|MEGAPOLIS Audio Festival|
Audience members interviewing and recording one another during a live event at the 2013 MEGAPOLIS Audio Festival
|Frequency||Every 1-3 years|
|Location(s)||Various cities (to date: Cambridge, Massachusetts, Baltimore, New York City, and Oakland)|
|Inaugurated||24 April 2009|
|Most recent||5 June 2015|
The Megapolis Audio Festival (aka MEGAPOLIS) is a weekend-long event dedicated to the art of sound and to do-it-yourself (DIY) culture. The festival serves as a forum for artists, documentarians, musicians, and fans to come together to share secrets on producing and presenting challenging audio works online, on-air, and on the stage. Traveling to a new city each year to connect artists from around the world with local artists and arts organizations, MEGAPOLIS remains an affordable event where people of all ages can educate and inspire each other to hear the world differently.
MEGAPOLIS was founded in 2008 by Justin Grotelueschen (Managing Director) and Nick van der Kolk (of Love and Radio) and is administered by a new team of organizers each year.
The inaugural MEGAPOLIS Audio Festival kicked off in Cambridge, Massachusetts starting on April 24, 2009 at the Massasoit Elks Lodge and continuing April 25 and 26 at the Pierre Menard Gallery, with some events in Boston. Featured events included:
- A performance by Gregory Whitehead, radio theatre legend
- An audio documentary listening room from the Third Coast Audio Festival
- An opening night of intense musics led by The Lothars, theremin-infused psych rock from Boston, along with a typewriter orchestra, a man manipulating the radio waves with a steering wheel, and a demonstration of culinary auditory delights
Over 40 artists from across North America and from countries beyond combined with local artists to perform, install works, and conduct workshops and tours under the general theme of the megapolis, including:
- workshops for building your own instruments and contact microphones
- an audio-making slumber party
- a bicycle-powered 8-track player
- a clandestine audio tour of an insane asylum
- a presentation on the cross-pollination of poetry and sound
Co-sponsored Festival events included a media archaeology of Boston at the Carpenter Center at Harvard University, a live cello score of a museum construction at the Axiom Gallery in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, and a live performance of the WNYC science program Radio Lab at the Museum of Science in Boston.
The second MEGAPOLIS occurred in Baltimore, Maryland starting on May 14 at the Windup Space and continued May 15 and 16 starting at the Hexagon Gallery. The 2010 event featured several high-profile artists including:
- Felix Kubin, sci-fi music and radio visionary from Germany
- Lucky Dragons, psychedelic electronic artists from Los Angeles
- David Kestenbaum, science and economics correspondent for NPR
Over 60 artists from around the world interpreted the festival theme of travel during:
- audio scavenger hunts with iPhones and low-wattage transmitters
- collaborative sound-making performances using contact mics attached to parachutes and knitting needles
- 1-800-numbers that attendees could call that dealt out exercises and suggestions designed to elicit aural experiences
- booths where participants could retell their nightmares and strain to hear to tiny sounds
- existentialist theatrical tours led by gnomes who encounter deviant characters along a path to 'enlightenment'
- audio transmissions between live-mic'd venues using FM and shortwave radio
Artists loosely interpreted the festival theme of tourism through more than 60 events such as:
- “noise” karaoke, where participants sing hit songs as the DJ mangles their vocals through live processing
- foley effect workshop recording food items then sampled and mixed live in a dance music tent
- helmet that used bone conduction to “hear” sounds
- experimental one-man theatre backed by suffocating noise music and harrowing spoken word
- global experiments in musical improvisation using telecommunications networks
The fourth MEGAPOLIS  was the first held outside the Northeast megalopolis, instead popping up within the Northern California megaregion. This event kicked off at The LAB in San Francisco CA on July 5, 2015, continuing the 6th at various venues in Oakland before landing at the Omni Commons on the 7th. Some of the artists featured that weekend:
- Roman Mars, executive producer of highly acclaimed podcast 99% Invisible
- Matmos, experimental electronic music duo; collaborated on albums with Icelandic musician Björk
- Al Letson, Peabody-award-winning radio host, poet, playwright, and actor
- Doseone, a poet, rapper, singer, painter, producer, and member of cLOUDDEAD, anticon, and more
- Fantastic Negrito, winner of NPR’s 2015 Tiny Desk Concert Contest
- Kevin Blechdom (Blectum From Blechdom), a Bay Area experimental electronic musician self-dubbed as an avenging angel of pop music
- Song Exploder, a podcast where artists deconstruct their songs from the inside out
- Gamelan X, ensemble that remixes the ritual of a Balinese procession with a decidedly west coast twist
The theme of the 2015 MEGAPOLIS Festival was the frontier and featured 30 events including:
- an immersive installation of sound-emitting light bulbs that react to your presence
- interactive presentations on scientific innovations in music and storytelling through conscious thought control as well as infrasounds imperceptible to the human ear
- an exercise in rapid prototyping using the basics of design thinking to introduce the idea of iterative problem solving for artists
- hacking and soldering workshops to create Light-Theremin CD cases, low-wattage radio transmitters, homemade synthesizers, and manipulated game controllers
- yoga together with drone music
- "Hear! Hear! The first annual Megapolis Festival sounds off". Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- Parish, Matt (2009-04-22). "Hear! Hear! The first annual Megapolis Festival sounds off". Boston Phoenix.
- Lithgow, Michael (2009-04-22). "Audio Ecstasy at MEGAPOLIS". ArtThreat.
- Manning, James (2009-04-27). "BIG RED ON-THE-TOWN: MEGAPOLIS AUDIO FESTIVAL". Big Red and Shiny.
- Hirsch, Arthur (2010-05-16). "Did You Hear That? Audio festival hits Baltimore with sounds all its own". Baltimore Sun.
- McCabe, Bret (2010-05-12). "Audiophiles: sound brings a wide array of artists and artisans together for the second annual Megapolis Festival". Baltimore City Paper.
- Klein, Andrew (2010-05-14). "The Air Around Us, Sampled: Baltimore is host to this year's second-annual Megapolis, a festival of all things audio". Splice Today.
- "Megapolis and the Beautiful Noise of North Avenue". Maryland Morning. 2010-05-10.
- "GEODESIC GNOME AT MEGAPOLIS". What Weekly. 2010-05-20.
- Neumann, Erik (2015-06-05). "Megapolis Audio Festival Celebrates the Art of Sound - KQED News". Ww2.kqed.org. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
- Rose, Cara. "How to make a CD relevant, and other lessons from the Megapolis Audio Festival". Fusion.net. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
- Garrett Tiedemann (2015-06-15). "Megapolis Audio Festival 2015: Pushing the boundaries of composition". Yourclassical.org. Retrieved 2016-07-20.