The Ideas Behind The No Idea Festival

Since 2003, The No Idea Festival has drawn avant-garde musicians from around the world to Austin and Houston. This Tuesday will mark the event's first local date, when nearly a dozen musicians play three sets together in five lineups.

Locals include jazz musicians Dennis, Stefan and Aaron Gonzalez of Yells at Eels and Akkolyte; Michael Chamy and Nevada Hill of local drone improvisation artists Zanzibar Snails; and electronic composers Sarah Alexander and Michael Maxwell. Joining them are Berlin electronic noise sculptor Annette Krebs, percussionists Jason Kahn and Tatsuya Nakatani, and Chris Cogburn, the Austin percussionist who began No Idea. We spoke with Cogburn about the event.

Tell me about the artists playing this festival.

One quality about every musician performing at this festival [is that] there are multiple readings of what they do. No one reading is more valuable than another. There's no right way to hear it. You hear it your way and I hear it mine.

Can you describe your music?

I've been working a lot with electronic musicians, which makes me think a lot about timbre and the surface of a drum, and how sound exists in a room. Different sounds want to do different things in different environments. One of my focuses is exploring that.

How'd you decide to bring No Idea to Fort Worth?

I've known about [Yells at Eels] for a long time, and heard Dennis before, but didn't meet them until last June at a jazz and improvised music festival we all played in Merida, Yucatan, in Mexico. Their music is great and they're great people, and we've kept in touch ever since. This event wouldn't be happening if it weren't for the work of Aaron bringing people from outside the city to collaborate with local people. And he and Stefan are incredible musicians. There are few people that grew up in that music in America, their father playing with the all people he has and them being around it. They're a special family.

 
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