Mutek: a space for people within and outside of the industry to connect, listen, network, share space, and discuss the issues, concepts, and methodologies surrounding experimental electronic musics. The events sent me sensing my way through Montreal, and not only by captivating my sense of hearing with musical performances. The festival was a sensory playground featuring VJs to engage the visual and enhance the audio; showrooms for participants to learn about the latest technology through tactile interaction; and a culinary tour of Montreal, engaging the senses of smell and taste. Equally as important as all of the sensory events were the Amplify :: Keychange panels and presentations, which unpacked some of the issues within the industry, and the workshops offering participants new methodologies for their artistic practice.
One of the major themes of the festival was about women and non-binary individuals in music. Although we are approaching gender equality at progressive festivals such as Mutek, the inclination towards this equality might be slower elsewhere – we still have a lot of work to do. Tara Rodgers‘ keynote presentation, “What Does Field Transformation Sound Like? Mapping Feminist Movement in Electronic Music and Sound Cultures”, addressed ideas of hope, freedom, joy, and despair as conceptual tools to be used in our work through the intersection of sound and activism. She discusses gender issues through the use of these concepts, reminding us that the spaces that we are creating are often transitory spaces for people whose lives, although potentially safe within the walls of the warehouse, might be more threatened outside. This is why doing this work – creating these safe spaces for people to feel community and connection – is so vital.
Both entertaining and informative was Lawrence English‘s “The Radical Listener” masterclass on field recordings. To those of you who make field recordings, he asks: How did you arrive at this particular recording? And what are you trying to capture? Are you capturing reality from your perspective through a sonic photograph, capturing your rendering of the world? Listening requires attentiveness and presence. He related this type of presence to lifting weights – you’re there, you’re in the moment. Active listening requires this type of attention. Can this recording, then, be interpreted in different ways from the way you originally heard it? It will only be when you give listening the attention that you give other focused activities, that you will be able to understand your own field recordings from multiple perspectives and create work that disseminates your worldview properly. This masterclass was followed by a workshop where participants had the opportunity to join Lawrence English on a sound walk and create a field recording with his guidance.
These are just two examples from the abundance of experiential activities that were offered at Mutek 2018. If you missed out this year, make sure to join us next year to explore the limits and boundaries of your sensorium and open up your mind to the intricate details of the work that goes on behind the scenes.
Article by: Jillian
Jillian Fulton is a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at York University in Toronto. Her work explores electronic music scenes of Toronto and Montréal. For more information about her project, find her on social media @chebakhadijah or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo by: Bruno Destombes