By Paul Rodgers
CALGARY – Alberta Electronic Music Conference (AEMCON) was born from the collective consciousness of Calgary’s Isis Graham, Edmonton’s Andrew Williams and Lethbridge’s Matt Carter with the intent of celebrating the existing electronic music scene and encouraging its further professionalization and growth. After their inaugural year in Edmonton in 2016, the conference triumphantly strides into Calgary with a diverse schedule of day and night time events bolstered by a lengthy list of respected keynote speakers, panelists and performances by local and international artists. Full of fresh ideas and full of fun, AEMCOM promises to be exciting, informative and highly beneficial for the electronic music community.
When AEMCOM was launched, Graham, a 20-year veteran of the Calgary rave scene, said she hoped the conference would elicit more professional help from lawyers, publishers and booking agents that was lacking on a regional scale. She notes there’s a few holes in the programming that they want to fill this time around, especially questions around how artists can attain funding, make money and create a sustainable career. “What we learned last year is that people were definitely hungry to learn,” says Graham.
In addition to ramping up the size and broadening the spectrum of the conference with its base operations now at the National Music Centre, there’s a distinct move away from localized programming to a more international reach. Graham explains that they began utilizing their networks from places like LA, Toronto and Europe to gather new resources and bring in a wider base of information and knowledge for participants to draw from. She hopes attendees are inspired and compelled by what they see, hear and experience to create their own initiatives even stronger.
“There’s a lot of people in Calgary that have been in this industry for a long time. They have a vast network and maybe it’s a blindspot for them that they can be using these tools to create successful business platforms to help themselves or help other artists.”
She adds, “I think as some of the other artists in Calgary mature they might see those spaces that need to be filled and hopefully develop businesses that will sustain Alberta’s industry in the future. That’s kind of my hope. I hope they don’t all move away, because that’s what happens and we want to create an environment in Alberta where people want to stay here and work here and support other people that are here.”
Asked by a number of people why she’s doing all this, Graham says she had a revelation while attending Amsterdam Dance Event, one of the world’s largest and most innovative gatherings for electronic music fans and artists, where AEMCON is akin to a thesis of all the things she has done or experienced in her 20-year career.
“I think that as we continue to grow all together we’ll look back at these small steps that we took initially and feel really proud of what we’ve accomplished… It feels really good to be able to bring all the things that I’ve learned and the people that we have on the panels, the collective knowledge here is immense.”
Alberta Electronic Music Conference