Born Digital and Freemote 11
From December 7th to December 11th, 2011, Born Digital hosts FREEMOTE 11: Threshold edition, an electronic arts & co-creation festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands. We’ll let them explain in their own words why we’re so excited about that:
FREEMOTE 11 is a gathering of electronic artists & a shared exposure event in a former railway warehouse in Utrecht (NUtrecht > www.nutrecht.nl). A stage for contemporary creative communities and enlightened souls, 5 days of (inter)national co-creation, installations, performances, exhibitions, screenings, AV performances and more… 4000 m2 festival area and an extensive place to breathe, chill out and create.
If Born Digital doesn’t ring a bell, than maybe the name of the person responsible for the Born Digital netlabel will: that’s none other than Julien Mier, whose excellent music has been reviewed on Netlabelism before. We asked him and Martin Boverhof, another driving force behind Born Digital, to introduce their electronic art assembly and upcoming festival.
Born Digital’s first release, a collaboration between yourself and Daan Kars has been lavishly praised in our magazine, a few months ago. Are there any plans to continue this collaboration? Do you play livesets together? (At any rate, we heard some slightly altered versions of material from ‘Passenger’ in your liveset at Kitch”en)
Julien: We definitely plan to continue this collaboration in a live-setting. It will be an audiovisual performance with a violin/double bass player whose music is hidden in and unfolds throughout the story. ‘Passenger’ will be performed live for the first time at Freemote 11, on the netlabel night (December 9th, 2011).
This will include me on live electronics, synced with Daan Kaars’ visual electronics. Myrthe van der Weetering will use her acoustic instrument to bridge the analogue and digital realms, both musically and visually.
It’s true that ‘Passenger’ was also included in my liveset at Kitch”en. A lot of the pieces included in ‘Passenger’ have evolved throughout the years, and eventually found their way into that release.
Born Digital will publish its second release (Jaqwawaj) soon, and if the first release is anything to go by, the quality of this one will be downright phenomenal. Can you tell us something more about this release?
Julien: ‘Jaqwawaj’, the album title, suggests a certain structure in the plasticity of the audiovisual realm. When inverting the word 180 degrees, it means ‘remember’, which is also the intro to the album and has been chosen as a teaser for the album.
Where ‘Passenger’ was very rhythmic in the musical realm, this will be replaced by serious off-grid work, which will invoke the image of a computer trying to break free from his mode of communication by introducing irregularities. This project was very heavy-duty, and has been a long time coming, but I’m sure it will match the standard set by our first release.
Supporting Marsman’s music, the visuals will be produced by no less than four different people. Three of those are Japanese. Is there any specific reason why Japanese artists are featured this prominently on your second release?
Julien: This is a direct result of our interns at Born Digital up to now. ‘Passenger’ was made by Daan Kars and me, both ex-interns. Marsman is a room mate of mine, who is still shrouded by the veil of anonymity, but seriously deserves some exposure. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the rest of the world. Takuma Nakate, the leading visual artist for this album, was a Japanese intern at Born Digital. After his internship, he returned to Japan where he collaborated with other visual artists, who were – unsurprisingly – also Japanese. We chose Takuma for this project because the experimental nature of a lot of Japanese media-culture is a natural fit for Marsman’s music.
Do you have any plans for a third release?
Julien: Certainly. That will be a conceptual compilation album that has the same theme as the Freemote festival: Threshold. It will feature a number of interesting collaborations between musical and visual artists, including Tapage (Tympanik), Fedbymachines (Broken’ Bubble), Inofaith (Shipwrec) and Terugklap (Lomechanik). These will also play a major part in the presentation and style of the festival itself. We chose these artists because they’re very talented and as such are more than capable of making very visual pieces. We’re intending to bring both media closer to each other than ever before.
Could you tell us how the Born Digital netlabel fits in with the larger electronic art assembly? How do you compare to other netlabels that focus on both audio and visual arts (such as Música Vermella), or in what ways do you differ from the other collectives out there? Could you relate that to the goals that are stated on your web page?
