How Will Decibel Balance Booking a Stage at Bumbershoot With Curating Their Own Festival?

Memorial Stadium versus KeyArena is sort of a six-of-one/half-dozen-of-the-other situation for Bumbershoot as far as I'm concerned. For me, by far the most exciting part of Monday's bundle of Bumbershoot announcements was the news that booking for the EMP Sky Church stage (with its vast, rave-ready LED screen) would be given over to Seattle's world-class electronic music festival Decibel.

As I note in this week's Short List preview for Headhunter on Friday, Decibel has already been having a hell of an off-season this year, co-promoting shows like Simian Mobile Disco's burner at Neumos last week, the aforementioned Headhunter show (co-promoted with Ill Cosby's up-and-coming Car Crash Set label), and upcoming shows including Mount Kimbie, Soul Clap vs. Wolf + Lamb, and an already sold-out James Blake at the Tractor Tavern. Clearly, they're keeping busy. But how will they balance booking three days of programming at Bumbershoot the same month they've traditionally hosted their own festival? I chatted with Decibel honcho Sean Horton as he waited at Sea-Tac to catch a flight to SXSW.

SW: So, you must be excited about Decibel at Bumbershoot. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like there hasn't been an electronic presence there since, what, the late '90s, with Donald Glaude and the like?

Horton: We actually did a showcase there in 2006 with SynthClub, Deadbeat and Lusine. It was at the Sky Church, but there has been VERY little electronic music presence overall.

Was that year sort of the seed for this collaboration now?

Actually, it was Saturday's dB in the Park the past year at Seattle Center that grabbed Jon Stone's attention. Pays to be loud sometimes . . .

So how do you plan to book a dB stage at Bumbershoot for three days without eating into the programming for your main festival, which has traditionally happened the same month? How do you balance the two?

Good question. The focus of the dB stage is going to be live electronic music (with visual accompaniment) from the U.S. Typically the [Decibel] Festival has an international focus, which the Bumbershoot showcases will not. We plan to highlight a great deal of regional talent as well, and considering that a good deal of Bumbershoot attendees are from outside of Seattle, my hope is many of the NW artists will be new to them. We're going to mix it up a lot in terms of styles (downtempo, deep house, dub). I definitely want to keep it sexy, melodic, and somewhat accessible.

Speaking for yourself, not as a rep of either fest, can you weigh in on Bumbershoot's moving the mainstage from Memorial Stadium to KeyArena and whatnot? Any opinion there?

I've heard some horror stories about Memorial Stadium, and rain has definitely been a factor the past couple years. KeyArena has a larger capacity and is indoors.

Indeed. Well, anything else we should know?

Hmmm, a few major announcements coming in early April for both Bumbershoot and dB Festival. 2011 is going to be a landmark year for dB.

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