When is dance music not electronica?

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 17

The traditionally rock-centric Formoz Festival is for the first time staging "electronica," an umbrella term for musicians who don't play in the now-traditional drum and guitar format -- and DJs.

The label electronica is often used when government officials or promoters want to put on DJs at an event they are sponsoring, but do not want to be associated with the stigma they created: equating dance music with drug use.

The other use of "electronica" is by the musicians and DJs themselves ("artists"), who use the label to distinguish themselves from their more commercial (better paid) club cousins.

Hence, in regard the "Electronic Stage" at this year's festival, organizers are keen to explain that though many of the names that will be appearing are club or rave DJs, they will not be when they play at Formoz Festival. This may sound contradictory.

"It's not really a dance stage, it's indie electronica. In Taiwan there are several kinds of electronica. You've got your dance or techno music and your drugs -- and you've got your independent scene. This stage focuses on the music rather than drugs. It's not a club, it's different from a club," says Formoz Festival founder and Cthonic lead singer Freddy Lin (林旭佐), head of Taiwan Rock Alliance.

It's as if rock musicians, fans and those on the indie scene never took drugs.

So, while Formoz Festival is to be congratulated on the fact that it is putting on dance, ambient, experimental, drum `n' bass and other forms of electronic music -- some of it less commercial than played in most clubs -- it will actually sound and look a lot like a dance party.

Dance music label Silent Agreement is organizing the Electronic Stage and said tonight's show will go on until the early hours. Tomorrow and Sunday will go on late, too. This, translated, means a dance party will take place after the rock bands have finished on the other four stages.

Acts to look forward to tonight include The Album Leaf, Californian Jimmy LaValle's electronic-mood music inspired by Brian Eno and (for his latest album) Iceland. The show is likely to include projection art and live strings. Local heroes Monbaza, 78bpm and popstar-turned-artist DJ Lim Qiong (林志堅) will also appear. Tomorrow night, well-known local DJs Noodle (麵麵), Mykal (林哲儀), Aki (半野喜弘) and Edmund will perform. The Sunday highlight could be local duo Nylas, whose debut mini-album Where Are You My Dear Uncle K received international recognition, though DJ Chewi's

(壞碑唇) set could turn out to be more exciting.