Netaudio London launches this evening with a Runsounds party at Hackney's Apiary Studios. Presented biannually since 2006, the festival represents a refreshing alternative to the all-too-familiar London multi-venue music bonanzas of the summer months. Artists, musicians and technologists who push the boundaries of sonic production, often through digital or networked technologies, come together in an event that focuses on discussion and discovery as much as live performance.
Programming coups this year include convincing the elusive Nurse With Wound to headline KOKO on Sunday, commissioning Mika Vainio (ex Pan Sonic) & Bruce Gilbert (ex Wire) to produce exclusive work and having Matthew Herbert present the keynote at the Netaudio Politics, Protest & Sound conference on Sunday. These events are flanked by the Call & Response curated Sonic Maze sound art installation at Camden's Roundhouse and Resonance FM's interactive broadcast. Encouraged by the festival's attitude to sound and music, Dazed quizzed Matt Spendlove, organiser and co-director of Cenatus with Netaudio originator Andi Studer.
Dazed Digital: How did Netaudio come about?
Matt Spendlove: Netaudio has it's roots in the burgeoning netlabel scene from around 2004 where a real DIY aesthetic boomed around fat Internet pipes relaying music to peoples hard drives with minimum red tape. Creative Commons licenses protected the artists from exploitation whilst encouraging listeners to share material. We saw it as a democratised process. The festival started as an incarnation of this culture. We quickly became less interested in the specifics of distribution, especially as digital music consumption became commonplace, and more interested in the enabling facets of technology.
DD: What's your vision for Netaudio this year?
Matt Spendlove: To showcase exhilarating and provoking artists, to challenge PR driven music memes, to incubate collaboration and encourage participation, to experiment with crowd sourced programming, debate contemporary themes and evaluate the current / historical technological landscape.
DD: Why now? Why London?
Matt Spendlove: London had been lacking a world-class digital culture event and we aimed to address that.
DD: What would never get programmed for Netaudio?
Matt Spendlove: Never is a mighty long time..
DD: What's the relationship between Netaudio, live art and sound art?
Matt Spendlove: We have a core interest in creativity, especially in the collaborative sense, much more so that being confined to a particular means of presentation. The pace of technological evolution encourages people to create work that blurs the lines of more traditional ideas. A lot of forward thinking work can exist across different mediums, where the end result could be presented in a gallery, venue, online/broadcast space or combination of the three.
DD: Do you think it's a particularly crucial time in terms of music and technology?
Matt Spendlove: Democratisation of resources gives us an unprecedented pool of creativity. Younger kids can get hold of simple production software that produces releasable results in a matter of minutes, bypassing financial or other logistical restrictions. It’s also interesting to note how listening devices are changing the way music gets produced.
A concrete example of both would be Grime/Dubstep in London with kids getting smart on cheap software and releasing the results, and often, for better or worse, getting much airplay from the speaker in some other kid’s mobile phone. There’s also some pretty impressive applications being developed for smart phones and tablets. This unleashes the confines of the typical studio environment.
DD: What's the future for music and distribution?
Matt Spendlove: It’s fairly clear that the notion of ownership in a lot of consumable media will become outdated, whether that be a physical object or binary information. Sure, there’ll always be collectors and archivists, but as the networks become more capable and public hotspots the norm, I’d imagine we just lease and stream much of our content.
DD: Is there any danger of technology and music becoming a gimmick rather than remaining true to the spirit of experimental music production?
Matt Spendlove: Technology is just a tool, like any other. It’s all down to who’s using that tool.
DD: What is it about liveness that Netaudio aims to promote?
Matt Spendlove: In increasingly virtualised times it becomes all the more important for people to connect in a physical space. Performance is something that can’t necessarily be captured in any medium, digital or otherwise.
Netaudio London, May 13-15, 2011 - Buy your ticket HERE