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Music Festivals - Recaps and Reviews - November 21, 2019

Interzone 2019 | Underground Experimental EDM and Beyond | Part 2

The spirit of the underground thrives at INTERZONE

Saturday. Day Three:

I headed back to the Good Room excited to see how the day would turn out since this ground-breaking festival had already produced amazing performances as well as encouraging me and the other attendees to participate with the music creation process. Saturday was the first day of the festival that had a specific day program which started at 3 P.M. Opening with Base Camp Beta’s panel, the group would be discussing underground music history by decade focusing on the dialogue between dance and non-dance, as well as the club experience in NYC. The speakers included Jon Nicholson (SSPS), Scott Mou (Queens), Sybil Jason, (a pioneer multidisciplinary artist, DJ, producer and native New Yorker), and Ryan Martin (Dais Records).

This panel provided a foray into the underground electronic music scene in NYC from 1990-2010 and created a glimpse into the changes that took place with the musicians who experienced it. The discussions went from the beginnings of the rent party to the transition of Times Square, addressing the death of the rave and the role of disco. Further discussions included noise/wave/industrial and club-oriented music to when we turned to techno and how we got there. Will the underground music scene prevail in a world focused on mainstream styles? These questions all created an interesting theme that questioned the role of underground music in today’s and tomorrow’s electronic music scene as well as touching on a topic that has been generally undocumented and ignored.

Check out one of INTERZONE’s panel discussions Base Camp Beta BCB023.1 – Clubland And Its Discontents Part 1 – Scott Mou and SSPS below:

Also, listen to Base Camp Beta BCB023 – 3 – Clubland And Its Discontents Part 3 – Veronica Vasicka And Stuart Argabright:

The panel continued with impressive discussion points to locate the exact role the underground has had in the development of techno and the limiting effect that categorization of music style preferences had on the scene. Attendees also participated in the Build Your Own Tiny TS Synth/Soldering 101, closing out the afternoon program. I headed over to Magick City at 4 P.M. for the beginning of the afternoon/evening program to hear DJ’s Amourette B2B MSCLN. MSCLN and Amourette, curators under Weird Science, played an amazing set along with selecting eclectic Hip Hop and classic disco tunes emphasized by synth wave and distortions.

The venue was unique since it opened out to the street, and once again I was talking to attendees and artists right outside of the venue. Robert Valera’s (brokntoys) live set followed as I met with other attendees who told me about their experiences and how they felt about the festival so far. In addition to providing the attendees with some of the best personal history about his music experience and how he got to this point in his career, SSPS’s Live set was amazing as Nicholson provided a modern electronic music experience spanning a complex and exciting octave of drums and whistles keeping you energized.  

With two simultaneous programs to choose from it was hard to choose one event over the other and since the locations of the events were not at the same place, I checked in with one of the organizers who laughed at my inner conflict of not being able to be at two places at once. The curators Nothing Changes hosted a fully live program featuring artists Black Rain (Ike Yard, Blackest Ever Black, DKA), Void Vision (Mannequin) live, NGHTCRWLR live and Statiqbloom (Metropolis / Translation Loss) live at St Vitus which ran from 7 P.M. to 10 P.M. The night closed out with tour de force performances at the Good Room including Veronica Vasicka  (Minimal Wave / Downwards,) whose set told a story of music over time, Jensen Interceptor (Mechatronica / CPU *NYC DEBUT*) whose EBM sets pulsated with a 90’s retro sound, Galaxian (Return to Disorder / Natural Sciences) live *US DEBUT* and L.SANGRE (Orden Extatica / Lost Soul Enterprises) who presented an industrial set making a statement from hot to cold.

To hear MSCLN (Weird Science curator) listen here.

Listen to the more of the event organizer’s work from Quo Vadis (curators) and SSPS’s set here as Quo Vadis points out what types of live music have not been represented and how it was important for them to create a forum for these artists.

Sunday, Day Four:

Sunday, the last day of the festival, also hosted so many activities starting off with a special presentation of INTERZONE Cinema at 2 P.M. A hand-picked selection of video materials from the underground electronic music scene was featured that spanned 1971-1987. I had a sense of nostalgia when I saw images that I have not seen in years but clearly have cultural significance to the music scene. Following that was a documentary that I would recommend to everyone who loves the history of electronic music in Europe. The documentary, The Sound of Belgium, was completely new to me and as always, at well-organized events like this, you learn so much about the history of electronic music. Additionally, the event featured even more video works by the Visual Artists of INTERZONE as well as an impressive ESP TV live A/V performance. In Sunday’s panel discussion in the Good Room, the conversation continued with Veronica Vasicka and Stuart Argabright continuing the discussion with a focus on the 1970s-1980s era as the dance electronica genre blossomed alongside other popular music styles.   

Check out Ryuichi Sakamoto’s B-2 Unit album below:

Back at Magick City while listening to Maroje T from (who incorporates music from Yugoslavia in his sets) and J. A. Z., I had the opportunity to speak to MSCLN once more expressing how much I’ve enjoyed the festival. I told him that I felt it was historically significant and that I’m going to try to build my own modular synths.  As I was saying these things, I smiled as the realization of what I had experienced came into focus.  I had a conversation with Kiernan Laveaux the day before while sitting outside and listening to the event and loved finding out about what INTERZONE can do for the artists, and the opportunity it affords for attendees to see artists perform. Laveaux’s performance was amazing and I could see how hard the organizers had worked to make this experience enjoyable for all of us. Closing out the festival was a grand finale list of live performers on Quo Vadis’s program that included sets by Blacklauren and Hiro Kone (premiering her new album A Fossil Begins to Bray). We were graced with a live set that was experimental and exploratory leading to the final performances with Confused House (curator) at Bossa Nova featuring artists Drew Mcdowall, Dreamcrusher, Ciarra Black and Alex from Queens.

The uniqueness of this underground electronic festival solidified the notion of the need for a place for artists and fans to get together to talk and listen to each other regarding music selections, feelings and meaning in projects. This talented crowd of artists made me feel like family as soon as I stepped in the door and gave me more than just music sets and ambiance. They provided me and the other attendees with the underground electronic experience we all crave, and fear has been lost. Underground electronic music isn’t dead but rather it is an ever-evolving and growing music genre where there is no true limit to the amount of exploration and creation possible. This underground spirit thrives in all of us and this event made those who want to experience this be able to approach the idea of synth music as achievable, relatable and filled with depth and meaning for all of us.  

*Featured image of Interzone | via Nikki Sneakers