by Kyle Taylor
It is rare to find a festival that fully immerses its patrons in the force of aspects of the art world colliding. However, Great North Music & Arts Festival in Norridgewock, Maine set a hefty bar spotlighting artists of all sorts.
Of course a heavy drawing point for many patrons was the stellar music lineup, which offered a delightful blend of jam and jamtronica bands, as well as numerous producers pumping intelligent beats. The headliners for the weekend were the funky saxophone sensation GRiZ and breakbeat mind-bender Tipper, who had two sets- one setting the mood with smooth ambient beats, and the second sinking its teeth into some more fast-paced beats. GRiZ’s set was unlike any I had heard from thus far. The Detroit (now Chicago) producer/saxophonist dove into some of his older productions and plenty of other weird, funky grooves.
The musical talent for the weekend reached beyond just the name of its headliners though. The main stage was further taken over by an impressive arsenal of bands, including Papadosio, Conspirator, Nahko & Meidicine for the People, Melvin Seals & JGB, Twiddle, and Consider the Source.
Great North’s second stage, The Temporal Dome, was largely curated by Gravitas Recordings and Temporal Talent, featuring countless progressive producers. Acts like Psymbionic, Freddy Todd, ill-esha, The OriGinALz, Marvel Years, CloZee, Space Jesus, Brightside and Of The Trees served up some crunhy bass beats, covering everything from glitch-hop to future bass and trap. Govinda and D.V.S* lit things up in a blaze of livetronica glory; D.V.S* smoothing his ambient guitar waves of dreamy beats, and Govinda delving into his ever-twisted beats layered against on violin prowess. Late night beats were covered by Desert Dwellers, Bluetech and Orchard Lounge, each bringing a unique flavor to the sound system.
The music was only one dimension of Great North. For the entirety of the weekend, every stage was a blaze of glory, boasting a variety of psychedelic digital mapping artists. Tipper was joined for his sets by special guest visual artist Johnathan Singer.
A full gallery tent was devoted entirely to live painters and other visual artists, who were hard at work on their craft all weekend. Live painters included Alex Grey, Allyson Grey, Adam Psybe, Andy Reed and many more.
The festival grounds were overall transformed into a fantastical wonderland, littered with art installations and a plentiful line of skilled craft vendors. Great North was also host to The Furthur Bus on its 50th anniversary tour for the weekend.
While the festival did reach lower temperatures- being in Maine near the end of September- this situation was easily remedied with heated domes available to patrons and warm food offered around the clock. The non-stop presence of crowds getting down to all the festival’s amazing music, which also ricocheted from the speakers all hours of the day, also made it easy to generate plenty of warm energy through dancing.
While in Maine, I also had the opportunity to catch up with Portland, Maine based producer Of The Trees, who brought his eclectic style of hip-hop and bassy beats to The Temporal Dome late Friday night. Read the interview and hear some Tyler Coombs’ (Of The Trees) funky productions below.
All photos by James Bell (view album on our Facebook page HERE)
Funkadelphia: You’re currently based out of Portland, Maine. Did you grow up in Maine? Or did you end up there more recently in life?
Of The Trees: Yep, I’ve been living here for 23 long years. I’m certainly a homebody.
Funkadelphia: Do you try to draw inspiration from the beauty of the Maine landscapes?
Of The Trees: Absolutely. The coasts and the forests are engrained into my soul. I love it here.
Of The Trees – “Hyperflux” — FREE Download!!
Funkadelphia: Your music blends together a variety of styles. Glitch, hip-hop, bass music, just to name a few. Where do you draw inspiration from musically? Primarily electronic music, or a wider spectrum of material?
Of The Trees: Definitely a stronger influence from electronic music in general, but I’m a huge fan of everything from early 1900s folk and blues to nerdy progressive metal epic stuff.
Funkadelphia: Can you tell us some artists you feel have been strong influences for you personally (even if not necessarily for your music)? Either electronic or otherwise.
Of The Trees: Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, J Dilla, Flying Lotus, Radiohead, Opeth, and anything southern-rap flavored and crunked out.
Funkadelphia: Were you always primarily interested in electronic music? Or were you ever a part of any non-electronic projects?
Of The Trees: In highschool I was involved in a few short-lived metal bands and other wacky projects. I started making simplistic rap beats on my cheap netbook in my community college dorm room in 2009, and it evolved into what I do now.
Of The Trees – “First Flight” — FREE Download!!
Funkadelphia: What drew your attention to electronic production?
Of The Trees: The first time I heard Gamma Goblins by Infected Mushroom.
Funkadelphia: You recently released your “Selections Vol. 2 Mixtape”. Can you reveal any details on any other upcoming Of the Trees releases?
Of The Trees: I’m currently waiting on some remixes for my 3rd EP release, along with a remix for my friend Psymbionic, with a few singles sprinkled in.
Funkadelphia: So obviously we’ll be seeing you up at Great North this year. Are there any other plans for the Fall of 2014 you can reveal, gigs or tours?
Of The Trees: We just confirmed a really exciting booking today, I can’t exactly reveal too much about it – but it’s certainly a fantastic addition to my resume.
Freddy Todd & Black Mic – “Star Trek Shit (Of The Trees Remix)” — FREE Download!!
Funkadelphia: We’ve seen a lot of solo production from you so far. Can we hope to see any Of the Trees collaborations with other producers and/or musicians in the future?
Of The Trees: Working on a few collaborations right now, and gearing towards more in the near future. Definitely want to pair up with more Gravitas artists.
Funkadelphia: A good deal of producers and electronic artists have begun to incorporate live instrumental elements into their live performances. Might we see anything similar from Of the Trees at any future sets?
Of The Trees: Absolutely. I’ve been incorporating live synths/guitar and looping into my latest sets, and will be taking that to the next step in the near future. Soon enough you’ll never hear the same version of a tune in any two given sets…
Of The Trees – “Selections Vol. 3 Mixtape: Great North Edition”