W Maldives kicks off our new collaboration with Cercle, the wunderkinds of experiential, extraordinary musical events.
As the world has continued adapting to its new reality, we at W Hotels have been wanting to create moments that feel both never-before-seen and compelling, yet tied, of course, to our long-standing interests. We decided: why not try something both out of the blue and into the blue?
The outcome: A newly established partnership between W Hotels and Cercle, the Paris-based media platform known for creating epic one-of-a-kind music activations around the globe. Cercle gained popularity over the past year and a half by providing immersive, sensory-stimulating videos of shows held at some of the world’s most photogenic destinations (including the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and the tidal island of Mont Saint-Michel in France). They handle it all, from production to ideation to art direction.
In late July, our venture launched with a show at W Maldives featuring the Berlin-based electronic musician Monolink. Cercle and team W live-streamed the show from the hotel’s private Gaathafushi Island.
Everything totally clicked: With Monolink’s chilled out guitar-meets-synth beats, the synergies between W Hotels and Cercle were palpable. Together, we share a passion for music, travel, and discovering the most extraordinary locales on earth. Cercle will remain a W Hotels partner, with new destinations and shows to be announced soon.
For now, check out Monolink at W Maldives here, and read our interview with Derek Barbolla, Cercle’s Founder and CEO, and Philippe Tuchmann, the company’s Artistic Director, below. They discuss everything from the challenges of filming in remote getaways to the interconnectedness of scenery, staging… and all things sonic.
What did you take into account when it came to W Maldives specifically for putting on this show?
First of all, we very carefully select the locations we showcase. They must be outdoors, breathtaking and iconic, in order to always amaze our community. Secondly, our goal is to create a real story throughout our entire year, with multiple settings. For example, we’ll try not to do two shows in a row on a deserted island! —Derek
How have you staged the Monolink show at W Maldives?
Since we were in the middle of the Indian Ocean, on the very small and picturesque Gaathafushi Island, we didn’t want the stage to look too large. We went in a minimalist direction, so that the artist was really in harmony with nature. We chose two beautiful wooden tables, and that’s it. Monolink, his instruments, and the environment…
Even when we organize shows with an audience, the stage is often very minimally decorated, and sometimes, you can’t even determine where the artist is, because he’s enveloped by the audience or the location. That’s exactly what we are looking for: Immersion. —Derek
What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever produced a show?
I think it was in Turkey, aboard a hot air balloon in Cappadocia. This was the most unique place to organize a show, because, primarily, the stage was moving, and it’s impossible to know in advance where the balloon will go. You just have to ride the wind! —Derek
Tell us how music can help define or enhance a place. How would you sonically define W Maldives?
Music is a universal art that makes us feel emotions, and these emotions differ from person to person. When you combine music, architecture and design, the emotion is increased.
Our first idea is to book an artist who imparts the same sensation sonically as the emotion we feel when seeing a place for the first time. For example, when you are on top of a mountain, you tend to want to listen to music that is soaring, airy and melodic.
W Maldives rests in a little corner of paradise. The Maldivian atolls with their lush greenery, surrounded by the Indian Ocean with its 1,000 shades of blue, the tides, the wind, and the underwater life all complement one another in such a way that, musically, we felt the match should have tropical accents that invite you to relax, unwind, and sometimes dance with fine guitar notes. Monolink delivered just that. —Philippe
What’s the biggest logistical challenge you’ve faced when producing a show? What’s one of your wildest stories?
We had a show at the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia that was extremely difficult to produce. Since the artist was basically out in the middle of nowhere, everything became more complicated, including obtaining internet and electricity. We even crashed a drone while we were live! Because of the sun’s reflection on the salt flat’s water, the wireless video signal was interrupted, so our drone operator wasn’t seeing his camera feedback in real time. Luckily, we had a second drone, so we managed to keep it going. —Derek