Do It Together: Aaron Stovall Talks About This Weekend's SLAP Conference and Current -- Preview the Mixtape Here

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This weekend, the St. Louis Arts Project will hold its second annual conference. Its aim is to reach the far-flung corners of the art world, regional or not, for an exchange of ideas and expression. There is a suggested $10 donation for entry -- check in starts tonight at 6 p.m. at the Contemporary Art Museum. From there, you can attend a wide variety of talks, panels, discussions and events; a full schedule is below.

A highlight of last year's inaugural outing was the Current performance, where several different artists in the same room improvised a collaborative work. Current returns this year with an expanded lineup and scope -- this year's performers include Eric Hall, Syna So Pro, Black James, Lamar Harris, Thelonius Kryptonite, Ra Cailum, 18andCounting, Loose Screwz and members of So Many Dynamos. You can watch their experiment at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

We spoke with So Many Dynamos' Aaron Stovall, who will be participating. He talked about the increasing importance of collaboration and the value of living in the city of St. Louis. We also have a mix tape, assembled by SLAP, featuring all this year's Current artists. Listen below.

Kiernan Maletsky: How is Current different this year?

Aaron Stovall: First and foremost, the location has changed. Last year, the Current informational session and performance both took place inside one of the big rooms at Regional Arts Commission. This year, we'll all be performing outside in the courtyard of the Contemporary Arts Museum. We try to keep the lineup as diverse as possible, and with that we've brought in Black James, Ra Cailum, Thelonious Kryptonite and Lamar Harris as additions to this year's line-up.

What is the value of collaboration?

When you're just getting to know someone, which is usually the case within the groups of performers involved in Current, playing music together is the perfect alternative to using words as communication. It forces you to listen. It forces you to choose what's right for the song and situation and not just for yourself. It's a great way to step outside of your own expectations and limitations as a performer. It's all about seeing how far you're able to push one another, while at the same time, furthering your individual growth.

What is the best way to develop the St. Louis music scene?

I read a phrase the other day that kind of blew my mind, and I feel like I've been trying to share and discuss it with everyone. D.I.T. (Do It Together) is the new D.I.Y. It's such a simple concept, but can be related to music and culture in a bajillion different ways. As one example, the other day I saw where the bands Yeasayer and Fang Island were both "exclusively premiering" a different song from another band, Delicate Steve, via their own social media outlets. More often, bands are constantly pressured to come up with creative ways to retain relevance in a world where music is consumed faster than ever before.

So, why not help each other out? It seems like the idea of petty competition and who gets more popular than the other is fading more and more. No longer does it seem like band vs. band. It's more like band vs. the Internet. Outside of the Internet, collaboration - and not just playing, but sharing and talking about personal musical interests - is extremely beneficial in hearing things in a different light. Also, as I previously mentioned, it provides artists to meet and to get to know one another. Lastly, it may not be the most economical solution these days, but I believe touring and seeing how other music communities can thrive, stay stagnant or even fail provide bands with a ton of perspective on what it is they're trying to accomplish.

What have you gained as a musician since moving to the city?

Up until three years ago, I lived on the Illinois side of the Metropolitan area my entire life. I always knew it was a little inconvenient to be 25 to 30 minutes away from the city, but I didn't realize exactly how much I had been missing out on until moving. As a musician, I feel I've gained the convenience of proximity to venues and event spaces and have had the opportunity to go to any show on any given night. It's allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and explore all of the different bands and groups of people that live here. There's so much happening right now and I feel like it's directly under our noses. Through my experience, a little bit of research and a lot of conversation goes a long way in finding something here that pertains to your interests and is totally awesome and often inspiring. The momentum of our music and arts community seems stronger than ever, and I get more and more excited as others continue to realize the potential we all share.

To view a full schedule (the mix tape is there as well), go to the next page.

SLAP 2012 Schedule (from the Event Page)

Friday, June 29

6:00 PM l Check-in and Registration

6:30 - 8:00 PM l Loving The Lou

A campaign created to bring attention to and highlight art spaces, creative projects, and events that celebrate the city and people of St. Louis. For one night only, Loving the Lou will bring together individuals and groups to share about their non-traditional spaces, projects or events with attendees. In partnership with Chautauqua Art Labs, this event is part of a larger effort to create a living history, community map, and archive of these types of spaces and events in the St Louis community.

