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Sequential Circus continues to push the envelope after 10 years of parties

Monday 30th, January 2017 / 15:06
By Hollie McGowan

Live electronic music, art and performances makes Sequential Circus a cornerstone of experimental live music events in Vancouver.
Photo: Mark Barter

VANCOUVER — Back in 2007 in response to a void in Vancouver’s underground music scene, a group of electronic music enthusiasts decided to create an event called Sequential Circus. Ten years later, the event has grown into one of the most well known live electronic performance art showcases in Western Canada that encompasses music, digital media and dance.

“Sequential Circus was inspired by an event series called “The Listening Room” that took place in the early 2000s at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vanier Park,” shared Amanda Farrell-Low, one of the organizers of Sequential Circus. “Like Sequential, it focused on up-and-coming electronic musicians as well as engaging visual performances. A change in management at the planetarium brought the series to and end in 2007.”

Since then, Drew Smith a.k.a. MUX created Sequential Circus to help fill the void. Sustainably built on a solid reputation, Sequential never veered away from its original intention to provide a platform for those who truly love the art of electronic music and experimentation.

“Although there is a fresh energy around [the event] now, a lot of the core community (in Vancouver) hasn’t changed a whole lot,” says Ben Searles who forms the local bass music duo Daega Sound with his brother Josh Searles. “The people who were really into [Sequential Circus] then are still really into it now.”

Being a part of the live PA and Sequential Circus community since its infancy, the brothers remembered a time when a much smaller group would gather together to geek-out over the various kinds of electronic instruments that each artist would bring to the event. “The core group were gear nerds,” recalled Josh. “For these people it was never about busting out and dancing, it was more about the actual show. People were really paying attention to what was happening, looking at the different set-ups and how people were creating their sound.”

“It takes a lot of effort to put a live show together,” says Ben. “It takes hours of practicing, trouble-shooting and then pulling it all out on stage. It’s really special when it happens.”

Aside from the live performances, Sequential Circus has become a hub for new ideas and inspiration by providing fresh insight to both newcomers and veterans alike. Every show is a new opportunity for artists of all levels to go out on a limb and try out new things that they don’t always get the chance to experiment with. “One of the things that Sequential Circus does is keeps us playing live,” maintains Josh. “You really have to put yourself out there because you’re playing all of your own tunes. It’s not like DJing where you get to rely on tried and tested bangers therefore it keeps pushing us to try new things.”

“It keeps us evolving too,” added Ben. “It forces us to keep refining [our sound] and keep looking for new elements. Also, pressure can be good because if there’s a date set and there’ll be 600 eyeballs watching you, you know that you’ve got to get it sorted out. Without that pressure behind you, sometimes you opt to do something a little easier, or may decide to not do something at all.”

Sequential Circus takes place at Open Studios February 4th.

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