© 2023 University of Missouri - KBIA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Dismal Niche festival supports local, experimental musicians


Local musician, