Boston's art, music and technology festival Together brings its fourth edition to the city next week (May 12 through 19), and this year's looking better than ever for the growing festival. While Together continues to bring a vast range of electronic music to the city, as well as showcasing local talent at every opportunity, they've also worked to expand beyond being just a dance music festival, with production classes, technology panels, art and film on the lineup as well as sets from unexpected artists like Juicy J. Having started as a series of events across the city, Together is also more centralized than ever this year, with many events happening around Central Square in Cambridge, including a daytime street festival on May 18. You can view the full lineup on Together's website.
Read on for a brief interview with creative director David Day, followed by EARMILK's top five Together party picks.
EARMILK: What were you working on in Boston before Together got its start?
David Day: I was the music editor of Dig Boston and Alex was the Director of Marketing at a local recording studio. Both he and I saw the amount of local talent catching up with the rest of the world. It was high time we had a festival on par with the rest of the world.
EM: How did the idea for Together come about?
DD: In an email to every single musician, producer, promoter and performer in October 2009, I asked that we all put our differences aside and make a festival and call it "Together." The response was fairly overwhelmingly positive and the team was quickly born: Mike McKay, Joe Grafton, Alex Maniatis… even Eli Goldstein of Soul Clap was on the original steering committee (until he suddenly became massively popular).
EM: What's new and exciting about Together in 2013?
DD: Plenty, but I will say being located predominantly in one area is finally really going to be a positive change. The Together Center, the World's Fair, Together Central Stage, our Revitalize Lounge, Middlesex Lounge, Naga, Phoenix Landing, they're all within blocks of each other. And with the free seminars at Mmmmaven down the street, you can literally attend some world class talent by hardly breaking a sweat.
EM: What events are you personally most excited for this year and why?
DD: I always pick something different, because there is so so much, but Fred Falke and Lifelike are two all-time favorites of mine (Wednesday5/15 at Naga [FB]). They've worked with Beyonce and like, U2, and who knows who, but their original music was very influential in my early appreciation of new music. It's hard to understand how people could not like French House, it's just so melodic and inspiring. Plus, with the Kitsune name on the club night, it's official as official gets.
EM: What advice would you give to someone trying to organize their own festival?
DD: Stay positive. It's difficult to do at times, but if you think you should bite your tongue, you probably should. Considering that, at least in the case of Together, this is largely done out of love and passion and a desire to see this community through, the last thing you need is a bad attitude. I'm overcome with emotion at the start of every festival. I love all the people who work on this and don't understand why people put so much into it, but then the end of the festival is here, and it's quite clear: We do it for each other.
Top 5 Party Picks
Turbo Recordings Showcase with Duke Dumont, Nautiluss, Bordello, Doctor Jeep [FB]
Friday 5/17, Middle East Downstairs. Tiga, who will be kicking off Together at The Sinclair on May 12, isn't just a performer. He also founded and remains at the helm of Turbo Recordings, which has hosted releases from countless scene favorites from Azari & III to Brodinski and beyond. While Tiga's performance at the fairly new Sinclair in Harvard Square is sure to be a blast, I'm personally more stoked to check out this showcase of budding Turbo artists, especially Papua New Guinea producer Nautiluss, known for his slick techno productions, diverse sets and seemingly countless collaborations. Local favorite Doctor Jeep, who has seen support from producers like Claude VonStroke and Armand Van Helden, will be sure to please as an opener.
Don't Ask Don't Tell with Le1f, Colby Drasher, El Poser, Fuzzy Fotch [FB]
Saturday 5/18, Great Scott. It's hard not to love rapper/DJ Le1f, whose recent Fly Zone mixtape was a more-than-apt follow-up to 2012's awesome Dark York. Ditching social rules about how gender and sexuality normally operate in the world of hip-hop and dropping more nerdy references than we can keep track of, Le1f's also a good performer (and universally attractive to boot). He'll be joined by Don't Ask Don't Tell curator and DJ Colby Drasher, CVLT founder and relentless local dark overlord El Poser, and Subtropix founder Fuzzy Fotch. With Le1f headlining this diverse lineup of some of Boston's best local DJs and organizers, this isn't a night to miss.
Tuesday 5/14, Phoenix Landing. Local collective JASS always seem to be proving their attention to detail, with live-streamed basement parties, attractive graphics and visuals, and bookings like South London Ordnance, L-Vis 1990, and Shigeto at their Tuesday monthly at Phoenix Landing. For Together festival, they bring Berlin's Objekt, who, as a programmer for Native Instruments (the creators of Traktor), has an unsurprising knack for DJing and production. He'll be joined by a back-to-back set from Providence's Howse and The Range, whose Seneca EP was just released on Donky Pitch.
Zomby with Distal, Rizzla, Blk.Adonis, Dev/Null [FB]
Saturday, May 18, Middle East Downstairs. Full disclosure: I include this show begrudgingly, because while I used to totally buy into the Zomby thing, he's one of those music folks whose online presence has left me convinced that he might spend his entire time on stage playing no music and instead furiously masturbating. I've seen him once before in Brooklyn, and it was fun, and he didn't masturbate at all (or he was really discreet about it), but I'm still convinced it might happen here. And I don't really want to be a part of that. However, if Zomby is able to keep his hands out of his own pants, this will probably be a fun show, especially with a stacked opener lineup: Distal visits from Atlanta, former Bostonian and Fade to Mind affiliate Rizzla returns, and locals Blk.Adonis and Dev/Null are sure to please.
Tuesday 5/14, Middle East Downstairs. Kieran Hebden, a.k.a. Four Tet requires little introductory text. As a producer who seems to transcend taste boundaries, his delicate, abstract productions are perfect for headphone listening and he's also known for his danceable, unpredictable live sets. Four Tet is (excitingly!) joined by Brooklyn house producer Anthony Naples, who's been blowing up more recently following his 2012 debut with single "Mad Disrespect". They'll also be joined by producer Ricardo Donoso, a Boston transplant from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, film/television composer, and one half of Perispirit.