Art Bei Ton – In conversation with Apolline Guedon

Since its debut in 2018, the international party series Art Bei Ton has established itself as a mainstay within the hypnotic techno scene. The events, with regular editions in Berlin clubs and exciting artists, offer a refreshing relief from today’s techno culture, where social media and obsessively hard beats dominate the beat, thanks to immersive audiovisual concepts. Creator Apolline Guedon gives us some insights.

Hey Apo. Can you examine your event concept and the history behind it a little further for us? What is your individual approach regards the interplay between art and music?

Art Bei Ton is an event series, focused on implementing the dancefloor experience by merging various audio and visual media together. Our goal is to create an immersive momentum, using hypnotic sonic journeys and psychedelic projections, in order to push the audience to experience the interactivity between their different senses.

Since its inception in 2018, Art Bei Ton has been organizing monthly events in Berlin, bi monthly events in Lisbon, as well as other shows in New York, London, Porto, Paris, Medellin, Poland, and more. Our aim is to promote diverse and gender-balanced lineups, inviting selected international artists to share their own sonic exploration and inviting the audience to dive into some particular artistic universes.

Throughout the years, we have had the opportunity to collaborate with very talented Techno/Ambient DJs and producers, such as Dasha Rush or Electric Indigo, as well as  some of the most interesting hypnotic techno artists like Luigi Tozzi, Claudio PRC, Blazej  Malinowski, Feral, and more.

Exhibitions, Performances and even Discussions/talks are part of Art bei Ton as well. What are they about?

Art Bei Ton means art through music, incorporating words from English, German, and French.

Stepping slightly away from the conventional dark spaces with loud music, our approach  aims to provide a more artistic and intelligent clubbing experience featuring DJ sets, live  acts, as well as VJing, art exhibitions, interactive audio-visual installations, performances,  panel talks, and workshops. Guests are invited to dance to Deep Techno sounds, while also exploring the venue and catch the different art exhibited there.

We enjoy collaborating with various artists, each bringing their unique concepts. The exhibition themes are generally quite open, allowing each artist to contribute with their own perspective and self-expression. Most of our exhibitions evolve around subjects such as  sexuality, gender, and femininity, encouraging people to reflect on themselves and explore  their relationships with their queer identities. Other topics are more centered around the  visual experience itself, featuring glitchy and psychedelic animations, striving to craft an  alternative world detached from our everyday reality. Many poeple visit clubs to escape  their daily routine and immerse themselves in a dreamy space where they can embrace  their desire and personality; this is precisely what we aim to provide.

Working with different clubs, it always depends on the size and configuartion of the venue, wether we can host an exhibition area or not. Nonetheless, every Art Bei Ton event includes a VJing performance. This is important to us as it helps establish an immersive atmosphere that complements the Hypnotic Techno sound played by the artists.

Let’s get to the primary framework that shapes your event series: Hypnotic Techno. What is your personal vision of the genre? What are the pioneers?

After discovering Hypnotic Techno in 2014, I really delved into this particular subgenre, which I felt was resonating with what I had always looked for in music. A sound that pushes the listener to an ecstatic state, dancing in a trance to the repetitive deep kick/bass rhythm with long enveloping pads and other trippy elements. It had its own way of bringing a cosmic, spiritual, or natural dimension to the music, which I found more soul-filling than other genres of Techno.

There are many very talented artists who have shaped this sound over the years, starting with the label Prologue over ten years ago. Personally, I really connected with this genre through Affin Records, with Joachim Spieth and Reggy Van Oers, as well as Semantica, Hypnus, The Gods Planet, and even Horo, but also the IO crew with MTRL and Polygonia, whom we brought to Berlin at our very early events.

To this day, we have managed to collaborate with most of our favorite artists, and the list is still long. There are always new productions and new DJs to get inspired from. Each time we experience that blissful ‚wow‘ while listening to a new performance, makes the whole beauty of this passion and keeps on pushing us to organize more events, to invite new artists that move us. Organizing is a realy hard job, a day-to-day fight to secure a place in the club scene, facing financial challenges and occasionally dealing with a lot of issues.  However, we continue our project, as it’s a real passion and noone can take that away!

