Highlighting 10 years of Decibel Festival. Your stories. Your Decibel.


My best friend and I had been going to Decibel for years and it eventually made sense that we should pitch the ambient music series that we had been doing in a different city around the world each year to Sean Horton. It took us a bit of convincing but we eventually worked out what turned into the Panambient Cascadia show at Sole Repair in 2009.

The response from people was inspiring, not only to the show we had curated with Spacetime Continuum, Gel-Sol, X-41 and Connect_icut and Gunshae was one thing, but the appreciation and the willingness to go deep with ambient and downtempo music from the audience made it extra special.

As a lover of music and as a maker of music, there’s no better place to get down.


Decibel Presents: Max Cooper

Chris Aldrich aka Ctrl_Alt_Dlt

What was your favorite year of Decibel and why? Every year is different. I’d say last year was a banner year for sure. Just the amount of people in from all over the place and the vibrancy in the air, it really felt like Seattle was this music mecca for a few days. Our Sunday morning event, Yagottawantit!, did really well and it felt like the festival had a reached a new plateu in terms of legitimacy on the larger national and international stage.

What are some of your favorite dj’s/artists/acts that have attended DB?Italoboyz years ago, Mike Huckaby, Tim Xavier, Camea, Derek Plaslaiko, Drumcell, Dixon, Robag Whrume, dOP, Roman Fluegel, Matthew Dear, this list could go on for sure. Lots of great techno experienced over the years.

How much sleep do you get during Decibel? Haha, very little.. I generally get a good stretch of sleep in every night until the weekend, by that point it’s pretty much game on and I’m lucky if I get any sleep before Monday.

What’s a piece of advice you would give to a first time attendee? If you plan on going all five nights, pace yourself. Not that I’m any good at that but I’ve heard it helps.. haha. And then conversely go as hard as possible. There’s so much in store, showcases, afterparties, after-after parties, you can sleep any other time of the year, but you should definitely push yourself to the limits and get as much music and experience in as possible.

You throw

a great non Decibel sanctioned after party during Decibel, anything big planned for this year? Thank you for the kind words. Yes, we have some very large things planned for the event this year, some faces that have played for us before and some new additions as well. Gotta wait and tie up just a couple more loose ends before we announce the lineup, but I can assure you that this is one of our largest endeavors to date and think the progression of music throughout the night will be amazing. Plan on joining us Saturday night/Sunday morning at the Electric Tea Garden for a serious techno workout. Yagottawantit! : )

Emma Bulajewski

Five years ago I stumbled into Seattle, tripping over my feet and landing on my face; it was far from triumphant like I had imagined it would be. I was in a new city, learning a new culture, friends and family 100s and 1,000s of miles away and along the way I had lost many things: my love, myself and my god.  A time I’ve heard described as the dark night of the soul. Sometimes life sends you on a solitary journey. Perhaps because it knows you may only discover the magic that exists in this world by being exactly where you are, no matter how uncomfortable or maddening a place it might be. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but music would be the magic that saved me (as cliché as that sounds). Music has always been important to me, but it was only once I arrived here in Seattle and happened upon a festival I had heard about in passing where I first understood the power of music to not only heal, but to effortlessly create a unique experience of inclusion and belonging amongst strangers. Strangers who could be from the four corners of the earth,  all with distinct crazy stories and life experiences, the magic is in being absorbed together into a moment of shared identity. 

You might have heard of it, it’s called Decibel Festival. 

As I stood in a room filled with then strangers, Tiger and Wood’s Gin Nation began to reverberate; drawing me in like a string attached to my heart pulling me up towards something I longed for but had no idea what it was exactly.  Sound waves were pulsing as chemicals poured through my veins and each cell in my body felt like its own healer had cared it for. 

I got the chills at one point and they wouldn’t go away. I realized I was witnessing something perfect. There was beauty all around me. Music, movement, people. Sounds that filled you with intangible hope that expressed your innermost fears and desires when words fail. When people fail. It’s not something you can touch, feel or describe in a way that makes sense to anyone else — other than how it touches you, how it makes you feel, personally. Your experience is yours. 

Recess (Shameless)

What was the first year like and how does it compare 10 years later?
Small, insular, ambitious, exciting…(obviously it’s no longer small and insular). It was certainly much more of a geek fest back then. Minimal techno/micro house was all the rage. I swear the male vs female attendee ratio was at least 5:1. Although each year the festival felt more and more inclusive, I’d say 2007 is the year db broke. With Diplo and Simian Mobile Disco both on the line-up, a much wider net was being cast. Even my indie rock, hipster friends started paying attention. The gender ratio must have dropped to at least 3:1 that year. 
Ten years later the festival is not just widely known around Seattle, but on the worldwide map. The ambitiousness and excitement is still there and it still feels like this underground, grassroots movement. How awesome is that?!     
Best show(s) Shameless has thrown for Decibel?
That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. They were all our babies. And really, so many of them have felt like rave miracles.
All that being said, personally my favorite shows were probably during 2006 and 2007. Both years we took over The Mercury for Shameless’s db afterhours. The Mercury is a private industrial goth club that’s been around since the mid 90s but completely off the radar for most folks in Seattle. It was an incredible honor that they were willing to work with Shameless. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any other outside crew doing a weekend event there. And yet, there we were at 4am with Claude Von Stroke throwing down an all vinyl set. We even had Speedy J play an all live set!
What makes Decibel different/more special than other festivals?
It’s a city festival that takes place in one of the best little cities in the world! 
If you had to sum up DB in 5 words.. ?
Organically delicious and GMO free. (GMO counts as one word here)
Most ridiculous thing you can think of in regards to Decibel?
The fact that Sean Horton continues to do this festival every year. He puts so much time, money, passion into it and I still don’t know how he survives each year, but more power to him and thank you Sean!

Alison Buchel

There is a strategy to decibel, and every year I go, I learn a little more about how to optimize the experience. Whether to buy a pass, whether to volunteer, which days to take off of work, how much to jump from one venue to another in one night, whether to see djs I’ve seen before and loved or see someone new to me, when to sleep. But no matter the choices I make, its still chaotic and overwhelming. And every year I seem to have regrets about things missed, things I should have done in place of other things. So many DJs and music producers to discover and re-discover, so many people to meet in 4 short days. If ever there was a time when I wish I could surpass my human need for sleep and recuperation, I think decibel is it
Its beautiful to see so many people so excited and passionate. I feel lucky to live in Seattle where there is a large group of people dedicated to bringing good electronic music talent, and Decibel reminds me of this every year.  I even feel that the festival, simply because of its presence, has enlarged the community of people in Seattle who love electronic music. I remember one evening a couple years ago, someone dancing next to me turned and exclaimed “This is amaaaazing! I wish there were shows like this in Seattle year-round”, to which I replied “there are! You just have to look for them.” And after more conversation, I have no doubt he did after that night.

Decibel Festival 2013 :: Ten Year Anniversary Teaser