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BB:What is the idea behind the festival?

MF:The idea behind i = u is simple: to present a series of events that emphasize a balanced interaction between performers, and also, between performers and audience members. The series is founded on an ideal of equality between us, where we actually aim to listen to one another.

BB:Why the focus on interaction?

MF:All interaction is a level of communication and all communication has a level of improvisation in its execution. We’re endeavoring to create an environment where we can explore & experiment with the conventions of performer vs. performer communication and more importantly performer vs. audience communication. In doing so we are inspired to create a world of shared creativity.

BB:Are contemporary audiences demanding more from performance? If so, what are they looking for and how does the festival respond to this?

MF:Yes. As we’re in the digital age and being continuously stimulated, rather bombarded with content, our brains are rewiring to react faster and respond to a more sporadic lifestyles. It’s inherent that performances will begin to reflect this behavior. Not saying we are the first to provide an alternative breed of performance but we’re striving to bring innovative performance interactions to the foreground.

BB:What sort of events will you be hosting? Can you pick out some highlights?

MF:The festival lineup features many innovative musicians including violist Max Baillie with Leafcutter John, the Oxford Laptop Orchestra, cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Austrian composer Thomas Eisl with multi-genre violinist Phillip Granell, pianist Bobby Mitchell, Quest Ensemble, 12 ensemble, composers Steve Potter, Federico Reuben, and Justin Christensen as the Whiggly Ensemble, composer/performers Jonathan Russell and Brian Mark, the Guildhall School’s David Dolan and Noam Faingold’s Burning City Orchestra. Artist Michael Dylan Ferrara will be exhibiting a series of his 35mm multiple exposures that coordinate with the photos used on the i = u website. Through layering exposures as they’re being taken, i.e. 3 different exposures on the same negative, MDF manipulates light and space in an improvised manner. The result is a fusion of those exposures and unknown until the film is developed.

BB:As a first year festival, what are your hopes for future editions?

MF:We currently have a three year trajectory with the plans to bring the i = u Festival to Brooklyn for 2014 and to Berlin for 2015. Eventually we’d like to establish i = u as a traveling festival holding events in several cities throughout the year while of course having an annual event in London, our roots.

The i = u Festival has been featured on the Strad, Hoxton Radio, LondonCalling, Dalstonist & The Sampler.

Words by Bianca Brigitte Bonomi