Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae

The 2010 Pop Conference, a gathering of music fans, critics, performers and academics, is April 15-18 at the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.

The keynote address April 15 is a roundtable discussion with Nile Rodgers, Joe Henry and Janelle Monae.
The ninth annual conference is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is strongly advised because of limited space. Participants may register at the EMP/SFM Web site (link at the bottom).

The focus of this year’s conference revolves around “stories of sounds and the machines that make them. From the player piano to Autotune software, pop’s contraptions have constantly reshaped musical history.”

Presentations will include everything from vinyl/cassette fetishism and post-punk reverb to Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad and Andy Warhol’s tape recorder. Queen’s Freddie Mercury will be deconstructed by an all-star cast of critics and academics; an equally notable cohort of veterans will dissect whether the music scene was as jolted by technology in the 2000s as it appeared.

Conference highlights include:

• Keynote address: April 15 at 7 p.m.: Making Technology Bounce: An Artist-Producer Roundtable with Chic frontman and Madonna producer Nile Rodgers, singer-songwriter and roots music producer Joe Henry, and rising star Janelle Monáe on pop’s complicated balancing of art and technology. Moderated by Ann Powers, pop critic, Los Angeles Times.

• Roundtable: Freddie Mercury Deconstructed, April 16 at 3:45 p.m.: This roundtable will deconstruct Freddie Mercury’s impact on popular music, with a special focus on these hidden aspects of his public image. Roundtable features: Daphne A. Brooks, Kandia Crazy Horse, Jason King, Tavia Nyong’o and Barry Walters.

• Lunch Demonstration: Nirvana and the Rise of the Northwest Underground, April 17 at 1:00 p.m.: Jacob McMurray (curator, Nirvana and the Rise of the Northwest Underground) and Gabe Kean (principal, Belle & Wissell, Co.) will demo a functional prototype of the media lounge/touch table system, technology meant to capture the decentralized underground music infrastructure that followed upon punk by offering multiple, linear, film-like narratives that can be accessed by the visitor. They will discuss the creative, technological, and practical challenges of incorporating this technology successfully within the structure of the forthcoming EMP/SFM exhibit “Nirvana.”

• Panel: Tecnologia de Cedro: Fandango as Technology for Social Activism and Transnational Dialogue, April 17 at 3:45 p.m.: The panel focuses on the history of fandango jarocho, from its roots in Veracruz, Mexico to its popularity among Chicana/o communities in California, the ways this technology is applied in social activism, and how the use of digital technology enhances its potential. Panel features: Francisco Orozco, Martha Gonzalez, Kristina Clark, Carrie Lanza, and Quetzal Flores.

The Pop Conference at EMP/SFM, originating in 2002, joins academics, critics, performers and dedicated fans in common discussion.

The conference is sponsored by the American Music Partnership of Seattle (Experience Music Project, the University of Washington, and KEXP 90.3 FM), through a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

This year’s program committee members include writer and filmmaker Raquel Cepeda, EMP/SFM curator Jasen Emmons and musician Sean Nelson, as well as Tavia Nyong’o (New York University), Lauren Onkey (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum), Ann Powers (Los Angeles Times), Kurt B. Reighley (KEXP), Jody Rosen (Slate), Barry Shank (Ohio State University), Tyina Steptoe (University of Washington) and Tim Taylor (University of California, Los Angeles).

Here’s a link to the EMP/SFM Web site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *