Midnight Conspiracy to reconvene for one last reunion show at North Coast [Q&A]

This post was originally published on this site

Midnight Conspiracy to reconvene for one last reunion show at North Coast [Q&A]Midnight Conspiracy 1

Every year, some of Chicago’s most all-embracing EDM, funk, rap/hip-hop, and indie event promoters — Silver Wrapper, Metronome, and Cold Grums — unite to piece together “Summer’s Last Stand,” North Coast Music Festival. Since 2010, the festival has returned to Union Park each Labor Day Weekend to house not only world-class acts from nearly every crevice of the musical continuum (deadmau5, Widespread Panic, D’Angelo, Portugal The ManGucci ManePretty Lights — just to name a few), but also a myriad of visual art installations, ranging from a live, psychedelic graffiti demonstration from Chris Dyer to a unique pop up gallery showcasing solely local Chicagoans.


After four years of silence, the double-headed Midnight Conspiracy is emerging from their low-lit cavern to release the beast for one last reunion show Sunday, September 2 at North Coast Music Festival. Though co-conspirators and native Chicagoans Mikul Wing and Louis Kha now devote their days to their rippling and emotive electronica project, Autograf, they’ll be firing up their colossal visual and sound structure dubbed “Eye Live” of a darker vein once more.

The duo’s visual component has always been an intrinsic element of the alluringly minacious Midnight Conspiracy experience. Rigged up to Ableton to keep time with their harmonic electro and tenacious bass productions, Wing usually controls the jarring LED display himself—often on the fly—while Kha controls more of the musical narrative.

Midnight Conspiracy eclipsed the electronic scene after securing a spot on the illustrious Ultra Records roster. Their driving, cinematic tracks like “Sentinel” and their visually complementary “The Eye” feverishly sprang to the top of EDM charts across the board. The group’s stupefying laser light has swept across not only Chicago’s other top-notch electronic-heavy festivals like Spring Awakening and even Lollapalooza, but also the very first North Coast in 2010.

Before they return for North Coast’s ninth installment, Midnight Conspiracy’s Mikul Wing caught up with Dancing Astronaut to talk the wedding of visual and sonic performance art, his ever-evolving artistic identity, and why the duo chose North Coast as a backdrop for their solitary reunion show.

Single-day tickets to North Coast are still available here.

Why did you guys choose to come to North Coast for this reunion set?

It was the first festival we ever played, which was the very first North Coast that ever happened — quite a while ago. We’ve known the North Coast people for a long time now. We haven’t done a Midnight Conspiracy set in three or four years, and the festival has always had a special place in our hearts. It all started in a very grassroots way, and those people still have ownership of it, which is really cool.

How do you think North Coast compares to other Chicago festivals?

Well, you have Lolla, the big one, obviously, and then Spring Awakening, which is just straight EDM. North Coast is cool because it has a more boiled fan base, and a much more diverse selection of music. They have jam bands, hip-hop, electronic — just everything all rolled into one. And it’s been around a long time, so it’s always been a fun fest for me to go to when I’m in Chicago.

Having not played a show together as Midnight Conspiracy since 2014, what thoughts are going through your head/what significance does the show hold?

It’s interesting because Louis and I are in both Midnight Conspiracy and Autograf together. So it’s not like we never see each other. It’s gonna be fun. We’re gonna do a lot of throwback tracks from the blog house era, some heavier bass music that obviously we don’t play with our current group, maybe some edits of our other tracks released a long time ago. We want to stay true to the old electro and the old bass music, and do a set that revolves around that.

What parts of yourself as an artist would you say are reflected in Midnight Conspiracy that maybe aren’t inside the Autograf project?

For me, it was a place and time of my life and musically what I was into at that point. Even within Midnight Conspiracy, we sort of started off doing disco music and then kinda went into doing bass music and electro: a gradual progression of what our personal tastes were. It’ll always hold a place inside of me. I think I’ll get a lot of nostalgia out of going back to it.

How does the visual production contribute to the Midnight Conspiracy experience?

We created all the visual art for both projects — both Midnight Conspiracy and Autograf. At this day in age, visuals and music kind of go hand in hand. The visuals would always be linked musically to whatever programs we were running. So they were always linked and we were able to control both simultaneously. It was almost like playing a musical instrument with the lighting, to have that control over both those things on the fly and change it up to match however we were feeling. Wherever the music was going, the visuals would follow. It’s a package deal. A big reason to go to a show is for that performance aspect.

How do you guys collaboratively do that in a live performance?

Usually one of us would control the music and the other would have control of the lighting. So for Midnight Conspiracy, usually Louis would control the music and then I would control lasers and lights. We kinda played off each other.

