“Power couple Bichard Studios Fräulein Frauke & JP Bichard produces grand burlesque- cabaret and jazz shows all over Sweden. With a passion for art, pushing bounderies and burlesque they are some of the most respected producers in Europe! Biggest productions are The International Stockholm Burlesque Festival (Application is open til May 15!) and Fräulein Frauke Presents”
1 What do you look for in an act?
We want to be surprised, shaken up, enthralled. Numbers that provoke in a fresh way, that challenge our perception of life, what is possible with burlesque and the way sexuality can be expressed. We love that burlesque is a space in which performers can define themselves in their own way, use their sexuality as a material, decide whether to objectify themselves, or not.
2 What was the best booking you ever made?
JP – We have made a lot of superb bookings, we work hard at curating the right balance of performers and the numbers they will perform. I don’t think it’s possible to single out one booking.
FF – yes, there is to many amazing ones that I am very proud of. I think sometimes the more “unobvious” ones are the most satisfying, when the performer we feel we “give a chance” to come and blow us and the audience away, stepping up their game. That is really cool!
3 Top 3 dream line up.
JP – We strive for a dream line up with every show – mostly hit the mark. I’m a bit allergic to ‘best of’, competitions, rankings etc.
FF – Yes, 3 is WAY to few and hard to choose. It is also not just about the “best” performers, it’s the mix of styles, energies, passions that makes the perfect line-up.
4 How do you think the scene has changed?
It has become more mainstream with the associated advantages and disadvantages. There has been an explosion of festivals for good an bad (I question why some events call themselves festivals). And there is some amazing invention going on – burlesque is an adaptive medium that will always have the wiggle room for surprise.
5 Do you think promoting has become easier or harder?
Harder: social media made it easier for a while but has now been throttled back. Companies have taken over poster spots and turned them into business opportunities and there is a strong churn of listings sites and entertainment blogs. But all are important and we learned early on that a broad mix of real life and digital marketing channels is essential
6 What made you start promoting?
JP – Frauke! 10 years ago, I went to a funny little underground club in southern Stockholm, little did I know I would change my whole life around and end up co-producing international shows and a festival – life is odd but good.
FF – For me it was just this NEED to create. And in Stockholm, there was just not many shows that I could create for. In coming up with and starting Fräulein Frauke Presents, I just wanted to create a safe space for creativity, art and burlesque, and my biggest inspiration was and still is The Muppet Show.
7 What are your top tips for performers applying for one of your shows?
Be fresh, follow your passion, take creative risks and don’t try to second guess what we are looking for. We want to be surprised and carried along on your story not look at something you think we want to see.
8 What does a timeline of key events, for a producer/ promoter look like for a show?
1) Initial ideas, theme, headliners / performers / musicians decided upon 2) Cast contacted, confirmed and flights/hotels booked3) Marketing material finalised and off to print
4) Promotion, liaison with the venue
5) More focused promotion
6) Lead up to the show: running order finalised, communication with performers and venue, stage art completed, drink tickets etc, videos and in house audio visual material prepared
6) Day of the show – transport gear to venue, pick up performers, sound/light check, set up videos, cameras and main decoration
7) Light blue touch paper and dive in
8) Edit photos and videos, thank performers, crew and venue, pay invoices, sleep
9 What was your first show like?
JP – The first burlesque show I saw was Hootchy Kootchy – it was marvellous: extravagant, irreverent and very memorable – I met Amber Ray there: a vision in diamante
=)FF – my very first FFP was magical! It was in a small “illegal” club outside of Stockholm. I had no idea if anyone would come, I had put up 100 flyers and posters and just hoped people would show up. There was a mix between burlesque, my dads jazz band played for free and performance art.
In the audience was a certain John-Paul Bichard, and the rest is history…
Fun fact, the same night Bruce Springsteen had been in Stockholm playing and his band members from E Street Band all came and had a fabulous time.
10 Biggest achievement so far ?
JP – Getting this far – never expected to be doing this when I went to the club 10 years ago: then I was a creative director at an Art Design and Technology research institute with a well paid job and really exciting life – now my life is so much more exciting although the pay did take a hit. We continually risk everything we have to put on the shows so I guess surviving is our biggest achievement.
