INTERVIEW: Alexxx Rebecq, Hellfest Productions

As we’ve mentioned a few thousand times before here at Denim and Leather, Hellfest is the crowning jewel in our festival calendar. Since our first trip to Clisson we’ve been more and more in awe of the festival - from the truly eclectic lineup to the wonderfully welcoming staff - every year that we’ve been back. After the triumphant celebrations of this year’s tenth installment, I’ve had time to reflect and wonder just what makes Hellfest tick. Thankfully I didn’t need to wonder for long, as Hellfest Communications Management and social network guru Alexxx Rebecq was on hand to enlighten me.

Hi Alex, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Firstly, how long have you been part of the Hellfest Crew, and how did it first come about?
Hello, I joined the Hellfest crew in 2012 as a production manager. Before that, I used to be a graphic designer and I was really involved in many metal activities (website/layout/logo design, gig promoting, and bass player in many bands ) I sent my resume a few years ago to the Hellfest head office because I really wanted to join the most important metal event in France and purpose my skills to the Hellfest crew. I started out as assistant and I was hired as production manager after that. Since last year, I’ve been in charge of the whole Hellfest communication. I work every day on promotion, website & press relations, social networking, partnerships, live media teams and marketing operations. I’m also in charge of the Hellfest Cult fan base...hard work every day!

You deal with communication management and social networks, what does that involve generally?
One of my main missions is to feed, write, control and analyse all of our social networks, primarily Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I try to create a daily bond with all our followers; keep them informed about the Hellfest setting, all the news and any changes happening. The aim is to stay connected with our fans, keep an eye on their feedback and report the whole of Hellfest’s activities!

Hellfest is, for our money, the best Heavy Metal festival in the world, and I’m sure you’re inclined to agree. What is it that makes it such a cut above the rest do you think?
Thanks! I guess we are trying to purpose more than a simple line up. Yes, Hellfest gathers more than 160 bands - underground acts and big headliners across six stages - but we want to create some kind of real experience with a full set up; ornaments, lighting, fire shows and animations, and a very good, welcoming structure with plenty of options for our festivalgoers!

Putting on some of the biggest names in Rock ‘n’ Roll on the main stage alongside some of the most underground in Black, Thrash and Death Metal means that you please fans from across the spectrum. How do Hellfest manage to pull off such a brilliantly broad spectrum of bookings?
We are working hard in order to build an original and good line up. It is important for us to bring on the bill good bands and to find some golden nuggets who can seduce our fans! Even if more and more band want to play at Hellfest, trust me it is not easy to set our program and define our stage schedule. It is important to us to provide a different lineup than the other festivals and also to mix underground bands and big headliners. People come to hellfest to see some classic ones, but also to discover some new bands!

The festival has expanded every time we come back and attracting bigger numbers with every year. Are these plans for expansion going to continue or are you happy with the size Hellfest is at now?
No, we do not want to grow more anymore, we are close to reaching our boundaries for maximum numbers!

How big of a role do you think social media plays in Hellfest’s continuing success?
Social media is now very important in all domains. As I said it is the best way to keep contact with and inform our followers. It is also a good method of sharing the Hellfest experience with anybody in the world with our posts, reports, photos and videos. It is a mission that asks more and more time of me everyday, Hellfest needs important coverage!

Speaking of media, Hellfest looks after press far better than anywhere else we’ve ever been. Whilst others close their doors to all but a few of the elite, you open yours to magazines, online blogs and photographers from all over the world. What’s the reason behind this open armed approach?
As its start, Hellfest was small and considered only by the small media, so it is normal to stay close to them even if our festival is now a lot bigger! We know where we came from and it is normal for us to be considerate towards our first media support. Yes Hellfest welcomes a lot of media, and it is important for us to have their support. Of course we also have to control the report quality and avoid the crappy ones who do not make good work!

Where do you find yourself when the festival is in full swing, stuck in the press area organising Q&A’s or out in the field with a cold Kronenbourg?
Ahahah, if you wanna know, I didn’t see any bands last year. I also missed the fireworks as I was stuck in my office. Most of the time I’m running all day long between the press area, the backstage, the fan club area, the live media setting, the coverage, and the interviews…

Lastly, who has been your favourite act that has played at Hellfest over the years, and who would you like to see on a future bill more than anybody else?
I think my best gig was Danzig in 2013, and I’m really sad to have missed Bodycount last year! And, I’m an eclectic metal fan, bands like Edge Of Sanity, Carpenter Brut, Bolt Thrower (again), Grave Pleasures, Queens of the Stone Age, and of course Metallica would be really nice at Hellfest, even though it should be very hard for me to see them during the festival!

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Alexxx, it was a pleasure, and keep up the good work!

Updates from Alexxx can be found on all of Hellfest’s various social media outlets, and if by some tragic fate you’ve yet to read our coverage from this year’s Hellfest then get started with Day One now.

Twitter: @BandsPlayedOn


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