‘I never intended to start this, but I saw a gap in the market’

"A good festival is the best thing in the world," Jerome Lantheaume tells The Local.

'I never intended to start this, but I saw a gap in the market'
Jerome Lantheaume. Photo: Private

That’s what inspired him to set up a series of 'mini-festivals' promoting deep house music in Malmö, where he moved three years ago with his Swedish wife.

“It's on a Sunday afternoon, and people like the fact that it has a relaxed, family-friendly feel – parents bring their babies along, and young parents are happy to get the opportunity to go to this kind of event,” explains Lantheaume.

Last year, he and his colleagues held three Backyard Session events over the summer – one in June, July and August – to promote deep house music, and the 2016 sessions have already begun, with around 500 attendees each time.

The events have a festival vibe while keeping a local touch, promoting homegrown groups and DJs alongside bigger names. Because Malmö is renowned as a foodie city, they also provided catering from a local Michelin-starred eatery, Ambiance.

The ball got rolling when Lantheaume met Alex Esser, who runs a deep house record label, and the two decided to promote the genre, first by setting up a Facebook page and website, and later by putting on events.

Now, there are five people in total working on the project, all with international backgrounds and plenty of knowledge of the scene.

Lantheaume says they are keen for it to grow “organically, rather than forcing it and going too commercial”, but he hopes to move to a bigger venue for next year. The events are promoted over social media, as well as handing out flyers at concerts and open air events to target the right crowd of people.

Photo: Rosen Danailov

The sessions recently attracted attention when Dutch DJ Joris Voorn played a set, having flown from Ibiza to Malmö especially for the event.

“We’re very proud that we got Voorn over here – we had a mutual friend, but it took some blood, sweat and tears to organize!” says Lantheaume. “He went from playing to 5,000 people in Ibiza to 500 in a local park, but he liked the laid-back, cosy atmosphere. And for us it was great to host such a big name – the concept is growing and we’re getting a name for ourselves.”

Setting up a new event from scratch in Sweden can be time-consuming though, and the 44-year-old admits that navigating all the relevant rules and regulations has been trying at times.

“I realize you need regulation, but sometimes it feels like they don’t want things to happen here; there’s always some small rule popping up!”

As for the future, the plan is “absolutely” to expand to other cities, Lantheaume says, and to become profitable, so that the five who currently volunteer their time can make their passion project a full-time career. But the former DJ has another goal: he simply wants to get people listening to deep house.

“We can reach the diehard fans easily because it's such a small place that we know almost everyone in the scene,” he explains. “But for me it’s also important to reach other people, and connect with the people who don’t know the music yet, to show them that there’s more than just what’s on the radio. I’m stubborn and I'm sure I can convince them to listen to it!”

Photo: Rosen Danailov

Listening to him talk about the music, it's easy to see how. Lantheaume says that what struck him about the Swedish music scene was that, while Swedes are “music-minded”, there isn't much mingling between different genres. People often listen either only to commercial music or to the underground scene, he says.

“I want to break down the walls between different music scenes – Swedish people are so welcoming to foreigners and refugees, but among themselves they don’t really mix together, no one goes to clubs where they play 'the other' kind of music,” says the Belgian.

“The great thing about deep house is that you can choose what you want it to be – it can be jazzy, emotional, clubby – you can choose which way to go, so at the Backyard Sessions for example we keep a relaxed feel.”

Even his two daughters, aged eight and 11, have become accustomed to house music. “I wouldn’t say it’s their favourite…” laughs Lantheaume. “But they do like it!”

The girls were the main reason the family moved to Sweden after ten years in Belgium, as Lantheaume and his wife felt that the Swedish school system was less high pressure and more sociable. Initially, he had planned to continue working on the business he had set up in Belgium, but the hours and travel involved took their toll and he sold his share of the business to his partner in order to become a “house-daddy”.

Now, his dream is to make the Backyard Sessions a full-time career.

“I never intended to start this when I came to Sweden, but I noticed the gap in the market and I’m sure it can grow. We just want to get people together to celebrate the summer, good music and new friends.”

For members


Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”