The first edition of MUTEK is launched by Alain Mongeau, as part of his mandate as Director of New Media Programming at the Ex-Centris complex. Already functioning as Artistic Director for Montreal’s International Festival of New Cinema and New Media (FCMM), MUTEK is conceived originally as a complimentary platform to FCMM, designed to explore the intersection between sound, music and new media.
With a home base at the Ex-Centris complex, MUTEK 2000 also holds showcases in smaller venues like Café Campus and Laika.
The first line-up features 34 artists, with headliners like Byetone, Carsten Nicolai, Frank Bretschneider, Thomas Brinkmann, Pole, Signal, Taylor Deupree and Vladislav Delay, as well as label showcases by Mille Plateaux, ~scape, Raster-Noton, and Caipirihna, all appearing alongside Canadian talents like Akufen, Alexandre St-Onge, Deadbeat, Mitchell Akiyama, and Pheek.
Running from June 7th to the 11th, approximately 2000 people attend.
“All in all, what I’m really committed to is to provide the electronic music scene with a real festival, where we could talk about all the dimensions related to the artistic practice underlying the scene. So just like there are festivals for cinema, theater, dance, so there would be one specifically around [electronic] music and sound.”
– Alain Mongeau, in Incursion
Over 45 artists participate, including Closer Musik, Dimbiman, Matmos, Matthew Herbert, Rechenzentrum and Ricardo Villalobos. Many rising Canadian names perform as well, among them Ghislain Poirier, Jeremy P. Caulfield, Jetone (Tim Hecker), Mike Shannon and more.
Larger events move from the Café Campus to the Society of Art and Technology (SAT). The SAT, along with Ex-Centris, goes on to become a MUTEK long-term partner.
Running from May 30th to June 3rd, the festival attracts approximately 3700 people, almost doubling the previous year’s benchmark as more and more public from out of town begin considering the festival a worthwhile excursion: 23% of festival-goers come from outside of the province of Quebec.
To accompany the 2001 festival program, the MUTEK_REC label produces its first-ever compilation.
“The third presentation of Montréal’s MUTEK from May 29 to June 2, 2002, convincingly argued for its stature as the preeminent experimental electronic music festival in North America, one that rivals Sonar as an overarching barometer of electronica in its ever-mutating state.”
More international in scope, the 2002 edition features over 50 artists as diverse as Agf, Atom, Bola, Farben, Felix Kubin, Hakan Libdo, Janek Schaefer, Luomo, Murcof, Snd and Stephan Mathieu, as well as label showcases from Playhouse, Klang, and Orthlorng Musork. Canadian acts include Dioxyde (who will later become Skoltz_Kolgen), Ensemble, Lowfish, Pan/Tone, Solvent, Steve Beaupre, Vitaminsforyou and Vromb.
INTER_SECTION, MUTEK’s daytime professional section, which includes panel discussions, installations, and film screenings, is added to the program.
Attendance is also on the rise; attendance tops 7 000. To accommodate its increasingly growing public, the festival hosts line-ups at the Metropolis for the first time, which rounds out the Ex-Centris, the SAT, and the Goethe Institute in the circuit of showcasing venues.
MUTEK launches its first events outside Canada, accepting an invitation to host a night at Berlin’s Club Transmediale festival. MUTEK also ventures into South America with a two-day event in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“MUTEK was the most interesting, the best, and the most inspiring thing that I have ever been a part of - and that I've ever seen - that had anything to do with electronic music.”
– Richie Hawtin, in Exclaim!
MUTEK expands its programming for the Metropolis while moving their planned SAT events to the Just For Laughs Museum. The SAT, this year, is in the midst of moving to a new location.
