My curiosity was aroused when I first heard about INTERZONE 2019. I knew they would be showcasing some great live performances. They would also have video and sculpture installations, panel discussions, workshops, and screenings. The curators would be creating a multidimensional event with multiple venues. I knew I would be treated to an array of talented and diverse artists’ and I also wanted to see what this experience would be like. I felt this type of event can inspire music creation as well as an appreciation for new music forms I haven’t heard. The organizers are hoping to present a myriad of auditory experiences for both artists and attendees. This is meant to inspire conversation and reflection. Eager to experience as much of this four-day festival as I could, I headed to the first venue of the event in Brooklyn.
Opening night was on Thursday at the Bossa Nova Civic Club. This venue is an intimate space allowing you to get extremely close to the artists and even make eye contact with the performers which I did with the first artist, Davide Gualandi. His set was impressive and I loved following where his selections took me. It was experimental and unpredictable. The flow of his performance was freeing and I was overjoyed with the carefree emotions they gave me. Known for his amazing sets with extreme distortion, Gualandi enhanced the music with sounds I’ve never heard before, nor am I likely to hear again. This is because many of the artists at this festival are performing live and the music enhancements are all unique and unrepeatable. I spoke to the artist at the end of his set and told him what he played was incredible and he thanked me.
Maedon was the second artist and she was set to perform at the back of the club. When I walked up she was starting to do her equipment set up right in front of me and a bunch of attendees. Maedon’s new album “Against His Will” will be released in a week or so and I hoped to hear some of her new tracks during this performance. When the dust settled, she started her live set and it was a stark contrast to the somewhat easy-going feel that the previous artist provided. Maedon’s set was raw and gut-wrenching and provided a gritty, driving feel that fought against surrounding influences of conformity. True to form, her set was a mix of techno, industrial and EDM.
Shawn O’Sullivan is a great example of how listening to someone and then seeing them live can be totally different. It got me to thinking about what using modular synthesis really means. Acknowledging the importance of hands-on-time when it relates to getting just the right module set up. O’Sullivan has done a lot of research in finding the right configuration for his needs. Following the curators’ intention of this event, I had to contemplate how we interpret sound and the module setups. These modules were actually creating, enhancing and distorting the music whether it was an original composition or not. O’Sullivan’s set boggles the mind and after listening to merely a few seconds I wondered how he came up with the ideas to do those types of sounds. I realized this must be more than experimentation, it must be a love for performing and amazing talent too.
Katie Rex is a curator of Bound, a safe party place for femme and queer fetishists in NYC. Her set was like no other I’ve ever heard. The performance had a dark and aggressive feel with hammering beats putting you in a techno-fantasy world you don’t ever want to leave. I realized that this was one of those moments where you say to yourself, “I can’t believe how intense that was, it went deep in my soul”. Rex relates to her audience that longing desire in all of us, and I love it when an artist reads my mind. So at this point, I wanted to look online and see how to set up my own module gear but I know next to nothing about this process. Although I have an extensive music background, this road was one I’ve never traveled before. After this incredible night, I want to experiment with these provocative electronic sounds.
Day 2 of INTERZONE started out in a frenzy! I was running to the box office to pick up my pass because forgot to visit the box office the night before. I was having such a good time and before I knew it the box office was closed. Thankfully, I was able to pick it up the next day at the Good Room which was another venue in Greenpoint hosting the event. I spoke to some of the organizers who told me tonight’s line up was going to be incredible. I agreed as I told them what I great time I had the night before. I then headed to the Brooklyn Bazaar where this evening program had already begun.
Physical Wash (live) got my attention with their movement around the stage. With all the passion of and angst, a person could possess the lead singer of Physical Wash moved around the stage while making adjustments to their modular setup. I watched their passionate and oftentimes overwhelming performance and I wanted to relate to their emotions which were intense. Their intensity with fever and energy affected me and I did not want to admit to this satisfying level of enthusiasm I had watching their performance. Eventually, I came to realize that this event would have some unique performances that could change my state of mind and emotions with unexpected intensity at any time. Kontravoid (live) and Autumn made it hard for me to walk over to the BB Disco room where Kosmik B2B Force Placement were hosting their vinyl session and their choice of music selections were addictive and had me dancing and humming to the feelings they were giving out. Their confident and somewhat low-key session showed the versatility of the artist’s abilities at this event and further confirmed that the passion for underground vinyl is not dead.
Just a short walk to the Good Room, I got to see Sybil Jason’s set along with the Bad Room hosting MX Silkman. MX Silkman’s music was an experimental adventure with acoustical highs and fantastical beats that felt like I was opening Pandora’s box into musical sounds. The beats vibrated across the room as attendees spoke to the artist and asked about how he created his work and how much this work has influenced them in their musical pursuits. I found myself compelled to tell him how his notes were elevating to all of us and that this experience was presented in such a way that made me happy that I could approach him to explore this even more. I could hear screaming music vocals in the adjacent room and walked over to see even more artists watching a performer expressing screaming sound so effortlessly despite the effort it clearly took to produce. An attendee called out to her, “What are you doing later?” which made the artist smile and scream at the same time. And now it was time to hear Crash Course in Science. The crowd eagerly awaited this live performance and it was truly gold as they took the stage performing their synth-punk electronic industrial
songs that haven’t lost their edge after all these years. Having such an amazing time already, I couldn’t wait to see what the rest of the festival had to offer. I was being exposed to so many different genres and sounds and it was opening my mind to the beauty of the live music experience and experimental sounds.