how soon is now? just ask jeff mills. the so-called godfather of a legion of contemporary techno djs and producers, mills aptly brought the future to the present with the formation of underground resistance; a music collective he helmed alongside mad mike banks in 1989. if you want to know how it all started, that’s where you look. in fact, if you want to know what “it” is exactly, that’s who you ask. combining the technology of present with the knowledge of the past and a hope for the future, jeff mills’ version of techno is some of the most important, relevant, and — let’s just say it — magical, around.
who says a music festival can’t also be a learning experience? the team at luminato partnered up with the incomparable boutique electronic music festival, unsound, (based in krakow, poland) to bring the critically acclaimed event to toronto, its second north american pilgrimage in new york last year. this in itself was a lesson; as someone who is decidedly critical of toronto’s treatment of dance music culture and the scene that goes with it, it was already a welcome surprise that the city was hosting an event that seemed worlds away from its usual field. in fact, the entire weekend brought something fortuitous, musically and otherwise. here are some things we learned at unsound toronto.
in 2007, a berlin-based producer, composer, sound engineer, and installation artist named robert henke wrote an essay entitled live performance in the age of supercomputing. it was a two-part piece that detailed the subtleties of live performance, and the different ways to move your audience. and henke should know. he has more than two decades of experience in the electronic music industry under his belt, not only as a producer and artist but likewise as the co-founder and developer of ableton.
his live performances — whether under his own name or as part of cutting-edge electronic act, monolake — have brought him everywhere from the stages of mutek montreal or unsound poland, to the jagged rock cliffs of mexico or the empty airport hangars of france, to the dripping concrete walled nightclubs of his native germany. he works with anything and everything; lasers, kinetic light objects, field recordings, drum kits, helium balloons, computers, networking software. there is no limit to what henke can turn into music.
a few years after live performance in the age of supercomputing, henke rewrote the essay as a hitch hiker’s guide. the age of supercomputing, it seemed, had caught up with him. digital publication began calling for short, punctuated pieces; so henke obliged. written with a wink of irony, henke broke the essay down into accessible, easy to understand sections with titles like “play stuff the audience knows,” and “make sure it sounds great.” for our littlecity exclusive interview, i took a leaf from henke’s book: herewith you’ll find the hitch hiker’s guide to robert henke, an exploration of his work and values using the same sections as his pervasive essay. Continue reading
i know, i know. “the last speaker session was last week,” i hear you say to yourself. you’re right. but i couldn’t wait to bring you the 16th volume of little city mixes, because it arrived just in time for the bootleg edition of grey area, courtesy of montreal producer/DJ, dull.
grey area is a series of bi-monthly underground dance music events run by residents/hosts michael armstrong (aka M4CR0) and michael flandez, who together form DJ duo michael & i. although the community project is still in its relative youth – it’s only three events old, to be fair – grey area has managed to bring something new to the table. true to its name, grey area is “neither here nor there,” pulling in references from a plethora of intelligent dance music genres, putting together events that speak to the thinker in all of us. where other events cater to that fucked up bass drop party til you drop tip, grey area favours conceptual dancefloor centric soundscapes, live performances, and boundary pushing DJ sets. so far, the grey area roster has seen artists like ana+one, zeina, like a tree, mir, and magnanime, playing alonside M4CR0 and flandez.
i had a friend ask me exactly why pop montreal chooses to label itself as “pop.” i stood there in a kind of dumbfounded silence. why had pop montreal chosen to label itself as pop? i know what you’re thinking – when you think pop, you think bubblegum, britney spears pre-head shaving, and otown’s liquid dreams. at least, that’s what i think of. my friend had a point. pop montreal is kind of anything but. open mindedness is what makes this festival such an experience: anything from indie, to folk, to electronic, to rock falls under the pop genre for pop montreal. taking place over a series of nights and locations all around montreal, pop is a five day festival that features over 600 bands, artists, fashion designers, guest speakers and panelists, and a slew of other creative talents. read on to get the inside scoop. disclaimer: i used music instead of photos because for some disastrous reason, good photos of the festival do not exist on the internet.