GARDEN PARTY/ Music
Up on the roof
Brussels based Oh My Garden bring chilled out folk and acoustic sounds to summer gardens. As boutique festivals go, they don’t come more blissful than this.
While living in New York, Belgian photographer and videographer Pauline Miko helped curate one of Brooklyn’s loftiest ideas. Why not invite the neighbours over to enjoy summer nights of outdoor gigs, featuring her favourite alt. folk troubadours and singer-songwriters, up on the roof of her apartment.
Buoyed by the brilliant reception these ad hoc, al fresco concerts received, Pauline brought the idea home with her when she returned to Brussels.
French photographer Victor Duchêne fell for its charms, and helped root it in Belgian soil. And now the project’s in the very, very capable hands of French videographer and installation artist Milena Desse. Now, together with Johan Wijns, their project has grown into something beguiling and beautiful. And everyone’s invited. We find out more.
“In Brussels, everybody knows each other, somehow. Everyone is friend with someone’s friends. These garden parties were thus simply large friends get-together!”
Tell us how this idea first germinated?
The project started when Pauline and Victor decided to organize concerts in their backyard, after meeting at art school in Brussels. Victor built a small wooden stage under the weeping willow of the garden and Pauline collected small vintage lamps and carpets for the decoration. The first concert took place in April 2011 and about 20 people helped.
Four years and twenty-one editions later, the team has slightly changed but the idea is still the same: organize private concerts in someone’s garden.
Travelling from gardens to gardens during the four seasons of OMG about 45 Belgian and international bands have been invited to perform in gardens in Brussels, London and Toulouse. As the audience grew bigger, the size of the gardens did as well! The last edition of Oh My Garden took place in the backyard of a cultural center in Brussels as four bands shared the stage of this first big, sunny and publicly open first Oh My Garden festival.
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Were you surprised by the way the concerts were?
Totally. We were amazed by the idea of reciprocity and closeness between the audience and the musicians; we decided to import the idea of private concerts in Brussels. A group of friends joined the project as it developed: photographers and videographers were documenting the shows while some other artist friends were drawing the concerts live. A few art exhibitions and pop-up stores happened during the events too. The idea was really to open the doors of private spaces to the public in order to create intimate and cozy concerts.
Why does this work so well in Brussels?
Apart from the ever-present Belgian rain (the main enemy of the Oh my Garden team), Brussels seemed to be a good place for this project to take off.
In Brussels, everybody knows each other, somehow. Everyone is friend with someone’s friends. These garden parties were thus simply large friends get-together!
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Do you have a vision to expand this concept further?
In August 2011, Victor and Pauline organized an Oh My English Garden in the garden of musician fiends in London. Cider replaced the Belgian beer, and several English bands performed under a tree decorated with pieces of clothing and small lanterns. Later, we collaborated with Les Jardins Synthetiques of Toulouse and organized an exchange: the French crew drove to Brussels with a band in their van and played at Oh My Garden, then some of the OMG team members drove South with a Belgian band to perform at the music and art festival organized by the collective in the garden of a museum in Toulouse.
Tell us more about the bands you work with?
OMG selects the performing bands by getting in touch directly with their bookers either online or via personal contacts. A number of musicians were invited to play at Oh My Garden, Belgian bands like Robbing Millions, Le Colisée, Cargo Cult, Leaf House, Recorders, Scarlett O’Hanna, Clare Louise, etc., international bands such as Sóley, Zachary Cale, Plastic Flowers, Halasan Bazar, Isaac Delusion, Saara Markkanen, etc., as well as well known local bands and bands on tour.
“Wherever there is a garden, the OMG team is ready to organize a show!”
Recently, we got in touch with our hidden Canadian baby brother, In My Garden – in Montreal – in order to create a partnership in the summer 2016. Extending the project has always been the idea: wherever there is a garden, the OMG team is ready to organize a show! Let’s know if you want us to come to your place – you never know! Back home, we start next season with Témé Tan, who’ll perform in Brussels in April 2016.
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