The Dynamic Duo didn’t disappoint at New Forms Festival
Justin Scott // Managing Editor
Photos by Kris Krüg
From September 28-30, Vancouver’s Centre for Digital Media played home to the New Forms Festival.
Located in the unassuming rear studio warehouses of the complex, the event seemed like a hidden gem. Entering through the back-parking lot, attendees were immediately greeted by the friendliest of bouncers, a grilled cheese stand, ping pong tables and plenty of areas to sit, relax, socialize and get some fresh air. I had only been able to attend the Friday night, but that was okay because I was most excited to see Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones.
Arriving at around 11:45 pm, I had about an hour before their set. The festival had two rooms, both offering unique styles of music – the side room was more minimalistic focusing on house and techno oriented sets, while the main room’s sounds were more grandiose.
After spending some time in the smaller area, I eventually made my way to the main space, which was referred to as ‘The Hanger’. A large studio space, the ceiling had lights running along the sides and the stage was flanked by two hanging planters filled with green-leaved plants and lights. Behind the stage was a large screen which provided the immersive visuals for the night.
Catching the last bit of Aïsha Devi’s set was a treat. Her performance was like a tsunami – it built up and grew increasingly powerful until the very end, with accompanying visuals to match. With tracks constantly evolving within themselves, her set fused each offering together resulting in a constant ascent. Her unique tribal approach to electronic music found itself right at home in the main space, with those in attendance seemingly on the perfect level to appreciate the experimental style of the entrancing and trippy V/A performance.
Next up, were the king and queen of Fractal Fantasy records, Hawke and Jones. As they took to the stage, Jones started on the decks while Hawke controlled the morphing visuals the imprint is know for. They used an Xbox Kinect-esque camera that caught their every movement while working their CDJ’s – casting their distorted images onto the large screen behind them over and under other pulsing visuals. At times, the images would simply look like a molten form of the performer, while others saw the distortions atop monumental landscapes, often having the Fractal Fantasy logo flash over the imagery as if it were a strobe light.
Jones started with a strong mixture of conducting beats. Just seconds into her set, she had the whole room jumping in unison. As expected, she played everything from her own productions to energetic Rap remixes. Her collaboration with Thast, “Out Da Kitchen” and her and Hawke’s reworking of the legendary Soulja Boy Tell’em’s “Bird Walk” were just a few of her selections that set the crowd off.
About half way through their set it was time to switch. As Hawke took control of the music, Jones tended to their visuals.
Hawke’s eminent style of electric orchestral epicenes was in full force. He opened with a track led by heavy horns and bouncing bass lines and set the tone early. Over the next hour and a bit, the Canadian producer led the crowd on a futuristic journey.
With a mixture of new music and old, Hawke maintained a slowly growing energy throughout his performance. His signature animated synths and pitched vocals, riding robotic basslines often embracing a Jersey Club cadence were perfectly suited for the venue. The crowd was especially responsive to tracks like “Don’t Lose Yourself to This” and his DJ Sliink collaboration “Raw”.
To close their set, the two worked alongside one another with the precision and grace of Olympic figure skaters. Their arms intertwined over their equipment while still jumping in time with their music. And although neither of them verbally addressed the crowd all night, their energy was infectious.
Once their last song was playing the two jumped up on top of the table with their equipment, then proceeded to leap into the crowd, inducing utter mayhem in the front ranks. They remained there dancing with their fans until the song finished, when they returned to the stage, they waved goodbye to the crowd and departed.
This night was one for the books. The New Forms Festival was one of the most unique and welcoming events I’ve ever been to within the borders of Vancouver, and should not be missed next year. The evening was one of the most visceral shows I’d ever been to, it was an unforgettable experience that has me anticipating their return.