Participants include: Open/Closed Conference, Artica, St. Louis Fringe Festival, Pig Slop, Improv Anywhere, Farfetched, ________ Space and Swing Group

8:00 - 9:00 PM l Keynote Speaker Address by David Wilson, co-founder of True/False Film Fest

Saturday, June 30

11:00 - 12:00 PM l Check-in and Registration

12:00 - 12:15 PM l Welcome and Introduction

12:15 - 1:30 PM l Creative Community Engagement

A look at how individuals and groups actively contribute to the social and cultural fabric of St. Louis through innovative community engagement practices. This will be a convening of a broad range of panelists discussing their own explorations of the work they are doing within communities and local institutions. The conversation will reflect upon the social relevance of art, and how it can be used as a tool for social inclusion and cohesion, cultural community building and civic engagement.

Moderator: Claire Wolff (St. Louis Art Works)

Panelists: Lisa Harper Chang (Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts); Nicole Hollway (St. Louis for the Love, St. Louis Beacon); Bob Hansman (City Faces, Washington University); Jenny Murphy (Perennial); Dail Chambers (GYA)

1:45 - 3:00 PM l Beyond Space: Now and Tomorrow

The city's future and landscape is constantly being developed, reclaimed and transformed by artists, preservationists and builders brick by brick. The deep, and often complicated, connection between St. Louis' urban spaces and those working to change them will be examined with particular interest as to the short and long term affects on St. Louis and it's citizens.

Moderator: Emily Hemeyer (SPORE Projects, St. Louis Arts Project)

Panelists: Dayna Kris (Rebuild Foundation); Jasmin Abre (Creative Exchange Labs); Randy Vines (STL STyLe); Dana Turkovic and Daniel McGrath (Isolation Room, Gallery Kit)

3:15 - 4:30 l Art, Creativity, and Value

An investigation into the relationship between St. Louis art, creative energy and value from an institutional to grassroots level. The conversation will focus on three questions: How do we value the diverse art and creative energy in the city? What differences in value exist amongst art and creative energy? How is the value of art and creative energy demonstrated and reinforced? This panel discussion will explore how context and perception determine value and the affects it has on the city and it's smaller communities.

Moderator: Brigid Flynn (St. Louis Art Museum)

Panelists: Jen Carter (Aisle 1 Gallery); Galen Gondolfi (fort gondo); Meredith McKinley (VIA Partnership, Critical Mass)

4:45 - 5:45 PM l Open Discussion

Kaveh Razani and Stan Chisholm (18andCounting) of Lane 4 will lead an open discussion on the issues and challenges that face artists, community builders and audiences in St. Louis. Please come prepared to participate in the discussion.

6:00 - 7:15 PM I Information Expo

The Resource Fair will connect conference attendees with art organizations that offer volunteer opportunities, continuing arts education and developmental resources.

Participants include: GYA, Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants, KDHX, The Luminary Center for the Arts, St. Louis' Artists Guild, Upcycle Exchange, PIECRUST, CAMP, Arch City Radio, Creative Exchange Labs, ME/TO/YOU, Morse Group, and Art Dimensions

7:30 - 10:30 PM I Current

Ten of St. Louis' premiere electronic musicians will converge in for a night of discussion and performance. For the first hour, attendees are invited to talk with musicians one-on-one and get to know more about their work, gear, technical knowledge, inspiration, style etc. At 8:00 PM, all participants will perform dynamic, collaborative pieces that will showcase today's musical skill and innovation in a city known for its vibrant musical tradition.

Musicians include: Eric Hall, Syna So Pro, Black James, Lamar Harris, Thelonius Kryptonite, Ra Cailum, 18andCounting, Loose Screwz, and members of So Many Dynamos

Sunday, July 1

11:00 - 12:00 PM l Check-In and Registration

12:00 - 2:00 PM l Artist Talks

A diverse range of St. Louis based artists will speak about their work and artistic process followed by a question and answer segment with the audience.

Artists include: Keith Bucholtz, BJ Voght, Stan Chisholm (18andCounting), Carlie Trosclair, and Tate Foley

2:15 - 3:30 PM l Open Forum and Closing Reflections

Attendees will submit areas of inquiry prompted by the conference that they would like to explore further in a group environment. Small groups will gather to discuss these areas of inquiry and allow fellow attendees the opportunity to connect with one another. This will be followed by an open discussion that will reflect on concepts and themes of the conference, as well as, how to implement these ideas through community engagement.

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