72 performers participate in this edition, including Coil, Kevin Drumm, Marina Rosenfeld, Matthew Dear, Philip Jeck, Pita, Senor Coconut, T. Raumschmiere, Telefon Tel Aviv and Tujiko Noriko, as well as Mego and M-Nus label showcases. Also, the final night features the first-ever Narod Niki performance, an all-star jam session conceived by Ricardo Villalobos and Dimbiman that includes Akufen, Dan Bell, Dandy Jack, Luciano, Monolake, and Richie Hawtin.
Canadian performers include [sic], Christof Migone, Clinker, Cobblestone Jazz, Martin Tétreault, Montag and Sixtoo.
Panel discussions also expand and diversify. Over 600 people attend the discussions to listen to over 40 delegates speak freely a number of issues facing the genre.
MUTEK’s ramifications take unexpected directions, with an initial showcase in Chile and a tour of Mexico. Showcases also take place in France, Germany, Spain, and the US.
The MUTEK_REC label releases its first artist album, Don’t Postpone Joy by Montreal duo EGG.
“One of the most progressive festivals in the world, MUTEK has built its reputation offering a hyper-intelligent forum.”
– Joshua Glazer, URB (Los Angeles)
The festival celebrates its 5th anniversary, surpassing 10 000 entries for the first time.
67 acts take part, including Andrew Weatherall, Angel, Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit, Errorsmith, Fax, Isolee, Jamie Lidell, Jason Forrest, Krikor, Original Hamster, and Schneider TM, as well as a Raster-Noton label showcase.
On the Canadian side, MUTEK presents the first Plastikman live set in nine years, as well as showcases by Crackhaus, Frivolous, David Kristian, Egg, Junior Boys, Loscil, Millimetrik, Mossa, Skoltz_Kolgen, Szkieve and The Mole.
MUTEK captures its first international prize, winning the QWARTZ EVENT in the “Best Electronic Music Event” category at the prestigious 2004 QWARTZ ELECTRONIC MUSIC AWARDS (France), which are sponsored by the major French newspaper Le Monde.
The festival is also the designated finalist for the 2004 MONTREAL ARTS COUNCIL GRAND PRIX in the “Media Arts” category.
The festival joins forces with Montreal’s PIKNIC ÉLECTRONIK to present the first NUIT ÉLECTRONIK, an all-night event that becomes an important part of Montreal’s yearly NUIT BLANCHE event, which takes place within the city’s High Lights festival.
Mexico’s MUTEK festival, in its 2nd year, attracts nearly 8000 fans. After a run of successful events in Chile, MUTEK puts on its biggest event yet in Valparaiso for 3000 attendees.
MUTEK also expands further into Europe with showcases in France, Germany, Finland, Norway, Italy, and Estonia.
MUTEK_REC continues to release a stellar line-up of Montreal talent, with full-lengths albums by Skoltz_Kolgen, Crackhaus, and the 2003 live recording of Chessmachine, featuring Richard Chartier vs. Ivan Pavlov. The label also releases its first vinyl, by Egg.
“MUTEK, Montreal's festival of digital music and media arts, has already proven itself to be one of the world's premier festivals of its kind. Having already held events in Europe and the US and put on festivals in Chile and Mexico, in March, MUTEK added China to its proverbial bedpost.”
– Jon Campbell, Art Fairs International (Beijing)
The Montreal festival, now in its 6th edition, features 125 artists, including: Apparat, Biosphere, Fm3, Gallopierende Zuversicht, Guenter Muller, Joe Colley, John Duncan, Klimek, Marcus Schmickler, Melchior Productions, Nego Mocambique, Pomassl and Radian.
On the Canadian side, the festival features Akumu, Artist Of The Year, Dafluke, Galerie Stratique, Jamie Drouin, Luci, Meek, Minibloc, Nathan McNinch, Polmo Polpo and Simon Guibord.
For the first time, MUTEK collaborates with Montreal’s Museum for Contemporary Arts, on installation work by Skoltz_Kolgen entitled “asKaa”.
