“The SampleMusicFestival is the world’s first education music festival for turntablism, finger drumming and controllerism – a platform for professional knowledge, discussion and high-quality live performances. Through lectures, workshops and performances, we draw attention to live music-making on these instruments and make an important contribution to the promotion of modern music,” says Alexander Sonnenfeld, organizer of the SMF in Berlin. We interviewed Sonnenfeld on the occasion of their first time at Prolight + Sound.
1. You launched the SampleMusicFestival in 2015. What is the vision behind the SampleMusicFestival?
Alexander Sonnenfeld: Turntables and MIDI controllers are musical instruments of the 21st century – the SampleMusicFestival was formed as a platform around this idea. Since 2015, this three-day event has taken place annually in Berlin. Meanwhile it attracts visitors from 15 different countries to Berlin. It has achieved a high status internationally and is recognized as the “official” music conference for DJ-ing, turntablism and controllerism. Year after year, our symposium presents scientific research work that is new in this field of music. International communities are networked and new impulses for music culture are created.
Our development plan for the coming years has a clear mission that consists of two goals. First, we want to create an international platform in which artists and companies in the music industry can network worldwide. In this area, the SampleMusicFestival should be an instrument for the targeted promotion of the creative industry. Our second goal is to establish DJing, turntablism and controllerism as fixed courses of study at European institutes of higher education for music. This has already become a reality at Berkeley College in California and other countries are following suit.
We’ve been recording everything since the beginning. The clips are available on our website for free. In this way, we create instructional material that is already being used by music universities and students today to inform them about the topic. In addition, we have been organizing lecture series and workshops in institutes of higher learning and university since 2015. Last year we were a part of a research project. Scholars at several German universities are studying the musical interactions of subcultures in the context of our festival.
2. What motivated you to come to the Prolight + Sound / Musikmesse in Frankfurt this year?
Alexander Sonnenfeld: First and foremost, it comes down to the expansion of our network and PR work. Due to its international scope, the Musikmesse fair is an ideal partner. From an institutional perspective, we would like to transport DJing, turntablism and controllerism to institutions that have had no or just very little exposure to this art form to date. With its visitors from 150 countries, the Musikmesse is and ideal place to create new impulses and synergies.
3. What kind of expectations to you have for Prolight + Sound / Musikmesse?
Alexander Sonnenfeld: We’re ready for surprises. It can only be a success after being so warmly welcomed by the team at Prolight + Sound / Musikmesse.
4. What can visitors look forward to?
Alexander Sonnenfeld: There is a special area in Hall 4.0, the Europa Room, where top brands like Akai, Denon DJ, RANE, Ortofon and Mixars in the SampleMusicFestival area. Other companies like Technics, Ableton or Native Instruments have their innovations in the context of workshops and product demonstrations. You can look over the shoulders of well-known artists from the electronic music scene like Beat Matazz, Clockwerk and S-Trix. Visitors will receive the possibility to jam or network. Our production at Prolight + Sound / Musikmesse crosses boundaries, is experimental and visionary. We present innovative instrumental forms with new sound experiences. Our art is the consequence of absolute will to creative expression and is closely tied to the socialization of urban street culture. We would like to share this approach with visitors.
5. What significance does Prolight + Sound / Musikmesse have for DJs and DJanes?
Alexander Sonnenfeld: I think it has always been a place to gather information about the latest sound technologies. We also a corresponding live performance – which most people have never heard of – to accompany our concept. So it should be interesting!