Going through the Moogfest schedule is always a bit overwhelming, as there’s always SO much we want to see (cue peak FOMO anxiety levels; hashtagfestlyfe) & never enough time. On the bright side, the beautifully curated line up is an amazing way for us to learn of new artists, especially with so much POC + Discwoman (a collective & DJ agency for female-identifying & genderqueer electronic musicians) representation!! Wut! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽
This year’s line up is a bit more obscure, forcing us to dig a little deeper into the dark corners of SoundCloud, but it’s been so worth it. We especially love learning that several of the artists on our radar hail from the Triangle (Durham/Raleigh/Chapel Hill – where Moogfest takes place), & also one of our v favorite areas of the south! Visiting Durham always leaves us feeling energized – is it all the trees? smart people? fair wages? 120+ BPM? Who knows, but we’re here for it.
The festival is 5/17-5/20, with single day passes also available for purchase here. If you can’t join us, we at least hope this roundup of artists serves as some wavy listening for your summertime soundtrack!
You know we know you already know who Kelela is, especially if you’ve been following Gemsounds™ from the jump. Kelela is a magical being, spanning the past & future of R&B, incorporating different voices & inspirations over experimental instrumentals from Janet to Wiley to Tamia to Aphex Twin. We’ve been looping her latest record Take Me Apart all year, & we could see her perform a thousand more times & it still would never be enough. ~She~ is the artist we’ve been waiting for our whole weird brown girl lives!
We have a lot of respect for legend KRS (“Knowledge Reigning Supreme”), deemed the “conscience of Hip Hop”. With 20 published albums & numerous collaborations, he is believed to have written the most rhymes in hip-hop’s history, but never without losing his integrity. In the 90s, as the genre grew more & more commercialized, KRS-One openly rejected cultural exploitation & materialism, grounding hip hop in its original principles. Teaching everything from self-creation to stopping violence, from vegetarianism to transcendental meditation, to establishing Hip Hop as an international culture at the United Nations (2001), KRS-One has stewarded Hip Hop’s purest traditions now for over three decades.
Amber Mark,’s self produced EP 3:33 AM is a moving & meditative platter of earthly, soulful pop inspired by the unique stages of grief she experienced in her mother’s untimely passing. As a child, she oscillated between Miami & New York, Berlin & Darjeeling, where her mother studied the art of thangka painting, constantly blessing their home with vibrant color & relentless creativity. After the absence of her mother, she moved into a cramped NY apartment with her godparents, where she began to write this record in stolen nocturnal moments. She would drift into a foggy juju of beatmaking & lyric writing, barely looking up from her screen until sunrise. Her EP began to form: a kaleidoscopic mix of the music she listened to as a child — jazz, soul, Indian classical & hip-hop — with sometimes up & sometimes downtempo electronica – with her mother’s creative energy continuing through Amber’s music.
Persian-Armenian theremin virtuoso Armen Ra, considered one of the finest thereminists in the world today, showcases many classical Armenian laments & folk songs through his unique style. Having shared the stage with Antony & the Johnsons & Nick Cave’s group Grinderman, as well being featured on Selena Gomez’s & Gwen Stefani’s hit records, we can’t wait to witness this mesmerizing performance.
Aurora Halal is an artist & creator of New York’s Mutual Dreaming party series & the Sustain-Release festival. Shadowy & psychedelic, her live hardware & DJ sets have a hazy sensuality & metallic intensity, always pushing her compositions further into deep hypnotic states. She’s spent the last years touring some of the most forward-thinking underground clubs & festivals, including Unsound, Atonal, de School, & Berghain.
Axnt is a producer/DJ based in Charlotte, NC that we’re so excited to know about. We love his ambient soundscapes married with hip-hop beats. (Is this what #vaporwave is? 🤔)
Bonaventure has been developing sonic weaponry designed to confront oppressive power structures, tell the story of violence, indifference & abuse fuelled by racism. She uses music as an identity research tool along with practical & speculative initiatives to connect her African & European roots & investigate human relationships by bringing disparate genres into smooth sequences.
CARLA DAL FORNO
Australian singer/multi-instrumentalist Carla dal Forno writes haunting, downcast tunes with dark, swirling synthesizers, detached rhythms, & cavernous echo. Her smoky & ominous approach interlaced with post-punk recordings falls closer in spirit to ambient music with powerful undercurrents.
ChocolateRice is a producer/DJ based in NC that we’re so excited to know about! We love his fun style, blending house music+hip hop into the perfect party mix.
