EMC DAY ONE Highlights: The Future of Music Festivals & What Can We Do About The Lockouts?

Sydney December 1, 2015: The 2015 edition of the Asia-Pacific Electronic Music Conference kicked off today with legendary DJ Carl Cox entertaining over 700 delegates with engaging and humorous insights into his career spanning four decades as the king of the dance floor.

Local and international industry folk came together to talk about what makes dance music tick, from the future of Australia’s festival scene to the impact of Sydney’s lockouts and how artists can take their careers to the next level. Armin van Buuren dropped by to chat about how he successfully started his own label, while local stars like Timmy Trumpet and Will Sparks were there to rub shoulders with fans.

Key highlights from day one of EMC:

“I hope the festivals of the future don’t have to be put on by clueless millionaires.” — Richard Moffat, Disrupting The Bubble: Is Australia’s New festival Scene Sustainable?

One of the most lively discussions centered around the Australian festival scene with some of Australia’s most well-known festival curators and specialists discussing the sustainability of Australia’s new festival landscape, the economics of limited dates and audience funds, of promotional oxygen and commercial partnerships.

Speaking about what makes Secret Garden such a well-loved event, Adam Lewis said festival promoters should focus on is “creating an experience” and giving people “a place where they can go and express themselves”.

“I think festival, in the sense of meaning these big, inner-city one-day parties with 50,000 people, has become a bit of a dirty word. These days there is a rise of smaller niche events such as bush doofs that are deliberately avoiding calling themselves festivals,” Vice’s Alice Kimberly agreed before the panelists all predicted that festivals will attract punters with more weird and wonderful experiences moving forwards. On the music front they should expect to see less predictable line-ups, with the end result being a lot more fun for everyone.

The international festival scene was also discussed. Coachella is often considered as the Holy Grail of live music by fans, but Richard Moffat disagrees. “Coachella is the devil. It is the least engaged show you would ever see in your life,” the Falls Festival and Groovin the Moo booker told the crowd at the festival panel. “It has evolved to this place where it is the best festival for artists but the absolute #1 worst thing for punters.” Noting that despite the festival’s big artist fees, the sheer number of stages, means artists are often greeted by half-empty crowds. “I have never seen a less engaged audience than at Coachella. There was no point to the festival when more than 20% of the audience was watching a band, except for when Drake was playing. If that is what modern festivals are then fuck me, we’re all in trouble.”

“You can’t just fight things, you need to offer an alternative,” — Tyson Koh, Lockouts and The Future Of Australian Nightlife

The lockouts panel brought together representatives from industry bodies across Australia to discuss the resounding sentiment that the problem with nightclubs is perception. “The only people who see late night venues are people who go to them,” HQ’s Michael said. “50-year-old mums in the suburbs don’t know what goes on in nightclubs, so we need to tell positive stories”.

Roar Projects head Simon Digby called for a national PR campaign that heroes how nightclubs can be safe spaces keeping punters off the streets and under the watchful eye of security.

“You’re never going to hear Paris Hilton do a six hour set. Partly because she’d run out of foam.” — Carl Cox, Keynote Speech

With his big personality, immaculate taste, supreme technical mixing skills and more plaudits than we can list, Carl Cox told his rags-to-riches story of what it’s like to go from playing James Brown records for his tight-knit Barbadian family to becoming one of the most successful DJs in the world. “My record collection started from my dad’s,” he said. “My friends were going to McDonald’s, I was going to buy 7-inch records.”

“I was just having a laugh, and sharing what I could, which was the love of music.” In 2015, he still puts an emphasis on the people and good times. “I genuinely want to reach out to people and see if they’re enjoying themselves,” he says of his trademark “Oh yes! Oh yes!” Of the impending end of his Space Residency, he says “All good things must come to an end,” and isn’t above dishing a little about the state of things in Ibiza.

“In some ways the island has turned to shit,” he says, and teased its most well-publicised resident: “You’re never going to hear a six-hour set from Paris Hilton. It’s just not possible. For one thing she’d run out of foam.”

On his festival plans for Australia, of which he calls home for five months of the year, Pure will hit Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion on April 30 and an unannounced Melbourne venue on April 23, with the bill to be revealed in “another couple of weeks”. Pure will “start off relatively small”, with hopes to grow the event in the coming years.

“I’m starting off boutique-y for people who are into house and techno music,” Carl later told inthemix. “Hopefully it’s something people look forward to on the calendar every year. The DJs we’re looking at bringing over are awesome.”

“If you fuck up at Berghain in Berlin, people will let you know.” — Deepchild, The Australia/ Berlin Connection

Producers Deepchild, Trinity and Michelle Owen and promoter Dave Stuart of Something Else spoke of free-flowing gigs, never-ending parties, affordable rent and the tremendous creative inspiration to be found in the German capital. But they also spoke of brutally long winters; a lonely, transient social scene; and the creative doldrums that come from constant partying.

All agreed that expectations are high there. “If you fuck up at Berghain, people will let you know,” Deepchild said of the famed techno temple.

“Australia has lockout laws and restrictions, but in Berlin you can drink beers on the train with your baby,” Owen quipped.

More news to follow in tomorrow’s EMC’s wrap up. The conference continues tomorrow with appearances from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Tkay Maidza and Ta-ku and many more.

The end of the conference will be capped off with EMCPlay, an electronic music extravaganza, where the freshest producers and DJs from across Australia have the opportunity to perform in front of fans, industry heads and international talent scouts at three venues in Sydney’s CBD. $35 tickets are still on sale: http://bit.ly/1MOG1Oa