North Coast touts lush afterparty lineup: Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Manic Focus, RL Grime x Cashmere Cat, + more

This post was originally published on this site

North Coast touts lush afterparty lineup: Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Manic Focus, RL Grime x Cashmere Cat, + moreNorth Coast Afters 1

Just a little more than two weeks out from Labor Day weekend’s annual North Coast Music Festival, organizers have announced the official coinciding afterparty list. North Coast afters are a must for those who are keen on keeping the fun flowing past the fest’s prompt 10 p.m. completion each night.

As always, North Coast’s promoters (Silver Wrapper, Metronome, and Cold Grums) have cast an all-encompassing net of talent across some of the most in-demand venues in Chicago. For the electronic enthusiasts, Axwell Λ Ingrosso will succeed their headlining festival performance Friday night at PRYSM, while Cashmere Cat will accompany RL Grime Saturday night at The Mid.

Meanwhile, jam/experimental devotees will be satiated by a Breaking Biscuits (union of members from both Disco Biscuits and Break Science) performance with support from Thriftworks. Synthwave will run rampant Sunday night at The Mid where The Midnight will be accompanied by Maddy O’Neal. To help close out the weekend, the recently incepted and Vulfpeck-allied Fearless Flyers will be funkin’ out at Concord. There’s a North Coast after party for every attendee’s sonic taste buds this year.

Tickets to North Coast Music Festival are still available here, and official afterparty tickets are available here.

Photo Credit: Josh Timmermans

[Q&A] North Coast’s founder, Michael Berg, talks new developments and acquired wisdom

This post was originally published on this site

[Q&A] North Coast’s founder, Michael Berg, talks new developments and acquired wisdomNorth Coast 1

Every year, some of Chicago’s most all-embracing EDM, funk, rap/hip-hop, and indie event promoters—Silver Wrapper, Metronome, and Cold Grums—unite to piece together “summer’s last stand,” North Coast Music Festival. Since 2010, the festival has returned to Union Park each Labor Day Weekend to house not only world-class acts from nearly every crevice of the musical continuum (deadmau5, Widespread Panic, Portugal The Man, Gucci Mane, Pretty Lights—just to name a few), but also a myriad of visual art installations, ranging from a live, psychedelic graffiti demonstration from Chris Dyer to a unique pop up gallery showcasing solely local Chicagoans.

Tucked between some of Chicago’s most vibrant and energetic neighborhoods, including Wicker Park, West Town, West Loop, and Pilsen, North Coast’s Union Park atmosphere is a happy paradox: a serene, intimate park setting, encapsulated by trees, penetrated by the awe-inspiring urban skyline seen overhead and some of the most in-demand performances of the summer. This year, North Coast touts a larger focus, including its first-time poolside pre-party each day, which itself will host a number of installations, as well as a stark increase of visual performers, like the Bam Creates crew.

Co-founder of North Coast, Silver Wrapper talent buyer, and longtime Manic Focus manager, Michael Berg, sat down with Dancing Astronaut to discuss how the festival has grown throughout its nine years of successfully capping off the brimming Chicago summer events season. He explains how the festival has garnered its serial-attendees by catering to the “original coasties,” who tend to prefer jam and indie acts—like this year’s securing of The Revivalists and funk legend, Jamiroquai, in his first midwest performance in over a decade—while not making the mistake of neglecting the younger crowd, booking budding Chicago rapper Juice Wrld and fan-favorite dance acts like DJ Snake, RL Grime, and Axwell ^ Ingrosso.

What was your initial vision for the festival? Did it turn out the way you conceived it nine years ago?

It did at first. What I’ve noticed is as the market and the festival landscape changes, our goals are shifting with them. As our fanbase ages, things change. We’re still very proud of it. It’s definitely under a metamorphosis right now.

Can you expand on that?

I think that if you went to the festival in the first year, and you were 21-years-old, now you’re 30. That’s a big difference in life as far as maturity and priorities. We’ve always tried to curate the show with a little bit of a younger audience in mind. When we’ve leaned toward the older demographic’s music in the past, it hasn’t translated as well.

But we really saw a different response this year with some of the stuff that we booked. It made us realize that our fans are growing up. You just have to be conscious of who you’re servicing, which goes all the way up and down the ladder from the artists and their agents, to the lifeline of the festival, the fans, who buy the tickets and represent the brand.

We want to be loyal to the original coasties; but we also want to find the balance between doing that and keeping forward-thinking, like booking acts that are maybe for our undercard this year, but are maybe going to be headliners in a year or two. A lot of times the people we book [for North Coast] a year later, will be on the main stage at Lollapalooza.

Aside from lineup curation, what other areas would you say the event has evolved in over the years?

Definitely the experiential part has changed dramatically. We’ve got a much bigger presence of visual performers and art installations. Something we’re introducing this year that we’ve never done before is a daily pool party. There will be a full curation of art inside the pool. It’s just going to be for a few hundred people per day, including the artists and their guests. But a few hundred people per day will have the opportunity to buy tickets to come to this four or five hour pool party. Bam Creates is going to take over the art and do a lot with that.

