Smile Politely

Harsh My Buzz

Things are starting to get hot and sexy in the music scene here in Champaign. Nevermind the sweater weather — booties are moving and bands are booking shows left and right. Shows like the one happening at Mike ‘N Molly’s this Friday: An event, rather than just a show with bands, the entire evening will be seamed together by a video installation. The night promises to have great music, for sure; but furthermore, an experience in and of itself. I spoke with promoter/videographer/DJ/emcee Matt Harsh to get behind the mind of the idea that set the situation in motion.

Smile Politely: What was the impetus behind this show?

Matt Harsh: I’ll tell you exactly why I did it: I’d been booking DJ shows, other random stuff, and it hadn’t been as fulfilling for me. I wanted to do a video installation soon, and ask certain people, and keep it small. That’s why I did it upstairs at Mike ‘N Molly’s. I want it to be smaller; I want it to be intimate; I want people to see it and feel immersed in it. I want people that are really talented that I like that do interesting stuff to play together. I reach out to the same people — people I want to work with. Psychic Twin I’ve been wanting to work with for awhile, to do visuals [with them]. I think it’s a good fit. Jonah and Dave Samuel from Mordechai in the Mirror — they’re playing [as] Blueprints For A Future Technology. That’s what’s funny about this show — there’re people that people know on this bill, but it’s some of their first shows under these names. (Pyschic Twin is Erin Fein and Brett Sanderson from Headlights; Forgottonia Secedes and Anna Karina are Kyle Scott and Luke Bergkoetter, respectively, from Take Care).

I used to do shows kind of like this about three years ago, where I would do video installations and experimental electronic stuff. I booked one of Mordechai’s first shows ever at Chillax, what I did earlier. I booked Exhale Look Down (Kyle Scott’s then side-project from fireflies). I did video installations then.

I was itching to do it in a dark, awesome place. And this is what I want to go with it.

SP: Something that seems to happen in this town — and other scenes in general — is that things get good, and the scene solidifies…but then it stagnates, you have a monocrop. This show, to me, represents a bit of diversity. Definitely not your standard fare of four rock shows happening across both towns.

Harsh: I’ve always liked doing these shows — and they’re not crossover shows — it’s giving an opportunity for people who do other sides of things.

There’s always in-between scenes. I am one of those people who is in-between all these scenes: Whether I go to the rock shows, or go to the other stuff, I know these people; I’ve worked with them on different things — so I feel like I have a certain responsibility to put together cool shows like this. And I kinda put it together selfishly for myself, because they’re my friends, and I wanted them to have a chance to play out. But I didn’t do it going, “Hey, we’re gonna pack the house, and we’re gonna sell a buncha tickets, and we’re gonna book these people because they can draw all these people…I didn’t care about any of that. It was more about being artistically creative.

SP: So it’s about production value.

Harsh: Yeah. Up the production value. I want to do more! Even when we were doing the big dubstep shows, I was like, “Dude, we need to put more into this. We gotta build sets. We gotta have lighting. I do videos and other stuff, so production value is something I think about. Other people don’t. I think a lot of things happen, and people are just creating simple formulas and milking it. And I don’t like that. (laughs)

Check out audio of the rest of the interview here:


You can enjoy an experience for only $5 this Friday at Mike ‘N Molly’s. Performing are Psychic Twin, Blueprints For A Future Technology, Forgottonia Secedes, Anna Karina, and Kirkwood West. Cover is $5, drinks are cheap, ambience is free.

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