The Alberta Electronic Music Convention, better known in some circles by its acronym AEMCON, is quickly approaching. Roughly three weeks away at the time of writing, AEMCON is set to bring some of summer’s festive vibes to the dreary, short days of late autumn as well as some heat to the long cold nights perfect for the club.

In its second annual year, AEMCON is shaping up to be one of the most important things to happen in Alberta’s history of electronic music. The conference is a massive meeting of the minds from across the province, western Canada, and the world. Pairing together panel discussions by industry leaders, a marketplace focusing on the latest offerings from basically every major gear company, as well as more than ten different nighttime events spanning a selection of genres, it’s pretty fair to make the assumption that this is going to be a crazy time, and is going to be huge for electronic music in this province.

Freq spoke with Andrew Williams of Dunmore Park, one of AEMCON’s founders, to get the lowdown on what everyone needs to know going into this amazing event. There’s so much on the agenda, even we were surprised to learn about some of the happenings. We’ve put together a list to get you straight – seven things you need to know about AEMCON 2017.

THIS YEAR THE CONFERENCE IS LOCATED IN CALGARY: AEMCON 2017 (November 16-19). will be taking place in Calgary, mostly at the incredible Studio Bell – but that may change next year. The entire point of the conference is to showcase Alberta, so don’t bet on being able to take advantage of attending Studio Bell for something this cool year after year. On the subject Andrew says, “The conference started off as a discussion in early 2016 about how the three cities [Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge] could come together to start to elevate the scene as a whole in a more professional and larger way. He goes on to explain, “There’s the idea that we want to engage all of Alberta in this project, which requires showcasing both cities.”

STUDIO BELL: Studio Bell is the National Music Centre. If you haven’t been there yet, or don’t know much about this building, AEMCON is the perfect time to check out how cool it is. Inside of Studio Bell there’s a massive synth museum, and using it Studio Bell hosted Richie Hawtin as an Artist in Residence a few months back. Music can be heard perfectly throughout the entire building because of the impeccable design, and they even have the Rolling Stones’ Mobile Recording Studio there. I can’t stress enough how special this is to have something for us, the electronic music (AKA RAVE) community in a space revered as the most important music space in all of Canada.

“Studio Bell is our main conference venue,” says Andrew. “Essentially conference pass holders will start off on Saturday morning at 10 a.m., and they have a wide variety of educational programming to choose from that will run throughout the day. Everything from music production seminars, to one-on-one’s with leading figures in the scene like Joe Nice, to panel discussions on cultural issues – from festival organization, to hearing loss in the industry, to harm reduction. It’s kind of a varied program, and it’s all happening and congregating at Studio Bell.”

YOUR PASS INCLUDES EVERYTHING: Currently passes are retailing at $179, and it gets you a lot. The passes include all the panel discussions , as well as all the night shows – subject to capacity obviously. If someone was to take advantage of their pass and really use it to the full extreme, this could easily rival Calgary’s famous Sled Island Festival in both intensity and fun.

AEMCON MARKETPLACE: AEMCON Marketpkace is another rad idea cooked up by the AEMCON team. Andrew explains, “The AEMCON Marketplace is a free to enter tradeshow (so you don’t need a pass), where we’ve assembled industry music suppliers like Roland, Moog, Long and McQuade, PK, Killpatrick Audio, Pioneer … a ton of different audio technical suppliers to showcase the newest wares and products.”

This means anyone who is interested in the latest technology hitting the streets from the world’s biggest players in gear can come and check out everything there is to see, all at once. Oh, and there will be merch to peep as well.

YOU ARE GOING TO LEARN THERE: Even if you’re someone that thinks you know all there is to know about the electronic music community, there will be something here for you. The organizers intend for mass networking, mass learning, and mass inspiration.

“The goal of the conference is to put everyone in an environment where they’re treating electronic music and the art behind electronic music seriously and professionally, and allowing people to have conversations and share ideas in a setting that’s treating the culture and the art form seriously,” Andrew explains. “It provides a backdrop to learn, and share, and take away ideas that’s a lot more formalized but also deep. A deeper way of allowing people to collaborate and understand how much stuff is going on in the industry in Alberta, and how much stuff is going on in their backyard. “

THERE’S GOING TO BE A VINYL SWAP: Crate diggers represent! AEMCON is having Edmonton’s Dead Vinyl Society come down to host a vinyl swap. “If you have dance records that you don’t like anymore but maybe think you can pass on or sell on to the world, or even if you have rare records you wanna part ways with, there’s gonna be space to set up your own little shop,” says Andrew.

There’s no sign up necessary either. “Just come down with your wax,” Andrew further explains. “There will be space available for you, and listening stations for people that are interested in buying a record.” This means you can listen to it before, and chat about it. This vinyl swap is creating a place for a culture that is going extinct: the art of digging, and everything involved with it.

THE NIGHT SHOWS LOOK INCREDIBLE: A large part of AEMCON 2017’s huge impact is the night programming. This is a crazy lineup of shows in a really short amount of time, and not only are they included with an AEMCON pass, but they show a deeper unity of the community of promoters and attendees in this province.

Some of the shows included in the nighttime programming are Joe Nice, Spectrasoul, Nomine, DJ Brace, Clinker, Foreign Beggars, Luke McKeehan, J Phlip and The Librarian.

I asked Calgary promoter and badmon Blaine Kingcott (Metafloor) from Sub Chakra crew what a promoter has to gain from being involved with AEMCON. Blaine’s words ring true:

“Being involved in AEMCON we hope to inspire our community to be creators and not just listeners. Each promoter involved brings their own sound and knowledge through the artists they bring to the table, inspiring the next generation of home grown talent in YYC.”

It’s clear that AEMCON 2017 is going to be a notable milestone, something this province has never seen. Ending my discussion with Andrew Williams about the second edition of the Alberta Electronic Music Conference, I was feeling excited, nostalgic and inspired. His final words of our call were possibly the most thought provoking and engaging of all.

“Think of the possibilities.”

For passes to AEMCON click here. For a comprehensive list of AEMCON panels click here. Join us Nov. 16-19 for Alberta dance music history.

Words by Kayla Graham

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