'I never intended to start this, but I saw a gap in the market'

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
'I never intended to start this, but I saw a gap in the market'
Jerome Lantheaume. Photo: Private

"A good festival is the best thing in the world," Jerome Lantheaume tells The Local.


That’s what inspired him to set up a series of 'mini-festivals' promoting deep house music in Malmö, where he moved three years ago with his Swedish wife.

“It's on a Sunday afternoon, and people like the fact that it has a relaxed, family-friendly feel – parents bring their babies along, and young parents are happy to get the opportunity to go to this kind of event," explains Lantheaume.

Last year, he and his colleagues held three Backyard Session events over the summer – one in June, July and August – to promote deep house music, and the 2016 sessions have already begun, with around 500 attendees each time.

The events have a festival vibe while keeping a local touch, promoting homegrown groups and DJs alongside bigger names. Because Malmö is renowned as a foodie city, they also provided catering from a local Michelin-starred eatery, Ambiance.

The ball got rolling when Lantheaume met Alex Esser, who runs a deep house record label, and the two decided to promote the genre, first by setting up a Facebook page and website, and later by putting on events.

Now, there are five people in total working on the project, all with international backgrounds and plenty of knowledge of the scene.

Lantheaume says they are keen for it to grow “organically, rather than forcing it and going too commercial”, but he hopes to move to a bigger venue for next year. The events are promoted over social media, as well as handing out flyers at concerts and open air events to target the right crowd of people.

Photo: Rosen Danailov

The sessions recently attracted attention when Dutch DJ Joris Voorn played a set, having flown from Ibiza to Malmö especially for the event.

“We’re very proud that we got Voorn over here – we had a mutual friend, but it took some blood, sweat and tears to organize!" says Lantheaume. "He went from playing to 5,000 people in Ibiza to 500 in a local park, but he liked the laid-back, cosy atmosphere. And for us it was great to host such a big name – the concept is growing and we’re getting a name for ourselves.”

Setting up a new event from scratch in Sweden can be time-consuming though, and the 44-year-old admits that navigating all the relevant rules and regulations has been trying at times.

“I realize you need regulation, but sometimes it feels like they don’t want things to happen here; there’s always some small rule popping up!"

As for the future, the plan is “absolutely” to expand to other cities, Lantheaume says, and to become profitable, so that the five who currently volunteer their time can make their passion project a full-time career. But the former DJ has another goal: he simply wants to get people listening to deep house.

"We can reach the diehard fans easily because it's such a small place that we know almost everyone in the scene," he explains. "But for me it’s also important to reach other people, and connect with the people who don’t know the music yet, to show them that there’s more than just what’s on the radio. I’m stubborn and I'm sure I can convince them to listen to it!"

Photo: Rosen Danailov

Listening to him talk about the music, it's easy to see how. Lantheaume says that what struck him about the Swedish music scene was that, while Swedes are "music-minded", there isn't much mingling between different genres. People often listen either only to commercial music or to the underground scene, he says.

"I want to break down the walls between different music scenes – Swedish people are so welcoming to foreigners and refugees, but among themselves they don’t really mix together, no one goes to clubs where they play 'the other' kind of music," says the Belgian.

"The great thing about deep house is that you can choose what you want it to be – it can be jazzy, emotional, clubby – you can choose which way to go, so at the Backyard Sessions for example we keep a relaxed feel."

Even his two daughters, aged eight and 11, have become accustomed to house music. “I wouldn’t say it’s their favourite…” laughs Lantheaume. “But they do like it!"

The girls were the main reason the family moved to Sweden after ten years in Belgium, as Lantheaume and his wife felt that the Swedish school system was less high pressure and more sociable. Initially, he had planned to continue working on the business he had set up in Belgium, but the hours and travel involved took their toll and he sold his share of the business to his partner in order to become a "house-daddy".

Now, his dream is to make the Backyard Sessions a full-time career.

“I never intended to start this when I came to Sweden, but I noticed the gap in the market and I’m sure it can grow. We just want to get people together to celebrate the summer, good music and new friends.”


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