Talking MoogFest with Ashley Capps

on October 21, 2010, 1:30pm
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Over the past year here at CoS, we’ve had the wonderful opportunity to pick the brain of arguably the biggest name in the American music festival business, Ashley Capps. This past summer we had the pleasure of talking with Capps about his biggest festival, Bonnaroo. Twice. Now, the seasons have changed, it’s fall, and next week he returns with another new festival. We felt it was time to call him up again to get the skinny on the inaugural MoogFest.

To recap, MoogFest is a three-day indoor event taking place around the beautiful city of Asheville, North Carolina, this coming Halloween weekend. The lineup is stacked, and as the name implies, the festival will be honoring the life and ingenuity of Robert Moog. Who is Bob Moog, you ask? Since the mid-50’s, Moog’s work as the inventor of the modern synthesizer has been instrumental in reshaping the musical landscape as we know it. Think about it. How many bands and musicians can you name that use Moog synthesizers in some way, and I’m not just talking about contemporary musicians either. Go back and really think about it. Is your head done spinning? Moog’s synthesizers have played just as significant a roll in shaping the sound of popular music during the past 50 years as the electric guitar. In that time span, his instruments have invented entirely new genres and re-defined old ones, helping to create music that simply wouldn’t exist without them. That’s pretty monumental, and so it only makes sense that there finally be a festival as big as Moogfest to honor the man we owe the sound of modern music too.

It may be too soon to say, but MoogFest already has the strong potential to be a late October mainstay in the festival circuit. Recently, I had the chance to ask Capps about his latest creation and what all he has planned for us. If this works out the way he hopes it will, I have a good idea where you’ll be going for Halloween from now on.

How did the idea come about to do Moogfest?

Well, in this particular case, like most ideas, it came from a variety of different sources. Certainly we’ve been very active in the city of Asheville, presenting music for two decades or more, and it’s been a very nurturing and supportive community for what we’ve done, so the idea of doing a music festival in Asheville has been there for a while. When Bob Moog died in 2005, the idea of doing something to celebrate the legacy of this guy who was such a pioneer in contemporary music was there. Of course, with Asheville being his adopted hometown, but also the headquarters of Moog Music, it seemed to make a lot of sense, so we started discussing it.

At the time, there was already a MoogFest, and there are actually MoogFests taking place all over the world, but there was one in particular that was an annual event in New York. I think there was a feeling that that event had run its course and needed a fresh perspective. All of these things came together into the discussion that ultimately led into what we’re doing now.

asheville Talking MoogFest with Ashley Capps

Asheville, NC

How long has this been in the making?

Well, it depends on where you start. I would say that we’ve actively been looking at creating the event that we now have coming up in a couple of weeks for about two-and-a-half, three years. But the idea has been germinating for even longer than that.

Is there any relation to the New York MoogFest or the other MoogFests?

Only in the sense that the New York festival was officially sanctioned by Moog Music. After our discussions and they made the decisions, it was all amicable on everybody’s part. But the decision was made to transfer the festival more or less to Asheville.

You decided to make this festival venue-based as opposed to another camping festival. What are the advantages of doing it this way?

I love both types of events, obviously. For some reason I think, at least in my mind, the Moog concept, and the concept we ultimately brought into the festival, really called for creating different types of environments and experiences for presenting different types of music. I was also looking to utilize the infrastructure that Asheville offers, everything being in walking distance, so on and so forth. There’s no particular reason that it would be an indoor or outdoor festival, but I think one of the things I do like about the indoor events is the opportunity to really focus on different types of experiences and take advantage of different rooms and the various characteristics that they offer.

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