In wake of the tremulous times we’ve been experiencing as a species; For the last 2 years we’ve seen countless blessings within a curse’s thick mist. Our beloved music scene had it’s back against the wall, and even today we are still working to press on and fight as the virus cases start to soar yet again.
But from the ashes, has risen a Phoenix.
We have something grand to look forward to next year: A festival pushing the theme of avant-guard and experimental electronic music with the name “Mostra” will be born in Barcelona.
The most important think to know is that Mostra is in fact not just a festival, but it will stand as a beacon of art, music, and hope within the Barcelona scene as well as around the world of Hypnotic and Deeper styles of artistry.
We were more than happy to have a sit down with the Mostra team and discuss the premise as well as the many goals of this all-star caliber team:
- From a conceptual standpoint – What is Mostra.
Mostra is a small-format festival of avant-garde and experimental electronic music, which emerges as a counterpoint to the macro-festivals and the overcrowded, commercial and rather impersonal offerings of other larger events held in the city of Barcelona.
The name Mostra is both a reference to what’s happening in the Barcelona scene and, at the same time, links with the idea of art, film and theatre mostras, or shows – as such, each edition will showcase a guest country through its artists. The main idea then is not only to give visibility to Barcelona-based artists during the festival itself, but also to become an active platform throughout the year by associating with collectives, labels, clubs and other key players in the scene in order to nourish and empower local talent.
We’re planning a whole week of performances from 11th to 17th April next year, and to have other activities throughout the year. We’re organising satellite nights in different venues in the months prior; running a monthly radio podcast; programming a series of workshops, roundtables and masterclasses; and in parallel with the festival, we’re setting up an area with stands for local collectives, record stores, shops and other relevant entities.
We may be a local festival, but Mostra has a truly international outlook and scope. We’ve mentioned we want to focus on a guest country every year, but that won’t limit the number of foreign artists coming to perform at Mostra. The most important thing for us is to bring new sounds to the city that were rarely found before the pandemic.
Spain, and Barcelona in particular, has a long tradition of music festivals, but most of the time we found few events that really met our musical expectations. Out of a certain frustration, we believed it was time to have a well-curated, advanced electronic music festival in our city.
Mostra is that new cultural proposal. It is designed to enable the discovery of different musical genres, and provide visibility to great artists, some of whom have traditionally not been regulars on the circuit of venues and festivals in the city.
- Where did the inspiration for this proposal come from, and who is involved i this large scale project.
The Mostra project was born during the period of our harshest confinement from Covid-19. At the time many clubs were shutting down, and festivals being cancelled all over the world, one of our team members, Felix (co-founder of the Pyrenees-based Paral·lel Festival) came up with the idea of creating something different for the city of Barcelona itself: a new, urban festival.
The scene in the Catalan capital has historically been dogged by internal competitiveness, so the main idea behind this new proposal was to join forces with other people already doing stuff in the city, and switch the paradigm from competition to cooperation, strengthen the electronic music community, and nourish the scene.
The initial idea gathered pace during a six-month cultural accelerator program from Barcelona City Council. Mostra was selected as a finalist from a list of over a hundred different projects. By that time, Felix had already initiated conversations with some people close to him and other professionals about the project. With each passing day, Mostra was moving towards becoming reality.
Today, we at Mostra are basically a group of people with different backgrounds, but all closely linked to the electronic music and cultural scene in Barcelona one way or another. The team’s strength derives from both the sum of their previous successful projects and experience, and also the ambitious nature of this initiative.
We have a mix of international people who have made Barcelona their home working on the project: Natalia, Mostra’m Director and co-director (Chile); Kentaro, Art Director (Japan); Josh, communications expert (UK); Adéla, our booker (Czechia). They work alongside Catalan profiles Sara, Communications and Press Director; Blanca, Green Ambassador; Xavi, our Design and Social Network master; Sergi, on Web Design and Marketing; and Gil, MostRadio Program Chief. Our dear friend Alfonso, our Artistic Programming Director based in Madrid, completes a dream team of, above all, highly motivated people. The eleven of us have a wide range of previous experience, including work on Paral·lel Festival, Femnøise, Keychange, EMMA, Calma, Alpenglühen, Sónar+D, Fab Lab Barcelona, Comissió Nocturna, Cross Club, Nero Club, hidden traffic, Dust Trax and Vanity Dust. You can check all of them at our website.
