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Isis Graham on making it from DIY culture to professional industry

Tuesday 08th, November 2016 / 11:06
By Jay King
First ever AEMCOM gets nothing but “yes.” Photo: Michael Benz

First ever AEMCON gets nothing but “yes.”
Photo: Michael Benz

CALGARY — For a long time, there has been a feeling that something big is happening in Alberta’s electronic music scene. Whether it’s smaller residencies throughout the province, the massive success of PK Sound, or huge events put on in Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre and Calgary’s BMO Centre, there’s always some buzz about Alberta’s electronic movement.

Isis Graham, co-founder of Calgary-based Substation Recordings, has been seeing this for a long time. She teamed up with Edmonton’s Andrew Williams and Lethbridge’s Matt Carter to introduce the first ever Alberta Electronic Music Conference (AEMCON). Unlike some of the events put on in Alberta, this one is geared towards not just the music but also the multi-facets that make up successful individuals and communities within a music scene. Graham has been involved in Calgary’s electronic music scene for over 20 years and, along with her counterparts, felt it was time to incept a conference to help progress the growth of Alberta’s electronic music scene as a whole.

“The conference, for us, is more focusing on the professionalization of our industry,” Graham explains. She speaks in terms of the production, networking, and business aspects of the music industry. Graham hopes that through AEMCON, she can help elicit some of the foundations needed to build a thriving music scene.

She added: “In Alberta, one of the things we lack is the professional side of the business. We don’t have a lot of music lawyers, publishers, or booking agents. A lot of the Alberta scene is really DIY, which is amazing, but at some point, once we have enough people seeking out professional services, it’s going to require some people to start creating these things.”

With contributors such as PK Sound’s VP of touring and production Arlen Cormack and founder/CTO of hardware development company iConnectivity, the evidence of enthusiast involvement from various forums is apparent.

“AEMCON is done on a full ‘yes’ platform. There was nothing that we asked for that anyone said ‘no’ to. That says a lot to me about where Alberta in general is at,” Graham notes.

With everything from intro to video mapping, mixing and mastering workshops, a social media panel, a marketing panel, a record label forum, to an equipment swap, there is a plethora of knowledge and outlets available to attendants seeking a path in the industry. Graham hopes to provide the stepping-stones for them.

“We’re just hoping to create a catalyst to get them to take that next step and get them engaged with each other. The idea is to give them access points to the people that are interested in this music. It’ll also just showcase that electronic music is a valid form of art and it needs to be recognized as something legitimate… and that there’s a huge mass of people that are interested in it.”

AEMCON takes place from November 11-13 in Edmonton visit for full details.

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