The last time The Uniter spoke with Nathan Zahn, the local DJ and producer was hoping to turn his electronic music festival into a household name across Canada.
As hype heats up for the third annual Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition of Technology, Innovation & Creativity (MEME) - taking place at various locations downtown Thursday, June 21 to Sunday, June 24 - Zahn’s hopes continue to take steps toward reality.
“We’ve for sure had a lot more talent locally and nationally approaching us to see if they can play at the festival,” Zahn says. “It’s interesting to see several dozen, if not more, serious requests (to perform).”
As with last year’s festival - which attracted international acts from Berlin and Geneva - this year’s lineup continues to maintain a diverse bill.
Headliners this year include John Tejada (Austria), Anenon (Los Angeles), Adham Shaikh (B.C.) and local techno group Tonepushers.
“We’ve all been involved in the music scene well over a decade, each of us,” Zahn says. “Within the collective, we each have our own niche. Someone might like techno, someone might like drum and bass. We all bring to the table suggestions of our favourites.”
Much of the free day-long performances at MEME will again take place at the Cube in Old Market Square.
A full day of producing workshops - from beginners to advanced - and panel discussions will take place at Manitoba Music on Saturday, June 23, giving participants a chance to rub shoulders and talk music with performers and producers at the festival.
“Unfortunately, a lot of creative scenes can have a cliquishness if you don’t know the main players,” says Andrew Yankiwski, a partner at Precursor Productions, who will host the workshops.
“We want to form the relationships that keep the mentoring going. It doesn’t happen in this scene as much as others.”
It’s a small, intimate and crucial part of the festival that allows artists and audiences to connect beyond the stage, he says.
“You’re usually seeing these people via a stage or a venue that’s not appropriate (for this type of discussion),” Yankiwski says.
“Often, I think, for the talent coming in, it’s value added for them, a different kind of arena to show what they know and what they do. They are very modest people who are also looking to learn.”
As MEME continues to grow - thanks in part by relationships with other festivals like Mutek in Montreal and international press coverage from the U.S. - it’s important the festival doesn’t overstep and outgrow itself, Zahn says.
Part of that is focusing on building strong relationships with local venues like the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Manitoba Museum, both of which will play host to after parties when music at the Cube winds down.
“A lot of people like to go out until two, three in the morning. It’s a natural thing to have somewhere to go for people,” Zahn says, noting the WAG after party will feature three levels of music and VJs.
“It’s a big show for us. We want to do it in a classy, professional way. (We’re a) pretty artsy scene too.”
Published in Volume 66, Number 27 of The Uniter (May 30, 2012)