Julien: The Born Digital netlabel originated from the demo-tracker scene in the 1990s, under a different name. Because of the mostly visual orientation of the team, this turned into an organization that mainly focused on the visual arts and advances in technology. Born Digital is currently actively engaged in motion-graphics, video-mapping and interactive/adaptive installations. I joined the team as composer, sound designer and music producer. We all agreed that many artistic disciplines live on their own little islands, and decided merging different media was to be our main objective. I guess that’s our defining characteristic: we want to adopt an open source mentality and progressive approach to truly bring an audiovisual story in the CC/netlabel domain. There are tons of netlabels out there, and it’s hard to stand out. We focus on quality, not quantity, and take the time to tell a story with every one of our releases. One of the main goals is to publish releases in which the music and visuals are on par with each other. This is the type of cross-media label we strive to be.
Martin: We don’t differ really from other netlabels/collectives in that we, just as many of these other groups, both create content and organize events. Festivals we like working with, both in the Netherlands and abroad, have a very similar background and are run by a core of content-creators, producers, etc. I believe that the vision we share is quite ordinary, we just want art, music and culture to be publicly available. Since your art is always grounded in a long history of cultural tradition, hard claims of (intellectual) property make no sense to me.
One aspect in which we might differ from others is the experience we have in creating collaborations between artists from different disciplines. That’s why Freemote is mainly a festival for content creators, and ‘co-creation’ plays an important role in this mission. It’s more than just a program concerning digital art and music. Basing everything around a central theme (threshold) is one way we try to further fade the boundaries between different disciplines. Everyone has their own way of reacting to such a central theme, whether your main mode of expression is audio, pixel or text.
We also think it’s very important to have a physical space for creating projects, not just the online dimension. The space(s) we use are perfectly suited to working with different artists and producers, have the necessary equipment and provide a relaxed working environment. We recently teamed up with a number of organizations to start working in a new communal space which could be described as a crowd-sourced space. This has been created to provide the space for workshops, expositions or presentations involving people from different disciplines and artistic backgrounds.
One of the best things about netlabel culture is that it often leads to collaboration between labels and organizations that share a similar vision. Are there any plans for such collective efforts between Born Digital and other labels?
Julien: Most definitely. Concerning audio, we already have partnerships with small, yet very progressive record labels such as Lomechanik (Terugklap, Jorg, Raadsel, DB), Shipwrec (Inofaith, Funckarma, Einoma) and Saturate (Krampfhaft, Coco Bryce). One of our goals in working with these labels is to further promote music from the Netherlands and put a new generation of artists in the spotlight.
Martin: How collaborations with other organizations and festivals are formed is hard to say. Sometimes we’re approached by people interested in working together on a project, sometimes you meet through sheer coincidence. We also contact artists or bands we want to invite to our projects or festival. The interchange and creative connection that sprouts from these encounters does the rest.
And last, but not least: Freemote. We’re planning some extensive coverage of the festival, as our very own Bitbasic (Simon Haycock) will be present in Utrecht. Will he also perform at the festival?
Julien: He will indeed be playing a liveset on our netlabelnight. On top of that, he partnered with an intern at Born Digital for an audiovisual compilation that will be released during the festival.
What makes Freemote unique? Why should people come to the festival?
Julien: Maybe we should start this off with a teaser for the festival, a collaboration between 3D animator Roy Gerritsen and myself:
We at Born Digital believe that all media should come together, and we want to promote this fusion through masterclasses, lectures and workshops that will also be held at the festival. New advances in technology will be showcased through expo’s, installations and performances. We invite everyone that has ideas on the subject, to come to the festival, find like-minded people and start up new projects.
One of our goals is to completely wrap the stage in video-mapping, something which, unfortunately, has been done on Amon Tobin’s latest show. We were preparing this a long time before the ISAM tour was even announced.
Some of the artists that will be announced any day now include: Inofaith, Tapage, Bitbasic, Krampfhaft, Terugklap, Raadsel, Marsman, Fedbymachines, Distant Drummers, Knalpot and probably Einoma. We are negotiating with many more artists but will leave those as a surprise for now.
[Freemote has since published a complete list of artists performing, you can find it on their website through the links below]
Julien and Martin, thank you very much for your time and we wish you a wonderful Freemote 11. (SimonVB)