The Closer electronic music festival kicked off last night with a party at Crush, and continues throughout the weekend with two big shows at Refuge tonight and tomorrow, and various other showcases around town. Mercury contributor Wyatt Schaffner spoke with Coco Madrid, one of the festival organizers (full disclosure: Coco contributes to MOD, the Mercury's style blog), about this year's festival and what it means for Portland's electronic music scene. For the full festival schedule, lineup, and details, head over to Closer's website.
MERCURY: What is the mission of Closer music festival?
MADRID: The mission behind Closer is to bring the Portland electronic music scene together. Similar to Decibel, but focused on Portland. It's run by Portland labels, promoters, DJs, producers, and party people. It's all about providing high quality artists to the masses.
The term EDM gets thrown around a lot. How would you categorize the span of electronic music at this year's Closer fest?
Not EDM. Also, EDM is just a blanket term used to describe music that isn't already an established sub-genre in the electronica genre. The founders have put an emphasis on not using that term to describe any of the music that will be featured. EDM is a subculture and we would like to keep distance from that. We represent these genres: techno, house (deep, tribal, soul, acid, tech), ambient/experimental, DnB, jungle, dub, abstract hiphop, future (bass), and garage. Just like Decibel and Mutek, we don't have anything to do with the big room/dubstep/mega festivals, music, or people. [Closer is] a music festival for music nerds.
Excellent. That's crucial.
The founders are a bit of snobs but for good reason. They both own record labels; different crews represent the different showcases. Their vision is to present diverse musical genres that are cutting edge and yet underground.
What is your official position within the festival?
Well, I have my own showcase and I am doing promotions. Unofficially, artist recruitment.
How do visiting artists (particularly those from abroad) contribute to the hometown festival atmosphere?
Most of them have already played here and made connections with the locals, so it's just expansion of the Portland network. Being able to have the established connection helps put Portland in the spotlight for having quality music. With these established connections, there is opportunity to bring our Portland talent international with gig swaps and such.
How is visual art integrated with the programming?
It's only become a thing this year. My showcase has the most visual integration. I teamed up with the Time Based Arts club from PSU—they will be doing some 3D sculptures and projecting on to them [for the PSU show], and the Kontrast showcase will have the dudes from Thoughtcloud doing visuals.
With regard to venues, this should be a pretty pedestrian friendly festival?
Absolutely. We have two showcases downtown that are right on the MAX line, and then everything else is on the Eastside. The four venues on the Eastside are all within walking distance. I am not a walking person and I can get around to all of them. The only out of the way thing is the park party which should still be fairly easy to get to.
Sellwood Riverfront Park
Is that the lone outdoor event?
Yeah. That's the best part!