The festival takes place May 18-21.

Moogfest, the Durham, NC weekender expanding the idea of what a music festival can be like, kicked off earlier today and will run through Sunday, May 21.

While the fest will include performances from artists like S U R V I V E, Jubilee, Flying Lotus, Jessy Lanza, Moor Mother, Gaika and Elysia Crampton, there will also be a host of lectures, panels and workshops making it a weekend entirely about music, innovation, technology and, this year for the first time, there is an actual protest stage. (A protest sign-making workshop is underway as I write this!)

Among the artists traveling to North Carolina are Mykki Blanco and Circuit Des Yeux, née Haley Fohr, who wowed us last year with her Jackie Lynn project.

Fohr tells FACT that one of the things she is looking forward to at the festival is connecting with artists from outside of the US. “I am looking forward to learning how many outsider artists in America make it work. What makes them tick?” she says, adding “I am [also] excited about the conversational aspect of this festival. I think it is a valuable asset, and these interactive panels should be utilized more often in a festival scenario.”

Fohr will be conducting a workshop on 3D sound with the i-CAT team from Virginia Tech: a “behind the scenes exploration of what it takes to setup and operate a 24 channel immersive audio system.” “I am very introverted by nature and dislike big talks, so the 24 channel sound system at Virginia Tech is the perfect solution,” Fohr says. “I have been partaking in solo vocal performances that are quite visceral and cleansing. They usually last between 20 and 40 minutes. I’m hoping to utilize the 24 channel system to create an immersive prayer call that is inviting and stimulating.” The workshop takes place tomorrow, Friday, May 19 at 5:30pm. Circuit Des Yeux will perform at 9pm that night.

While Blanco won’t be teaching a workshop, no doubt there will be a lot to learn from his talk on Friday afternoon. “I will be answering questions and talking openly about my experiences being a LGBTQ artist in the music industry, my HIV status as an entertainer, how I run my business, and what I’ve learned,” he tells FACT. “This will be my first time at Moogfest, so to me, right now, it’s more exciting than anything else but it is special to me in a way because it’s in North Carolina where I’m from. My entire family will be able to attend my concert and it’s earlier enough on the Protest Stage that my nieces and nephew can also attend so that’s pretty special to me, as I travel internationally a lot. Coming home to perform is a rare.”

Blanco will perform tonight (May 18) at 6:45pm. For more information about Fohr’s and Blanco’s events, and the rest of the happenings at the festival, check out the official Moogfest schedule here.

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