Working for the first time with the designers FEED on the festival’s look, the results end up winning two awards from Toronto’s APPLIED ARTS magazine for their work on the overall program (poster, postcard, schedule, catalogue, CD, T-shirt), as well as in the best poster design category. FEED goes on to capture three more distinctions from Montreal’s GRAFIKA awards in the “Poster Design”, “Brochure Design”, and “Overall Program Design” categories. Furthermore, MUTEK’S web developers, PIXEL CIRCUS, also get a GRAFIKA award for the MUTEK website.
For a second consecutive year, MUTEK is named finalist for QWARTZ ELECTRONIC MUSIC AWARD, in the category of “Best Electronic Music Event”.
Continuing with its international activities, MUTEK begins the year with a tour, traveling with a delegation of artists to China. Stops include Beijing, Cheng Du, and Shenzen.
MUTEK reinforces its ties with two other North American electronic-music festivals, DEMF (Detroit) and Decibel (Seattle), with invitations to both events.
Finishing the year in South America, the festival launches MUTEK_PANAM, its first full-fledged tour of the continent. The tour touches down in Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.
“MUTEK 2006 was perhaps one of the best festival experiences I've ever had […] getting better and better across its five days of programming.”
– Philip Sherburne, 2006
110 artists participate in the Montreal festival’s 7th edition. The international cast of performers includes a new generation of electronic artists, notably Alex Under, Audio Werner, Eliot Lipp, Jackson, Modeselektor, Nôze and Ryoichi Kurokawa, playing along established favourites such as Thomas Brinkmann, Jan Jelinek, Pole, and a special outdoor tagteam between Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos.
Among the Canadian performers are Aidan Baker, Artificiel, Guillaume & the Coutu Dumonts, Hrdvsion, Marc Houle, and Marc Leclair.
The festival’s cadre of venues continues to grow, with three new venues joining the Ex-Centris, the SAT, and the Metropolis: the Darling Foundry, the Monument National and the Godin Hotel for the professional segment, which has been renamed DIGI_SECTION.
MUTEK receives two prestigious distinctions underlining its unique position as a Montreal cultural tourist attraction: the 2006 MONTREAL PRIX ULYSSE in the category of “Festivals and Tourist Events”, and the LAURÉAT D’ARGENT des GRANDS PRIX DE TOURISME QUÉBÉCOIS 2006 in the same category.
Meanwhile, FEED’s work nets another design distinction, this time for best poster design from Toronto’s COUPE INTERNATIONAL DESIGN + IMAGE AWARDS.
With seven years of experience and activities, MUTEK continues to gain international attention, and is invited to present a showcase at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.
Following the 2005 tour of South America, MUTEK returns to Buenos Aires to launch its first Argentinean version of the festival, which runs from December 13th to 17th.
“In its eighth consecutive year, MUTEK has become the crème de la crème of digital arts festivals in North America, and over the course of five days in May/June proved itself again with stellar performances. …MUTEK offers not only a taste of tons of different music, but a damn good tour around Montreal's finest venues as well.”
With a reinvigorated focus on presenting the evolution of the electronic-music scene it helped propel into the limelight, MUTEK’s 8th edition is received as one of the best the festival has ever assembled. Dubsteppers Kode9 and Shackleton share the stage with dub-techno royalty Rhythm & Sound, and new-generation figures such as Pantha du Prince, Claude Von Stroke, Kalabrese, My My, and Gui Boratto compliment the names that grew up with MUTEK, among them Michael Mayer, Robert Henke, Wighnomy Brothers, Audion, and Matias Aguayo.
On the Canadian side, no less than 62 artists take part in the program, including Alexandre Bilodeau, Anachronic Xp, Apjiw, Aun, Bleupulp, Chic Miniature, Jason Hopfner, Jesse Somfay, Mark Templeton, Maxime Robin et With All Due Respect.
The festival takes on a new Presenting Partner, FLASHER.COM, and new graphic collaborators SID LEE.