As an independent festival, we also would like to highlight that Mostra is registered as a non-profit cultural association. Small-format festivals are not in it for the money, and nor is the team. We all have our own day jobs on top of this, so what we’ve tried to develop with Mostra is a project that conveys passion, purity, honesty, and determination. That’s the symbolism of the heart we use as a logo for the festival, because a heart that beats is also a heart that’s alive and is synonymous with life.
We wanted to return to some kind of normality after this two year cultural standstill, yes, but we also wanted to do it differently: with a project that comes straight from the heart. We could not think of a better way to represent this feeling in a post-Covid context.
3. You mentioned that Mostra is more than a festival, what would you want Mostra to stand for in wake of this pandemic. In other words, what is the commitment to this conglomerate in regards to the current state of the world.
Altogether, we see Mostra as something which is more than just a festival, but also as a platform that seeks to offer an alternative experience within the urban environment. We want Barcelona’s public to make this proposal their own, and feel it as their own. That’s why we’re making networks in the scene with collectives, labels, artists, record shops and other active players in the city.
The pandemic has taught us many lessons, one of the most important being that there was simply no way we could carry on with the same vicious cycles and dynamics from the past. This general feeling also applies to the electronic music scene, and festivals in particular, so our humble approach to make a difference is to work progressively to become a benchmark for a new type of festival with its own identity – and from this we derive our main values as a project.
Mostra is committed to what’s local, what’s inclusive, and what’s sustainable, and these are represented across all actions and steps we take as a team.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of communities, and in response Mostra is committed to advancing local culture in Barcelona. Mostra is also a festival that aspires to break across the gender gap in what is traditionally a very masculinised scene, and which reflects the different diversities of Barcelona. In the first lineup announcement, five of the six first artists on the bill were female. This is a key priority for us and we hope to maintain a tilt on our lineup in terms of gender in comparison with other festivals in the electronic scene.
Finally, we want to hold a festival that becomes a social and environmental benchmark through its specific actions, following protocols and developing good practices in relation to the city and the planet. We are not going to change the world on our own, but we strongly believe small concrete actions can also lead to larger changes, as well as serving as a model for others.
- Will you and your team be involved in any Community endeavors throughout the year?
Barcelona has always been a city with a very strong tradition of social movements, in which the population has achieved great advancements in civil rights thanks to the union of and cooperation between different groups. It’s only in this way that society manages to progress.
We often like to refer to Mostra as a city project: we identify ourselves with a Barcelona that has long been a reference point for change in our country in many forms, from the political to the cultural, and at the forefront of many artistic avant-garde movements. In a sense, using the .barcelona domain is a statement of our intent in this regard.
Moreover, during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, there has been a push to highlight local artists. We don’t want this to be a fleeting trend, and we are going to bet on a high representation of local artists in our programming.
But our commitment to the local scene goes far beyond the curation of our musical programme. We are organising a series of parallel activities that we mentioned at the beginning of the interview. In parallel with the festival, we’re going to hold a series of days called Mostra’m (Show Me), which will include workshops, roundtables and masterclasses with a practical focus for collectives, artists and labels around the city. The main idea is to be able to offer tools and know-how to share and exchange ideas between players across the scene.
In addition to this, we will create a space within the festival that will serve as an exhibitors’ fair. In this Fira, there will be spaces for stands for local collectives and record shops, along with entities related to electronic music and nightlife culture, LGBTQ+ rights, sustainability, purple points, new technologies or music schools from Barcelona.
