mutek has always been the kind of festival you experience with your whole self. you don’t go to mutek to simply hear music, you go to mutek to listen. you don’t go to mutek to watch visuals or art installations, you go to mutek to see. mutek is an anomaly in that way; one of the few festivals where you’re acutely aware that everyone is present for the same reasons, and it all boils down to a love of music. when the opportunity to attend the 6th annual mutek es in barcelona, spain, arose, i couldn’t pass it up. needless to say, mutek es was an experience for all five senses — being in a new city often does that to a person. the music was absolutely stand-out incredible, the visuals were captivating, and the people were warm, grounded, and welcoming. a good analogy for the festival as a whole. here are the ways i experienced mutek barcelona.
it was early 2011 when i first shyly toyed with the idea of starting a “blog.” it was around the time that the word “blog” didn’t have exactly the same connotation as it does today. blogs were “the cool thing,” and no one rolled their eyes at you when you proudly declared that you were writing one. in 2015, though, the word “blog” itself is enough to make me cringe. following our continuing obsession with portmanteauing everything — mockumentary, liger, brangelina, affluenza — the “blog” is in itself one of those sad words you can’t help but be embarrassed to say out loud. but in the beginning, the timidity wasn’t for the word but for the thing itself.
it was years, literally years, before i was able to talk about this thing called littlecity without the obligatory nervous laugh or sheepish grin. it’s funny how hard it can be to talk about these things that we’re passionate about, the projects that we pour our hearts into, the goals we stop at nothing to achieve. i have brushed off littlecity like it wasn’t one of the most important parts of my life. i have smiled and blushed and rolled my eyes when others have talked about littlecity in praise. it was easy for me to talk about anything else, other than this thing that, some days, i wake up for in the morning.
“warm water” that you played through a portable speaker in the basket of your two-year-old bicycle, your last summer in montreal. volume turned way up, riding with two of your best friends — to work with the sun rising at your back, coffee in one hand, or to the bar at night, racing to beat the rain. you pretended you were in “now & then,” embodying every cliche: carefree, sun-kissed, singing at the top of your lungs without knowing the words. you played it at the park in the heat, in your stuffy apartment, on your computer at work, in the studio, and in the early morning when the three of you came home, sticky with sweat and laughter, from a night of partying under seventeen moons.
i’ve never met lyli jordy in person. i’ve never heard her speak aside from picking up on her ghostly vocals in the productions featured on her soundcloud. we met in the way that seems typical of the music community – over the internet, earlier this summer when my good friend jackie spade pointed me in lyli’s direction, insisting that she has a “voice that needs to be heard.” i tucked into her soundcloud, devouring her every release from dripping, melting dub to complex microhouse or instrumentalized minimal thread through perfect, breathy vocal fragments. and though i’ve never heard it in person, i know for sure that lyli has a voice that, indeed, begs to be heard.
ben nevile flies under the radar. although he regularly updates his soundcloud page with what seems like snippets of his musical musings, his profile is decidedly non-descript. he doesn’t have a facebook fan page, or a twitter account. his beatport profile is wiped clean of any telling information, and his biography on the telegraph records site – his home since he first started releasing music in 2001 – is a concise two paragraphs in length. if you take all of this to mean that ben’s artistry is equally as well-kept a secret in the industry, you are definitely mistaken.
it’s only been a couple weeks since local heroes hushlamb – made up of toronto natives sarah lamb and alicia hush – announced their third event, this time a nighttime follow-up to their under-the-sun jam earlier this summer. dubbed “motif local,” the party will host an incredible roster of canadian talent, including the likes of miss hush herself, magnanime, akufen, zeina, ana+one, diagraf on visuals, and of course, ben nevile. taking to the event’s facebook wall to voice their enthusiasm, everyone seems to be waiting on ben nevile. born in manitoba and bred in british columbia, ben makes detailed minimal and techno-influenced music grounded in his canadian roots; humble, organic, and genuine. it’s anything but elitist. ahead of this weekend’s festivities, i caught up with ben to talk keeping a low-profile, degrassi junior high, perfectionism, and what we can expect from the hushlamb motif local.