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Moogfest: The Synthesis of Art, Technology and Music

Kristin Houser Writer & Editor, LA Music Blog

If you haven’t heard of Moogfest yet you’re in for a treat: It’s like SXSW, Coachella, and TED Talks all rolled into one.

This April 23 through 27, music and tech lovers will descend upon Asheville, North Carolina for the 2014 iteration of Moogfest, a festival honoring the legacy of Dr. Robert Moog, the inventor of the Moog synthesizer.

During the day, attendees can check out panels and workshops, and at night they’re treated to some of the most innovative and exceptional electronic music artists in the industry.

After taking last year off, Moogfest is back, and the 2014 version of the fest is taking a more future-leaning approach than past years, according to Emmy Parker, Brand Director of Moog Music and Moogfest.

“This year we transformed the festival to better reflect the ethos of Moog Music by inviting some of the brightest and most forward-thinking minds and artists to explore how technology will enhance the way we creatively express ourselves in the next 50 to 100 years,” said Parker.

Since iQ by Intel last checked in on the fest in 2012, Moogfest has grown from a three-day event into a five-day affair, and it’s easy to see why. With dozens of panels, workshops, film screenings, installations, and performances, the festival is packed from beginning to end with exceptional programming.

To help you make the most of your time at Moogfest, take a look at some of the panels and performances that should be at the top of your to-do list.

Kraftwerk 3D Performance

Formed in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1970, Kraftwerk has been at the forefront of the electronic music scene for four decades, and in early 2014 the Grammy Academy honored the group’s contribution to the world of music with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kraftwerk’s legendary live performances feature self-made instruments, custom-built devices, and live improvisation, and the group’s three unique performances with 3D projections are the musical tent pole of this year’s Moogfest.

The Future of Creativity

If you’re looking for answers to big picture music and tech questions (What will art look and sound like 100 years from now? How will it be made and consumed? What will be the tools of creative expression in the future?), you’ll want to find time to attend Moogfest’s three Future of Creativity panels, which are being led by Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom; Millennium Project co-founder Jerome C. Glenn; and bioethicist, transhumanist, and futurist George Dvorsky.

“The connection between art and technology is circular. As new technology emerges, artists immediately utilize it creatively while simultaneously pushing the limitations of the tools to drive new innovations,” said Parker.

If you want to explore how this give-and-take relationship will shape the future of art and tech, these panels are for you.

A Talk with the Electric Lady

Hot off the heels of the 2013 release of her acclaimed sophomore effort, “The Electric Lady,” six-time Grammy-nominated R&B/soul musician, composer, and producer Janelle Monáe will lead a discussion of her sci-fi-influenced music at Moogfest. She’ll be joined by two of the album’s co-producers, Nate “Rocket” Wonder and Chuck Lightning, so if you have questions for the ArchAndroid herself regarding her music’s dystopian themes or futuristic cyborg characters, this is the place to find answers. Her headlining performance at the fest, on the other hand, will be the place to find dancing. Lots of dancing.

Innovators in Electronic Music

Simply breathing the same air as any of the four speakers participating in this panel — Bob Moog collaborator Herb Deutsch; TONTO (The Original New Timbral Orchestra) inventor Malcolm Cecil; Academy and Grammy Award-winning synth pioneer Giorgio Moroder; and “How To Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop” author Dave Tompkins — should be enough to elevate your understanding of the technology behind electronic music. Make this panel a priority.

The Future of Music Visuals

With all the focus on sound at Moogfest, take a break to indulge your sense of sight with this Future of Music Visuals panel. Featuring the creative minds behind visuals for Arcade Fire, Nine Inch Nails, Flying Lotus, Skrillex, Cut Copy, Little Dragon, and more, this panel will explore how visual artists and designers are using the latest technological tools to create immersive visuals for musicians, all while keeping an eye toward the future of music visuals.

Conductar: Moogfest by Odd Division

Not so much a panel or performance as an experience, this immersive augmented-reality installation sees the entire city of Asheville transform into a virtual canvas of sound and sight. Inspired by the psychogeographical concept of dérive, Conductar: Moogfest runs on a mobile app that connects to a brainwave sensor that you can obtain from Moogfest staff. As you travel across the festival grounds, the electrical activity of your brain (EEG data) will be transformed into music, allowing even the least musically savvy attendee to create their own unique soundtrack to Moogfest.

As the Co-Founder and Lead Writer/Editor for LA Music Blog, a Los Angeles-based music news and review website, Kristin Houser’s life revolves around music and technology. She has been an avid fan of music ever since discovering her parents’ vinyl collection while still in elementary school, and she is fascinated by all the ways technology allows her to discover new music and share it with the world. She currently manages a staff of fifteen writers and contributors at LA Music Blog, and when she isn’t scouring the internet for her latest musical obsession, Kristin frequents Los Angeles’ many music venues where she can usually be found hovering near the front of house engineer while jotting down set lists in her smart phone. She is very pleased to share her latest music obsessions and all the ways technology allows her to discover and enjoy music with iQ by Intel’s audience.


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