Music on the electronic frontier

Sonic Bloom Festival celebrates fifth birthday

Dave Kirby | Boulder Weekly

Jamie Janover is a guy who’ll tell you that you can’t do everything all at once, and then proceed to more or less prove himself wrong.

The journeyman electro-acoustic musician — hammered dulcimer player to the ages, percussionist, electronic composer/improviser, core member of Zilla, guest artist to a withering resume of improv-sympathetic bands and artists — is in the last week-before-showtime throes of juggling logistics and returning phone calls in support of the fifth year of the Sonic Bloom Festival, the rave-in-the-sun electronic music festival, staged this year up at the Mish outside of Fort Collins.

We were grateful to find the guy composed and generous with his time last week, a surprising temperament for someone trying to pull off a slightly massive enterprise combining 30 music acts, visual and performance artists and workshop hosts.

A lot of kids might grow up wishing to be the Jane’s Addiction Perry Farrell; almost no one thinks about becoming the Lollapalooza Perry Farrell. We wondered if the whole concert promotion thing — buried in the gruesomely mundane arcana of trash can locations, counting porta-potties and cable routing — has taken a bite out of the otherwise frenetically busy musician’s schedule.

“Really, it takes more of a bite out of my lying around, just relaxing, doing-nothing life,” he says. “I’m still playing 25 festivals this year, I’m still making records. … I’m still doing these lectures on Unified Field Theory. … I still have the creative part, I just don’t have very much chilling-out time.”

What started as a throw-together gig at the nowdefunct Trilogy Lounge back in 2006 now sprawls over three days, a watershed ceremony for the burgeoning electronic music scene that’s grown up around Zilla, EOTO and related acts along the Colorado Front Range, sub-progeny to the now longestablished jam and improv scene extending back to late 1980s prehistory.

“I knew it was for real from the beginning because of the art. In terms of the content, in terms of the platform for not just musicians, but painters, dancers, aerialists, fire performers, people who do workshops, I’m incorporating as much as I know into this event.

People being able to do what it is they do. Obviously, music is the main thing. There’s more music than anything else, but it’s also ‘Let’s get out information, let’s educate, let’s do the Conscious Alliance thing and feed some people who are hungry, let’s teach people about electronic music production using Ableton.’ “I always knew that this was going to be a good thing for artists, and for people who like to absorb and interact with art, but to know that it’s actually financially viable as a sustainable enterprise, that’s exciting. I’m not just doing this a couple of years; I’m definitely in it for the long haul.”

But the festival ethos can be a very different experience as a performer than as a promoter.

“I go to literally 20 festivals a year, and have been for the last 10 years, so I know what makes a festival good, and what makes a festival not so good.

“But now I notice background stuff. How security is doing their job. The feel and the layout of the stages, the routes people walk from camping to get to the stages, stuff like that. It’s like a big puzzle. There’s an art to it, like when you walk in and there’s symmetry or some beautiful layout with good sightlines. … Someone has to decide where everything goes.”

And along with all that comes decisions. In the waning days of the Big Record Machine, festivals have become even more vital to launching careers and getting a young band’s gig out in front of an audience. On the other side of the equation, though, there’s still a process that faintly mimics the “who’sin and who’s-out” gatekeeping the labels and L.A. suits used to do.

“Of course, you can’t be everything to all people. Even a festival like High Sierra doesn’t have Megadeth, and they don’t have opera, and they don’t have Jay-Z. … We’re a boutique, niche kind of community,” Janover says.

In addition to performing — periodically these days with Zilla, more frequently with LYNX — Janover also does lecture workshops on the Unified Field theories of Nassim Haramein, a cosmology theorist who has tackled the bedeviling questions surrounding gravitation, electromagnetism and the structure of the universe. Janover will conduct a lecture on Haramein’s work during Saturday’s events.

Although Janover’s lectures on this subject can extend to 13 hours or longer, and at the risk of sounding a little trivial, we asked for a brief overview.

He drew a breath. “For him, there are only two forces,” Janover explains. “One force goes away from the center, and one force goes toward the center. … Those two things are called gravity and electromagnetism.”

And in a dervish of theoretical energy and matter constructs, Janover demonstrates how Haramein rewrites the conventional paradigms of the strong and weak nuclear forces, posits that the singularity of black holes represents the essential model of all creation, and basically reworks quantum and particle physics to solve the Riddle of Everything in a single theoretical model — precisely the grail that kept Einstein pacing his office the last decades of his life, and that still keeps tenured cosmologists at Stanford awake at night.

“I’ve been doing this for about two years now and gotten a lot of good feedback from people who basically say that, despite not being able to sit still long enough to listen to anybody, that they didn’t get up to go pee for three hours,” Janover says.


On the Bill

Sonic Bloom Festival is at the Mishawaka Amphitheater from Friday, June
25, to Sunday, June 27. Three-day tickets start at $125; camping passes
are $20 per person. 13714 Poudre Canyon Hwy, Bellvue. For more
information visit


The 2010 Sonic Bloom festival will feature the nation’s best up-and-coming live electronic acts, including EOTO,
Karsh Kale, Vibesquad, ZILLA, Eskmo, Beats Antique, Evan Bluetech, Big
Gigantic, LYNX & Janover, MartyParty, Heyoka, Ill Gates, Rena
Jones, Eprom, Deru, An-tennae, Djunya, SPL, Jantsen, Signal Path,
Future Simple Project, Octopus Nebula
and many more.