Scribe for such esteemed publications as Resident Advisor and FACT Magazine, Andrew Ryce wrote a thoughtful piece that details his experiences with New Forms. Here it is, in its entirety…
- When I first heard of the New Forms Festival a few years ago, it seemed like a distant, shining beacon in the dark, especially for a kid stuck in the suburbs who didn’t have much of a connection to the musical underground world outside of the mighty Ethernet cable. Long immersed in worlds of music I thought only existed on other continents, New Forms proved that there were like-minded people in Vancouver. That brand was my entryway into what proved to be a vibrant and inspiring musical community— you just had to look for it. The past two years have seen enormous expansion in Vancouver’s electronic music community, and you don’t have to look much further than the festival’s own evolution over its last few iterations to see how, nor is its own role to be underestimated.
My personal history with New Forms doesn’t go back very far, but in particular, last year’s festival felt like a watershed moment. After some organizational issues hampered the 2010 installment, New Forms came back in 2011 with a vengeance, taking over an entire hotel—performance spaces and hotel rooms alike—and stuffing them to the brim with art aural, visual, and interactive. It was a stunning display of passion and commitment from the festival’s organizers and the community eager to experience it, and even the execution in itself was admirably creative. Running the gamut in terms of international talent and bolstering it with an admirably prominent platform for local artists as well, the programming was more comprehensive than anything else I had previously seen in Vancouver. To see a scene that could be admittedly split by competition and conflict all come together to celebrate itself, and the world that surrounded it, made for a weekend burned indelibly into my memory as one of the most rejuvenating and motivating I’ve experienced in Vancouver.
That’s the crux of what makes New Forms so vital, and so important. It’s not just a weekend of music, and it’s not just a weekend of partying: it’s a weekend of cooperation, of community, and frankly, alchemy. It’s where world-class artists converge on a small-scale venue and hob-nob with elites and punters alike, where artists from disparate backgrounds mingle, where everyone is put on the same level by a loving and careful curatorial hand. You can meet some of your musical heroes (and see them perform) and find some new ones in the process. It’s where you’ll walk in looking forward to a particular set and come out at the end of the night raving about something else entirely.
At New Forms, you’re welcomed to intellectualize your favourite music with the artists themselves—through panels, exhibits, and more—and still manage to rave your proverbial face off. The festival is proof that with the right minds behind it, “art” doesn’t have to be separate from “fun.” It’s the kind of event as cherished by academics and artists as it is by revelers and observers, and it’s a unique Vancouver institution. More importantly, with every passing year, and every formidable improvement, it’s helping to put Vancouver on the map as one of the world’s most open-minded hotspots for experimental and groundbreaking music.