Growing up in the early 2000's had its advantages. Those kids tinkering around on their computers are now making electronic music; lush synth pop and grimy trap beats. Futuresounds is the motherboard, holding everything together by supporting local musicians.
Founded two years ago by Tom Gaffney and Patrick Lang, Futuresounds is an electronic music collective and label. They host Sidechain, a fortnightly event to showcase Adelaide’s new kids on the block. Futuresounds IV festival saw the acts and stages tripled, but it is now bigger than what the duo can do alone, and they have gained official sponsorship from Rip It Up, Fresh 92.7 and Arts SA.
This Saturday, November 21 Futuresounds V will bring 23 acts across three stages at the Crown & Sceptre Hotel, everything from fuzzy dream pop to groovy dance tracks. All for a little more than the price of a coffee.
We sat down and had a chat with co-founder Tom Gaffney and discovered why you would be a fool to miss Futuresounds V.
What is different about Futuresounds V compared to the last festival?
We have a lot more executive and official bodies that try and help us. That is a significant sign of growth. Apart from that we’re paying artists money now; it’s not just volunteer. Therefore we’re charging a bit more and as a result we’re bringing bigger draw cards like The Oscillators and The Swiss, which has been really really cool.
Have you learnt from any previous mistakes?
We definitely wanted to increase the amount of people going to the event so we can max it out at all times. That’s a very ambitious idea. Just little things like Patrick and myself did sound checking just to save some money. Which meant we were stuck at one stage and we couldn’t really enjoy the festival that we created. But now we’re both playing in different projects so we’re a part of the festival, which is going to be a lot more fun.
Tell us about the acts on the line-up. Who are you most excited about?
I’ve fallen in love with Kimonono because they are like a lush Purity Ring. When we had an artist called PNKFME play Sidechain, it was his first show and he was so naturally performance based. He was so incredible and all of his songs were amazing. He’s been our brainchild and we push him to grow and get better releases. It will be good to see him perform to a big crowd.
Artists on our label like Lazer Blades and Raygun, they are obviously our babies as well. I’m in a duo called Alleles, very fun, dancey, future-bass trap stuff. I’m collaborating with one of my good friends Chris who I’ve been in bands with before. The act is supposed to be detached from the crowd. There will be a huge screen that separates myself from them, so they don’t feel like they have to watch two awkward guys DJ dance music for half an hour. They can get lost and dance.
I love the cool new graphics on your Facebook page. Who is the creative behind this?
Sione (Lonelyspeck) and Matt Gorgula (HOLINAU) teamed up to make this nice pastel and approachable look. I’m really glad because it has gotten away from wires and harsh colours. I never want anything with Futuresounds to be segregated or in any liner way that doesn’t lead to community. Everyone likes those colours, no one will get mad at those colours.
What challenges do Adelaide electronic musicians face?
It is almost like people are attending events as a favour versus wanting to be there. Sometimes we’re a lot more critical. Even though acts may play their music for a DJ setting, local people still don’t really get it. They would rather see a live rock band. When you go to a pub to see live music you wouldn’t want to see some intimate person DJ’ing for a long time, that’s more of a passive performance. People get let down by that sort of stuff at times.
Maybe they’re expecting a show or a spectacle?
Yeah, so true. Electronic music isn’t largely a show anymore, especially if you’re solo. It’s more about how the music feels inside of you versus how it looks.
Many of the acts you discover through Sidechain. What is your strangest encounter with an underground beat maker?
Hip-hop acts are now electronic because they have electronic producers. But they bring a totally amazing but wacky crowd. Whenever we have a hip-hop act at Sidechain they always take over the space. The strangest encounter would be this kid called Theo, his laptop broke but he was free styling over the beats I was DJ’ing. As soon as he finished someone said, ‘Hey bro, can I grab the mike and do some beat boxing for ten minutes,’ I was like, ‘Yeah, sure man.’ And it just kept going on. He didn’t stop until I turned off the PA. Beatboxing is such an amazing and difficult thing to do. But no one will ever respect it to the level that it should be respected at.
I’m so excited, there is going to be giant Jenga and table tennis. If you could make any board game giant sized which would it be?
What about giant Jenga where the bricks are the size of our legs and when it falls it will literally kill someone. The stakes are pretty high so you’ll have to use ladders. The risk in regular Jenga is low but when it’s nears death, it’s pretty funny. I have to think about this because I’m really into board games. There is a game called Boom Boom Balloon…
Nooooo! I refuse to play that game.
It’s the best! It’s scary, so tense and it brings up so much stress. But what if it was so big that once it popped it would literally blow you away into the wall. That’s pretty stressful. That sounds like fun.
There is a growing interest in local electronic music. Where is it heading?
It’s heading in the same way that electronic music in general is heading. So many pop songs now, versus fifteen years ago, are electronic music. Compared to an acoustic or rock song in the nineties. What’s in the top three right now? The latest Justin Bieber track, it’s really good and that’s a house music track.
The point is, the more people understand that electronic music is something you can get into, as long as you have the time and effort, more people will participate and the scene will grow. If we keep on encouraging it, Adelaide could be the next Melbourne or Los Angeles scene where electronic music is just everywhere.
If you were trying to convince someone to come along to Futuresounds how would you do it?
If you don’t know who The Swiss is, you would have to pay 10 to 15 bucks just to see them play. They are half Luke Million and half Tony Mitolo, the drummer from Empire of the Sun. For them to be playing for five dollars alongside 22 other acts, you must have a pretty good thing going on to not be there. Even if you don’t like electronic music, when would you ever be able to go to a festival for five dollars?
What does the future sound like to you?
Maybe the future will sound like the past.