pop-kultur festival was nothing if not true to its name. taking place at the infamous berghain and its surrounding venues, pop-kultur was a rotating cast of the leading figures in contemporary electronica; a stack on stack of your standard music festival events. all packed into a mere three days of evening and nighttime gigs, the festival gave you exactly what you expected — almost to a fault. here’s why.
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
there’s something to be said about coming home. countless words have been written about it: it’s “where the heart is.” “there’s no place like” it. nothing has emphasized the truth of these statements quite like returning to montreal for mutek, the annual digital arts and creativity festival that takes place around the quartier des spectacles/place des arts at the end of may. this year, the lineup boasted an incredible roster of local and international talent. not only was it deeply special to witness some of my close friends taking the stage this year, it was even more moving to find myself surrounded by all my favourite people in the world, dancing to the best music, all with the same smiles on their faces. coming home doesn’t get any better than that. Continue reading
mutek has always been the kind of festival you experience with your whole self. you don’t go to mutek to simply hear music, you go to mutek to listen. you don’t go to mutek to watch visuals or art installations, you go to mutek to see. mutek is an anomaly in that way; one of the few festivals where you’re acutely aware that everyone is present for the same reasons, and it all boils down to a love of music. when the opportunity to attend the 6th annual mutek es in barcelona, spain, arose, i couldn’t pass it up. needless to say, mutek es was an experience for all five senses — being in a new city often does that to a person. the music was absolutely stand-out incredible, the visuals were captivating, and the people were warm, grounded, and welcoming. a good analogy for the festival as a whole. here are the ways i experienced mutek barcelona.
“claing-sh-eye-bin. clang-sch-high-ben,” i stumble over the words, trying to tell a friend the name of the german record label i’ve been writing for. behind me, i can hear thomas baz, the label’s founder, laughing. “was that wrong?” i venture another attempt at the pronunciation, “klang-schybbin!” not even close. i met thomas last summer at toronto’s sound in motion festival. we became fast friends, and have long been supporters of one another’s work; him of mine under little city, me of his as demas and under the klangscheiben label.
thomas has been in town since last week, ahead of his gig playing as demas alongside swack and alicia hush at this year’s mutek festival (em15), but the magic is only about to begin. the rest of the family under his label — sebastian albrecht, marlene magnoli, and florist — flew in from berlin a week later. having been booked at a number of different events around toronto, montreal, and quebec city by their friends and sisterlabel hushlamb, the klangscheiben crew is set for a musical invasion. this saturday will see the entire roster take the stage on the rooftop of the societe des arts technologiques (SAT), an event put together by hushlamb. the festivities (which technically begin at tonight’s side by side event with mike shannon at bleury bar a vinyle) will continue on until sunday evening at piknic electronik, where hushlamb has its own stage.
it’s a rainy wednesday evening, and i meet up with thomas, marlene, sebastian, florist, and marlene’s boyfriend manuel at bethlehem xxx in little italy. over drinks, we get to talking about the music scene in canada. the group tosses names around — mike shannon, akufen, deadbeat, pheek — and the distance between canada and germany gets smaller. they talk about the kinds of parties they host or play at, the oversaturation of the scene in berlin, and the kind of music they want to show the world. for a second, i forget we’re from different cities; it all sounds so familiar. so much so that i almost forget to turn on the voice recorder.
i want to talk about the label. i don’t wanna say the name though because thomas laughed at me when i said it wrong the other day.
thomas baz: [laughs] it’s pronounced “kleng-scheibenn.”
TB: better! [laughs] i founded the label in 2004, so it’s ten years old this year. i wanted to have a label behind my dj name to play gigs. in 2006, i started to release stuff — first only net releases, then digital, then physical.
flori jansen: thomas even inspired me to do also my own label with sebastian called park recordings! the music is similar. we are also trying to sign acts that thomas doesn’t have on his label, so we are always pushing to find new music.
sebastian albrecht: we’re trying to be “elite” with our music. not elite, but…we are trying to always get quality music, just like thomas.