What is AEMCON, you ask? The Alberta Electronic Music Conference, which takes place in Calgary, Alberta each fall. With an extra stacked lineup of musicians and industry heads doing everything from informative talk panels to hardware demonstrations and lighting talks, it really is arguably the best networking opportunity for people working in Western Canada’s electronic music scene.

If you’re starting to get confused, or wonder why a hardware demonstration is exciting, then think of electronic music as all kinds of music made with a computer or computers.

It doesn’t just have to be “Dance Music” and whilst that term is all encapsulating, there are so many forms of electronic music these days it can hard to pinpoint a tangible difference between the genres. That being said, each genre and subgenre influences each other and AEMCON is an opportunity for musicians far and wide to experience this synergy and see how it impacts the scene in Canada and the rest of the world. After all, there are acoustic musicians making electronic music, and there were people making electronic styles of music long before computers acted the way they do today. Regardless of the side you lean or what music you make, the benefits of technology are here to stay, and AEMCON does a great job of highlighting artists and industry heads that both challenge the norm and pay respect to traditional methods.

Photo: Stalemate Photography

How do they achieve this you ask?

A combination of well curated talks and workshops, a tradeshow, a vinyl swap, multiple parties and industry networking events. If this hasn’t piqued your interest, hang tight for a selection of photos, videos and moments of AEMCON 2019:

Studio Bell, home of the National Music Center & AEMCON. Photo: 403 ABC

AEMCON 2019 was hosted at Studio Bell, an extra inspiring space filled with years of Canadian music history. Between talks it’s very possible to wander the corridors and be filled with useful information about Canadian Content providers like Brian Adams, Shania Twain, Deadmau5 and more as well as what must be one of the better guitar collections in Alberta if not Canada.

As fun as Studio Bell and The National Music Centre are, AEMCON had more than enough exciting talks, workshops, and exhibitions to keep us busy and engaged over the entire weekend.

On day 1, at the same time as their kick-off event, industry leaders from far and wide congregated at “Verbalise” – a collection of speakers who work in the field of dance music. Topics ranged from harm reduction, to indigenous influences in modern music, and the effect of space on a community.

Photo: Stalemate Photography

Friday was when things really began to kick-off for the weekend, with a jam-packed day at Studio Bell. StokeFM could not resist the opportunity to attend as many workshops as time allowed and started the day with talks on both accounting and marketing for the music industry, followed by a talk from visiting Dutchmen, Eelke Kleijn. Eelke did a thorough dissection of his upcoming remix for Rufus Du Sol, where he invited everyone attending to ask questions about any aspect of his workflow and showed us exactly how he built the forthcoming hit track from scratch. Interesting stuff. For those who don’t know Eelke, here is the song he dissected live for us at AEMCON on a full PK rig:

Our favourite talk of the weekend ensued and “Exploring Space with Sergio SP” made for a bunch of abstract fun with the talk focused primarily on space transformations and methods used to create moments and lasting impressions in the music scene.

“Exploring Space with Sergio SP” Photo: Concert Socks

Friday night was of course also a fun time, with an after hours, multi level networking event taking place in Studio Bell. Which made sense because after an entire day breaking down the intricacies of electronic music, it is nice to look at the bigger picture and appreciate it as a whole with a bunch of like minded people. They also had Dane, Korea Town Acid, and Nick Middleton of The Funk Hunters playing to sweeten the deal, all this while multiple shows were happening all over Calgary, with an AEMCON pass gaining access to all.

Late Friday night saw Eelke Kleijn headlining the festivities with a breezy deep house balearic set to a packed house from start to close. Local scene leaders Smalltown DJ’s picked up the reigns after international heavyweight DJ QU cancelled last minute. As always, it was local legend Dane who’s timeless selections and fun vibe suited the lit up corridor very nicely. While simultaneous shows happened on multiple floors, this was very much the place to be, at the point in time.

Breakage at The Hifi Club. Photo: Abilene Culp

Saturday had a different pace, with a tradeshow lasting all weekend and also a vinyl swap happening with every genre from Techno to Country to Drum and Bass and everything in between. The topics shifted from theoretical to hands on, with workshops and tutorials happening everywhere. Warp Academy had a strong presence all weekend and their advanced mix-down lesson was a must for aspiring musicians of all genres.

Lauren on-location at the annual Vinyl Swap. A must for record collectors of all genres.
Photo: Concert Socks

The tradeshow stole our robot hearts, however, and with everyone from Roland to Akai with their full teams present to provide demonstrations, it was hard to resist twisting knobs and playing around with the remodelled 808 drum machine on a full PK rig until you realized there was a room full of things to try and plenty of ways to get inspired.

We’re not lying, there was ALOT of hardware. Photo: Turtle Snaps

After the full day of activities that was Saturday, the main event for us was the networking mixer soundtracked by Sergio SP. Surrounded by industry professionals in a relaxed environment, it’s a nice way to informally make connections with like minded people, who you may or may not have been brushing shoulders with all weekend. Additionally, we found the talk focused on dealing with agents to be full of juicy information that can be just about impossible to come by online.

Sunday was no let down either. With one final day of antics left, there was no shortage of events with more production workshops, a further harm reduction focus and some inspiring talks all around while the tradeshow continued to bustle along in the main lobby.

Special shoutouts to the DIY Feminine Resistance and also the dance floor economics panel for interesting chats on Sunday. The weekend itself was rounded out by another networking mixer, a vegetable focused pop up called Green House, which promised Calgary’s best DJ’s alongside a vegetarian menu. By this point, unfortunately Stoke FM was already back through Rogers Pass on another assignment, but stay tuned for more information on AEMCON 2020. See you next year and don’t forget to support your local scene. We’re all in this together.

Photo: 403 ABC

For anyone reading who attended, let them know how you thought it was at this survey and do your part by helping AEMCON grow here.

Hang tight for announcements and hype on AEMCON 2020, see the below link for an opportunity to see how Cymatic Grounds and Stoke FM have been putting these lessons into practice.

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