Interview: Unsound Toronto a treat for music lovers

If you’re looking for an experience unlike any other this summer, Unsound Toronto is where you need to be. Taking place June 10-11 at Toronto’s Hearn Generating Station, festival planners have carefully curated the musical lineup to be one that touches on every one of your senses.

On Friday, you’ll hear beautiful soundscapes, ambient notes, and heart-stopping techno with Sunn O))), Amnesia Scanner, and Elysia Crampton (to name a few). For Saturday, some of the talent gracing the decks is Time Hecker, Alessandro Cortini, Ancient Methods, and the ever-wonderful Aurora Halal.

As part of the Luminato Festival, tickets are $25 a night, so you can have your pick of either one or both evenings if your dancing shoes permit. You can buy tickets here.

We were lucky enough to chat with Unsound director and programmer, Mat Schultz about the work that went into the festival and what music lovers can expect from such a show.

You’ve chosen such a unique venue with carefully curated art and sounds. What sort of journey are you hoping to take people on with Unsound festival?

We always try to use adapted spaces as venues for Unsound, as it makes attending the festival a special event. Last year in Krakow, there were nineteen of them – including a synagogue, medieval salt mine, an abandoned communist-era hotel, a factory and a tram hall. The Hearn is definitely one of the most impressive adapted spaces we’ve worked with, though, and in creating the program we’ve tried to think about the way that architecture intersects with sound and music, not only acoustically, but in terms of an overall experience for the artists and audience. In terms of the music, there’s a broad spectrum of sounds and styles, but they’re all linked via a risk-taking spirit at the program’s heart.

How do you go about choosing each aspect of the festival?

For a start, we choose music that we like. But, we also try to present a mix of music, and reveal connections that aren’t necessarily obvious – for example, although they’re all very different, there are links between Sunn O))) and both The Bug and Kara-Lis Coverdale via volume, a certain type of immersion, bass and drone. We also try to create interesting points of contrast. To use Sunn O))) as another example, while they’re playing in the main room, we have Lotic in the side room, with an extremely different sound. It’s quite provocative programming, but I think it’ll be interesting and work well. We think very carefully about where everything is going, how the momentum of the evening builds, and so on – the program isn’t just thrown together.

What was one of the most difficult, but worthwhile features you had to work out this year to make sure you could give people the best experience possible?

I think the Luminato crew have the hardest job – as they’re the ones setting up The Hearn! I know how hard it is to adapt a post-industrial space, and was impressed they were able to do it so well last year. I’m even more amazed that they’re decided to put on their whole festival there in 2016. That’s no small feat – but I’m sure it’ll be worth it.

What is one tip you’d give to people looking to get the most out of their Unsound experience?

To let your expectations go. And keep your earplugs handy.

Full Line-Up:

FRIDAY JUNE 10 – doors open 9pm

Music Stage:
9.30pm – Kara-Lis Coverdale w/ MFO (CAN/DE)
10.30pm – Raime (UK)
11.45pm – sunn o))) (USA/EU)
1.20am – The Bug ft. Flowdan & Miss Red (UK/IL)

Side Room:
10pm – Elysia Crampton (USA/BO)
11pm – Amnesia Scanner (FIN)
12am – Jlin (USA)
1am – Lotic (USA)
2am – Rabih Beaini (LEB)

SATURDAY JUNE 11 – doors open 9am

Music Stage:
9.30pm – Alessandro Cortini (IT)
10.30pm – Roly Porter & MFO (UK/DE)
11.35pm – Tim Hecker & MFO (CAN/DE)
12.50am – Hot Shotz (Powell & Lorenzo Senni) (UK/IT)
1.55am – Evian Christ (UK)

Side Room:
10pm – Waclaw Zimpel with Rabih Beaini (PL/LEB)
11pm – T’ien Lai (PL)
12am – Olivia (PL)
1am – Aurora Halal (USA)
2am – Ancient Methods (DE)
3am – Orphx (CAN)

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Samie Durnford

Samie Durnford

Contributor at Addicted
Samie Durnford is a Toronto based writer with a heart that beats at 138BPM. An electronic music lover, you can find her listening to anything from trance to techno. Samie has been a reality TV columnist for the Toronto Sun and has interviewed DJs for THUMP Canada. She's taken electronic music on as a lifestyle, travelling to EDM festivals across North America whenever she can.
Samie Durnford