The one limitation we have with it is that the festival ends at 10 pm every night. There’s only so many hours of darkness, so the types of installations that we have at something like Suwannee Hulaween, our other festival down in Florida, where things glow at night or things with fire, we can’t really do as much of that at North Coast because the majority of the fest is daylight. So you have to do installations and activations that work in the day time.

What about the venue and the location has kept you there since the first year in 2010?

First of all, we have a great relationship with the city and the park district. It’s really just the perfect location and the perfect size for this type of show. The majority of people who are coming to this show, probably 85 percent, are coming from the greater Chicago area. If you’re looking at Chicago proper, it’s right in the middle of West Town, the West Loop, Wicker Park, Bucktown, Lincoln Park, Pilsen—all those neighborhoods that are hot spots. It’s very centrally located: easy to find parking, it’s right off a train line. If you’re coming from Northbrook, or you’re coming from the West suburbs or the South Suburbs, it’s right off the highway.

The neighborhood has been generally welcoming of us. So, it’s kind of one of those things like if it’s not broken don’t fix it. If we were to sell out in advance five years in a row, maybe we would consider moving up to a bigger location, but it seems to sell out by the weekend of the fest every year. It feels like we have the right size park for the right size crowd that we’re generating.

Another thing that I really like about it is it is a park and a lot of the festivals in the city feel very urban. North Coast is definitely an urban festival, but there’s still trees and it still feels like a park when you’re there. I love how when you’re watching the main stage, you can see the Willis/Sears Tower poking up beyond the trees. So it’s just this little visual reminder that you’re in the city of Chicago.

What’s the thought process behind the lineup, stylistically? I know a lot of people see it as a predominately electronic fest, but you guys bring so much variety.

It’s a pretty diverse festival. If you look at our top ten acts this year, there is definitely a handful of electronic acts. You’ve got Axwell ^ Ingresso, DJ Snake, Yellow Claw. On the immediate undercard, you’ve got RL Grime. So those are clearly our big dance acts. But then you also have Jimaroquai, Moon Taxi, Vulfpeck and the Revivalists, the Strumbrellas, and Robert DeLong which are more alternative, funky, indie types. Then Friday, we’ve got Miguel, who, on paper, is an r&b act, but if you’ve ever seen him, he’s more of a like a live act who plays with a sick full band. Then on the undercard that day you’ve got Byrce Vine, and Juice Wrld who is just exploding right now, a local Chicago guy in that emo rap/r&b style that’s so big right now.

On Sunday, we’ve got the return of Jamiroquai to Chicago for the first time since 2005. It’s the Midwest exclusive for them. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen, but he’s a huge 13-piece funk orchestra. It’s gonna’ be crazy and will close out the festival as the final set of the weekend. He’s doing five shows in the states for the first time in 13 years, and the only one that’s not on one of the coasts is us. It’s special to us as event curators that they chose us as their Chicago show.

We really are a diverse festival. I think there was more of an electronic presence early on. But right now it’s not too much of just one thing.

What other areas have you guys tried to improve on in more recent years?

If you look at the schedule, it all makes a little more sense. We’ve really honed in on, like if you’re there for dance music, and you get there at 2 pm you go from this stage to this stage and then you stay at one stage for the last two, or whatever it is. Or on the other hand, if you’re there for jam bands, you start at one stage then go over here for two sets. Basically every hour there’s non-conflicting stuff for you to see. Obviously once you get into a diverse lineup and a diverse crowd, which North Coast is a diverse crowd, inevitably there’s going to be some ‘Why’d you put this person on at the same time as this person?”

So you’re trying not to make it too hard on people who just want to go one day?

No, I think we’ve embraced the fact that it’s a single-day market, and that everyone wants to go to as many festivals as they can. Somebody might not like North Coast’s [lineup] on Friday, but maybe they’re not going to miss it on Sunday, and that’s cool with us.

Michael Berg is North Coast Music Festival’s co-founder. Tickets to North Coast are still available here.

North Coast boasts diverse 2018 lineup featuring Miguel, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, Jamiroquai & more

This post was originally published on this site

Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival unveiled the diverse lineup for its ninth edition, returning to Union Park August 31–September 2.

This year’s headliners include Jamiroquai, Miguel, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, DJ Snake, The Revivalists, and Yellow Claw.

Additional artists performing at “Summer’s Last Stand” include Vulfpeck, Snails, RL Grime, Gramatik, and more. This year, North Coast will also debut all-new daily showcases curated by industry collectives, showing off the best sounds in hip-hop, house, rock, and beyond with sets from the likes of The Cool Kids, Lyrical Lemonade, and more.

Tickets and more information are available here.

Featured Photo Credit: Michele D’Amaro