MUTEK Enters the Virtual Reality World but Stays Rooted in Electronic Music
Virtual reality represents the next frontier, as far as the music and technology festival MUTEK, set to celebrate all things creative and avant-garde from June 1 to 5, is concerned.
“It’s something we’re committed to, because in a sense it’s a dream platform,” MUTEK founder and director, Alain Mongeau said.
Virtual Reality at MUTEK
Virtual reality was first examined last fall at the MUTEK_IMG incarnation, but taking into consideration the speed at which the technology is advancing, Mongeau said, they couldn’t wait an entire year before tackling it again.
“A whole new language is being written with VR right now, so it’s an interesting moment to be a part of,” he said. “When people think of MUTEK, they think music and technology. But I always say it’s more about following the mutations of technology, and creativity in relation to technology.”
The second edition of MUTEK’s VR Salon will feature a symposium with professionals in the field on May 30 and 31, alongside an exhibition with over 20 interactive works open to the public at the Phi Centre from June 1 to 5.
Even though virtual reality is still associated more with video games these days, it is spilling into the festival’s more well-known musical side. Iranian musician Ash Koosha, who will première on June 1 at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MACM), in Canada, uses a VR component in his show. Even though he won’t be present at this year’s edition of the festival, Mongeau disclosed that Montreal favorite and former resident Amon Tobin is working on a VR project.
“I think you’ll see VR and music coming together more and more,” Mongeau said. “You think of it as an immersive side to visuals, but that’s also the case when it comes to sound. It’s a natural fit.”
For experimental electronic music fans, the 17th edition of MUTEK will feature a number of famous names in the field, ranging from locals like Tim Hecker, Essaie Pas and Arcade Fire drummer Jeremy Gara, to lauded international acts like the aforementioned Koosha, Planet Mu signee Jlin and German duo Flanger, who are set to end a five-year break.
Mongeau is aware that not many household names play at his fest. Casual music fans might find it difficult to recognize even one name among the 100 on the lineup, which includes 21 North American premières.
“When people look at the program, they don’t know too many names, so we have to use our reputation and say to them, ‘Trust us.’ People should expect to discover new and interesting things,” said Mongeau.
Organizers also intend to quash the misconception that electronic music only means DJs and party music, as almost all of the artists set to play this year will be doing live performances and playing original compositions.
“There’s a bit of confusion as to what electronic music is about, and electronic music artists are not always seen as being true musicians,” disclosed Mongeau. “Since the beginning, we made the clear choice to focus on the artists, the real creative sources of electronic music, and not on the party side of it.”
The festival’s free outdoor stage on the Parterre of Quartier des spectacles will be curated by three local music collectives. The webzine Bolting Bits will present Blue Hawaii and more on June 2. Booma will take over the stage with Brit Lee Gamble on June 3. It will be the turn of another label, Multi Culti, the following day with Machinedrum and Jlin.
Maayan Nidam, Francesco Tristano, Aïsha Devi, Galcher Lustwerk, Powell, Orphx, Project Pablo and Kara-Lis Coverdale are some of the other acts appearing at MUTE.
The 17th edition of MUTEK will take place from June 1 to 5 at multiple venues. Full festival passes cost $221.79 while weekend-only passes cost $173.95. Individual tickets can also be purchased for each show but shows on the Experience stage on the Parterre of Quartier des spectacles are free. Visit mutek.org for more information,.