Moogfest has announced it is bringing in an array of independent labels including DFA, Ghostly International, Warp Records, Fool’s Gold, RVNG INTL, No. 19 Music’s Social Experiment and Driftless Recordings to curate label showcases at its April 23-27 festival in Asheville, North Carolina. Each label will curate a night at one of the festival’s ten participating venues.*
In addition to the these “Moog-inspired” record labels, the fest is also inviting non-label music enterprises, like Brooklyn-based Cultural Organization AFROPUNK, Detroit’s Movement Festival, North Carolina's Hopscotch Festival, Austin’s Switched On (a “synthesizer dream space, storefront, repair spa, and online retailer of music electronics”), and a collaboration between the artists and labels Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap, and Double Standard who promote parties under the umbrella Crew Love, to book showcases.
“These companies nurture brilliant artists that we are lucky enough to build instruments for,” said Emmy Parker, brand director of Moog Music Inc. & Moogfest, in a statement. "Our respect for them runs deep, they are experts in their niche of electronic music and we are excited that they will be bringing their unique perspectives to stages at Moogfest."
Getting these labels’ participation apparently didn't require much convincing. “You can trace an entire genre of music back to the first Moog keyboard,” says Fool’s Gold co-founder Nick Catchdubs on why his label joined the fest, “they're the Michael Jordan of synthesizers. You can hear it's signature zaps and basslines on countless Fool’s Gold releases - everyone has used it on at least one track in their lives.”
Josh Berman, Warp’s North American label manager, concurs: “Many of our artists have been Moog users since they began composing and recording,” he says, “And as Moog pioneered the world of analog synths and brought that technology into the home studio, the sound of a Moog can be heard throughout the history of our recordings.”
Namesake: Robert Moog, whose inventions changed first the production of electronic-based music, pioneering modular voltage control, and transistor rather than tube-based systems; and then its performance, with the portable Minimoog. (Photo Courtesy Moog Music)
While no artists from the label showcases have been announced, the acclaimed acts on these labels' rosters —including Flying Lotus, Blondes, Matthew Dear, Oneohtrix Point Never, Boards of Canada, A-Trak and others present intriguing curatorial possibilities.
2014’s Moogfest, now in its ninth year following a year off in 2013, marks a number of firsts: Moog Music, the fest’s namesake and primary sponsor, has brought the festival in-house since parting ways earlier this year with longtime promoter AC Entertainment. The event will make its springtime debut in 2014 (formerly it was held in fall), expand from three days to five and host a free stage outside the Moog factory itself. Moog also hired Detroit’s Paxahau, the promoter behind Detroit’s Movement Festival, to curate the music bookings and Imprint Projects for its non-music event programming.
“It was clear after contracting with two previous promoters, and having been in the process of interviewing a third set of candidates, that there was no single entity that could program the event the way we envisioned it," says Mike Adams, President CEO of Moog Music Inc, who told Billboard the company is investing some $3 million into this year’s Moogfest. “We hired two great companies and organized them under Moogfest LLC so that we could create the event that accomplished our objectives.”
Detroit promoter Paxahau over the last few years developed a strong relationship with Moog through Movement. “Seeing and experiencing the passion that the Moog team has for their product and company was a major factor,” says Sam Fotias, Paxahau’s director of operations. “These principles are extremely significant within our own company, so being able to present an event like Moogfest with like minded individuals is really a win-win situation.”
This year’s Moogfest is billing itself as a hybrid with equal focus on music, technology and art – all with an emphasis on innovation. A festival spokesperson compared it to a combination of “music festival, Art Basel and a Ted Talk.” And with headliners like Giorgio Moroder and Laurie Anderson, deep thinkers like Oxford futurist and philosopher Dr. Nick Bostrom and Claire Evans, the editor in chief of sci-fi mag Omni, visual artists like Charles Lindsay, instrument pioneer Roger Linn and events like a circuit-bending challenge – that assessment may not be far off the mark.
MGMT playing Moogfest in 2010. (Photo: Courtesy Moog Music)
“Moog is an innovation company,” says Adams, “and Moogfest is a unique hybrid event organized around innovation; cutting edge musicians and technologists who will discuss the state of innovation, their use of technology especially in the creative context, and the ethical issues associated with innovation. That’s what we do at Moog and having these thought-leaders and artists here under the Moogfest banner reflects positively on the Moog brand.”
Earlier in the year Moog also put out a call for new media art installations with accepted proposal displayed on the street outside the factory which will be sponsored by Starwood Aloft.
“It is a natural fit,” said Paige Francis, VP of specialty select brands, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Inc., "as Moogfest is about the intersection of art, music and technology in new creative mediums and Aloft has redefined the traveler experience in a vibrant innovative way with its design-led focus, live music featuring emerging artists and tech forward focus.”
So who then is Moogfest's target audience? Is it synth geeks or “Big Bang Theory”-like nerds?
“The target is people who are interested in creative uses of technology,” answers Parker. “There’s kids out there, Millennials, who have been raised with iPhones in their hands. These kids are hyper-aware of technology and how it can be used to transform the way we can communicate with each other – through music, art and social media.”
Adds Adams: “We have evolved our thinking to create an event that truly celebrates the pioneering spirit of Bob Moog, uniting art, music and innovative technology to explore the dimensions of creative expression. This is the heart of what makes Moog Music special and our fans around the world special.”
*Note: This story was updated with the news that the DFA label has been added to the list of labels curating showcases shortly after its original publication.