How do you see the development of Deep & Hypnotic Techno over the last years?

Hypnotic Techno reached its peak around 2017 and since then, it has been experiencing a decline. Numerous promoters and artists shifted towards faster and harder sounds, evolving more towards dancefloor-oriented styles, often following different trends for financial reasons or seeking fame.

The COVID period significantly impacted the scene. Many people felt angery and therefore were searching for a more ‚aggressive‘ music to fulfill their emotional needs, using it as a form of catharsis.

During that time, we lost a substantial portion of our audience. Some people moved to different genres, while the 35+ audience were less interesting into partying regularly after enjoying a chill lockdown time at home.

Additionally, the post-COVID generation is not interested into Hypnotic Techno. Having spent their early adult years confined at home, they began their clubbing edducation only  through platforms like TikTok, with some 160 BPM cheesy, trancy remixes of songs like  Rihanna’s. Now, they are only willing to party hard at some sex-positive events, wearing ‘kinky’ outfits and exploring their sexuality and limites toward substances. It’s a whole new different scene, really breaking down the club culture as we knew it.

The future of Hypnotic Techno is definitelly collaboration. Artists are still producing and pushing the border of the sound, labels will continue to release, promoters are trying to  keep their events alive as well, so this genre isn’t over yet!

Eventhough our scene is getting smaller, the interactions between its members are growing stronger. Whether they are guests, artists, or promoters, we know each other, work togteher and created a real supporting community. This is so unique and so beautiful to see how symbiotic it can be to evolve within this niche mouvement.

Tell us something about yourself as an artist. What are your influences and inspirations?

Beginning to explore outdoor free parties in the south of France at the age of 16, before relocating to Berlin at 18, I’ve always been fascinated by this particular subculture.  Absorbed by its statement of freedom, its DIY concept and the supportive community around it, I also decided to start organising my own event series in order to help the artists that I loved to find a space to express themselves.

Since 2018, I started organising events through Art Bei Ton and Ambient Sleepers. One focusing on hypnotic techno with VJing and the other one on ambient music with panel discussions. Through those events, my goal was to promote diverse international artists that I was meeting througout the years in Berlin, as well as always keeping gender

balanced line ups. Equality was always a problem in the scene, especially before the #metoo movement in 2017, and this subject was always really important to me, so I made it my statement to offer more safe space for flinta* and queer artists to perform.

I’ve often stated that I was first a promoter before being a DJ, but now the roles have become more balanced. I have always collected music, starting with curating playlists on iTunes during my teenage years. Moving to Berlin, I started collecting vinyls and in 2018, I began playing opening sets at my friends‘ events or at Art Bei Ton, just for the pleasure of creating some journeys.

Over time, things progressed step by step, playing while traveling across Europe, Asia, Latin and North America, and slowly getting more and more involved. Delving into new sounds is really a passion, trying to captivate people’s mind on the dancefloor, bringing them from a point A to a point B.

Nowadays, many artists got stuck in the social media popularity vortex, prioritizing fame, sales, and quantity over quality, fun and pleasure.

A short glimps into the future? What are the upcoming Art bei Ton highlights, especially in Berlin?

2023 was a very intense year with over 20 events planned in different cities. Right now, we’re looking at back at our previous event in Berlin which took place at ://about blank on September 7th to celebrate our 5th anniversary with Blazej Malinowski, Viels, Hypnotic Black Magic, Emika Elena and Giuseppe Balsano.

Following this, I am currently in Asia, where we’ll be organising an event in Tokyo on November 10th and a showcase at Vurt. in Korea, as well as maybe a collaboration event in India to be confirmed.

Art Bei Ton will soon also launch its own label. We’ve been trying to set it up for about 4 years, but now our resident Andrea Cossu is taking care of its curration. Everything should be ready for this fall/winter season with sopme digital and vinyl releases planned. You can find more info on our different social media platforms to stay informed about our next events and releases.
Originally published in FAZEmag 139/09.2023