Growing up in France, Romain Pissenem has been a creative force since early on. Engaging in theater and production as a teenager formed a basis for his career development. He worked for years as an independent show director and eventually made the move to the music industry.
Readers may be familiar with Romain’s brother, Yann Pissenem, the founder of the famous Ushuaïa and Hï Ibiza nightclubs. Yann is a pioneer of the modern club-scene in Ibiza, and Romain joined him to form a powerful partnership. Together, the Pissenems are paving the way for the future of electronic music.
We don’t even have to speak with each other to understand one anotherRomain Pissenem
High Scream is Romain’s brainchild that is behind some of the world’s most innovative EDM parties. Their clientele includes behemoths like his brothers Ibiza clubs, White Dubai, CHROMA Korea, La Folie Douce Hotels and more. Many festivals and events around the world are designed by High Scream, and Romain Pissenem has built his empire.
The following interview will explore the origins as well as the future of High Scream. Through the dialogue, I try to establish a narrative that includes various aspects of Romain’s experiences and thought processes. We discuss where the company started, where it is currently, and preview what innovations they have coming.
(Mike) What was your initial goal with High Scream, and did you envision it growing to be what it is today?
(Romain Pissenem) The way it is today is exactly what I wanted at the beginning. I used to work as an independent show director and producer and I realised, when I was watching people like Tarantino and Spielberg, that they all had their own production company, not to make more money but to be sure they were in control of all the aspects of production. So my goal for High Scream was to have an all-encompassing company with the best people and the resources to produce the entire show. I have decorations specialists, technical directors, lighting and content designers – basically all the necessary departments to produce a complete show – under the High Scream umbrella.
Why is High Scream so successful? What do you think most resonates with your audiences about the experiences you provide?
I come from national theatre, not this industry specifically. I wanted to bring electronic music to theatre but ended up doing the total opposite; I brought theatre into electronic music and one of the reasons that works well is because we continue to have, after 24 years now, an extremely passionate team.
At what point in High Scream development did you realize its potential to take on such massive projects?
I don’t think massive projects come in one day just like that, my philosophy was always to go see the maximum number of shows, to see people who create the most impressive things and who want to collaborate. I have accepted a lot of different projects, at the beginning I didn’t want to refuse any to get the most experience on many different scales. That allows us today to do shows for big sports ceremonies, or an opening of a museum or a world tour.
What is the most challenging aspect of production and how do you overcome that? Also, what is the most rewarding or exciting part of what you do?
Having an idea is great but being able to translate it and make it real that is always the biggest challenge because you can come with a good concept, get very excited but suddenly you have technical borders – how I like to call them – and you need to cross those, to change and adapt without losing the ability to produce the show as imagined – that’s also then the reward, when you have an outlandish idea, translate it into reality and suddenly see it come to life.
What is it like working in such a high-velocity creative environment with your brother? And how would you describe your relationship?
We always considered ourselves as twins, people always ask if we argue as we work together a lot and particularly in Ibiza but the way we work we don’t take care of the same things and that makes it easy. We don’t even have to speak with each other to understand one another – that’s been like that since we were kids. We always wanted to work together so when Ushuaïa came up we were able to come back and work together, that was just and is still in the last ten years, a happy thing…and working in an environment with this speed, I guess you get used to it and I’m quite an energetic person so I quite like that.
What project are you focusing on at the moment and what is in store to close out this summer?
The next big thing this year are the David Guetta arena shows this is a big project and I am very happy to direct and produce the complete new show. There are some big things in the pipeline for 2020 and 2021 which we are announcing soon – and of course we are excited to work on the last big production for the closing party at Ushuaïa at the start of October.
How do you prioritize new ideas?
Surely you are constantly inventing new concepts so how do you classify potential projects as either viable or unrealistic?
If they are good ideas they are all slightly unrealistic and part of our job as producers is to make them work, I never consider any “realistic vs non-realists” aspects, we come with ideas, whatever we want to do and then we find a way to make them happen.
If there is one far-out dream or goal you have for High Scream what would that be? How do you plan on achieving that?
I just want things to continue to grow as they are growing at the moment. I mean we are very happy, for me it’s important to continue with the people that you work with and you deal with, High Scream is becoming bigger and bigger but the most important is to keep working with a passionate team – I want when I come to the office to have everyone excited to have woken up to come and create an amazing show and this is main thing.
How do you feel about the recent developments in Virtual Reality and music? Rezz just performed an album release party entirely through VR. Do you think this could become common for electronic music, and would High Scream engage in virtual production?
We are already engaged in that, we are working on a project which we can’t talk too much about, our new London office has a VR studio. When you create a show you do the design for the stage, the content and lights plus SFX, then you have to go into rehearsals and set up everything live and that costs money, but in our studio you can come into our studio and see show in VR – we can mix video, replicate lights, add music.
When an artist comes to work with us and we design the show, the first time he can see it through VR we can adapt and make changes so when everyone is happy we can go live with the best show. More than this though we are developing a lot of other projects with virtual reality! I don’t know how the future will be and I myself wouldn’t want to go to a party without people, I’d prefer to be in a real place and seeing people but I think there’s plenty of amazing things that can be done and we are highly involved even if we can’t say too much about it.
Where is High Scream headed? As a company, brand, creative entity, etc.
Every year we expand, every year we have more people involved, every year we open more departments – we’ve just spoken about VR so that’s a new department and team. Each year we get bigger more people and we develop branches to be sure we are always available and can be in control of every aspect of the show.
What can we expect to hear from you at the Amsterdam Dance Event this October?
“Come – and find out!”
Romain Pissenem is a creative genius. When asked about prioritizing ideas based on relevancy or viability, he suggests that anything is possible. The most challenging part of his job is also the most rewarding. As a big ideas come to light, High Scream does not compromise:
If they are good ideas they are all slightly unrealistic and part of our job as producers is to make them work.Romain Pissenem
This mindset is exactly what has allowed Romain and High Scream to succeed over the past decade. Along with this, I pressed about the recent introduction of virtual reality to the music world. He described a VR studio that they use to preview and perfect shows before they are performed live. Romain also alluded to new projects that he could not disclose that will surely make headlines so stay tuned.