Belgrade Digital Culture Festival Celebrates Anniversary

Belgrade’s Resonate festival marks its fifth anniversary with lectures by big names in the world of technology-based culture and art, plus a strong programme of avant-garde electronic music.
Daniel Miller of Mute Records will lecture and perform at Resonate. Photo: Flickr/IntangibleArts.

Groundbreaking DJ performances and polyrhythmic music mixing ancient Syrian traditions with cutting-edge electronic instruments will feature at Resonate 2016, which starts on April 12 at various locations in Belgrade.

Launched five years ago as Belgrade’s entry on the global tech-event map, Resonate 2016 will include presentations at the Ilija M. Korarac Endowment, Dom Omladine, the Parabrod cultural centre and the Yugoslav Film Archive.

Technology festivals have blossomed all over the globe in recent years. Resonate is unique because of its location and because the tech programme is paired with a full-blown music festival.

“Our concept is to combine electronic music with emerging technology,” says Resonate communications director Barbara Garcevic.

“The music programme and arts presentations complement the technology workshops in a unique way.”

Resonate is the first of eight 2016 arts festivals to be supported by We Are Europe, an association that is intended to mobilise the energy of European events, both festivals and forums, supporting European culture, high artistic standards, cultural innovation and creation.

The association hopes to develop a distinctly European vision of electronic and digital cultures, cultural entrepreneurship, innovation and new technology.

Resonate Live, the musical programme, perfectly reflects the festival’s mixed technology-and-music identity. Rather than including music as a respite from high-technology seminars and workshops, the artists performing at Resonate represent the same spirit of innovation on which the entire conference is built. Resonate speakers cover a wide range of topics in contemporary technology. Diverse workshops cover topics as diverse as machine learning and open development frameworks to tips and practical demonstrations for building your own synthesizer using cheap analogue electronic components.

Cutting-edge in every sense, Resonate has become an invaluable meeting ground for people interested in modern technology, music, visuals, and the emerging worldwide digital culture.

According to Garcevic, even the first year’s festival drew attendees from Australia, South America, Russia, western Europe, the United States, Canada and Asia.

The festival books not just big names in the world of underground music, but also lesser-known musicians who are pushing the boundaries and limits of their genres.

“Our goal is to be creative first, not necessarily commercial,” Garcevic says. “Our role is to introduce the audience to new sounds, to be eastern Europe’s largest and most important event for avant-garde popular music.”

Squarepusher (real name Tom Jenkinson) is one of the headliners at this year’s Resonate Live.

“Squarepusher is a perfect match for Resonate,” Garcevic says. “He’s old-school but he’s still innovating. He has somehow managed to remain underground. He has been an innovator in electronic music and beyond for more than two decades.”

Known for an incredibly dizzy and dense form of music that combines drum and bass with acid jazz and other genres at breakneck speed, Jenkinson is one of the true innovators and legends at the heart of Britain’s groundbreaking Warp Records.

An exceptional bass player and musical visionary, Squarepusher is treating the Resonate crowd to an extensive DJ set that will combine his relentlessly awe-inspiring music with cutting-edge visuals.

The second headline artist to be featured at Resonate will be Omar Souleyman, a Syrian keyboardist and musician who combines ancient traditions with contemporary technology.

His incredibly complex music is full of polyrhythms and oriental modes, yet remains irresistibly danceable. Souleyman has garnered rave reviews for a creative take on Middle Eastern music that takes listeners to an unfamiliar world of sound.

“Serbians who enjoy ethnic wedding music in the streets every summer will recognise a kindred spirit in Souleyman,” Garcevic says.

“He could almost play at [Serbian trumpet festival] Guca. When he burst onto the scene two years ago he made quite a splash, attracting collaborators like Bjork who couldn’t wait to work with him.”

It’s not all dancing, however. The organisers of Resonate don’t allow the music festival to stray too far from the educational programme.

That’s why Hans-Joachim Roedelius, a pioneer of ambient music, will combine the two.

Before he launches into his performance of genrebending Krautrock, Roedelius will deliver a lecture on the introduction and expansion of electronics in the world of pop music.

Another artist who straddles the worlds of technology and music is Rashad Becker, who has worked as a recording engineer and vinyl cutter at the famed Berlin Dubplates & Mastering company since 1995.

“It’s always good energy,” Garcevic says. “People from all over the world meet at the lectures and on the dance floor. The energy exchange is what makes Resonate special.”

Tickets for Resonate Live cover admission to many of the debates, discussions and workshops of the conference and vice versa. Single-night tickets are also available. The non-musical part of the conference features guest speakers from around the world delivering more than 20 lectures and a dozen workshops.

For a full list of presentations, visit the Resonate website:

This article was published in BIRN’s bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy.