MEG is one of Montreal’s best-kept secrets when it comes to the music scene. The electronic music festival is celebrating its 15th year of existence this summer. The most interesting thing about MEG is that they’ve managed to grow exponentially while maintaining an underground vibe.
Mustapha Terki, festival co-founder and director, has always been ahead of the game in the electronic music movement. He and Jacques Primeau started the festival way before electronic music took its place in mainstream culture.
Despite the over-saturation of the genre in recent years, MEG continues to adhere to its mandate of presenting artists of quality and engaging the audience as much as possible.
“I don’t do DJs. I present artists that make albums. What I present is an artistic process, not a rave,” Terki said. “There are some people that will dance to whatever. That doesn’t interest me. MEG is music you would listen to whether you feel like dancing or not.”
It’s a slight distinction but a very important one when it comes to choosing who gets to be part of the festival. As for other criteria, Terki strives to represent the electronic music scene as is year after year.
“My philosophy is to present snapshots of what’s happening right now,” he said. “If the artists become successful or not, that’s not a concern for us. We present what’s happening in this moment.”
This means following the trends to a certain extent. The growing popularity of electronic music has led the genre to be mixed with other types of music – notably pop, rock, and hip hop – something Terki has embraced wholeheartedly. He added that perhaps the only thing that has changed in the past 15 years is that they now keep an eye on other genres as well.
With more influences and genres falling under the umbrella of electronic music, MEG’s network of international and local artists has grown considerably. This network has been key to the festival’s longevity and success.
It’s a simple concept, but a brilliant one. Terki is a French native and started his lifelong dedication to electronic music in Paris. Never a musician himself, he started organizing events and small-scale festivals at a young age to share his passion with others.
When he moved to Montreal and started MEG, he had already built up an international community of artists that he invited to the festival along with local talent.
This tradition continues to this day but on a much larger scale. MEG’s international network has expanded to include artists from a wide array of countries.
MEG presents showcases in these other countries as well. This year alone, MEG presented showcases at festivals in Mexico and Martinique as well as in Paris where Techno Parade also celebrated its 15-year anniversary.
For a festival with such a huge global reach, some may find it surprising that they aren’t selling out parc Jean-Drapeau. But the idea of a massive outdoor festival is not part of Terki’s vision for MEG.
“I’m not interested in organizing a festival that blocks the streets. I love bars, I love small venues. [MEG] will always be this rapport between the artist and the public,” he said.
Engaging the public is something that MEG focuses on year-round. They host a monthly event at Divan Orange for local talent where they scout the festival’s future participants. They are very active in the local community, from giving away tickets for shows to underprivileged youth to their annual toy drive for Sun Youth during the holidays.
While Terki seems to enjoy every aspect of his work, during the festival is when he really gets to have fun.
His top picks for this year’s festival include tonight’s showcase at Divan Orange with Mesparrow, Fire/Works, and Emilie & Ogden; ELECTROMANIA at Club Soda with Shlohmo, Para One, Sound Pellegrino, and Tommy Kruise, also tonight; MEG x Présence Autochtone at Place des Festivals with Poirier and JFL on Friday; and the ever-popular MEG Boat with The Hacker, Zombie Nation, Bordello, and Thomas Von Party on Saturday.
“The festival has started so I told my team ‘you leave me alone now.’ I’ve done my work as director, now I will have some drinks and go see the shows.”
MEG runs until Saturday, August 3. For more info on artists and events, see their website.