Meeting Jean-Charles Leuvrey – founder of Paris's best new radio station

Stroll down Montmatre’s labyrinthine streets and you might hear disco, grime or techno coming from a makeshift ground-level studio.

Hotel Radio Paris is the one-room Internet radio station bringing the sounds of the 18th arrondissement to a global audience. Bryony Stone spoke to the station’s founder Jean-Charles Leuvrey – who's playing a DJ set at Generator Paris next month for the Trasher Video Launch Party – about music, skating and the gay party scene in the City of Light.
PHOTO: SARA SANI
 

Hi Jean-Charles! So let’s start at the beginning. When did you launch Hotel Radio?
So, I launched Hotel Radio Paris this year, on 14th January, in a club called La Mano with a sick line-up — Luv Gang, Krampf, Sam Tiba — and free drinks.

Why did you start the station? 
That’s a good question as I’m not a DJ myself. It's mainly because I was away from France for so long and I guess I wanted to come back and create a cultural thing. I always loved radio as a medium. I never had a TV so the radio has always been my main source of information and music library. 

And were you inspired by any other internet radio stations?
Of course! I was living in London when NTS was created and my friends and I used to go to their parties all the time. Also Gillett Square in Dalston where they have the studio is a skate spot so we saw NTS a lot. But the radio station that inspired me the most was Know Wave in NYC. In terms of vibe and diversity of the shows that's what I want to achieve.

What about the Hotel Radio Paris crew - how many of you in the core team? 
The core team is only me but I have been helped by a lot of people, especially the Luv Gang — it’s a crew of DJs based in Paris and Brussels. They are the sickest; I love them. Also by Detente, Boe Strummer, BGX10 and my girlfriend. She is like my main consultant! I will need a proper intern soon. It’s a lot of work just for one person!

Is the station a full-time job now then?  
A full-time job is a big word because I barely make money out of it at the moment but, yeah, it’s the plan. That's what I wanna do full-time so after summer I will be looking for sponsors and stuff like that to help me maintain the radio. The station is an association so I am also going to ask the government to sponsor me a bit! Our country is good for that; there is a lot of help for cultural stuff.

You skate too, right? Did you meet a lot of the people who play on the station through that scene?
Yeah I’ve been skating for twenty years now! I always wanted to involve skateboarders in the project because I believe that our musical culture is really diverse and eclectic. Karim from Supreme London came, Clement from Helas Caps had a show and Lelex100 who is the team manager for Converse skate in France.

"I’VE ALWAYS SAID THE STATION SHOULDN'T HAVE A SINGLE GENRE. THE PURPOSE OF A RADIO STATION IS TO MAKE YOU DISCOVER STUFF."

So where is the best place to skate in Paris?
Honestly it used to be Republic, but now the place has become a spot for people to express their opinion and protest, so it’s mad busy. Paris is cool because it’s not like London: its pretty small so you can cruise from a part to an other one pretty easily and hit the street spots. Palais de Tokyo is sick but the floor is fucked now.

Back to the Hotel Radio Paris… Tell me a bit about your DJs and the music they play.
So what I’ve always said about the station is that I don't want it to have a single genre. So through the guests and the playlist we play really different shit. It goes from old English rock’n’roll to African music, Drake or techno, disco, funk, hip-hop, grime. I believe the purpose of a radio station should be to make you discover stuff.

PHOTO: SARA SANI

The studio is based in Montmartre right? Why did you base the studio there?
I actually didn't choose it. Finding a flat in Paris is a nightmare so finding a place that can allow me to have to radio was a nightmare too. At the end it came via the graphic designers that made my website – Groupeccc. One day they told me that their neighbour was about to leave so I am jumped on it and I am subletting his place at the moment. It’s cool. It’s on the ground floor with a big window so I can see the street, and I'm happy because no one has complained about the noise yet!

Describe the Muller Street vibe.
Muller is a funny street. Basically we are like half in the ghetto half just under the Montmartre church so the street is a mix of bars, tourists, local rude-boys, an art gallery and me. I am actually throwing a party in front of our building on 21 June, which is music day in France. Everyone goes out and plays music, all free and all open to everyone. I can’t wait.

Your parties aside, where is the best place to party in Paris?
There are so many good things going on in Paris. There’s a certain spotlight on the city at the moment and it brings a new energy. It’s really cool. But I will recommend a gay night like Jeudi Minuit, Parkingstone or Le Melting Club. It’s a really tiny place. I like the vibe. It’s really hot there. I don't really go to Silencio or Le Pompon or those expensive clubs in the 8th. Maybe I am missing something.

Probably not. Final question. If I could only listen to one show on Hotel Radio Paris, what should listen to?
I would say the Infinite Bisous’s first show. He managed to create a special atmosphere – maybe because he brought his vinyl selection and it was just the two of us drinking beer, laughing and the good energy can be felt in the show.

Follow Hotel Paris Radio on InstagramFacebookSoundcloud and listen live here.