Stylistically versatile Discwoman DJ Haram (Haram is the Arabic word for acts that are forbidden in Islam) throws down for Jersey, Philly, & Baltimore with club & booty bounce sets – but also has been known to pay homage to her roots in the tradition of Middle Eastern dance music & of DIY noise & experimental sound. Mashallah 🙏🏽
Dogzamm is another experimental duo based in Chapel Hill, NC – layering ambient, electronic sounds with hip hop & R&B. J Dilla comes to mind ❤️
Durham based Ebz The Artist gives us a modern take on R&B, with sultry, soulful vocals, in the likes of Erykah Badu. We see big things in her future..
Berlin’s Ellen Allien blends of her own hypnotic Berlin techno, acid, freak jack slammers & classics are totally captivating. She holds residencies around the globe, & we feel so lucky to experience her set here!
FATIMA AL QADIRI
Kuwait’s Fatima al Qadiri’s may borrow from the tools of modern club music- rattling drum machines, wipe-clean synths, & corporeal sub-bass – but the output her music is about as far from the stereotype of dance-floor workouts as it is possible to go. The title of her latest release, Shaneera, comes from the English mispronunciation of the Arabic word, shanee’a (شنيعة) literally meaning “outrageous, nefarious, hideous, major & foul.” In one iteration, as gay slang used in some Arab countries, a desirable light is shed on these attributes. Shaneera refers to the gender-defying persona of being an evil queen; you know a “Shaneera” when you behold one. We were fortunate to see her perform at Art Basel a few years ago as a part of Future Brown (one of our favorite live sets to date), & wouldn’t think of missing this opportunity to see her perform again.
GAVIN RAYNA RUSSOM
Gavin Rayna Russom is a NY based multimedia artist, DJ & electronic music composer. Using the analog & digital synthesizer, she has produced a body of extremely influential art & music over the last 15 years, as both a solo artist & in collaboration – most notably as a member of LCD Soundsystem, Arthur Russell’s Instrumentals Directed by Peter Gordon, & Sacred Ar†icle. In addition to recording and performing music, she also creates the visual elements for her work including installations, music videos, record covers, costumes, sets & props. Part of Gavin Rayna’s vision is to combine academia, music and art, & to transform culture through spiritual ideas, using nightlife as a medium to connect with people’s daily lives.
A NY based experimental electronic duo, Justin Tripp & Brian Close don’t bill themselves as a band, but a sort of creative ecosystem/production center, working on videos, animation, graphic design, film scores, & original music. As far as their sound, try to imagine an amalgamation of white noise, jazz, East African pop, new age, & then some.. There’s certainly a lot going on, & we’re excited to see this eclectic soundscape live.
Helena Hauff‘s DJ sets are rooted in a twilight-lit area of colliding sharp acid sounds, cold Detroit rhythmics, monolithic industrial soundscapes & even minimalist atmospherics. Her sonic aesthetic is intense, electrified, & futuristic, but with strong traces of underlying emotionalism & experimentalism. Ultimately, she’s that rare thing – an uncompromising artist who thrills what’s steadily becoming a wider audience.
Chicago’s Honey Dijon has carved a distinct niche for herself as a producer in the world of underground electronic music, coming to be associated with exquisitely curated cross-genre sets & total dance-floor chaos wherever she plays – from Berghain to Space or Smart Bar. Born & raised in the home of house music – the city’s influence on Honey’s style is deeply ingrained. Since having relocated to NY & mentored by the likes of Derrick Carter & Danny Tenaglia, her blending embodies the bump of Chicago with more classic New York sounds & various European influences (Honey now splits her time between New York & Berlin). Her subtle mixing skills & the deft, almost sensuous transitions between house & techno deliver a warm, hypnotic vibe within her sets. She’s has also been highly active at the intersection of fashion & music, compiling & curating the music for Louis Vuitton’s men’s shows, while also working closely with British designer Kim Jones. Honey has featured in style bible The Gentlewoman as well as being profiled in the New York Times style section. Honey is also an in-demand speaker & contributor on issues surrounding gender in club culture. 💗
One of the original turntablists, J Rocc founded the Beat Junkies in 1992 with Melo-D & Rhettmatic, but has done just as much on his own as in a group setting. He began DJing in the mid-’80s with a California group named PSK. Soon after forming, the Beat Junkies became a seminal force in the rise of instrumental hip-hop, including core member Babu plus future stars Shortkut and D-Styles. In addition to numerous mixtapes and his own production for Stones Throw releases, J Rocc has been the DJ for Madlib’s live shows since the early 2000s, was the third member of Jaylib (with Madlib & J Dilla) during the group’s live events, & collaborated with Madlib on Beat Konducta Vol. 5-6: A Tribute to J Dilla.