FF – Doing this, keep it going and living my dream. It is not easy, that is for sure. But to turn 10 years with the FFP club/show is a pretty big land mark, I hope for ten more!14 Plans for the future ?
Keep surviving, keep taking risks, keep finding the edges and pushing a bit beyond them.
11 What makes you unique as a producer ?
JP – I’m a bit nuts, deconstruct everything I see and am able to create images (still and moving ) that express the beauty that happens when performers collide with audience. Also, I’ve spent 27 years as an artist so I have a good collection of experiences, fuck ups and successes to fed into the mix.
FF – The willingness to take risk, that I have a pretty good aesthetic (if I say so my self) and that I work really damned hard!16 And what’s the best thing for you about being a show producer?
Being able to bring superb performers to an awe inspiring venue and connect them to a beautiful audience – then being immersed in the magic they create between them.
12 Advice for new producers or anyone considering going into it.
1) Make sure you have money to pay your performers, venue etc even if everything goes to shit.
2) Be ambitious, aim for the stars and have a plan B that you can work with.
3) Be professional with everyone: you never know where they will be in a couple of years.
4) Be inclusive, diverse and try to be original: find performers from different cultures, invite people from across the gender spectrum, celebrate different bodies and approaches. If you are only catering to a narrow band of society, you and your audience are missing out big time.
5) Stand up for your performers – stand by what they do, keep them and their property safe and give them the respect they rightfully deserve. As a producer, you need to swallow your ego and put everything behind your performers.
6) Cultivate your audience: reward the good ones with a great show, mingle shots, perhaps some goodies and throw out the assholes.
7) Don’t over-stuff a show: no-one wants to sit through dozens of identical acts: mix it up, keep the audience on the edge of their seats and tease them with contrast.
13 Do promoters/ producers have little sisters and brothers who they help/allow to shadow/ mentor with the ways of putting on a show effectively?
JP – No idea – promoters tend to get on with their own thing – we have groups in which we co-operate locally and internationally but that’s mostly to co-ordinate timings.
FF – Well, not in that literal since, but we have helped and mentored many producers, especially in Northern Europe and with some new festivals. I would love to see more collaborations between producers.
14 What are your turn ons and turn offs when it comes to performers?
JP – I see performers as work colleagues so would prefer ‘What do you see as positive and negative performer traits’
Positive : people who are professional, people who understand that time is precious, people who are prepared/able to up their game a couple of notches when they get a great audience
Negative : people who take forever to respond / send their material in late / take huge amounts of space in a crowded dressing room – people who refuse to take alternate views on culture seriously – (stage crew who sweep shit onto the audience!) – people who kiss ass once they realise who you are.
FF – I agree with JP!
15 What would you like people to know about your job that isn’t common knowledge?
Not sure there is so much that isn’t common knowledge: entertainment has been going on for millennia – just do your research, understand that whilst very little is truly original, the way you combine the ingredients can be astonishing and do the very best you can, always
16 Why do you do it?
JP – Because it offers job security, a company car, pension plan, private health care and 8 weeks holiday a year… ah wait…
FF – Haha, well, there just isn’t another alternative! If I didn’t do exactly THIS, I would do this in another way…
17 How can we as in industry reach out to new audience members?
JP – 1) Whatever the ambition, keep the quality high and avoid too many cliches and formulas -mix it up – great experiences are infectious.
2) Don’t bullshit your prospective audience or over-sell a show: too much hype or promising something you can’t deliver on is ridiculous. Better that the audience goes away impressed and wanting more…
FF – This is hard… Try to connect to new and “different” scenes . Both personally, but also in terms of including other types of entertainment and performers. Themes nights with connection to other subcultures or organisations. And obviously a good press package and consistent and hard work with press – this is hard though, we do seldomly get good press. But when we do, it makes a difference to the audience.
18 Glitter. Love it or hate it?
Aesthetically, it’s awesome if there is motivation for it’s use (and not just flinging bucketloads for the sake of it) – in reality it’s terrible for the environment, a nightmare to clean up and health wise it’s fucking awful especially the very fine stuff – who wants that shit in their lungs when it takes 300 years to degrade: although that could be amusing for future archaeologists: a skeleton with two patches of glitter in the chest cavity