The rumours have swirled since early last year but former Adelaide Festival artistic director David Sefton has confirmed Unsound Adelaide will return this November.
“In many ways the prospect of bringing it back was the worst-kept secret in Adelaide,” he tells Broadsheet. “But I think a lot of the rumours were wishful thinking, to be honest.”
The experimental electronic music festival began in Krakow, Poland in 2003. It has since been held in New York, London, Toronto and Adelaide, as part of Sefton's Adelaide Festival programs.
The local offshoot had a keen and dedicated following in its four-year run, which ended along with Sefton’s tenure in 2016. It was a stark contrast to Adelaide Festival’s traditional music programming; sometimes difficult, often divisive and always interesting. It championed underground club and electronic genres such as noise, techno, grime, post-punk, drone, footwork, dubstep and more. Bigger names, such as Mogwai's Barry Burns and Academy Award-nominated composer Jóhan Jóhannsson, have also graced the bill.
Sefton will again curate the program with Unsound’s artistic director and co-founder Mat Schulz. Now supported by the state government’s Live Music Events Fund and the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the standalone festival will expand with a bigger music program and a major sound-art installation at the Botanic Garden.
“When it was within the Adelaide Festival there were certain things we couldn’t do,” says Sefton. “Now that we’re a standalone festival we can do all of the things they do in Poland.”
There will also be a series of artist talks, presented by The Hawke Centre and UniSA. “It’ll be a mix of artists who are appearing, and in some cases driven by their interests,” says Sefton. “There’s a lot of stuff about gender politics and cultural identity … It’s quite a politicised world, this electronic music world. And there are a lot of politicised people in it.” We’re sure there’ll be no shortage of issues to discuss.
Unsound will run November 16–19 at Thebarton Theatre, The Hawke Centre and Adelaide Botanic Garden. The line-up will be announced in the coming weeks.