International dissemination efforts continue, with more notable invitations taking place. MUTEK is invited to host a “Montreal Underground” event at the Smithsonian in Washington. With an increasing focus on international curation, the MUTEK increasingly takes part in other festivals, with notable events taking place in Athens, Geneva, France, and Italy. Meanwhile, the MUTEK.MX festival moves to October for its 4th edition and satellite events continue in Santiago and Buenos Aires.
MUTEK_REC merges with longtime Montreal label associates at Musique Risquée, the label co-founded by Akufen and Vincent Lemieux.
"Canada is a bubbling hub of musical innovation, and the MUTEK festival is here to prove it. With five days of panels, workshops, performances and showcases featuring the most progressive electronic music and digital creativity from across the globe, you’ll leave amazed at the creativity oozing from the country’s homebred talent." - MTV Soundtrip
The 9th edition of the Montreal festival (May 28th to June 1st) proves to be one of the most successful editions in MUTEK’s history, with a wide-ranging list of over one hundred acts working in an expanded variety of genres pushing the programming into new and exciting territory.
For the first time, the majority of MUTEK's audiences - 54% - comes from outside the city, marking MUTEK as one of the province's most successful cultural tourism draws in Montreal. This achievement is recognized by Tourism Montreal, who name the festival as one of the regional finalists for the prestigious Grand prix du tourisme Quebecois in the category "Festival and Touristic Events: Budget under $1M".
International names playing MUTEK stages this year include Mexico’s Murcof, Detroit’s Underground Resistance, Los Angeles’ Flyin Lotus, Austria’s Christian Fennesz, Berlin’s Modeselektor, the Netherland’s Martyn. Sweden’s The Field, the UK’s Radio Slave, and Turkey’s Önur Özer, and France’s Nôze.
Performing alongside their international counterparts are highly regarded Canadian names such as Kid Koala, Megasoid, Deadbeat, Tim Hecker, Martin Tétreault, and Jeremy P. Caulfield.
In addition, MUTEK Mexico celebrates its 5th edition in 2008, with a series of showcases in Mexico City that include such veteran luminaries as the Cocteau Twin’s Robin Guthrie, Spectrum, Wighnomy Brothers, Nego Moçambique, Alva Noto, Frank Bretschneider, and Deadbeat.
"2009 represents MUTEK's 10th anniversary, marking the passing of a decade in which it's grown to become truly world-renowned - rivalling Barcelona's Sonar in terms of its line-up, but retaining a very intimate, community-based feel." - Kiran Sande, FACT Magazine
MUTEK's 10th anniversary brings the organization to new heights. Festival attendance doubles to over 20,500 festivalgoers participating in the indoor programming. Over 68,000 people participate in both indoor and outdoor events. MUTEK's tourism record is also broken, with 56% of festivalgoers coming from outside of Montreal. This achievement is recognized by Tourisme Québec, who name MUTEK as winners of the provincial Grands Prix du Tourisme du Québec in the category "Festival and Touristic Events (Budget under $1M)".
190 artists and specialists from 23 different countries contribute to the 95 performances, projects and professional events during the MUTEK_10 festival, including Akufen, Alva Noto, Appleblim, Artificiel, Atom TM, Carl Craig, Deadbeat, dOP, Ernesto Ferreyra, Gas, Herman Kolgen, Jaki Liebzeit & Burnt Friedman, Lusine, Mala, Mike Shannon, Nick Bugayev, Nortec Collective (Bostich + Fussible), Ricardo Villalobos & Zip, Stefan Betke, Stephen Beaupré, The Modern Deep Left Quartet, Thomas Fehlmann, tobias., Trus'Me, Turzi Electronic Experience, Uwe Schmidt, and Zombie Zombie.
The festival also includes an inaugural series of outdoor audiovisual projects, Extra_Muros, that play with the urban landscape in 5 different locations in Montreal. Featured artists are AntiVJ, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Dominique Skoltz, and Amuse. A new venue is also incorporated into the festival, the Place des Arts, at the heart of Montreal's Quartier des Spectacles.
