Edinburgh to host Scotland's largest-ever electronic music conference
- David Pollock
- 3 December 2019
Scotland Electronic Music Conference to take place across two days in the capital in July 2020
'This is a bold statement, but if you look at Amsterdam Dance Event, it started twenty years ago on a scale even smaller than what we're planning…' says Derek McNee, when asked about his ambitions. McNee's record label, events and music promotions company Digital Groove has unveiled plans to host Scotland's largest-ever music conference dedicated to the electronic side of the industry, which will arrive next summer. Titled Scotland Electronic Music Conference (or SEMCON2020), the event takes place in July at Edinburgh's Corn Exchange, and promises two days of talks, workshops, seminars and product showcases for those in the industry.
Across the breadth of the conference, a hundred guests will meet and address 1800 attendees, or that's the plan. If that sounds like a behind-the-scenes affair for all but those who make a living from club and electronic music, the plan to throw approximately 20 afterparties should add some public appeal – after all, these are where other conferences like Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) and South By South West in Austin, Texas both grew their wider reputation.
'We want this to be an event for everybody, from beginners to seasoned professionals,' says McNee. 'At the moment we have industry-leading brands like Beatport, Denon, Defected, Point Blank Music School, Mixmag and Wunderground involved, who are all at the top of their professions. Alongside that, we're hopeful we can integrate some guests at our After Dark parties into the daytime programme, which adds a few names that people know. We're halfway through preparing our programming, and we have a few Scots involved; Illyus & Barrientos, Harvey McKay, Graeme Park, Mike Grieve from the Sub Club, Derek Martin and Simon McGrath from Terminal V…'
The aim, he says, is to cultivate the largest dedicated electronic music conference in the UK, which will draw predominantly local attendees at first, and then hopefully spread out to more venues as it develops a national and international reputation. 'It's a case of "Scotland doesn't have this – so do you want it, and what will it look like if you do?"' This is very much a test run, but McNee speaks hopefully of SEMCON still being here in fifteen years' time.
'There have been smaller events like this in Glasgow, but none like it in Edinburgh,' he says. 'We feel that Edinburgh is the fastest-growing city in the UK for electronic music, with big events like Terminal V, Nightvision, FLY Club … We want to capture audiences from across Scotland and the north-east of England, and while it was a tough decision not to choose Glasgow, we felt this was the right vibe for us.
'We want to do this at the top end of the scale, to try and create the kind of conference you would find overseas,' he concludes. 'There's so much interest in electronic music in Scotland, and a lot of huge events here. But my record label gets a lot of interest from producers, and they all seem to feel there's nowhere to go and pick up professional advice. We can see that there's a market in Scotland to nurture the talent we have and get a lot more of them to the forefront of the industry.'
Scotland Electronic Music Conference 2020, Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Fri 17 and Sat 18 Jul.