Local promoters help bring piece of MUTEK to Toronto

Montreal's unique MUTEK festival has been delivering impressive programming of electronic music and digital art since 2000, and many Toronto fans make the trip to Quebec each spring for the party - or wish they could. While Toronto is a ways away from having its own festival of this scale, events like the Foundry series have been laying groundwork for future large scale events, while MUTEK themselves have been presenting events in Toronto for a few years. This Saturday, the Montreal fest will present AVANT_MUTEK at 99 Sudbury together with lauded Toronto promoters breakandenter.

AVANT is a warmup event taking place first in Montreal on Friday, then here in Toronto on Saturday night. Swedish duo Minilogue, who've played MUTEK proper twice, will play a delirious four hour set, and mark their first and last time in Toronto - the duo will take an indefinite hiatus after their current tour.

With Toronto's electronic scene getting stronger all the time (random City Council decrees or not), I checked in with Alain Mogneau (MUTEK's General and Artistic Director / Programmer) and Patti Schmidt (MUTEK's Editorial Manager / Programmer) to see if they're planning to branch out further into Toronto.

"We definitely have some close connections with the artistic community, and there is usually a big contingent of Torontonians who we see at the festival every year. It would be great to establish something in Toronto, and it's certainly always on our mind."

What would it take for TO to have a fest similar in scale? "Get the city and province on board," the duo explains. "Get them to believe in niche, specialized and forward thinking communities, music and art scenes so that they let them 'do their thing.' This means developing a grasp of how small cultural festivals enrich communities and cities, and how to cultivate them - how to accommodate cultural activity that falls outside of normal hours (night time economy), and outside of the prevailing understandings of music culture that are usually determined by how rock and roll works."

"A certain curiosity and openness to new experiences is crucial to building an electronic and digital arts scene," they continue. "Plus some critical mass. MontrĂŠal is already a "city of festivals." There are more than a hundred every season, and making room for each other is part of the constant economic and cultural dialogue here."

While Toronto currently feels like a city of festivals where people stand around in plaid and rubber boots waiting for three decades worth of indie rock bands to set up, supporting AVANT_MUTEK and promoters like breakandenter and Foundry, as well as small fests like Sound in Motion, is a crucial step along the way to Toronto creating infrastructure for dynamic electronic and arts events the size of MUTEK or various European festivals.

MUTEK will celebrate its fifteenth year in Montreal with over one hundred artists from May 27 to June 1 together with Montreal digital arts festival Elektra, rebranded for one year only as EM15. Toronto's AVANT_MUTEK show is Saturday, April 19th at 99 Sudbury.

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