Founded in 2012, the Electronic Music Conference is returning to Sydney on Saturday, November 17th.
EMC’s 2018 theme is The Future of Yesterday, and there will be more than 100 speakers taking part in all. The legendary Sasha is also playing a three-hour set at EMC Play on that Saturday, joined by Greg Wilson, Late Nite Tuff Guy and others. Sasha will also be sitting down with Greg Wilson for the Psychology of DJing interview series.
Before the event, we speak to Jane Slingo, Executive Producer of EMC Sydney, to learn more about the what makes the conference worth visiting, its history, and what's in store for 2018.
Whats the thinking behind it, why does Sydney need it? What will you look to achieve?
EMC isn’t specific to Sydney. That’s simply where EMC is held each year. EMC has a very strong focus on the culture and business of electronic music across the Asia Pacific. It’s an incredibly exciting time both in Australia and Asia for electronic music. There’s incredible music coming out of these markets and a huge amount of new businesses, music communities developing and growing and some really forward thinking clubs and festivals popping up all over the region. EMC’s overall purpose is to be a conduit to connect like-minded people and businesses across the region and to generally play a part in building bridges between the many exciting markets in the Asia-Pacific. There’s a number of operators that have been in this region for some time, but there’s also so many new operators now and we couldn’t be more excited about the future in this region.
What direct influence, results or change do you think the conference has brought about before? Is it a genuine force for good?
EMC has played a significant role in connecting businesses and like-minded individuals with each other from across the Asia Pacific region as well as other international markets like UK, North America, Europe and South America.
EMCPLAY, our showcasing program has also created excellent outcomes for numerous Australian artists. There have been label signings, festival bookings, international tours and collaborations born from an artist showcasing at EMCPLAY. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing these kinds of outcomes are made possible because of an initial introduction, spark or moment that happened at EMC/EMCPLAY.
EMC also launched a new vertical called Global Cities After Dark in 2017, in partnership with global Night Mayor advocate Mirik Milan. This event approaches night time economy and night time culture from a global perspective, and brings together the “top down and bottom up” (government with creative industries, urban planners, health and safety figures, hospitality leaders.) The purpose of Global Cities After Dark is to explore different strategies and solutions that different cities around the world are using to support their nightlife whilst also addressing the challenges with the night. This event has also had an influence on the ways local and state government are starting to collaborate more effectively with the creative drivers in Sydney in particular. It’s no secret that Sydney has copped massive blows to its nightlife in the past four years, but this event has influenced some very positive steps forward in the past twelve months. There’s still a long way to go, but thankfully there’s a number of really great people, groups and organisations steering things in the right way and EMC/Global Cities After Dark is really proud to be a part of this movement.
Who is it aimed at? Industry people or ‘just’ dancers, both or neither?
EMC’s conference is aimed at industry and music creators. The conference is two days of keynotes, In Conversations, workshops, round tables, masterclasses, meetings and networking events.
EMCPLAY is for the “dancers/music lovers”. (But that also includes industry people!) EMCPLAY has live music showcases, club nights, pop up parties, film screenings and album listening sessions.
What have been the hardest bits to put together, the biggest challenges of it?
Programming is always challenging, but in a good way. To be truly representative requires so much time, care and thought to ensure inclusiveness and relevance to many different communities within electronic music. In addition, once you have the general framework, it’s always hard having specific people you would like to participate in the delivery of certain content and topics but having to deal with the general scheduling and availability of so many guests.
What are the most important things a scene needs in order to thrive and be stable? Arts funding? Government support? Or just passion from the people?
All of the above. Government support is paramount. That goes beyond financial support. Governments need to understand the cultural value and positive social impact of electronic music. We took some free EMC events called EMC Connect to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane earlier this year, nd it was really amazing to meet a number of people living with special needs that expressed to us how much of a sense of belonging the electronic music community has given to them. There are some incredible stories from people in our space who felt very lost and alone, but through their passion for electronic music found a sense of belonging and a community that they actively are a big part of. Arts funding particularly in NSW is under the spotlight right now, thanks in part to the recent NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Music & Arts. It’s pretty obvious that there’s a big issue when art forms like opera, who only attract a 10th of the audience that contemporary music attracts, and a 10th of the revenue that contemporary music attracts receive millions of dollars greater investment. We think we’re going to see some big changes in the coming twelve months in arts funding. Well, we hope so! And yes, of course a thriving scene needs passionate and committed people. In the face of adversity, it’s essential that people keep going out and keep supporting the culture for it to be sustainable and weather any storms – because we’re facing a few!
How did you decide who would speak and on what topics? Was it the choice of one person or a collaborative team effort?
It’s always a team effort. To be truly representative and inclusive of different communities, different genres and different fields of work within the business, there is a contribution required from a variety of different people.
Tell us about the parties that are part of the conference.
So far we’ve announced EMCPLAY LIVE which is the live artists showcasing at The Landsdowne on the Wednesday and Thursday night. Dave Ruby Howe programs this. He has such a brilliant ear for the most promising emerging artists. Dave has been a part of EMCPLAY for a few years as programmer and we are so lucky to have his talent contributing to this part of the program.
On the weekend after the conference is The Rio Revel with Sasha, Greg Wilson, Late Nite Tuff Guy, Hoj and more. That’s at The Manning Bar on Saturday afternoon into Saturday evening.
There’s also a plethora of other events on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday being announced next week.
At Golden Age Cinema, we’re screening some lovely films including the James Lavelle doco The Man From Mo’Wax, and Manchester Keeps on Dancing which features Carl Craig, DJ Heidi, Laurent Garnier, Greg Wilson, Andrew Weatherall and more.
What are you most looking forward to about the event?
Sasha In Conversation is going to be incredibly special. Having Gilles back is an absolute honour—he’s presenting an in conversation with Greg Wilson as a part of his The Psychology of DJing series and that’s obviously going to be amazing. John Watson who is in my opinion one of the most brilliant managers around and certainly in Australia is also having an in conversation led by Leanne De Souza who’s such an inspiring and supportive figure in our industry. Anyone who has been lucky to catch a any of John’s keynotes over the decades knows that he shares absolute gems of wisdom that numerous artist managers have referred back to throughout their careers.
EMCPLAY wise, we’re always excited by the local artists showcasing. We have watched so many EMCPLAY artists go on to great achievements in Australia and internationally, there’s something very special about seeing these artists perform in their earlier stages.
Of course, you’d be silly not to plant yourself at Manning Bar Saturday afternoon for the musical treat of Sasha, Greg Wilson and Late Nite Tuff Guy. The Rio Revel has an absolute dream of a lineup.
What is the current state of the scene in Sydney and Australia?
Right now in Australia we’re in absolute saturation of announcements. The past four weeks every New Year’s and summer festival has announced and is in ticket sales cycle. It definitely feels like there is a lot more going on In Australia this summer compared to last summer.
Australia is definitely post-EDM, and it feels like every day there is a new club night, event or festival popping up in Asia that indicates the audience over there is ready for something different too.
Despite the challenges that come with a highly regulated nightlife, Sydney has adapted and found ways to have great parties and events within even the strictest limitations. It still feels like really hard slog here, but Sydney’s resilience has really shined through. We still have the most incredible summer here with outstanding parties and events from now through till winter.