Oh Canada! The Alberta Electronic Music Conference [AEMCON] returns this November 13-17th, offering a vast variety of speakers, panels, workshops and events for music lovers and industry professionals alike. Spanning over 5 days, the conference serves to educate and entertain thousands of attendees from all over the country. We had a chance to speak with founders Isis Graham and Andrew Williams about what’s in store for this year’s edition, some quick tips for a successful conference experience, recommended panels and more!
This year, some of the AEMCON highlights include panels on a series of topics such as Mental Health in the Music Industry, LGBTQ+2 culture in Electronic Music, Visuals, Lighting and Creative Media in Dance music + Much More! What is your process in choosing the themes and topics for the panels and workshops and what messages do you hope to get across with them?
Isis: Our themes emerge from important issues we see surfacing in the world around us and specifically, issues that are current and important to Canada’s electronic music community. Sometimes these are important social issues that need to be addressed, and sometimes they’re pieces of history we would like to expose or showcase. Other times they’re components of our culture that we’d like to highlight. With panels like Dance Music as an LGBTQ+2 Art Form, our hope is to discuss the history of our culture through the lens of the individuals involved in this space. Our panels about visual creative arts present an opportunity for the often behind the scenes artists to expose the creative processes and how they integrate with the industry at large. All of these formats offer guests the opportunity to see new ways they can interact or create in the electronic music industry and we hope, guests leave feeling inspired and informed.
‘Our themes emerge from important issues we see surfacing in the world around us and specifically, issues that are current and important to Canada’s electronic music community.’ – Isis Graham, Founding Partner
Andrew: We sometimes think of AEMCON as an electronic music crash course. There is so much depth to the scene, both from a history perspective and from an artistic perspective. We want to give people an experience that will educate and inspire them to understand the multitude of different ways electronic music has influenced Canadian culture over the years.
What panels would you recommend to someone attending who has never been to a music conference before?
Andrew: Here are a few quick tips:
- Come ready to network and meet people. You’ll learn as much from the attendees as you will the speakers!
- Leave your preconceptions at home and come ready to learn. Write notes, make a schedule, plan your day. These are vital to getting the most of the experience
- Try things that scare you. Don’t be afraid to explore
- Take care of yourself. With the conference running multiple days and shows running every night, it’s important to treat your body with care!
Isis: If you’ve never attended a conference and are here to be inspired and dip your toes into this scene, I would suggest attending as many of the artist 1-1 talks that you can. Theses are great windows into an artists legacy, and the history of our culture will give you a great sense of timelines in our scene and probably some laughs along the way too:
- NMC: ON – Buchla Masterclass with Suzanne Ciani
- In Conversation with Breakage and Matt Anniss
- In Conversation with Andrew Huang: Youtube, Creativity & Alternative Career Paths
- Verbalize – Inspiring Stories From The Front Lines Of Music Culture (Presented by ATB)
- Break in conversation with Colin Steven
‘We have sessions for aspiring and established agents, managers, label owners, festival organizers, music technologists, designers, photographers, studio owners, journalists, and so much more. The electronic music world is an ecosystem and we’re trying to support many different sides of it.’ – Andrew Williams, Founding Partner
Who is your target market for the conference and how do you believe can benefit most from a conference of this sort?
Andrew: Our target audience is anyone who wants to make a career in the electronic music industry. Often people think that only means DJs and producers, but it includes so many more than that. We have sessions for aspiring and established agents, managers, label owners, festival organizers, music technologists, designers, photographers, studio owners, journalists, and so much more. The electronic music world is an ecosystem and we’re trying to support many different sides of it.
Isis: I’d like to think that our guests are diverse and come from all backgrounds and interest groups within the music industry and maybe even just outside of it. Anyone interested in electronic music can gain from this conference or be entertained by the content. Emerging artists have the most to gain from the huge amount of industry and music production content, designed specifically to get them results. Having direct access to organizations who are typically located way outside of Alberta, means that you can get a lot of work done in a few short days. It saves artists a lot of time by placing the resources right in front of them. Jumping right into a heavy networking environment means you can skip a lot of formalities and get straight to your point.
‘Anyone interested in electronic music can gain from this conference or be entertained by the content. Emerging artists have the most to gain from the huge amount of industry and music production content, designed specifically to get them results.’ – Isis Graham, Founding Partner
This year at AEMCON you have some pretty notable speakers presenting at the conference. Which ones are you most excited to hear from?
Andrew: Wow! This is like picking your favourite child, but I’ll give it a shot. I’m really excited for: Andrew Haung – the wonderfully creative music production Youtuber, Daedalus – the brainfeeder experimental production wizard who has been carving his own path for years, CURRENT Co-Founder Nancy Lee and Indigo Harm Reduction Co-founder Shelby Young who are presenting at the Verbalize launch event and Dave “The Rave’ Ogilvie – one of Canada’s most incredible engineers and producers. There are so many more to choose from though!
Isis: We are so lucky to have some fantastic speakers joining us this year, most notably Suzanne Ciani. I’m personally thrilled to be able to hear her journey and her Quadraphonic Sound presentation at Studio Bell. This is a first for Alberta in so many ways and we are truly lucky to have her here doing an Artist in Residence program at National Music Centre at the same time. I’m personally very excited to have Eelke Kleijn on board to do a production workshop for our guests, as he’s a fantastic person with a great attitude and will surely inspire folks with his studio workflow ideas. I’m a little biased, as he’s more centred within the genre of house that I love the most at the moment. Another speaker to look forward to is Break. Considering the success this man has had in Drum & Bass without the use of social media, I’m anxious to hear how he did that and how continues to lead such a renowned career just outside of the usual fold.
What new additions to AEMCON are you most excited about this year?
Isis & Andrew: There are quite a few! But to pick a couple…We’re kicking off AEMCON with an event called Verbalize (presented by ATB). This launch brings 5 unique perspectives on music culture, its future, and the issues it’s facing today. These keynote style talks, from some of our strongest thought leaders are surely going to leave attendees inspired and energized for the week. Next, we have an Audiophile Listening Experience presented by Red Bull & Meitner Audio/Emmlabs. Listening to some of electronic music’s seminal records and releases on some of the worlds leading audiophile sound equipment in an intimate space. It will be a new experience for a lot of people in this space. Finally, a great way to wrap up your conference days, are the “Green House” events put on by “Back of House.” These events tie in music & food at Luke’s restaurant at the new Calgary Public Library and the ticket includes a chef prepared, vegetarian menu. We cant think of a better way to end a long day of learning before you head out into the night.