TODAY I’M speaking with Kevan McGovern, a friend and fellow filmmaker who in the final stages of his new documentary on electronic music culture INPUT/OUTPUT.
In his own words, “this film presents a thorough examination of the cultural anthropology behind electronic music.”
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Regarding my own journey, you could say I was first “claimed” by electronic music during my introduction to Burning Man back in 2009. Maybe it was the desert, the dehydration, or the dubstep – but I have never been the same since.
I caught up with Kevan to ask him about his film, where it fits into the ecosystem of media on electronic music culture, and about his own epiphany in the desert of Black Rock City.
The Kickstarter campaign for INPUT / OUTPUT ends Nov 27. If you’d like support, please visit IO Documentary.com
THE INTERVIEW: FULL TRANSCRIPTION
KEVAN: I/O is a commuting term, or Input Output. It’s the communication between an information processing system, such as computer and the outside world, such as a person. So it’s a reflection of the communication between electronic music and the people that connect with it.It took me years to find out exactly what my movie was directly about. I didn’t really know, I just wanted to do a story about the electronic music scene in Vancouver and put it online and have it be like 8 minutes long. I just kept talking to people, getting feedback, and things just kind of snowballed as they do and it just kinda kept evolving. I went thru several different phases of what I thought it might be and then settling upon that’s its really about the people in the culture.
IAN: “In terms of the ecosystem media and literature that has been produced around the rise of electronic music in the culture, some of the main ones that come to mind are the documentary Modulations which came out in the ‘90’s, I think that was followed by Electronic Awakening by AC Johner and of course The Bloom series which is also produced out of Vancouver and I’m wondering what is your sense about your film, what you are you focusing on and exploring that adds to this ecosystem of understanding about what’s really emerging here.”
Kevan: “Well I’d say I concentrate a lot on distinction. My film is about creating an actual simulation. Have you ever been to the kind of moving van type thing on hydraulics in the mall like when you’re a kid and you go on that Star Wars type weird ride, like that was huge for me, I loved that. And part of what I’m doing is I’m trying to create that in a theatre.
I’m trying to take a piece of the culture and the actual impact and the power of electronic music and I’m trying to like put it into a theatre. You know you can never have exactly that experience, I mean you have to go to have that experience, but I’m going to try to do it the best way I can, to spread this culture”.
Ian: “What is it about you as well like your own journey with the scene, like what has changed over time, you know making this film?”
Kevan “It’s a very personal story as well for me, the film has actually become more and more personal over the years as you can imagine it’s a 5 year project and there’s a point where my Dad became part of the project and it just kind of took this dramatic turn. Because I don’t usually appear in my own films, I usually don’t ever really show up and when my Dad became part of the project he kind of ended up coming to Shambhala with me and becoming my soundman and then there was this scene where we were filming these ravers talking about music and he ended up talking to one of them and we just kind of like turned the lens on him.
After that point he became part of the film, and because he became part of the film, I indivertibly became part of the film, and it adds this personal element of this man who comes from rock music – he’s a drummer, and you insert a babyboomer drummer into the electronic music community and you watch what happens and it’s really interesting the points he makes about what’s popular today verses what used to be popular in his day: how the bands lost out to the DJ’s, you know, what his impression is of the culture.
Because he goes to Shambhala every year now, like he’s totally hooked. He loves the culture, he loves the people, he loves everything about it. I consider him a huge asset to the film and its kinda taken it in a very cool direction so those are the reasons I think my film is unique and why its not just going to be like another film about the subject matter, its about what’s happening now.
IAN: That’s interesting, there seems like a metaphorical journey between you and your father which is like a unification of the generations that is playing itself out and I’m curious to hear more about that. How close were you with your father before and how did this, introducing him to this culture and even your own creative process, how did that bring you even closer together?
