The first Trip Metal Fest comes into focus

‘We found the world to be a bore’

Feb 3, 2016 at 1:00 am
Morton Subotnick
Morton Subotnick Photo by Pamela Littky

Memorial Day weekend does not belong solely to Movement any longer. Enter the first Trip Metal Fest, which loudly celebrates experimental sounds from several generations, by performers from near (Tarpit, Wolf Eyes, Thanks USA), near-ish (Hieroglyphic Being, Aaron Dilloway, Lexie Mountain, Nautical Almanac), and far (Morton Subotnick, Grux from Caroliner).

Subotnick's appearance alone is huge, and reason enough to attend. "Kudos to the Trip Metal Fest staff for dragging Morton Subotnick out of his dusty laboratory and into the dark nightclubs of Detroit where the influence of his experimental synthesizer work has been felt for decades," Noise Camp co-founder Warren Defever says. "Subotnick was literally the first guy to figure it out; he saw the future when he first laid hands on the pressure-sensitive touch plates of the Buchla Series 100 Modular Synthesizer in 1963."

Nate Young replied to our queries with some input from conspirators Viki Viktoria and Forest Juziuk. Or maybe he just answered them all himself? Regardless, he answered in the "royal we" of Trip Metal Fest, so we will print his replies as such.

Metro Times: What is trip metal?

Trip Metal Fest: Trip metal aims to capitalize on confusion as a means of connection, rather than a threat to authenticity. It is not really any one idea — it is every idea at once. This concept is similar to noise. Noise is every frequency at once, and by filtering, you can in theory make any sound possible. Trip metal can be used as carrier signal that modulates and decodes life in the same [way] a ring modulator multiplies two signals and typically creates a bell tone.

MT: Congrats on the Knight Arts challenge grant that helped to fund the event. The festival website says that it's entirely curated by Nate Young — is that how it all wound up happening, still, or were there collaborators? If so, who?

Trip Metal Fest: Thanks, the Knights have been very helpful with making this a reality. Yeah, Nate had the idea and wrote a paragraph and a half saying supportive stuff like "Trip Metal Fest aims to make trip metal in Detroit better than when trip metal arrived." We are working with Wolf Eyes, Viki Victoria and [former Ann Arbor resident Forest Juziuk].

MT: Why was the festival booked for the same weekend as Movement? Do you have something against people dancing, and enjoying themselves?

Trip Metal Fest: It happens concurrent with Movement in order to engage a large, diverse audience. Oh, and it is Memorial Day weekend, so everyone in America has three days off.

MT: Can you tell us the full lineup??

Trip Metal Fest: I cannot give you the full lineup yet, but I will give you the short list: Morton Subotnick, Hieroglyphic Being, Wolf Eyes, AWK, Aaron Dilloway, Nautical Almanac, Drainolith, Viki, Magas, Lexie Mountain, DJ Dog Dick, Pengo, Rubber O Cement, Panicsville, and many, many more. All the Michigan Underground Group crew will be jamming in different duos or trios as well.

MT: In what ways do you see this fest in the context of Michigan noise, say, going back to early Bulb Records days?

Trip Metal Fest: It is the same thing, just not called "noise." We know because we were there — we saw Couch at the LAB.

MT: How did this thing come about in the first place?

Trip Metal Fest: We found the world to be a bore.

MT: Anything you want to say about Morton Subotnick?

Trip Metal Fest: Subotnick was involved in a lot of early freak scenes, the SF Tape Music Center is a huge influence on MUG and trip metal. We are looking forward to exchanging ideas with Mort.

MT: If you had to pick one local artist to rave about, who might that be?

Trip Metal Fest: The Michigan Underground Group exists for the advancement of unconventional music. The group consists of many musicians, and artists that have found themselves unable to relate to any one scene. MUG is the future; MUG is trip metal without the fun memes and hashtags. MUG is the reality behind all our TM fantasies and a great place to meet and discuss TM.

MT: Are there any ways that your fest is reaching back to events from the past, like, say, the Once Festival in Ann Arbor in the 1960s?

Trip Metal Fest: Once Fest looked amazing. I think Trip Metal Fest will be similar. Expect lots of tape machines, analog modular synthesizers, computer music, film, video, and tripped-out MUGs with minimal or no glow sticks.

MT: What is the least trip metal thing in the world, aside being interviewed about trip metal?

Trip Metal Fest: Tow trucks.

MT: Are you setting up a half-pipe anywhere near the fest?

Trip Metal Fest: There might be a half-pipe at El Club, but no confirmation yet.

MT: Why does trip metal deserve its own festival?

Trip Metal Fest: Why does the world need TM at all? In every system things stagnate, and naturally erode, and hopefully evolve. People used to cover their ears when they heard unwanted sound; now they record it and call themselves artists. Trip Metal Fest will help you cover one ear, one eye, and invite you to whisper through a fan. This will help make everything fresh again.

Trip Metal Fest runs May 27-29; Question and answer sessions will be held at Trinosophes, and evening performances will be held at El Club. Trinosophes is located at 1464 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; El Club is at 4114 W. Vernor Hwy, Detroit. The fest is absolutely FREE to attend.