Murmuration Founder Brian Cohen Talks Tech, Art And Music At St. Louis’ Newest Festival

Starting a new music festival may sound like a challenge, but for Murmuration Festival founder Brian Cohen, it’s all in a day’s work. Passionate about creating a multifaceted event series that celebrates the incredible things happening within St. Louis’ innovation, arts and music communities, the three-day fest features a variety of showcases, thought sessions, a maker expo and more, transforming the Cortex Innovation Community in the Central West End over the weekend of Sept. 23-25. We chatted with Cohen to get all the details on the lineup while nailing down a few of the many reasons why Murmuration is one weekend you won’t want to miss. 

Photo courtesy of Deerhoof, who will be performing at Murmuration on Sunday, Sept. 25 from 7-8pm.

Photo courtesy of Deerhoof, who will be performing at Murmuration on Sunday, Sept. 25 from 7-8pm.

What do you hope guests will walk away with after attending Murmuration?
From the pre-party on Friday to the final music performance on Sunday, I know attendees will have a great time, but I also want them to walk away amazed, excited and inspired. We’re often inundated with news of the city’s challenges, but Murmuration will show that St. Louis has much to be proud of and is capable of creating a world-class festival for a national audience.

Can you tell us a bit about the unique programming that will be offered in the thought sessions?
We used the same organizing principle as the rest of the event, namely selecting speakers and topics that explore the convergence of art, music, science and tech. The result is a mind-blowing lineup that includes everything from creating robot musicians to using technology to re-imagine art to the seduction of automation. This is a must-attend part of the festival that will get even more expansive as the festival grows.

There is a wide variety of subjects covered; how did you go about selecting collaborators?
Selecting the subjects and speakers for the thought sessions was as ambitious task because there were really no limits. The lineup could be as broad as we wanted. So the team focused on the core themes of the festival and made sure all the cornerstone elements were represented on the thought side. There are sessions on virtual reality, social enterprise, the maker revolution and so much more.

How did the curation of the musical lineup come about?
Music is what I know best so I took the lead on the music lineup. My booking agent, Jeff Jarrett, and I first worked together on LouFest and we followed the same model for Murmuration. I came to the table with a short list of artists I knew would be perfect and he did the same. We also created a unique criterion. Keeping in line with the rest of the festival, we only invited bands whose sound or live show cross into the areas of art, science or tech. The result is an interesting and eclectic lineup that is completely unique. 

Since this is a new festival for St. Louis, what advice you would give to attendees who aren’t really sure what to expect and have never been to a multi-faceted event series such as this?
The challenge with any new festival is to get the word out and make sure everyone understands the event. With Murmuration, this is even more complicated because the festival involves so many new and unique elements. A 30-second elevator pitch is impossible when you you’re trying to describe the music showcases, thought sessions, art exhibit, maker expo, innovation showcase, future innovators zone, Friday pre-party, and on and on. My advice is to spend some time on our website to see what elements most interest you. That will get you to festival. Once there, you’ll naturally browse everything else and come away with a powerful and enlightening experience.

Murmuration will take place on Sept. 23-25 in St. Louis’ central Cortex Innovation Community in the Central West End. Saturday, Sunday and weekend passes can be purchased on the webFriday at Murmuration will be a free kickoff event that will highlight the city’s underground maker movement featuring DIY art activations, a gallery-style fashion presentation, live concerts from members of the St. Louis Symphony, 18 & Counting and performance artist Basil Kincaid, a pop-up art market curated by Westminster Press and more.

Featured photo courtesy of Flying Lotus, who will be performing at Murmuration on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 8:30-10pm.

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