domicil jazz club!
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