Back in July, we set up a small studio in the middle of the Nuits sonores festival, giving everyone the chance to experiment with music production.

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Author: David Bola

Photo Credit: Brice Robert

In the run-up to the “Hors-Série” special edition of Nuits Sonores, which took place on 19-24 July 2021 in Lyon, we looked for a way to bring We Are Europe into the festival site and amplify the voices of festival-goers while offering them a unique experience.  

After a period characterized by lockdowns, fewer interactions, and a partial desertion of our spaces of exchange, it seemed essential to focus this experience on creating sound, either alone or collectively. We therefore decided to set up a mini sound studio in the middle of the festival, giving everyone the chance to experiment with music production. 

Sample Room 

Split between the “Days” at Heat, located in the former industrial district of Confluences, and the Usines Fagor site, a space used by the festival team on several occasions, the Nuits Sonores Hors-Série edition signalled the return of partying and artistic exploration for many night owls. What’s more, the events were standing, which at the time represented a real victory. 

Although the Nuits Sonores program reflects a broad musical spectrum, with acoustic performances (Sébastien Tellier), rap (Lala &ce) and hybrid musical genres (Fulu Muziki), the festival’s overarching feel is clearly electronic. This made it all the more pertinent to organise a creative musical workshop, allowing festival-goers to test out the machines that would get them pulsing the rest of the evening. To do this, we called in Teddy Elbaz, a musician and electronic music instructor.  

Sample Room @ We are Europe
Teddy Elbaz in the Sample Room © Brice Robert

Organised over three evenings, this free workshop could host 20 people at a time (Covid rules obliging), with one or two at the controls of each machine. The electronic orchestra they created would be the envy of every sound engineer. The instruments acted as a gateway for participants, helping them visualise how music producers work and with what tools. 

By asking questions, building on people’s answers and generating a space for dialogue, Teddy says,I establish a framework, but in the end, I don’t think that people feel limited(…). You need a large enough framework to be free, to come out of the experience feeling that something happened, and not that you missed out.

The result? An electronic ensemble whose songs mix tracks to be finished later with sonic flights of fancy that materialize and disappear almost immediately. These ephemeral experimentations bring out an aspect of musicality that’s not often heard at festivals. 

Music from the Gap

Festival programs present largely (only?) finished musical projects. It’s rare for DJs to play an unmastered track. It’s even rarer for them to play a track they’ve never heard before. The same is true of bands, few of which launch into pure improvisation, unless it’s the aim of the performance (we could cite Amsterdam’s Doek Festival, an event focusing on musical improvisation), or an inherent part of their approach. 

In this context of polished sound objects, it proved interesting to provide space for a musical process that would allow us to hear sounds found in the gap between impulse and culmination. A rarely heard, yet very real, aspect of electronic music. As Teddy explains,when you work with music, you spend a lot of time tweaking things, thinking, ‘I’m searching around, I’m looking for my sound’, and then, in the end, you finalise a track, you’re done, and it lasts four minutes. Nobody gets to hear everything you did along the path that got you there.” 

Sample Room @ We are Europe
Sample Room © Brice Robert

And it’s exactly this path (or rather these paths) that you could hear when you walked into the “Sample Room”. Sometimes exploring alone, sometimes in collective harmony - always guided by Teddy, their orchestra conductor - the participants tinkered, played around and travelled down many electronic paths. Of course, it’s not essential to have someone holding your hand on the road to discovery, but it does lead to singular moments, prompting people to listen to what others create and build something together.

Sample Pack

Following these three nights of creation, a “Sample Pack” was born. Teddy brought together and mixed an assortment of individual and collective sounds produced by festival-goers. These sonic creations weren’t sorted or organized in any way. They didn’t undergo any form of selection or censorship. They’re the product of the creative impulses of their composers. 

By sharing this Pack, we’re nurturing two ambitions. The first, somewhat utopian, would be to hear future tracks, scores and other unidentified sonic objects incorporating one or more of these files into their DNA. If you wish to take up this artistic challenge and let us know about it, please send your creations to hello@weareeurope.eu

Sample Room @ We are Europe
Sample Room Orchestra © Brice Robert

Our second ambition is one we can consider accomplished as soon as someone listening to the Pack finds interest in it: to show that festive spaces and events, beyond their quality as places of performance, can bring together audiences whose skills and talents form wonderfully creative hives and potential birthplaces for a multitude of projects.  

You can download the sample pack here.


Finished – Here we use the term to talk about finalized tracks, existing in a unique and recognizable form. Meaning that the creative process leading to their existence as reach its completion.

About the Author

David Bola is We are Europe Media‘s content editor. Formerly working at Radio Nova as a freelance journalist and hosts a monthly residency on Piñata Radio, with Ludotek, a show focused on video game music.

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