Decibel Festival founder Sean Patrick Horton cites his new career with Red Bull as the deciding factor in his choice to discontinue the annual event.
Organizers of Seattle’s Decibel Festival have announced that the event will not take place this year. The first edition of the festival - which has grown to consist of over 50 concerts at numerous locations over the month of September - took place in 2004, which means that 2016 would have marked its 13th edition.
A letter posted on the electronic music festival’s website signed by its founder, Sean Patrick Horton, explains that his decision to cancel the 13th installment of the festival was based primarily on his new position as global curator of Red Bull’s artist development program, Red Bull Sound Select. He has encouraged those whom had planned to attend to instead look into the events comprising Chance of Rain Festival, which will take place from September 29th-October 2nd.
Horton made sure to point out that he thought of the cancellation as an “extended break,” and that festivalgoers could expect the annual event to return in a later year. “Know that Decibel as an organization will continue and this is temporary and much needed break,” he wrote.
Previous incarnations of Decibel Festival appealed to enthusiasts of electronic music’s sophisticated side; Bonobo, Mr. Carmack, Bob Moses and Alan Fitzpatrick were among the names that graced its 2015 lineup. Chance of Rain Festival has yet to announce any of the artists on its 2016 roster.
You can read Horton’s letter in its entirety below:
To all Decibel supporters,
I founded the Decibel Festival in 2003 with the hope of creating a unified experience celebrating electronic music performance, visual art, education and technology the that brings them all together. Looking back over the past 12 years, it is abundantly clear that Decibel surpassed any and all goals, while tapping into the zeitgeist of the Pacific Northwest. During that time the festival audience grew from 2,500 to over 25,000, while our one-off events schedule grew to over 50 events annually outside of the festival program. In addition, the festival hosted over 1,000 artists representing 40 countries, making it one of the most internationally focused and diverse festivals of its kind in North America. Last year’s program was one of our most successful to date, which is a testament to this vision and the state of electronic music in North America.
At the heart of Decibel has always been the Seattle electronic music community, which to this day remains the most vibrant and resilient I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. No place did this resiliency shine through more than with the Decibel Staff, who consistently met each challenge with poise and professionalism. To the dozens of staff members who have touched the festival over the years, I offer you my deepest gratitude and respect. Considering the grassroots nature of the festival and the fact everyone who touched it did so out of the belief in its vision gives me hope that both the spirit of Decibel and the future of that community are bright. You needn’t look any further than the plethora of regional and local PNW crews, weeklies, festivals and organizations Decibel has collaborated with over the years to see just how strong that community is (e.g. Uniting Souls, TUF, Substrata, Studio 4/4, Starborne Shows, Starborne Sound, Action Potential, High & Tight, FWD, Flammable, Innerflight, secondnature, Cascadia Festival, CreativeLive, Bottom Forty, Believe You Me, Laptop Battle, Fourthcity, MOTOR, Capitol Hill Block Party, Bassdrop, Sub Pop, KEXP, EMP Museum, Bumbershoot, Seattle Theatre Group, Orac Records, Broken Disco, Bubbling’, The Henry Art Gallery, The Stranger, Time-Based Art Festival, TRUST, Grounded, The Seattle Art Museum, Substantial, New Forms Festival, SunTzu Sound, Dropping Gems, The Vera Project, The PNW Chapter of the Recording Academy, Rane, Stimulant, The End, The Seattle International Film Festival, PlayNetwork, What The Festival, Paradise, KBCS, C89.5, USC, Abstract Earth Project and many others).
Some of you know, last fall I made the difficult decision to leave the Pacific Northwest after 20 years. Since my departure, I’ve found a welcoming home in Los Angeles and a career working for one of our oldest festival partners, Red Bull. Considering the new career path and distance from Seattle, it is with a heavy heart that I am announcing that after 11 straight annual editions, Decibel will be taking an extended break. Know that Decibel as an organization will continue and this is temporary and much needed break. We will be updating our online channels with news and recommendations, so please do continue to check back to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
Considering the Decibel Festival will not be taking place this year, I would like to encourage anyone who has supported Decibel over the years to attend the inaugural Chance of Rain Festival (September 28th – October 2nd), which is dedicated to the further development of electronic music and will be produced by previous Decibel staff members.
Thank you once again for all of the support over the years. Change never comes easy, but know that Decibel as an organization will arise once again with new leadership to help guide it. For now I hope we can all reflect on how Decibel touched each of our lives and helped to provide a platform for the flourishing Pacific Northwest electronic music community.
Sean Patrick Horton
Decibel Festival Founder, Curator and President