Prior to the festival, MUTEK launches its inaugural North American tour, with dates in 7 cities across Canada and the U.S. Kicking off the tour is a Fundraiser Gala in Montreal, the first such event thrown by MUTEK.
Internationally 2009 is a very busy year for MUTEK, starting in January with participation at Berlin's Club Transmediale Festival. September sees the start of a series of celebrations surrounding the 5th anniversary of MUTEK[AR] in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that continue through October and November. Several MUTEK events also take place in Chile and Mexico in October, most notably at the Cervantino festival in Guanajuato, Mexico, for which MUTEK programs 3 concerts and 2 installations that highlight the works of Canadian and Mexican artists. Following the success of MUTEK's programming at the Cervantino Festival, the two form a partnership that will see MUTEK return to curate a digital arts program for the Cervantino Festival for the coming years. In November MUTEK also throws an inaugural MUTEK soirée in Barcelona, Spain, the first of many MUTEK[ES] events to be held in the upcoming year.
"An international festival now in its 11th year, MUTEK celebrates electronic music. (...) Every year the lineup is gloriously eclectic, in both sound and origin." - New York Times
Kicking off our second decade as one of the globe’s premier showcases for cutting-edge electronic music and digital creativity, MUTEK 2010’s guiding principle was to raise the festival to new heights by striking an equilibrium among MUTEK’s many historical strengths. Critics and audience alike agreed, MUTEK 2010 was the festival’s most ambitious edition yet. Furthermore, recognizing MUTEK’s longstanding contribution to the digital arts, the Conseil des Arts de Montréal named MUTEK winner of their 25th Grand Prix, the most prestigious prize that can be awarded to an artistic organization locally.
The 2010 festival lineup was about bringing back festival favourites to present new and ever-daring projects, showcasing acts that organizers have pursued for years, highlighting the most promising of new discoveries, and spotlighting originality that defies easy categorization. 174 artists and specialists from 14 different countries contributed to the 85 performances and projects presented as part of MUTEK’s artistic and professional program, including 16 Canadian, 10 North-American and 6 world premieres. The 2010 lineup included Actress, Aun, Ben Frost, Brandt Brauer Frick, Demdike Stare, DJ Koze, Dixon, Eleh, Ikonika, Jon Hopkins, King Midas Sound, Marsen Jules Trio, Matmos, Moritz von Oswald Trio, Mouse on Mars, Nicolas Jaar, Nurse with Wound, Pépé Bradock, San Proper, Señor Coconut & His Orchestra, The Caretaker, Theo Parrish, Tim Hecker and Vladislav Delay.
Several new programs were integrated into the festival as well, including the late-night ECTOPLASMES³ series as well as MUTEK’s first free outdoor gala concert in the heart of Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles. MUTEK’s outdoor projection series, the EXTRA_MUROS, returned for a second year in a row with works from Montrealers Melissa Mongiat and Mouna Andraos, as well as internationally-acclaimed German video artist Philipp Geist.
MUTEK also launched a second edition of its North American tour prior to the 11th edition; the Avant_MUTEK tour visited 8 cities in Canada and the US in April 2010.
A prestigious new partnership is also launched right here in Montreal – with a co-presentation with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in October.
MUTEK also saw itself as active as ever internationally. Starting with a presence at Berlin’s pivotal CTM festival in January, MUTEK then took part in activities at the Nuit Sonores Festival in Lyon in April, Barcelona’s Sonar and Cologne’s Co-Pop festival in June, TodaysArt and Decibel festivals in September, and returns to the Festival Internacional Cervantino in Mexico with four full weekends of digital arts programming in October.
Energized by the success of our 11th anniversary, MUTEK looks ahead to a year of new experiences and discoveries. Stay tuned!