We met Victor a few years ago now through our friend Gabby, he likes our clothes and invited us to come to his festival in France 'Pete The Monkey' to set up our festival stall last year. Victor is a none stop whirlwind, darting from Burgh House in Hampstead were he manages the events, to present two radio shows at Soho Radio and then spends a large chunk of the year organising and running his festival 'Pete The Monkey' in France. Last week we had the pleasure of snapping Victor and interviewing him as our tenth portrait at Radio Soho head quarters in London.
Victor I know you have numerous hats but tell us what you do at Soho Radio, what you play and when you’re on…
Bonjour! At Soho Radio I produce three shows a month and present my own show called “Joie De Vic” once a month on a Tuesday 10pm - 12am, playing Francophone music from around the world, lots of new music from France, Senegal, Algeria, Mali and many more off the beaten track discoveries, including exclusive interviews with French bands when they are in London on tour.
How did you get to having a slot on the radio? (I love the story!) and is this something you’ve always wanted to do?
I started producing at Soho Radio and after a couple years, my wonderful girlfriend Thea suggested that I should be ready for any opportunity, so I made sure that I always had a usb key full of my music just in case. One day a presenter had to cancel 5 minutes before going on air, so I asked the station founder, Adrian, if I could give it a go for 10 minutes. I ended up broadcasting live for 2 hours and he walked in and said that I had a show! That was such a great moment, couldn’t believe it.
I have always loved the radio, I used to make mix cd’s at school for friends (embarrassingly titled: a “VixMix”...), and once at university I discovered the student radio station and became obsessed with it. I had a show called Radio Juan with 2 friends and Juan - Xtra on the weekends, playing up and coming bands that we liked. After University, to balance the corporate job I was at and to have a creative outlet, I studied for a Radio Production Diploma at Point Blank in the evenings in Hoxton. This led me to work at Bestival Fm interviewing bands on the main stage and DJing on other stations before I found Soho Radio.
Have you always been passionate about music, how do you discover all your new music?
Yes, I have always been really passionate about music, the radio and playing the guitar and piano when I can. I love going to gigs, hearing new bands, French discoveries aside, I am particularly into Highlife and Cuban music at the moment, perfect for the Summer and pretending it’s the Summer during Winter.
I find new music from swapping band suggestions with friends, Shazam is probably the most used app on my phone, going to festivals and discovering incredible music that I’ve not heard of before. Also, with the festival I help to organise it is a bit of an obsession to always be open to discovering new music, acts and entertainment to bring to our festival, I don’t really switch off from that.
If you could interview anyone alive or dead who would it be?
As my radio show is all about Francophone Music, I would probably say for the past it would be Serge Gainsbourg and now I would love to interview Jane Birkin, Charlotte Gainsbourg & Lou Doillon, they would all be absolutely amazing. As well as other French stars such as Heloise of Christine and the Queens & Daft Punk would also be incredible. They are all pioneers, leaders and wonderfully responsible for creating new genres and the path to so many new bands. If Humphries and Begg had a way to get them one of your beautiful shirts I would be more than happy to hand deliver it!
Are you London born and bread? What is the French connection?
I am half English and half French, my Mum is from Paris and my Dad is from London, and I have always lived in London when I was growing up. I went to a French school in Kentish Town until the age of 12 and then went to an English school. Every Summer I would go, from the day after we broke up for school holiday until the day before we started school again in September, to central France with my parents and sister to visit our French relatives in the absolute middle of the countryside, a real 2 months amazing detox from London life.
Can you tell us three of the most important places you’ve lived, worked or travelled that have lead to you being where you are today?
London is a constant, endless source of inspiration, adventure and discovery, very hard to stop running around. When I lived with Rob, Pete and Avni, our flat seemed to be a real magnet to creative people coming over, I made so many inspiring friends there. Another would be my Summer holidays in Auvergne and Cap Ferret in France, whilst growing up it was an absolute immersion into French culture with my family, the cuisine, the markets and way of life.
Another one would be living in Granada, South of Spain, it was an incredible and important year for me of diving into another culture, the music, the Spanish way of living.
And finally, a recent trip to Cuba with Thea was a really incredible experience, a very inspiring and friendly country. Despite the political and economic struggles which the country is going through, the way Cubans help and support each other whether it is sharing food, repairing each other’s cars, their resourcefulness, views on education, food rationing and many other examples was something which really, really stayed with me. I am working on my Cuban Music radio documentary at the moment where you’ll be able to hear the bands which I recorded whilst out there. I ended up having a spontaneous percussion lesson that I recorded with a Cuban security guard (who told me he was a drum teacher...) in his girlfriend’s kitchen, lots of Rum and rhythms!
