Eight years old and counting, Westley Barnes previews the 2009 Dublin Electronic Arts Festival
Think you’re as alternative as they come? Think you’ve experienced every form of music or performance-based art imaginable? Well the Dublin Electronic Arts Festival (inconveniently abbreviated ‘DEAF’), now running in its eight year, offers the perfect chance to shatter your perceptions with a smorgasbord of eclectic variety. The festival is run by renowned Dublin label D1 Records, and has a fiercely independent streak that allows its line-up to be as varied and as left-field as any arts festival in Europe.
A true multimedia event, gigs will coincide with art exhibitions and film showings throughout the week long festival, which runs from the 22nd-31st October. While mainly centred in Temple Bar venues, the festival also chooses to put acts on in more intimate settings such as the Bernard Shaw pub on North Richmond street, The Ireland Institute on Pearse Street, the Thomas House Pub in Thomas Street, and the Twisted Pepper Club.
One of the festival’s featured acts who are also holding a workshop for budding DJs are Dublin Dubstep collective !Kaboogie. Their music (interestingly self-described on the group’s MySpace as “bass that makes your granny cry”) purports to being “Dublin’s finest in the dubstep/grime/reggae/mashup/breakbeat business”.
!Kaboogie specialise in “bass-heavy style reggae and beats, with extra emphasis on the bass” with DJ Declan describing the band’s cause to otwo as being “to amend the serious lack of dirty beats skanking through the city”. These boyos are all about the bass – a collective of six DJs who, since their formation, have promoted and collaborated with local spinners as well as importing renowned electroclash DJs such as German Digital Hardcore innovator Alec Empire.
“DEAF is always jam-packed with amazing acts – we’re busy enough with all our own stuff this year but I’m definitely looking forward to the WARP records night”, enthuses Declan of his expectation of DEAF this year.
One of the most intense acts that otwo happened to come across while researching this festival are Dublin-Based instrumental group 3epkano, a seven piece band that set original music to the spectacle of classical 1920’s expressionist films.
Approaching their fifth birthday, the band have played special events at festivals all over Ireland, Europe and the US, making their name over the years with shows scoring films such as The Cabinet of DR, Caligari, Faust, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Man with a Movie Camera and most recently, Nosferatu – the latter in honour of Dublin’s “one city, one book” choice of Dracula at a fundraiser at Dartmouth Square. The band play music which is regarded by critics to fit into the post-rock genre of bands such as Godspeed You Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky.
3epkano founder and guitarist Matthew Nolan disputes this comparison, saying that the band’s influences “stretch back to an era much more in the past than that, dating back to the time of these films really. We’re more an orchestral group who use a contemporary approach.”
The band are treating DEAF to a revisionist interpretation of the soundtrack to the eerie and rather disturbing 1922 Danish witchcraft film Haxan, which is based on the Malleus Maleficarum, the notorious medieval pamphlet describing the perverse goings-on of witches. What’s even more interesting is that it’s being held in Stephens Green’s very own Unitarian Church, an achievement in itself considering the film’s supernatural content.
“We approached one church who superficially seemed interested, but the more information we gave them the less keen they became,” laughs Matthew describing the original hassle of getting the project off the ground. “But we had heard good things about the Unitarian Church, and we approached them with the concept they were than accommodating, with the idea, they had no problem and were in fact quite eager to have us – they’re a very progressive-thinking bunch.”
Tellingly, the Unitarian church has held gigs by the likes of metal legends Metallica and drone pioneers Earth, as well as Japanese noise-worshipers Boris in the states, so it seems the idea has finally reached these shores.
“We were approached by the promotion group Young Hearts Run Free to do this event for DEAF; it’s a festival that just keeps getting better every year. The fact that its popularity has spread largely by word of mouth and you’re being told by people you trust how great it is without just being spun some PR, and the way the Haxan gig is coming together makes me feel like it’s going to be a very special occasion for us.
“We usually just play special events; we’ve played everywhere from Kilkenny Castle for the [Kilkenny] Arts Festival, to last year’s DEAF where we supported Donal Dineen and his instillation work in the national gallery, to film festivals on the continent and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. After five years its gives me quite a stumping to spider through all we’ve managed to do with band.”
What makes 3epkano’s DEAF appearance all the more essential to catch is the fact that it’s held the night before Halloween – and with the doors opening at 10pm and the performance lasting 90 minutes, you’ll be in awe, freaked out, or possibly both by the time the clock strikes twelve. With 2,000 people showing up for Nosferatu (“we should have brought a bigger screen,” evaluates Matthew), be sure to arrive early to witness this critically acclaimed band in a very unique setting – and be sure to get some DEAF into you when the festival kicks off on Thursday week.