|17 September, 2017

Mutek, Dubai’s artsy electronic festival

The two-day event wants to break away from commercialised trends

Image used for illustrative purpose. People dance during Dead Sea Rave -424, an international electronic music festival at the foot of Masada mountain, along the shores of the Dead Sea, October 24, 2014.

Image used for illustrative purpose. People dance during Dead Sea Rave -424, an international electronic music festival at the foot of Masada mountain, along the shores of the Dead Sea, October 24, 2014.

REUTERS/Amir Cohen
There’s a new electronic music festival coming to town — and this time, they really mean ‘festival’.

Mutek, arriving in Dubai by way of Montreal, will take place on November 16 and 17 (venue yet to be announced) with performances by Jeff Mills, Dasha Rush and Hugues Clement.

And while it’s only the latest in a string of international electronic music events to launch in the UAE — Sensation and Unite with Tomorrowland came first — director Mehdi Ansari claims it serves a different purpose.

“In general, I don’t find those things to be festivals — they’re parties. One-day parties. Music is all about community, culture, technology, art and artists,” he told Gulf News tabloid!.

Mehdi — who believes music isn’t about competition, but about complementary efforts — cofounded the underground venue Analog Room in Dubai in 2012. His mandate is to create a less commercial electronic music scene in the UAE, away from the “red carpet and tables and no dance floor” formula.

In 2014, he attended Mutek in Canada and realised it might be just the thing to nudge the industry in a different direction.

“Music is not a commercial thing. It doesn’t add any value to call it Mutek or anything else. Mutek for us is not a brand name — it’s an approach [that includes] artistic curation, live electronic music, a-vision performances, installations, Digi labs, technology and panel talks for the industry,” said Ansari.

The festival was founded in Canada in 2000, but has since held editions in Mexico, Spain and Japan. Its latest additions are Dubai and Buenos Aires.

The two-day UAE edition (stylised Mutek.ae) will be a micro version of the full-scale festival, which is typically a minimum five days long. It lasted for six days in this year in its origin city, with more than 100 artists from 20 different nationalities, said Ansari.


At the inaugural UAE edition of Mutek, things will kick off with a panel talk. Ansari said they would be inviting Art Dubai, D3, Dubai Design Week, Step Conference and other industry players.

There would also be installations, audio-visual performances and technological showcases.

Musically, the festival will involve smaller concerts, which are more ambient and experimental in nature, and can accommodate about 500 audience members.

The main event of the night will be double that size, with performances from Jeff Mills, Dasha Rush and Hugh Clement. Mills, an American DJ, founded the techno collective Underground Resistance with ‘Mad’ Mike Banks in the ‘80s, while Rush is known as a multidisciplinary artist, creating abstract and immersive techno. Clement, on the other hand, delves headfirst into a new media approach by playing with sounds and images.

Mutek will have a local aspect, as well, which will not involve any DJ sets; live performances will take precedence, and the festival will feature ten local resident artists who will perform their craft live. Further artist announcements will be made.

The different parts of the festival will take place at various venues around the city, although Ansari could not confirm those venues yet.

“We’re trying to keep them in a similar area so people don’t have to travel so far. Travelling between venues, seeing people along the way, and moving together — it’s part of the community [feeling],” he said.

Tickets and passes will likely become available by the end of the month. Some will allow single-day entry and others will be sold as passes into multiple events. Tickets will range in price from Dh100 to Dh350.

Mutek is a not-for-profit organisation, which aims to advance digital creativity in the world of music by providing an outlet to original artists and visionaries currently active within their fields. It prides itself on avant-garde and diverse programming that pushes the boundaries of what is mainstream or tried and tested.

Ansari plans for Mutek to become an annual event in the UAE, growing in size over time.

© Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2017. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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