marking the first year that toronto has been home to open air music festivals, this summer has been a groundbreaking one for toronto EDM fans. an overwhelmingly mass amount of electronic producers and DJs seems to surface daily and this summer’s music festivals seemed to cause that population to grow exponentially. if you’ve been paying attention at all, sound in motion has been many moons in the making and for weeks, i’ve been posting about the festival in hot anticipation. the weekend finally arrived and it blew absolutely all expectations out of the water. in a good way, duh.
in case you missed it, you can catch jonathan coe’s mixtape teaser for SIM right here
presented by studiofeed in collab with breakandenter and the deep north crew, the festival kicked off with a more intimate setting than one would expect from an EDM festival – this was a theme that extended throughout the whole weekend. in fact, there was such a crazy contrast between SIM and digital dreams, for example, that this felt like entirely new territory for me. after meet n greet (told ya, new territory), the festival kicked off with a short film showcase, as well as the opening canadian music showcase at bizune event gallery. despite an entire night’s worth of live acts from toronto’s knowing looks and arthur oskan, among others, it was obvious that montreal legend, pheek, had stolen the show. even the next day, SIMbots and DJs alike were still talking about his set, in that way that’s like half jealousy, half awe. but mostly jealousy.
saturday’s events at sugar beach were, for me, the highlight of the weekend. and let me tell you. guys, it was actually 42 degrees out. it really allowed me to see how people live in, say, the inside of a volcano. i’m not exaggerating. my hair grew to abnormal proportions. despite the heat, i had no problem boogying down because honestly, how could you not? we arrived just in time for fairmont’s set, which was the perfect way to start the day – the toronto based dj’s form of techno was a welcome warm up to almost 8 more hours of music throughout the day. next up, alicia hush and ana+one debuted their live act as duo, yes ma’am; funky, chunky tech-house that was seamlessly equal parts alicia and ana+one, had everyone on their feet, sweatin’ it out like crazy. next i was introduced to demas, a german dj, who, for some reason, was the biggest surprise of the day. a little quirky music wise, a little awkward presence wise, but overall, really well pulled together! but i think you all know what i’m getting to here, because if you were at sugar beach, you are well aware that it was chicago/montreal producer/DJ, billy dalessandro that took the day’s event to the next level. let me preface this by saying that i totally introduced myself to him before i realized who he was and had a momentary panic attack (this was a regular occurance throughout the day). it goes without saying that he absolutely brought the house down. hard tech with an almost futuristic undertone, his set was filtered through moments of complete and utter brain-exploding awesomeness, layered in between effortless booty shaking beats. then set on fire and thrown at you like that hot potato game – so hot you had no choice but to keep your feet moving to keep from getting burned. yes, that good.
the day was long and the heat was getting to me when dualism took over with a more mellowed out set. right on time too, as everyone seemed to need a break from the, now, almost 6 hours of non-stop dancing in the blistering sun. it was a dark set that cooled everyone off, a good preface to berlin’s sammy dee, who closed down the event. the best part of the day was that there was never a point where i was disappointed in the music: consistent, unique and intriguing, SIM’s curation of DJs was clearly streamlined and well thought out – which is rare for a first year festival.
another interesting part of the festival was a panel discussion about art and activism (exploring the use of art for positive social change). i didn’t really know what to expect, since, in all seriousness, i don’t really do a lot for the good of society. that’s bad, but at the same time, that’s why i went to the panel discussion. hey, at least i’m honest. after an unfortunate series of mishaps (there are two centres for social innovation, guys. just so you know), i ended up making it to the event with only minutes to spare, but i’m really happy i did. the discussion was held by studiofeed founder and co-producer of SIM, john alexiou, along with artist/activist siobhan mckeown (aka shibby shitegeist), taymoore balbaa (architect and professor at ryerson), rosina kazi (LAL) and bandana singh (mine own media). to be frank, the discussion was a lot to take in after a long weekend of partying and travelling, even more so because there was so much to say squeezed into so little time. the discussion focused on how to use music and sound to change the world we live in – and while i won’t recount every detail here, highlights included a power point presentation on plans for a new music-centric space (by studiofeed) that would give the musical eco-system in toronto a place to gather, work, be inspired, and ultimately, call home. but the most inspiring part of the discussion centered around commercialism/capitalism and independent music, and how we can bring change to the industry by supporting independent music.
“commercial music is junk good, it’s easily accessible, it’s fast, it satisfies” noted studiofeed’s john alexiou, who also acted as mediator for the discussion. talk of the clashing of both worlds went back and forth for a while, as i clamoured to take notes, with every contributor offering a different way of looking at a single subject. the important point, it seemed, was that “music is the universal language. and music is a beautiful way to speak out where words fall short” – it was this idea that was so obviously at the centre of not only the panel discussion, but sound in motion as a whole. the best part of the festival was how genuinely you could feel that the events were put together with love and passion instead of out of a desire to make money (in comparison to many other festivals). in the end, a good point was raised by alexiou, “the point shouldn’t be to sell but to do something you’re passionate about, building something with people who care about the same thing”
an amazing start to what i hope will be a continued adventure for sound in motion!