Norwegian recording artist & writer Jenny Hval’s work is uniquely positioned as both multidisciplinary & transgressive, but her polyphonic artistry in fact seamlessly weaves musical, literary, visual &performative modes of expression. Her artistic voice is present, accessible & obscurely complex at the same time. She’s received thoughtful & widespread international acclaim for her fascinating voice, singular delivery & non-traditional arrangements. The New York Times defines her writing as “taking a scalpel to the subjects of gender politics & sexuality.” Hval has eloquently brought to light issues in the blind spot of both the male & female gaze; subjects nominally discarded or denied all together. It’s because of her conceptual take on collective & individual gender identities & sociopolitical constructs that landed her lauded 2015 release Apocalypse, girl on dozens of year end lists & compelled writers everywhere to grapple with the question: What is Soft Dick Rock? We have an idea after seeing her at Marfa Myths last year, & wouldn’t dare miss a chance at seeing her *gripping* set again..
Chicago’s Jamila Wood’s lyrics read like poetry, which she studied from high school throughout college, & in her professional career with Young Chicago Authors. “Music–like poetry– is personal. It became a way to stop hiding, to actually be the most honest with myself through writing,” she says. “It helps me check in with myself.” And that honesty translated to HEAVN, an album she describes as a collection of, “nontraditional love songs pushing the idea of what makes a love song.” You’ll find the bits & pieces of her past & present that make Jamila: family, the city of Chicago, self-care, and the black women she calls friends.
KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith was raised on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington state, & her compositions seem to reflect this – surreal yet rooted in nature. By combining the organic elements of her upbringing with the technological prowess gained from her studies at Berklee, Kaitlyn’s impact on modern music is distinct & significant. Pitchfork reviewed “It’s electronic music, but it registers as organic… It’s hard to tell where human sounds end and mechanical sounds begin”, which we couldn’t agree more with. We saw her live at Marfa Myths last year & were totally hypnotized by her other-worldly performance – warm synthetic sounds that beautifully combine floating, melodic pulses & soothing patterns. We imagine this is the music aliens must listen to 👽✨
Kid Cola is part of a DJ collective, Sub-Culture, based in Fayetteville, NC (who knew!). We love his mixes in particular, displaying A-1 taste + skill set. We’ll be bumping his house & bass mixes at every summer hang from here on out! So fun!!
Another NC producer, hailing from Greensboro, Kyōju delivers chill hip hop & R&B reworks that we love.
Coming from New Orleans, Lady Fingers packs all the best house sounds into her energetic DJ sets!
LA based musician & visual artist, Lawrence Rothman‘s avant-pop sounds are confessionals of their struggles with gender identity, family conflict, & social alienation. Their deeply personal debut album, The Book of Law, produced by Justin Raisen (Charli XCX, Sky Ferreira, Angel Olsen), includes a diverse cast of collaborators including Angel Olsen, Kristin Kontrol, & Marissa Nadler, & acts as an investigation into identity & queerness. Rothman’s voice channels Leonard Cohen meets Arthur Russell, delivering lyrics with sadness & great depth over top poppy & melancholic beats. We’re excited to see which of their 9 alter egos takes the stage at Moogfest (pictured below is Elizabeth) 🌟
Kiran Gandhi aka Madame Gandhi is an electronic musician, activist, & our gadamn shero. As a self-described “electrofeminist”, her beats are meant to elevate & celebrate the female voice, as she travels to perform & speak about contemporary gender equality to elevate & celebrate the female voice. From her tenure as M.I.A.’s drummer (!!!!) – a talent she originally pursued in part because it was so stereotypically male – to her Harvard M.B.A., the New York/Bombay-bred Los Angeleno has consistently sought to empower women through her actions & words. As she declares in a spoken-word breakdown on The Future Is Female – ‘I want to live in a world that is collaborative/A world that is emotionally intelligent/A world in which we are linked & not ranked!’” (via Vogue). This magical binch also holds a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics, political science, & women’s studies from Georgetown University. BRB, going to college.. We were fortunate to see her at Hopscotch Fest last year on a small, intimate stage, but are really ready to #topknotturnup with this outspoken artist & free-bleeding icon at Moogfest!
Midori Takada is a masterful Japanese composer & percussionist whose known for her unique, minimalist combinations of East Asian & African percussive language + jazz. She has established a peerless reputation for her theatrical & deeply spiritual percussion performances, where virtuoso technique, acoustic sensibility, choreographed lighting & movement combine to create a completely unique & transformative listening experience for audiences. We’re sure this legendary performance will be one for the books.
Mileece is a sonic artist, composer, interactive ecology designer & clean energy ambassador. She is a pioneer in spacialised generative music, gestural interfaces & plant biofeedback. With her hand-coded ‘aesthetic sonification’ system, interactive sculptures, hand crafted instruments, live + composed music & field recordings as immersive installations & performances, her work promotes ecology thru technology, aiming to help balance our modern lives with the needs & benefits of our biosphere – which has has brought her international critical acclaim as a composer & installation artist.