KEVAN: “He’s always wanted to go to Shambhala, you know I went to Shambhala for like ten years and he always wanted to go and I forbade him to go. I was like you can’t go, then I was finally like ok lets do this, you can go. You can be a part of my crew, its perfect. And we just had a blast and we did some amazing work.
I did a 6 city tour of the Shambhala Experience documentary last summer and that was the first time I actually really got to do that and the response was amazing and the things people said to me were amazing.
I mean people who had no idea what was going on in the woods and I was able to actually really give them a snapshot of that. I was taking the bus to Calgary and I met a girl on the bus who didn’t know anything about electronic music she was like 19, y’know and I showed her the trailer and she was like this looks cool, and I don’t know anything about it but I want to know more and she actually ended up coming to the screening in Calgary, and she wrote me this huge letter about like how she may have deviated from her lifepath.
And I had this amazing comment in Vancouver, where after the show, a guy kind of just told me he had judged electronic music culture his entire life because of how it was presented to him in mainstream media and demonized. Now it seems like something he might actually check out after I had him in that theatre for 40 minutes. I was able to change his perception and that’s why I’m a filmmaker. That’s the end success for me, is to be able to touch people like that. That’s incredible.
IAN: “You now have been on this journey for 5 years now and I think you spoke recently about how you hit this loop of just constantly gathering and gathering and feeling well its not quite there yet, I don’t know if I have enough, I don’t know if I have enough, but then you had a moment where you realized wait a second I am ready to put this story down and complete it and I’d love for you to just share that moment of epiphany about when you knew its time to actually sit and craft it.”
KEVAN: “I feel like there is a lot of pressure to represent this culture, and do it properly and do it accurately, and so over the years I keep wondering is it time, have I actually really captured it? And it did happen at Burning Man of course when that epiphany came in as it happens with many people at Burning Man.
It was my first year, last year in 2014 and things were not working out for me at all, like I was having a shitty time, y’know I had taken two days to take in the festival and be like ok wow this is Burning Man, and then I decided to start working after two days, and I had a cameraman working with me and we got separated and we couldn’t find each other and we couldn’t actually get interviews. And normally its not that hard for me to get interviews, like no one wanted to talk to us, it just wasn’t working out, I was like this sucks and so I just put the camera down.
I went over to the Chakralicious Camp and I found my friend Joanna. She asked me how I was doing and I was like ah its not the greatest time right now and she just kind of held me y’know and she’s like what’s really wrong and I told her I like don’t want to do this anymore, I don’t want to document this culture anymore I’ve been doing it for so long I don’t even know why I’m doing it anymore, and she just held me and I just cried. I just had this like huge cry.
She had me answer my own questions. Basically, that was when I realized like… you’ve done enough, you’ve reached that point and its time for you to let go and that’s what ended up happening there in that moment, it was an incredible moment. Now here we are and I’m doing this campaign to try to finish it, cause I really feel I can’t get on with my life until I finish it you know.”
IAN: “I know that feeling. So tell me then why did you choose Kickstarter”?
KEVAN: “Between Kickstarter and Indiegogo, I was kind of like hesitant because Kickstarter is all-or-nothing and just the thought of doing all the work it takes to do a campaign and then ending up with nothing, is like not a very good feeling. But in the end that is what we chose you know because we believe in it.”
IAN: “Can you speak to the goal and then what you are hoping to put the funds towards”?
KEVAN: “Basically we have until November 27th to come up with 40 thousand dollars and the money goes towards finishing the film, with one film shoot plus motion graphics, colour correction. I want to put some animation in there and distribution. Distribution is definitely one of the biggest challenges, you gotta find the right avenue for how you want to get the film out there.
I want it to look and sound especially the best it can be. I mean a lot of money can just be spent on your music that you use in the film and it’s a music documentary and I think that’s one of the biggest ones too is getting the clearance to use the sounds I want to use because those are what is going to carry the whole film.
The Kickstarter campaign for InputOutput ends November 27th, if you’d like to support please visit iodocumentary.com