All Data Lost

Saturday, Aug. 17, 2 p.m.–2 a.m., $20

The Wicked Witch, Raleigh

“As a woman, I’ve always struggled with a lack of mentorship in this area. I’m living a life for which there is no blueprint, and it’s a lot of work and sometimes a bit confusing,” says Raleigh’s Christina Cucurullo, who performs noise music as Spookstina. “Delving into experimental music and art has opened the door to seeing things through the lenses of different people from all walks of life. I want to have a platform in which everyone can safely tell and interpret their own stories and feel supported.”

Instead of simply wishing for such a platform, though, Cucurullo is trying to create one. She and Charlotte’s Charles Ovett, aka the experimental electronic R&B musician Dallas Thrasher, are incarnating their vision of a diverse experimental-art redoubt in a changing, pricey, tech-y city with All Data Lost, a one-day festival that debuted at The Wicked Witch last summer and returns on Saturday, August 17. Most broadly, it’s a noise-music festival, though plenty of acts on the bill lack the harshness and pure abstraction associated with the term, coming from all walks of experimental music. 

“It’s a fast-paced world where it’s easier to complain on the internet to feel heard instead of hitting the ground to make an actual difference,” the pair says. “We are both personally invested in the cultural growth of North Carolina, and we want this to be a place where artists want to come and stay.”

Cucurullo has been heavily involved in the North Carolina DIY scene for close to twenty years, cutting her teeth as an artist while living and attending school in Greenville. Her journey to solo act manifested through her noise ensemble, Tumult Menagerie, featuring community staples Jim Capps and Cornelius F. Van Stafrin III, and others. Several years ago, it was booked to play a festival in Wilmington called Port Shitty AntiFest. The night before the festival, Cucurullo found herself the only member of the collective able to attend and decided to play solo.

“I just thought, I’m sick of waiting on everybody else, I’m tired of waiting to do this. I want to do this so I’ll just figure it out on my own and see what happens,” Cucurullo says. Following positive feedback, she found herself receiving booking requests from all over the state and East Coast.

During her time performing as Spookstina, Cucurullo has often been struck by the stark lack of other women navigating the worlds of noise and experimental music. She’s found community among artists like Asheville’s Elisa Faires and Meg Mulhearn, who play under the name Spectral Habitat, and Greensboro’s Gwen Young, who plays as Knives of Spain. But she still often finds herself as the only woman in the room when playing shows, an experience that shapes All Data Lost.

Cucurullo and Ovett’s vision builds on the legacy of Savage Weekend, an institution at Chapel Hill’s Nightlight featuring an intense marathon of back-to-back short sets. In booking artists for All Data Lost, the pair is trying to intentionally create space for queer folks, people of color, and women creating under the umbrella of noise and experimental. 

“I think it is a cultural shift. We are not the first to try and create space for noise musicians of diverse backgrounds by any means,” says Cucurullo. “But we are really in two different cities, and this isn’t happening here in Raleigh.” The pair would love to see a noise festival in each major city in North Carolina, and view ADL as helping build a larger network of artists connected across the state.

This year’s lineup doesn’t have any repeats from last year, an effort to elevate as many new voices as possible, from the local—there’s the noisy improvised synths of OPS, the damaged pop of Secret Boyfriend—to the national, such as the Baltimore industrial-noise duo Torch Americans. 

ADL will also feature intriguing, provocative sets by folks like iBoD, a pair of older women who explore their relationship with hearing—one of them lost her hearing some time ago, while the other “hears too much”—through sounds and noise projects. And Joshua Marquez is a Filipino-American composer, guitarist, and activist whose music explores the liminal space between tone and noise as a means to investigate the complexities of Asian-American identity. 

Cucurullo and Ovett both have personal history with not only pushing the culture of North Carolina forward, but also carving out spaces within their corners of the North Carolina music scene. In the past, Ovett organized several “Southern Women’s Showcases” in Concord to foster community among non-male artists, as well as “Noise for Tots” to raise toys and school supplies for Hemby Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.

For All Data Lost, the pair would like to see this fest grow into a full-fledged community of people supporting each other and the art that they are creating and to encourage more people to explore and experiment with sound. 

“For so many years, I was supporting everybody else’s art, and I decided it was time to start creating my own stuff,” Cucurullo told the INDY. “I’ve never really been the kind of person who wanted to sit down and have a family or something. I always wanted to create art, not people.”