Between 2013 and 2016, Slingshot festival filled the streets of Athens, Georgia with its three-pronged approach to music, visual arts and technology, attracting leading artists like James Murphy of LCD Sound System, Tinariwen, Angel Olsen and Crystal Castles , alongside dozens of local sound artists and artists who work in other mediums.
Founded by Kai Riedl, a former Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia, the festival has grown from a messy Kickstarter-fueled event to the kind of sprawling experimental festival that Southern college towns are known for. The festival has taken a hiatus in recent years as Riedl worked as executive producer of Moogfest. (Moogfest 2020 has been canceled prior to the onset of COVID-19 due to apparent logistical issues, and has since been growled in legal issues.)
Now, says Riedl, it’s time for Slingshot to make its mark on Durham: the festival is slated to take place in downtown, The Fruit, on Friday October 1 and Saturday October 2. Due to both COVID-19 and its new beginnings, Slingshot won’t be a full-scale festival, but Riedl says he expects it to have a ‘weekend’ feel that ” represents what is possible “.
Techno producer Juan Atkins (also known as Model 500, Cybotron, and Infiniti) headlining the festival; there will also be a DJ set on Friday by pioneer chillwave Ernest Greene (Washed Out) and a Saturday directed by a Colombian composer Ela Minus. Also on the list: sets by local electronics staples like Oak City Slums, Treee City, Gemynii, Queen Plz, Gappa Mighty, and more.
“Now that Moogfest is no longer in Durham, I thought it would be a great opportunity to relaunch Slingshot in a city that has a lot of the same vibes as Athens – a lot of the tech community and a music scene. booming electronics, ”said Riedl, who is no longer affiliated with Moogfest.
If Slingshot’s hybrid approach to an electronic music festival sounds like Moogfest, Riedl says it’s fair – they both emerged in the heyday of hybrid music festivals, and both have moved to Durham since the outside the city.
But, he adds, after setting up a foundation in Durham for the past four years, he’s excited to foster a more community-based approach to Slingshot. Alongside curator and artist business partner Vivek Boray, Riedl used city funds and worked with Art of Cool festival veteran Al Strong to kick off Slingshot’s first year in Durham.
“I would love to see a little more organic growth from Durham instead of a more top-down Moogfest situation where a lot of out of town parties dictate what happens with a festival,” says Riedl, who lives in Durham for four years. “It’s a bit more community-developed. That’s why I’ve reached out to many local and regional musicians to make sure they’re interested in doing something.”
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