Interview: Chapel Sound Festival plugs into art, innovation, and community

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Nancy Lee (Festival Director)

Sitting inside the shared studio space where Chapel Sound has been busily organizing their upcoming music festival, director Nancy Lee is rendered nearly speechless. The day prior was volunteer orientation, at which more than a dozen people showed up to commit to help out at the underground electronic arts event. For something put on by a collective that started out of a living room, this was, for lack of a better word, huge. “There were, like, 15 new faces that I’ve never seen before and I’m just excited that there’s so many people willing to volunteer their time for this,” Lee enthuses.

Not that it’s surprising – community is the gas that fuels Chapel Sound, the broadcasting communal that live streams experimental performances and thrives on the support between the creatives that inhabit Vancouver’s electronic music scene. “As an organization, we want to provide a platform for emerging artists,” Lee, an interdisciplinary artist herself, explains. “It’s a platform to support local talent, as well. That’s really important to us, because we believe in the whole in-real-life community aspect of things.”

The idea for a festival was a natural expansion for Chapel Sound and materialized following the success of their three-year anniversary celebration last September that boasted a stacked lineup of live performances. The forthcoming event, held from May 20-22 at various locations, will feature a dynamic presentation of local DJs, producers, and beat-makers that work within a multitude of genres. Sets from artists like Mu, Michael Red, and x/o will keep energy levels high throughout the night, while the day will be saved for a variety of thought-provoking workshops.

For Chapel Sound, the educational component was important to include in the programming. “At a party setting, during an event, it’s loud, you can’t really have in-depth conversations about music technology, music industry,” Lee says, “so we wanted to provide that opportunity in the daytime to kind of facilitate dialogue.”

Workshops on new types of technology are offered, including one with Terrance Grigoruk, who developed a gestural tracking device that takes bodily movement and translates it into music. “These are new thing that are happening,” Lee continues. “10 years down the road, it might be a norm during an electronic music performance. We want to let people learn about these kinds of technology.”

There will also be panel discussions on important topics like how to bridge the gender gap in electronic music and how to balance media exposure and artistic integrity. “Those are two panels that I’m extremely excited about because there’ll be the most dialogue there and people can actually learn about the industry and bounce ideas and, you know, build their career, and network, and connect. I find it’s the workshops [where] we can really build those connections with each other.”

And, ultimately, that’s what the foundation of this community is all about – sharing ideas and encouraging one another. “There’s an amazing scene here,” Lee says. “Everyone kind of knows each other, there’s lots cross-pollinations, lots of collaborations, and it’s just a very supportive scene. That’s how we were able to get so many people to be a part of the festival from various different types of electronic music genres to music technology. People are willing to present their projects and perform with us for that very reason.”

Chapel Sound Festival

When: May 20-22, 2016

Where: Red Gate, Gold Saucer Studio, and SKIO Music

Tickets: $40 festival passes/$10 day passes available online

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Yasmine Shemesh is a freelance writer who was born in Vancouver and raised on The Rolling Stones.
@yasmineshemesh

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