Meanwhile, we are pleased to have on our team Vanity Dust, a journalist specialising in electronic music who is behind our radio podcast show MostRadio, which aims to give visibility to projects across the city and discuss contemporary issues in the scene – from clubs and culture to artists and production. This program will also serve as a platform for disseminating new record releases and links us to all that’s happening in the city of Barcelona.
Last but not least, as far as community involvement is concerned, the choice of suppliers and the collaborations we establish is essential. We will try as far as possible to work with local suppliers that are in tune with our values, and establish collaborations with the most representative parts of the city’s electronic music scene so that they can meaningfully participate in the festival.
- How can you describe the musical direction that Mostra is going to portray.
Firstly, we want to tell you that Mostra is going be held in one of the most iconic venues in Barcelona, with spectacular views over the city. We can’t reveal the name of the location until January, but we can safely say that after many weeks of searching for the ideal place for this kind of music, we have found a very special place indeed.
At the site, approximately 25 hours of music will be programmed in an outdoor space from Friday to Sunday, with times ranging from 8pm to 2am on Friday and Saturday, and a long day on Sunday from 12pm to 2am. At the time of writing, we are in talks with a second outdoor space to expand the offering and schedule more experimental sessions both in the days before, and also on Saturday and Sunday morning.
It’s also important to note that both the Friday of that week and the Monday after are public holidays in Barcelona, so it is a good plan for all those who want to spend the Easter holidays in the city, or who want to visit Barcelona from abroad.
Mostra’s musical programme is based on two main genres of electronic music: listening music and dance music.
At Mostra there will be a large share of ambient music and experimental electronica, styles that have recently gained greater, deserved interest in the scene. Perhaps the lockdowns helped us all listen a little more, while also encouraging artists to produce more listening music at home, experimenting with new forms of ambient music from lo-fi field recordings to ASMR sounds; the radical use of feedbacks from delays and reverbs to create textures; muffled rhythms with downtempo and dub influences. These elements can be found in the compositions of artists like Pontiac Streator, Ulla, Uon, Pendant, Perila, Exael and many more. And these gems are finally seeing the light of day. It’s their moment.
Of course, at Mostra there will be dance music too. We’ve been cooped up at home for a long time and we want to get moving. You can expect Deep Techno, horizontal sounds, rich in nuance that you can dance to, but also listen to. Music that has a place in a club, but also in a museum.
There will also be Breaks and Drum & Bass. Futuristic sounds with influences from British raves. A new current, whose textures, structure and complexity is edging closer to experimental music festivals than to the parties where they were born.
In short, a different programme made up of different styles and diverse proposals which form part of a complete whole. We want there to be a discursive coherence in sound.
- Last question: Where you see the scene in 5 years.
Well, this is a tricky one. The scene before Covid had become, in some respects, really unsustainable. Luckily for us, because of the style of music we like, the artists we work with don’t tend to frequently go for crazy tours and exorbitant fees. At the same time, it’s true that many elements of the scene needed a bit of a rethink from our point of view. It’s also precisely for this reason that we decided to take a step forward and make a project a bit different from the rest.
In the same way that a public personality or an artist can take a stand on certain issues, we think a festival can too. As a result, we think it’s very important to do it through the values we defend – these values can be a mirror in which many people see themselves.
Electronic music, and techno culture in particular, has had at its core an expression of protest and non-conformity since its inception. Beyond experimentation and a taste for new sounds, the music has always been linked to open-minded and tolerant collectives. Mostra, as a project, declares itself anti-sexist, anti-racist and pro-LGTBQ+. We stand for a safer and friendlier atmosphere of tolerance and respect, free from any kind of violence. We should never lose sight of this, and in five years we hope to see the scene firmly moving in this direction, and never backwards. In the end, for everyone, it is about enjoying the music we like, with the people we like all around us.
Mostra will hold it’s first festival edition from 11th to 17th April 2022 and tickets are available at: https://link.dice.fm/P05719c7de18
Special thanks to the Mostra’s team for their answers: Felix, Natalia, Alfonso, Sara, Kentaro, Xavi, Adéla, Sergi, Blanca, Vanity Dust and Josh