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AVA Conference & Festival Recap

Key moments from Kevin Saunderson, The Black Madonna, Mall Grab, Special Request


Last weekend, pioneering music festival and conference AVA hosted a forward-thinking programme of talks, workshops and lectures in Belfast, celebrating five years strong in the city.

AVA has been committed to supporting the most exciting emerging & established electronic arts since its inception and has become an incubator for local talent across the North and the South of the country, fostering local scenes and providing emerging DJ’s a platform.

On Friday, the conference offered an insight into the music and arts industry from artists, agents, labels and innovators. The Black Madonna, Kevin Saunderson, Horse Meat Disco, Resident Advisor, Red Bull Music Academy and more formed the line up of panels, workshops and keynotes alongside some of the industries most notable names and brands. Alongside this AVA programmed a progressive festival lineup for Friday and Saturday with memorable performances from Mall Grab, Len Faki, Hammer and Special Request.

The opening keynote with Inner City’s Kevin Saunderson provided an insight into his musical influences both past and present, his journey within the industry and his future progression. Red Bull Music Academy Lecture with Horse Meat Disco was next up; touching on topics from their early days as promoters and London’s current LGBTQ+ scene. Later on in the day, Resident Advisor hosted a live exchange with The Black Madonna discussing activism within the music industry.

Following the conference on Friday, Boiler Room took over the Garden Centre of the S13 Warehouse, inviting Irish contingents Marion Hawkes, Carlton Doom, R. Kitt and Cromby for some unforgettable sets live on Boiler Room TV. Alongside, lo-fi house producer DJ Boring and Essential Mix of the Year winner HAAi pulled out all the stops. The next day exceeded expectations with stand-out sets from Mount Palomar who took the crowd on a journey with an emotive live set, elsewhere Sally C stepped up for her Boiler Room debut.

Red Bull Music hosted the Loading Bay for the weekend, inviting house and disco experts Palms Traxand Horse Meat Disco. Following on from her insightful keynote, The Black Madonna took to the stage providing a feel-good finale. Saturday at the Loading Bay took a slightly heavier tip, welcoming techno dons Courtesy, Rebekah and Randomer to the stage for some unforgettable sets.

Taking to the mainstage on the Friday was new school techno figure Avalon Emerson who really built momentum with her progressives set, elsewhere and no doubt the highlight of the day was a surprise B2B from Mall Grab and Brame & Hamo who ensured the crowd remained energised. Closing the warehouse on Friday was one of techno’s most notable names Len Faki, showcasing his heavy-hitting sound. The mainstage provided some of the most memorable performances of the weekend with stand-out sets from Hammer, Special Request and Daniel Avery.

With a focus on AV as well as music, production across the board was impeccable with immersive visuals, entrancing lighting and installations from local collectives, Visual Spectrum and 19 Mill. Year on year AVA brings an expertly curated line up to the city, with an unmatchable crowd to anywhere in the UK, see you in 2020!

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