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Sacramento Electronic Music Festival goes big for year three

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Have you seen the line-up for this year’s Sacramento Electronic Festival? It’s chock full of electronic artists of all varieties, well known and upcoming, spanning three days–May 3-May 5–taking over both Harlow’s and the Momo Lounge. Founded in 2010, SEMF’s third year promises to be bigger and better than ever. Details sat down with SEMF co-collaborators Adam Saake and Clay Nutting to find out the behind-the scenes scoop.

How did the Sacramento Electronic Musical Festival get started?
Adam: It’s a grassroots festival and even though we’re approaching year three we are in no way, shape, or form even done building the foundation of this thing. We try to keep that in mind, try to be humble about what we’re doing, and make sure we’re doing something really, really cool, but also not putting ourselves in a position where we’re going to fail so miserably we won’t be able to do it again.

Clay: You know my philosophy is you do something once and pull it off, you do something twice you confirm it, and by the third year you can’t do the same thing again, so I was like, “You know what, let’s just go big. F*ck it.” We just called every big artist and were like “Hey, this could be a shot in the dark, maybe not, but we’re doing this–do you want to come play?” We basically pulled it out in classic DIY fashion which is by the skin of your teeth and you know…

Adam: …the seat of your pants.

Clay: I guess I don’t do things any other way.

How was it decided to move the venue for the Festival this year?
Clay: We outgrew Townhouse; there were lines all the way to Zelda’s. Which is cool to say, but if you’re in that line, it sucks. We just thought we needed a bigger space and we were looking hard. I had done a lot of work with Harlow’s and Momo Lounge and I knew that…when the whole complex was being used it was really cool because you could go upstairs, downstairs, outside, on the patio, and it’s almost like you could curate three different spots. And with electronic music, it’s so varied–you can have something that’s really heavy hip hop beat, you can have something that’s really industrial, you can have something that’s really dance, or you can have something that’s really mellow and ambient–you can do that in those spaces and switch it up.

Describe the scene of the event for me. What would I see if I were there?
Adam: Lasers.

Clay: I made a conscious decision, no matter where we were going to be, that I wanted to transform the space so that it didn’t feel like you were in Sacramento; I just wanted them to be taken to another space when they walk in. We’re working with a few visual artists who are doing projections, and LC Mural and Design is doing this really badass [installation on plywood], and we’re working with these people to do some lasers. You’re going to go there, and you’re going to have three different spaces that are curated, something interesting in each space. If the main stage isn’t for you, you can go upstairs and check that out, if that’s not for you you can go outside and check that out. It’s just going to be a very visceral kind of experience.

Adam: You’ll be seeing a lot of people having the best time of their entire lives. You’ll be seeing a lot of that.

There are over 35 artists this year. What’s the decision process? Do you seek out particular artists?
Clay: We had a list of our dream artists and we originally were doing two days, and they just started saying yes and we were like “There’s no way we can do this in just two days!” I mean, we would have been happy just to have Shlohmo

Adam: Same thing with Lorn. Lorn was my big one this year. I always have one dude that I always really want. Last year it was Daedelus and we got him. This year it is Lorn.

Clay: There’s something for everyone, too. The dance scene’s represented, the dubstep, the glitch hop, the ambient head tripping stuff. Everything’s represented and…if you care about our music scene and just cheering on something that’s kind of bigger than itself you’ll help make things better for other people of similar passions–whether it’s a blues festival or any DIY people who sit around and say “you know what, there should be a festival” and go out and do it.

Adam: And I want to stress the importance of that, because that’s a huge part of Clay’s and my mission statement, if you will…This is a festival for Sacramento. This is not the “Something Something Electronic Music Festival”…this is the Sacramento Electronic Music Festival. This isn’t going to be in LA next year, this isn’t going to be in San Francisco next year. It’s something that we give to the Sacramento music scene because Clay and I really love music a lot, we love our local scene, we love Sacramento.


Tickets for SEMF are $30 for a three-day pass or $13 per individual day. They can be purchased here. Check out samplings from SEMF artists here.


Find more detail on this event along with many more at Details, the year-round source for Sacramento events.

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