Hypercity-Pop Geneva, an application to discover the canton through songs

Geneva sings, Geneva dances, Geneva hums. All you have to do is strain your ears to hear the tones that roll the streets into the air. Or at least reach out your smartphone to locate the geolocated dots scattered around the city, which send the curious back to the songs linked to their geographic location. The procedure is not new. After last year discovering the mysteries of the city of Calvin through several thematic routes, the Municipal Libraries (BM) are dedicating a place of honor to singing from Saturday May 28th. The city at the end of the lake is in fact not just a city of history mixed with Protestantism, diplomacy and banking secrecy. Hypercity pop Geneva is here to break stereotypes that portray Geneva as a cold, deadly and gray city.

Also read: Hypercity’s audio-guided walks reveal the mysteries of Geneva

The hip hop revolution

Nic Ulmi, project manager within the BMs, has mapped and listed more than 300 pieces that commemorate the city, be it in text or in images. A real detail work that makes it possible to create the most comprehensive and complete panorama possible. The goal: to show the city and its development over the decades in a different light: “Over the course of time, Geneva has changed significantly in the way contemporary music is perceived. Up until the 1980s, it mainly aroused feelings of anger (with the punk band Technicolor), depression (with Marie Laforêt), nostalgia (with William Sheller), more or less tender amusement… the range makes it exciting its peculiarities.”

The true revolution certainly lies in arriving with a rap bang. Topophile, this style of music is interested in less famous corners, in neighborhoods a little neglected by tourist offices. No more postcard landscapes between the Jet d’Eau, flower clock and old town, and give way to the “real Geneva”: “A new world has opened up with hip-hop,” confirms Nic Ulmi. Their representatives have a strong emotional connection to places and a passion for unexpected urban facets: city blocks, parking lots, warehouses, brownfield sites…”

The collective of young filmmakers Exit Void, for example, has made it its specialty to dream of Geneva differently, giving it a touch of elsewhere, just to show that it’s possible with a certain gaze to hatch fantasies that we don’t would do. I don’t usually associate with him. It’s about knowing how to do it, testifies Emral Kadriov, member of the collective who has mainly shot clips with local rappers like Di-Meh, Slimka or Makala: “There’s a whole Geneva that’s still unknown, especially in his night clothes. And with a simple palm tree and a certain light, it’s possible to evoke, for example, a Miami or Seoul neighborhood in the middle of Carouge.”

A moving city

While the rappers of the SuperWak clique played a key role in popularizing Geneva outside of Switzerland, other artists also celebrate their favorite city in their own way. This is particularly true of Idris Makazu, whose discography is almost entirely an ode to the various districts of the canton, from Conches to Meyrin, from Chêne-Bourg to Confignon. But hip-hop isn’t the only one singing the streets and landscapes. The colorful electro pop by La Colère or Gaspard Sommer also sets certain corners of the city in the picture, such as the Rade, the botanical garden or the Ferris wheel. For example, you don’t necessarily need to export to Paris, London, or New York to create your clips.

Also read: Gaspard Sommer, loves pastels

The Hypercity-Pop Geneva project is also in the background here: to show that the canton is musically attractive. A postulate that Léo Tardin, jazz musician and half part of the Grand Pianoramax group, confirms: “The city has changed a lot in the last fifteen years and has acquired a considerable power of seduction. The level of the artists has exploded, the schools have prestige. Besides, being a musician means surviving in a megalopolis. There is a comfort here that allows you to focus on your artistic production. Geneva no longer seems to be the sleeping beauty at the end of the lake. And Hypercity-Pop Geneva can boast of helping to awaken them.


Hypercity pop Geneva. Urban navigations in clips and sounds, starting on Saturday, May 28th at 4 p.m. in the municipal library, Espace le 4e, entrance on the old town side, rue de la Tour-de-Boël. You can find it on Hypercity.ch.

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