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CAPRICES FESTIVAL: MAXIME LEONARD



Author Christian Dori | Date 25/12/2020

We would like to know a little more about you, where are you from and where do you live?

Hello, my name is Maxime Leonard and I am the founder of Caprices Festival in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. I grew up in a ski-resort of Crans- Montana and about 17 years ago I moved to Lausanne on the shores of Lake Leman near Geneva.

Caprices has been going on for more than 16 years. How and where was the idea of Caprices festival created?
Back in the 70s and 80s, Crans-Montana was the most popular ski-resort in the world, but the late 90s early 2000s it saw a decline in tourism. This is when me and my four friends thought of creating a festival, that would attract young people back to the resort and restore the dynamic of Crans- Montana.

We had an amazing opportunity to have a partnership with Montreux Jazz Festival with his funder Claude Nobs, who helped us to start and build the festival. At the beginning it was more focused on live bands, which gave us chance to invite acts such as Bjork, Cypress Hill, Nas, Erykah Badu, Robert Plant (led zeppelin), Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Radiohead and many more. But at the same time we always believed and loved electronic underground music scene and started to push this movement at Caprices Festival from day one. Even in the first years we introduced artists such as Luciano, Ricardo Villalobos, Carl Craig, who at the time would only play to couple of hundred people in the venue.

Then we worked really hard for five years to make the festival a success and went from having 30 000 people to 70 000 people over 9 days by the 10th edition of the festival.

About 12 years ago at 7AM, we had a spontaneous idea with Sonja Moonear, Guillaume Coutu Dumont and Luciano to take the speakers onto our shoulders into a gondola and organise an afterparty up the ski slopes for about 30 people. The following year we did the same with Ricardo Villalobos playing back to back with Luciano for couple of hundred people and after that we decided to build a proper stage for a few thousand people 2,200m up the Alps.

That was the beginning of Modernity stage. The success of this stage was immediate. The event was sold out even before we announced the line-up, which gave us an opportunity to invite underground artists who were at the beginning of their careers, such as Guy Gerber and Mathew Jonson.

Ten year ago we saw that our audience became bigger within the electronic music side. After having organised more than 2000 live shows, we had a feeling that we need to build something new and focused our entire festival on electronic music scene.

Now we run a two weekends festival across 4 stages inviting artists such as Black Coffee, Sven Vath, Peggy Gou, Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin, Ricardo Villalobos, Damian Lazarus, Guy Gerber, Lee Burridge, Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Adriatique, Loco Dice, Maceo Plex and many many more.

What makes it so special?

First of all of course the location. Being able to to dance at 2,200m up the slopes with a view on all of the Swiss Alps in a see-through glasshouse is something really special. Also the fact that our audience has followed us for more than 17 years and grew up together with us and same goes for the artists - you can feel the big community and a family vibe the second you step into our event. Even if the music is underground, we always wanted to offer people a really comfortable 

environment with a great attention to details in terms of decor, production and sound system. We’re always looking to be in line with the latest technology and involve nature in everything we do in a most sustainable way.

We always been very impressed with the research and quality of your line ups... What is music for you?
Music is of course my main passion since I was very young. We try to have the most quality in every genre of music that we brought to Caprices, whether it’s Rock, Hip Hop, Electronic etc. Why I really think we succeeded is by having my team being personal fans of electronic music since the beginning of it all. Due to that fact, we decided to 

invite, based on our passion, all the artists who are the big names now, but who were young talents more than 15 years ago. Of course the human part is important as when you come to Caprices, you’re not coming just for one day, but you’re there for a full vacation experience. Thats how we had the chance to become closer with the artists each year and they would come back with their families to spend some holidays in Crans-Montana with us. Also for the artists to play in such environment is something really unique, so thats why the festival became really attractive and we started to receive many quests from artists to play.

Last year was a difficult one for our industry but you still managed to organize an amazing and safe event.. Tell us more about the safety measures you applied to make it happen?

We were about to launch Caprices and Modernity Events worldwide in 2020, which became completely impossible with the pandemic. So with the local organisation team of Caprices, which is directed by Joseph Bonvin (a key actor for the tourism within the region), our long and solid relationship with the authorities, we focused entire year to find some ways to manage to organise the festival in the most safest environment. All the local actors involved in the festival for the past 15 years had the trust in the organisation and gave a big effort to find those solutions in these complicated times. With reduced capacity, system of separated zones, good IT solutions to follow potentially infected people, totally revised system of security and strict rules allowed us to make the festival possible. We wanted to show that it is possible to organise an event with this specific solution, in a clever way in a period where people need to escape the anxious day to day life and have fun in a safe place in a cultural event.

What is your relationship with Ibiza and Tulum?

As mentioned earlier, we are aiming to bring Caprices and Modernity Events worldwide and we had a chance to organise events in Ibiza and Tulum, which are places that match the heart of our concept, which is doing events in beautiful locations with a big focus on the nature. Yukatan is one of the most beautiful regions we have had the chance to see and we share the same value of placing nature in the middle of the party concept. Ibiza also has a soft spot in our hearts, due to it being a melting pot of culture, music, artists, people, that even our booking department office is based in Ibiza, from which our top star booking team Aminata Kaba and Kerol Kollom was working from.  Our work now is to go worldwide with Caprices in ski resorts and Modernity Events in unusual natural locations in order to give to the people holiday experiences and to discover new location through events. 

 

Last question, are you day or night?

All our events are mainly organised daytime.  So I think we’re mostly day. But not too early in the morning 


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