I'll be closing down 2014 with a pretty sizable change. I'm delighted to announce that I'm making the jump to independent event production and consulting. I'll be stepping down from my job as director of Confab Events and putting all my energies toward this new venture, which I call Westra & Co.

Building communities has always been important to me, and it's really driven all the event work I've done to date. I feel like this change gives me the best opportunity to continue doing so on a wider scale.

I've had the good fortune to work on events that focus on the things I care deeply about: equality, open access, quality over quantity, and building safe and respectful spaces. I love creating inclusive events that make everyone feel welcome, and I'm excited to make that happen at even more events.

It is my hope to work with folks interested in these same tenets, and to help build their communities through meaningful, memorable, and seamless events for all attendees, speakers, and sponsors.

So get in touch, and let's build stuff together.


Dust it shall be, but dust in love

Earlier this month we launched our fifth issue of Contents with the announcement of a new book club. Intended to celebrate the multiple ways we find connections between our readings, we picked a book, The Library at Night, by Alberto Manguel, that does the same.

I started reading the opening section, “The Library as Myth”, while Frank Ocean's Nostalgia: Ultra played in the next room. In a curious moment of synchronicity, what I was reading and what I was hearing converged.

From The Library at Night:

In Elias Canetti’s 1935 novel Die Blendung (Auto da Fe), Peter Kien, the scholar who in the last pages sets fire to himself and to his books when he feels that the outside world has become too unbearably intrusive, incarnates every inheritor of the Library, as a reader whose very self is enmeshed in the books he possesses and who, like one of the ancient Alexandrian scholars, must himself become dust in the night when the library is no more. Dust indeed, the poet Francisco de Quevedo noted, early in the seventeenth century. And then added, with the same faith in the survival of the spirit that the Library of Alexandria embodied, “Dust it shall be, but dust in love.”

From Dust by Frank Ocean:

Who’s that talking in the library?
Who’s that talking in my library?
Is that you? No I won’t put you out
Cause what would this place be without my muse
Nothing special, every book in here I wrote
Some I’m not too proud of some I wish I could burn
So many pages I wrote, wish I could revise them
But there’s no erasing and the best advice I got
Was keep writing, and keep living, and keep loving

And when the ink dries and the pages turn to dust
So will we turn to dust, so will we dust,

This is why I love words; why I love music and why I love art. It’s also why I love this book club. In less than five minutes on a January afternoon, a depression-era Bulgarian Nobel Laureate, a seventeenth-century Spanish poet, and 25-year-old singer-songwriter from New Orleans became inextricably linked within a new archive; my archive.

These are the connections we seek to celebrate.

RVNG to release another gem. Sky is blue. Grass is green.

So, I have a shortlist of labels that I’ll buy any release from. RVNG Intl, is on that list. They’ll be releasing Holly Herndon's debut record on November 13th. And, it's (unsurprisingly) awesome.

Herndon builds most of her own instruments and real-time synth effects in Max/MSP (Max Signal Processing), and considers pushing the limits of our technology a key part of her creation process.

"The laptop is the most intimate instrument we have at our disposal, engaging and absorbing our confessions and inspirations" says Herndon. "Its influence has both devastated and invigorated music as we know it. We’ve only just begun unlocking the possibilities at our fingertips. Those possibilities are what I work towards and against." 

So, there are couple of steps here now. First, listen to this preview single, Fade. Then, pre-order the record from RVNG. The first 50 records sent out will be on gold vinyl. 

Negotiation of Taste

It’s the total experience — the conflicted listens, the negotiation of taste, the perceptual confusion — that’s noteworthy, an outward extension that, when coupled with its overall aesthetic approach, makes it impossible not to read politically.
— Marvin Lin on 情報デスクVIRTUAL’s vaporwave touchstone 幌コンテンポラリー (via TinyMixTapes)

Cover to Cover: Another Chimero/Westra Collabo-jam

Just finished up another back-and-forth collaborative playlist on Rdio with the illustrious Frank Chimero. This is our second, and is comprised entirely of cover songs (the first was an alternating alphabet series and is also embedded below).

Cover to Cover:Odds by Frank, evens by Erik.

(Note: Having some trouble with the embedding here, head over to Rdio for this one.)

The Alphabet Series:Odds by Erik, evens by Frank.