This month the 47th Montreux Jazz Festival kicks off and all eyes are on its new director Mathieu Jaton. Jade Cano, a Swiss News freelance reporter based in Geneva, visited the festival's headquarters to talk to Mathieu about this year's festival and his new role. Following is her first hand report meeting the new man at the helm of the world renowned music festival since Claude Nobs' tragic death after falling into a coma Christmas eve in 2012 and passing earlier this year.
I spot Mathieu behind his desk, next to other busy colleagues. We find a corner and get chatting right away about his recent trip to New York, where he visited the John Lennon Foundation. One of the foundation's educational tour buses will be parked at this year's festival. "It's a really amazing mobile recording studio in a very big truck, open for young artists. It is all at very short notice, but it is brilliant because this is exactly what we are trying to do at Montreux; combine the cultural with the educational part. The only problem is--where do you put a truck like that? We are neither in America with very big roads, nor in a field where you can put it wherever you want! I think we have just found a place though, right in front of the lake," he says with a sigh of relief.
Continuing the Montreux legend
Delivering world class acts year in year out is always a challenge. Part of which is nailing the artist's fee. In the past, when record sales were the sole indication, this was an easier task. "Now, you can pay three times the usual fee of an artist, because he or she has 10 million hits on YouTube," he says.
I am curious to find out how he managed to get Prince to come to Montreux for a third time. He laughs and tells me that it was the most surprising deal he ever made: "Prince is a unique artist." Mathieu suspects that Prince was eager to link his name to the festival. In fact, this year several bands are new to join in the 'Montreux tradition,' such as Green Day.
Stars enjoy the relaxed attitude of the jazz crowd and the curfew-free concerts. Mathieu recalls how Wyclef Jean, intoxicated by the audience's good vibe during his last performance, stayed on stage until four in the morning with everyone dancing around him. "That is something that makes Montreux special. That is part of the Montreux legend," he muses. "The artists know they couldn't do that anywhere else. If you take the UK for example, curfew is at 11 p.m. In Japan it is 10...