It’s starting to look a lot like Moogfest


Slingshot | Friday October 1 and Saturday October 2, 7 p.m., $ 25 | The Fruit, Durham

“So this is basically a mini-Moogfest?” “ All of us wondered, not unfairly, when we heard about Slingshot making its local debut at The Fruit on the first weekend of October.

Both festivals focus on electronic music, art and technology. Both moved to Durham from other cities in the South East. The two feature Kai Riedl in a lead role.

The resemblance is undeniable, but the shared story is more complex than it appears. For one thing, Slingshot predates Riedl’s time at Moogfest. It actually hired him there, and you might as well say that Moogfest was a maxi-Slingshot for much of his time in Durham.

In the late ’90s and early’ 90s, Riedl performed in Macha, a group from Athens, Georgia that included future Deerhunter guitarist Josh McKay. They made waves on college radio by infusing American post-rock with Indonesian folk music, though I will always remember them for their Postal Service cover of Cher’s “Believe” with the Bedhead band in 2000. Even with the melody tapped on a touch-tone phone, it was an indicator of the poptimist Auto-Tuned era of independent music to come – and Riedl’s vast conservation reach.

Slingshot started small in 2013, with a Kickstarter, Macha, and a few other bands.

“There’s a strong DIY culture in Athens, and everyone was going to Austin to play South by Southwest and bemoaning it because it was getting too big,” says Riedl. “I looked around and thought, we can do whatever we need to do here.”

Riedl says he had known about Moogfest, which was going on in Asheville, 150 miles away, for several years, but he had never been there.

At the time, he was pursuing a doctorate in music and technology at the University of Georgia, a worldview that also informed Slingshot. He noticed it, however, in 2014, when Moogfest imported expensive European icons like Kraftwerk into the mountains of North Carolina.

“Oh my god, we could never compete with that,” Riedl remembers thinking.

Nonetheless, from 2013 to 2016, Slingshot went from a one-day concert to a multi-day, multi-site festival with the support of the city. It has attracted big names like James Murphy and Jamie xx alongside favorites from taste makers like Holly Herndon. In 2015, before Moogfest began its four-year run in Durham, his only presence was a presentation at the Slingshot in Athens.

When the festival offered Riedl an executive director position in 2017, there was undeniable logic in breaking free from the fundraising cycle, which he did for three years, until Moogfest imploded in its current limbo stifled by lawsuits.

After Moogfest, Riedl rolled up his sleeves with a new creative and business partner, Vivek Boray. They began to imagine how to revive Slingshot in Durham, a city much like Athens, both in its rich DIY principles and its embryonic culture of electronic music.

They first bonded towards the end of the Athens era, when Boray was dealing with South Asian experimental music at SXSW; he currently hosts a show on independent Indian station and works with Mumbai’s hip-hop label Azadi Records.

The three headliners Riedl and Boray brought together for Slingshot’s debut in Durham, a weekend simplified to warm up for a full release in 2022, perfectly sums up the musical scope of the festival.

Juan Atkins, the living legend who literally invented techno, represents a solid foundation in the history of electronic music. Ela Minus, the Colombian composer of experimental jams based in Brooklyn, represents a hazy perimeter where electronic classicism mingles with countless global tributaries. And chillwave avatar Washed Out is a well-known olive branch for independent fans who make up a large part of the festival audience in this region, and who should note that Ela Minus and Washed Out both play DJ sets. There will also be a free public chat with Atkins about his career at 7:00 p.m. Saturday.

The lineup is complemented by nearly three dozen other artists, mostly from North Carolina, who represent the Triangle’s most active electronic varieties, such as Modular Synthesis by Moroderik Musik, Maison Fauna’s garage and UK garage, and the adjacent hip-hop beat the music of Raund Haus. These last two collectives were recruited as local curators.

“We want to bring people from all over the world and connect the dots that way, but also provide a platform for local people to feel concerned,” Boray said. “It’s not just a lot of money pushing something on people; we want everyone to get involved.

Indeed, if there is one clear difference between Moogfest and Slingshot, it is that the latter is still a decidedly local affair, although Riedl and Boray have already secured a grant from the City of Durham, which they call a excellent partner.

While these debuts in the COVID era are heavily focused on audio, with the exception of Boray’s audiovisual project ThisOnly and the usual A / V shenanigans from locals like thefacesblur, the full upcoming festival promises to build on the artistic and technological components that manifested themselves in a copious annex program. at Moogfest, although it’s still hard to say what it will look like.

“The word ‘festival’ is a bit tired even on its own,” says Riedl. “Honestly, what we’re doing next week is a small thing within the scope of what’s possible. But we’re here for the first time, bringing in the founder of techno and organizing the local scene in a really interesting way. It’s humiliating that people want to be involved in what we do. You want to develop the creative culture and the economy, but you want to do it in an organized way that the city is proud of. “

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