I’ve been doing research for my documentary, trying to get past the banal perspectives on music and gender. For now I’m pontificating, but also working out the go-to foundational research methods: data collection and content analysis. (Don’t worry! I’ll get to my post-structuralist analysis soon!) Over the past week, I’ve been tabulating music festival acts. I’m focusing on electronic music festivals, or at least festivals that have a large electronic music contingent. I’m focusing on this because I’m curious about electronic music composers, not singers, or strictly non-electronic instrument players. No matter how you want to look at it, the numbers are staggering. I’ll post more later.
MUTEK 2011 (Montreal): 31 acts announced so far / 0 women BLOC Weekender 2011 (UK): 100 acts / 3 women performers (Mary Anne Hobbs, Ikonika, Lusinda) + 1 group with a woman (King Midas Sound) BANGFACE WEEKENDER 2011 (UK): 58 acts / 1 woman performer part of a group act (Atari Teenage Riot) ONCE UPON A FESTIVAL 2011 (Belgium): 29 electronic music acts / 2 women (Mrs Jynx, MC Mary Jane) – 34 band acts / 11 feature women (BlindMan, Ianka Fleerackers, Say Say, Seppe & Astrid Belcirque, Eira, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Conquering Animal Sound, G.T. Moore & The Irie Vibes Band, Balcony Players, Oka Vanga) DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival) 2011: 105 acts / 8 are women or feature women performers
1. ana sia
2. Cio d’or
4. Little Dragon
6. Margaret Dygas
8. The Dirtbombs
SONAR 2011 (Barcelona): 103 acts / 17 acts are women or feature women performers
Dominique Young Unique
Facto y los Amigos del Norte (includes two women)
Little Dragon (has woman singer)
Mary Anne Hobbs
Redlight featuring Ms Dynamite
The Human League (band with two women)
Steve Reich with “Synergy Vocals” (ensemble includes several women)
Open Reel Ensemble (includes women)
note: Interesting that most of the performers are singer and/or rappers in groups or as solo acts, not composer-performers or the producers. This festival is also a cross-over & doesn’t just cater to crazy ravers like me! Although how apt that, Dominique Young Unique’s page on their (Sonar Festival) website refers to her as “he” & “his” & “him” many times over. *Sonar has taken note of my tweet & said they will fix it on Monday. Still doesn’t negate the meaning of the err.
It’s been a few weeks and I’ve let my reaction to Bangface Weekender settle — J & I arrived in London Thursday morning and headed straight to Brighton to stay with Matt, Simon, Jeri and Jonnie (all who I feel in love with immediately), despite the volcanic ash fiasco. Air Canada fucked up and sold our seats so we ended up in executive first and on the subsequent plane with the lovely Teva and David, who were the only other crew coming to Bangface from Canada (as far as I know). Air Canada also lost our luggage for many days, and we didn’t get it until right before J’s set on Saturday night. The coordinator woman-at-large of Bangface, Fran, was also lovely and obliging, especially when it came to making sure we got our luggage when it finally arrived at Pontins. Everyone was so helpful in accommodating us with clothes, costumes, and other essentials, to a point where I thought I was in some fantasy land. I’m beginning to have a really skewed vision of Europe because every time I go my whole self is opened to kindess and sincerity (mostly! of course there was some internal conflict in another house we stayed in that managed to throw us in the middle of it, but we got out before any damage was done to us / unfulfilled egos are fragile).
the backyard of our chalet
From Brighton to Camber Sands, we took the Big Lemon bus, which runs on locally-sourced cooking oil. As soon as we were through the gates, happiness exploded. Bangface necessities excitement, and not just a weekend to get fucked up but an urgent desire to hear good music. And whilst most of us get totally mangled, even that pans out with respect I never encounter in Canada. You also have a kitschy yet cozy chalet to stay in with beds and a kitchen, which I decorated with a fruit platter and other assortments to make it seem quite wholesome.
The clincher at Bangface 2008 was that I was exposed to so much new music, “I got to lose myself in artists I have loved for years but never saw live, artists I knew of but had no idea they were that phenomenal, all in a small seaside town in England.” In 2010 the same happened, unexpectedly, because I knew most of the artists playing, or was not really interested. What really blew me away and what I should have prepared for was the world premiere of Urban Tribe live: KENNY DIXON JR + DJ STINGRAY+ ANTHONY ‘SHAKE’ SHAKIR all up there so serious on stage, as if this is it, this is the world ending. WTF WTF WTF, is all I kept repeating and still do.
Everyone performing at Bangface is so hungry. And we are all so hungry too, knowing how to feed ourselves and the others. Everyone puts in so much energy to be present, to give to the vibe (a guy made foam 303′s to give away). This designer girl even lent me her subtle yet Bangfaced themed green costume jumper to wear and lent J a one piece to match me for our performance! The four other performances I was really anticipating: Loops Haunt, A Guy Called Gerald, Plaid and Luke Vibert exceeded my fucking brains out. My only complaint is that the curation was not as solid this year in terms of coordinating artists. The timing was disheveled (and many agreed). Squire of Gothos following Jimmy Edgar on the Saturday night? Gah! Plaid’s futurist performance that had me convinced I was flying through space on a wing of an airplane prior to Killa Kela’s clown circus before the totally un-rave and straight-laced Orb? Orb was a mistake altogether in my opinion, dudes standing up on stage barely moving is NOT rave. I remember leaving part way through their set, being ridiculous repeating how colonial their tunes were in their use of ‘ethnic crooning vocals’ to create ambiance. If anything Luke Vibert for a tertiary performance to end it all off!
If you know me, you know I have an unabashed hard-on for vocoders, so Jimmy Edgar‘s live set should have gone on for hours. I discovered Loops Haunt in Brighton on our three day bender last year on Red’s laptop and there he was and just like that it happened. There’s always so much happening at Bangface. Seeing Scott preform live was like, yes, yes, this is how it should be. Like the Urban Tribe set, it was just so realized, even though he said it was some of him just trying out new things. I could insert some music journalist words here to describe his sounds, but not now, just listen.
A Guy Called Gerald did a live show using Reason (!), pulling out drum n bass that reminded me why drum n bass will always be my #1 love forever and ever. From beginning to end – heart thumps and footwork madness. If you know anywhere I can find videos, clips and/or MP3′s of this newest incarnation of his live performance, please send them to me! Equinox, who I’m a giant fanboy of, cos no one does amen choppage like him, except maybe his mentor Bizzy B, played a bit of a one-note set, but to his defense, he was first on and the technical shit was all still being worked on. Luke Vibert followed and pulled out the most intricate acid set I’ve seen from him (that includes jungle and all that goodness too! of course!), footwork footwork footwork! Walked in on him during his second set on Saturday, playing an oldskool garage track I had on a mixtape from 2001 in the Queen Vic room, in which he proceded to play all genres in only the way Luke Vibert knows how. Who the fuck loves to play music as much as this guy and has been around, and done all the genres so so well?
I had missed many performers (Joker, Bizzy B, Ratpack, Cooh, Murderbot, u ziq and some others) on the Saturday night preparing for my VJ set for J’s LIVE PA, which was so exciting to finally see as a whole. The Queen Vic had sweat pouring from the ceiling. Everyone was bouncing. Matt told us later he threw out his back from all the amen time stretching. Europe desires J so much, in this beautiful vulnerable way Canada never will. As for the VJ’ing, I was assured the projector and screen was set up properly and even though I went and asked three times, I should have actually tested it myself, because it was all out of focus and totally skewed. I had to play a very limited clips that could work in such circumstances. Lesson learned. After that, everything went 100% rave.
We had the most well-suited team in our chalet // Jimmy, Scott, J and I // we spent much of the Weekender together drinking Nescafe Extra Gold Instant Coffee.