Tell us a bit about your festival ‘Pete The Monkey’ – how did it come about? Why is it in Saint-Aubin-Sur-Mer? And why the name ‘Pete The Monkey’?
: Pete The Monkey festival started 8 years ago when my great friend Louis filmed an amazing clip of a Capuchin Monkey scrubbing the dishes in a little stream in a Bolivian animal sanctuary. Unfortunately, a lot of Monkeys are kept as house pets and are mistreated, so this amazing nonprofit Bolivian animal refuge called Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi is a very important place. Once the monkeys are healthier and stronger, they then get released back into the wild.
So Louis with his brother, my dear friend Rob, decided to start a Festival with the lovely Pauline and I was honoured to also be asked! The principle idea was to donate as much as we could every year from the profit we made with the festival to this Bolivian animal refuge. Rob and I run it from London and Louis and Pauline from Paris. What started off as 200 friends camping and a couple of bands playing is now a 5000 capacity festival with 4 stages, 12 food trucks from the UK and France, 60 bands and dj’s, lots of talks and conferences, yoga classes, saunas, art workshops and 3 days full of new adventures waiting to be had! I feel really honoured and lucky to be part of this project with my best mates.
What exciting acts have you got on this year? You were saying you’ve been doing lots of other events around the festival – it feels like its really growing amazingly?
Yes super excited about the lineup of music, workshops and programming this year, it’s also a real adrenaline rush when you have been listening to so many bands throughout the year and their music has been the soundtrack to your commutes to work, cooking, car journeys and planning of the festival, and then you see them getting ready to play on the main stage. Watching the crowd react to these bands is always a huge highlight. Last year we had Otzeki who were probably one of the best live performances I’ve seen in the last two years so we invited them back to play on the main stage this Summer, and I am really looking forward to Elder Island performing as well. The English crowd get to discover the up-and-coming French acts and the French festival goers discover what we bring over from the UK, works really well both ways. For the rest of the year, in London and Paris, we organise various music events in the Spring and Autumn to keep the Pete The Monkey party going.
After going to Pete The Monkey for the first time last year, we loved being at a festival in France and listening to lots of French music and having the combination of French and English music and traders. I don’t feel like we mix enough, being so close as neighbours. Would you say this is an important element to the festival?
As we are all half English and French in the team, celebrating and uniting both French and English cultures is absolutely crucial and the core ethos of the festival. Whether this is by the bands we book, the food vendors we invite to trade on site, the independent brands and beautiful clothing stalls like yours, the speakers and authors at the talks, it is a kind of “best of” from both cultures, which we spend a year prepping for obsessively. The beach being 150 metres away from the site is also a huge bonus. We look forward to having you back on site soon, Humphries and Begg seemed to become the festival uniform over the weekend last year!
Have you any exciting projects on the horizon?
Aside from my full time job, I am working on a new radio show to be announced soon, more Radio Juan DJ events in London and at Forest Road Brewery, and interviewing more exciting bands for my Soho Radio show.
Where did you discover us?
My lovely friend Gabby came over for dinner a few years ago and I straight away said “Where & how can I get a shirt like that?”. Not too long afterwards, I spotted your H&B stall at Wilderness Festival and that was the beginning of my collection!
What do you like about H&B clothing?
What I love about H&B is the way they are handmade, a lot of attention to detail, you are an independent brand and not part of this “fast fashion” world. The colours and patterns are amazing and the fabric is so comfortable, it genuinely feels fun to wear! They feel loose and relaxed so for the Summer it’s perfect, you never feel too hot in them (first shirt I pack on holidays!) and then for the rest of the year I do the top button up, tuck in the shirt, suit jacket over the top and done, ready for work!
Can you describe your dream item of clothing?
Dream item of clothing, here is my H&B wishlist :) duvet and pillow covers, towels, socks, but also bomber jackets - perhaps a collaboration by Humphries and Begg and Thea Stallwood!
Also, a Humphries & Begg suit would be amazing!
Wow a suit!
If people want to follow you and discover more about you, where can they listen to your shows and learn more about Pete The Monkey?
You can hear my Soho Radio show here. (once a month on Tuesday 10pm – 12am)
Also Radio Juan with my great friend & co-presenter Ollie can be heard here: www.radiojuan.co.uk
And for further information on Pete The Monkey Festival, here is our website! www.petethemonkeyfestival.com
Favourite track at the moment?
Favourite track at the moment, such a tricky question! Right now, it has got to be August 10 by Khruangbin, constantly on loop on my speakers!
Thank you for swinging by the studio Alice! X