Source: Henry Moskal
As the band Gun Outfit and a Chicago filmmaker took over the “Transference Fest” stage last Friday, live music came hand in hand with visual manipulation. Crystal glasses were twisted in front of a 16-millimeter projector while the band played their set of “Americana and atmospheric pop,” creating a lighting spectacle.
They were among many artists who collaborated during the two-night long experimental music festival sponsored by WNUR, Northwestern’s radio station. The festival took place at Elastic Arts in Logan Square and featured the work of both Chicago-based and “out-of-town” musicians and visual artists.
Although WNUR has helped Mayfest solidify a second-stage lineup for past Dillo Days, McCormick senior and WNUR Rock Show music director Francisco Gumucio said the station wanted to sponsor “Transference Fest” to give back to their Chicago listeners this year.
“For a listener-supported radio station — because most of our funds, if not all of our funds come from listener donations and not the University — we decided that it wasn’t fair to apply more than a quarter of our budget to this event that almost none of our listeners could attend,” Gumucio said. “I think [collaboration] is what sets Transference apart from all the other festivals and concerts that you see around the city, and that’s what made it so special for everyone involved.”
Communications junior and WNUR events chair Henry Moskal was able to invite a wide range of artists for “Transference Fest.” He said the festival’s experimental music embodied the station’s mission of supporting underrepresented music and art.
“It’s a very special artform because noise music or ambient music — things that we don’t typically think about as musical — are actually really empowering for artists, and are truer to a personal experience because you’re not limited by expectations,” Moskal said.
Moskal added having a collaboration between local and national artists was a form of experimental music in itself. He said WNUR’s booking team and music directors tried to pair acts in a way that showcased as many genres, styles and sounds as possible.
While the WNUR team generated a list of potential visual artists and musicians based in Chicago, Moskal said they received a lot of input from the artists themselves about who they wanted to work with.
“It really did come together organically and spontaneously,” Moskal said. “A lot of the performances were improvised. We feel really glad that we were able to kind of force those connections in the name of WNUR and underrepresented music.”
McCormick senior John Williams, the general manager of WNUR, said the collaboration between artists extended off the stage as well. He said it was rewarding to see the artists work so well together and even plan to continue working with one another on future projects.
“After everyone had left on Saturday and we were taking [the festival] down, a bunch of the artists were sticking around and playing tunes off the aux cord in the back and dancing together,” Williams said. “It was super validating, and definitely validated the mission of the station and the festival.”