The top 5 Piknic Électronik moments of the decade, according to co-founder Michel Quintal
Piknic Électronik started out like most good things do—with a bunch of friends sitting around dreaming and talking big. The year was 2003. The after-hours clubs and the underground scene that had grown out of warehouse parties and raves had changed. Friends who’d met through the rave scene were finding it all a bit stale and tawdry.
«It was a time when the electronic scene was experiencing a bad reputation; it was always related to drugs,» says Michel Quintal, who founded Piknic Électronik with Pascal Lefebvre, Nicolas Cournoyer and Louis-David Loyer. «We thought we should try to do something different, and it’s so much fun when it’s outside. We were talking about it, as people do, but most of the time nothing happens. Fortunately, Pascal is really a doer and a couple of months later, in April 2003, I got a call from him saying he’d found a place.» That place was Parc Jean-Drapeau and on June 22nd, the first Piknic took place.
MAKING IT BIG
«At the beginning, it was mainly our friends, people who were going to Laïka. We probably knew three quarters of the people by name,» explains Quintal. What started out as a team of four with a few friends lending a hand, and an attendance of 2,500 over 10 events the first year, has grown into a business that now employs 20 people and attracts over 56,000 people every season. Of course, things have had to change as Piknic grows bigger and more popular. «You have to live with that—especially since our mission is to democratize electronic music.»
But democratization doesn’t mean dilution for the Piknic crew. Quite the opposite, it’s meant bringing underground DJs out into the light of the afternoon sun and taking risks. «We’ve always tried to have a wide range of styles of music and we’ve collaborated with other organizations like MUTEK and Ninja Tune for many years,» explains Quintal. «I’m a music lover; I get bored listening to one style of music.» This is a good thing. Not only does it keep us all on our toes, it means Piknic’s basket is continually replenished with fresh beats that make summer in this city irresistibly delicious and danceable.
MICHEL QUINTAL’S SUNDAY BEST
The Piknic founder recalls five of his fondest bass-tastic bookings.
1. AKUFEN (2004)
«The first Piknic of the second season was when I realized we had something special on our hands. The year before we’d had 250 people on average, that day we had about a thousand.»
2. MATTHEW HERBERT (2004)
«A chance encounter between the Piknic crew and Herbert at Misto meant he was the first international DJ to play Piknic. He started his set with Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground.»
3. CHAMPION (2004)
«We had a Piknic at the beach, before Chill ‘Em All came out, and it was pouring rain. We were only about 20 people so we figured we’d just have fun. Then the sun came out and people just kept coming.»
4. JOSH WINK (2008)
«It was really sweaty and humid, an intense storm started. People were dancing like there was no tomorrow but we had to shut down. As people were leaving, the sun came out and we started again. People were running back from the metro to dance.»
5. SÉBASTIEN LÉGER (2011)
«It seems that when it’s raining people are more intensely into it—the ones that stay really want to be there and that creates magical moments.»
Piknic Électronik’s 10th season
From May 20 to September 30
Special 10-year anniversary on June 24th, with Maus and Soundshaper (who played at very first Piknic in 2003)