With their unique electronic sound, blending deconstructed club music, minimalist R&B & experimental pop + techno, Smerz’s DJ sets also take a similar route. Mixing live vocals over their own music, interlaced with choice cuts & darker tones aimed squarely at the dancefloor, this duo should be thrilling to watch as well as they are to listen.
Last time we saw Spank Rock was at a grimy house show (the best kind) in Charleston 10+ years ago, & it was too damn fun! Philadelphia by way of Baltimore, versatile emcee Naeem Juwan is the ultimate dance-rapper, having enough respect for classic rap & what hip-hop means culturally to appease the old school crowd, enough fresh-faced innovation & open-mindedness to satisfy the intelligent hip-hop heads, & enough panty-stripping & pseudo-dancehall rhymes to satiate just about anyone. Spank Rock has deconstructed hip hop & created a new world of possibilities for the genre with a fearless drive for creative exploration & a diverse list of influences. “It’s party music.” “No consequences.” “Just ass-shaking shit.” “Why you hating?” “Stop thinking so hard.” We’re so ready for the nostalgia this performance will surely deliver #RIPouryouth
Stud1nt is a multi-instrumentalist & DJ from Queens. Their original compositions & rapid-fire mixes sit in between the spontaneity of jazz improvisation & meticulous approaches to arrangement. They create across genres, nodding to the pulsating, hypnosis of experimental electronic music & the euphoria of ambient loops & psychedelic riffs. A Discwoman, also a member of the queer media collective #kunq, their work is attentive to the politics of queer bodies in relation to sound & space.
As Suicideyear, Baton Rouge’s James Prudhomme produces widescreen emotional landscapes of abstraction, underscored by sonorous concave bass & starry hi-hat showers. Aside from his solo releases, he has been credited with productions for the likes of Yung Lean, Chynna, Denzel Curry, Xavier Wolf, OG Maco, & Antwon among others. Both as producer & DJ, he stands out for his remarkable convergence of trap beats & mid-late century American minimalism, as well as his intimate & fresh tastes.
Tess Roby is an artist born in Toronto, currently working in Montreal. Accompanied by her brother, Eliot Roby on guitar, her music rides the melancholic line between classic ‘80s New Wave & lyric-driven pop. The listener simultaneously feels the intimacy of Roby’s bedroom, cut with a romantic urgency akin to Hounds of Love-era Kate Bush. The arrangements are hauntingly sparse, giving way to the richness of Roby’s voice & the hypnotic pulses of her analog synthesizer. Her debut LP Beacon was released on one of our favorite labels, Italians Do It Better (Chromatics, Desire, Johnny Jewel) in April, & her nostalgic, warm & fuzzy rhythms make for heart eyes all around – you’ll definitely find us slow dancing at this one.
One of our sheroes, Kansas-bred, New York-based DJ & Discwoman co-founder Emma Olson aka Umfang focuses on stripping techno down to its essentials – pure electrical pulses. Progressing across a grid, Olson’s explorative approach to loop-based production of music reveals an intuitive & refreshing approach to deriving emotive depth from a machine. She creates thrillingly live & raw techno, from the sophisticated way in which she layers sounds, to the way in which she transitions between them. Umfang demonstrates a profound understanding of the subtleties that define this genre & makes for an introspective listening experience. She holds the monthly residency Technofeminism at Bossa Nova Civic Club, focusing on emerging talent & an affection for vinyl. Fingers crossed we get into her vinyl workshop course on Saturday 🤞🏽
Yves Tumor is the inspired, enigmatic & conflicted persona of Tennessee-raised producer/performer Sean Bowie – a conduit for a distinctly bold personal aesthetic that has wrought the entrancing Serpent Music, & a burgeoning reputation for bruising, invigorating live performance (see his performance for fashion brand Hood By Air’s runway show in 2016, moaning like a zombie on top of a pile of sand in the middle of the models). Serpent Music spans sonically diverse & richly-textured pieces, formed from using field recordings alongside dreamlike lo-fi psychedelia, broken electronic experimentations, ambient compositions, jarring samples & unsettling percussive loops that creates a dissonant, yet sultry musical world – offering insight into a haunting otherworld to get lost in.
In addition to the incredible selection of live music, we’re also excited to see Ralph Steadman‘s exhibit, hear keynote speaker Chelsea Manning, as well as attending a lecture on creating sustainable artist economies by Christine McCharen-Tran, (founder of Discwoman).
It’s bound to be an inspiring, informative, two-stepping, blissed out weekend! Again, big ups to Moogfest for having us & creating this amazing space. Check out the full schedule for yourself – we hope to see you there! x