At one point I took over Scott’s MacbookPro to judge him on his music taste and found a missing part of myself, a piece that I fell into but am now emotionally unable to make peace with. It came on and instantly I fell and fell and fell for three minutes and 22 seconds into the deepest well Murakami wrote about. “Rewind on that one.” I yelled from outside our chalet where I danced until I rushed back in to play it again. “Good call,” they all said. At that moment, I felt so much love. Fuck. Later the next night, everything was really intense and sharp (my heart is racing now!) I had to listen to it again. The stereo wasn’t hooked up properly and J + Scott managed to hook it up in no less than 30 minutes with full effort. “So I’m in a room with two music geniuses yet y’all cannot get a stereo hooked up to a laptop?!” And then it worked and then I found the deep well again. There was movement inside all of me, movement I hadn’t felt in a really long time. I was being opened and aired out (and yes, causing me to let it all out on the Monday early morning). I guess yeah, the song changed my life. Actually. It was the first song Warwick recorded in 1964 and the lyrics, as it usually is with these things, couldn’t have come at a better time.
Many people stopped by our chalet. Here is Jason being all serious with Dinn, pointing to his Reaktor Patch. Chrissy Murderbot also managed to keep close and cause a shit load of ruckus when HE BROUGHT HIS MOM AND PROCEEDED TO LOSE HER AT BANGFACE!! You know we’re totally making a teeshirt, “I lost my mum at Bangface.” At some point on Sunday night, so you can imagine my state at that point, Chris challenged me to a game of table hockey , but did I ever school him in how to be a winner. Despite never having played before, my Canadianness eclipsed his tenacious Americanness.
The Countryside Alliance Crew practices for their performance, including their closing anthem Super Sheep Shearer, a very very special rendition of Super Sharp Shooter.
Wassim, of Centrifuge Agency, one of my new heros, has already retired from academia as a post-doc at 29, fed us balloons and took us to the beach.
Camber Sands is a typical gaudy seaside town in England where most houses have crocheted curtains, fitting the festival of RAVE so well.
You cannot see the giant sandstorm that scratched our eyes out in this serene photograph though.
coda: Just like in 2008, I cried so much when it was all over. It was so perfect, so musical, so giving, and I was able to be more outgoing and not just hide on the dancefloor or in my room. J said he noticed such a difference in me, an openness that seldom comes out. Usually, in new situations I retreat and my actions are perceived as bitchiness but they’re just social anxiety, fear of loss and misanthropy really. The inspiration this time was different, it was concrete, it was like, hello Magda, you are doing shit so don’t stop, don’t be so insecure, and just do it, you know you have to. Until 2011. Bangface is the best thing that could ever happen to life. Everyone I talk to agree. Did you go?
My Bangface wristband snapped off on Wednesday, August 6, 2008. It was on its last thin plastic thread, and in a drunken haze I whipped off my sweater and it came right off, landing on the kitchen table. I am glad J was with me, he was there when the memento had lost its life with me. It’s on a shelf now, all lonesome. It did last 101 days! His didn’t last as long, but his job deals with sound equipment and heavy lifting. I think it was yoga asana’s that did mine in. All the wrist stretching – it would pull at the wristband, always. We had some good times together, the wristband and I. The first days, when I would shower awkwardly lifting up my right arm out of the water’s way. The time I went swimming with my brother and had my wrist out the whole time because I was afraid of getting too much moisture inside it, until my brother would chase me around to get me under; he never succeeded besides a few splashes. Whenever I’d be fucking, if J would hold my wrists I’d have to wiggle my way out and remind him, “Bangface,” to which he’d grin and totally understand. With yoga it was the most challenging, because in downward dog my wrists get bent a lot and it’s the most often done pose, or with bridge. I’d get nervous, sliding it up and down the small perimeter of my wrist. Comments would come every time I went out, “You still wearing the bracelet. You are amazing.” I’m not so amazing, Bangface is so amazing. It became like one of those medi-bracelets. I depended on it for everything. Life would get me down, I’d just look down at my wristband. In the final stages before orgasm, just look at the bracelet. Too drunk to know where I was, bracelet served as my mini-GPS.
Goodbye to you Bangface Wristband. April 25-Aug 6, 2008. RIP.
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