The Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit made its first lineup announcement this week, releasing the names of a dozen bands that will play the festival this fall (Friday-Sunday, Oct. 25-27). Among that first wave of artists is Nine Inch Nails and NIN front man Trent Reznor’s new project, How to Destroy Angels, with his wife Mariqueen Maandig. Here’s the lineup so far:
• Nine Inch Nails
• Pretty Lights
• Gary Numan
• Neutral Milk Hotel and special guests Half Japanese and Daniel Johnston
• Animal Collective
• How to Destroy Angels
• The Bug
• Zola Jesus & JG Thirlwell
• Silver Apples
• Jacques Greene
• Jessie Ware
• Robert Delong
• Bosnian Rainbows
• Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Mountain Oasis is the multi-day electronic music festival planned and booked by AC Entertainment. It takes the place of Moogfest on Halloween weekend (Moogfest moves to April, returning in 2014: read about it here); AC previously booked and promoted Moogfest, but the two organizations parted ways last year. Asheville benefited from the split, gaining two electronic music festivals. AC’s president, Ashley Capps, says Mountain Oasis will maintain the Moogfest blueprint of 2010 and 2012. Bands will perform in the U.S. Cellular Center, the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, The Orange Peel, the Asheville Music Hall and the Diana Wortham Auditorium. And some of the just-announced acts will be familiar for repeat-Moogfest attendees: Disclosure, Pretty Lights (the project of Derek Vincent Smith) and Bassnectar (the project of Lorin Ashton) return.
“There’s a lot of interesting detail to be filled in over the course of the coming weeks,” says Capps. “Some of that will include some of the more out-of-the-box and experimental stuff.”
While Capps says that he festival does not intend to attempt an outdoor stage (the weather in late October is too unpredictable), “We certainly want the festival to be as multidimensional, and more so, than it’s been in the past. We’re looking at interactive elements, we’re looking at continuing with panels and speakers, we’re discussing some potential art installations, some film projects, we’re continuing to work on some really interesting visual designs for the venues themselves.” Capps says that Mountain Oasis will continue to be an evolution of the past three years of Moogfest, and will return to a three-day format following last year’s downsizing to two days.
Taking cues from other AC Entertainment-produced festivals, Mountain Oasis will introduce some up-and-coming acts, along with some long-awaited comebacks. Among the latter is Neutral Milk Hotel. That band is one of few exceptions to Mountain Oasis’ electronic theme. “But that’s a very special band. They haven’t played together live in 15 years,” says Capps. Front man Jeff Mangum (who performed two sold-out solo shows at The Grey Eagle this past February) has not only brought his ‘90s-era indie-rock band back together but will be “taking on a curatorial role with his stage that day,” says Capps.
The idea of having Trent Reznor do a project has been in discussion for a couple of years. Happily, Moogfest (and now Mountain Oasis) was also on Reznor’s radar. “Some of the soundtrack work that he’d been doing, the project that he was working on with his wife, all of this tied in to the aesthetic that we were looking to present,” says Capps. Mountain Oasis will probably be the smallest festival at which NIN will perform in the U.S.
“All of these are opportunities that emerged from discussions,” says Capps. “When the time comes, you seize the moment when you can.”
The lineup is also culled from suggestions posted on Facebook and music forums and from bands that AC associates are drawn to at festivals they attend. “We’re fans ourselves,” says Capps. “We’re always susceptible to influence. When fans bring up interesting ideas, it’s always fun to pursue them.” There are some acts that AC has been targeting for years (Hint: Asheville doesn’t have a large enough venue for Radiohead, and Atoms for Peace, the side project of Radiohead front man Thom Yorke, will be out of the country during Mountain Oasis dates); others come to the festival through happenstance. Capps says that a friend suggested he check out U.K.-based DJ The Bug (who has collaborated with Moogfest alum Death Grips).
“I was blown away. It was certainly one of my two or three top South by Southwest highlights,” says Capps. “A great show.”
He explains that the lineup comes from planning, but also from an element of surprise and discovery. And: “We’ve always broken the rules. The first year we did Moogfest in Asheville, we had Van Dyke Parks who played solo acoustic piano.” Parks not only broke with the electronic thread, but was one of the festival’s many highly-regarded music pioneers and elder statesmen (Brian Eno, Thomas Dolby and Morton Subotnik also number in that category). This year’s lineup brings British new wave artist Gary Numan, another performer AC has been trying to book for a few years.
“For the last three years, there’s been an eclecticism to the lineup that continues this year,” says Capps. The initial release is a cross section of that initiative, with Animal Collective (experimental psychedelic), Rustie (deb-step from Glasgow), Zola Jesus (coldwave) & JG Thirlwell (who wrote string arrangements and played electronics with Jesus at Guggenheim Museum) and Silver Apples (psychedelic electronic) on the list.
In all, Mountain Oasis will host around 50-60 bands — look for more announcements to come. “This year, we haven’t focused so much on the quantity as the quality of the experience,” says Capps. “We want to make sure the artists have the the full time to present their show, and also there’s a lot of focus on the actual production.”
Weekend passes for Mountain Oasis 2013 will go on sale Thursday, May 2, at noon exclusively at www.mountainoasisfestival.com.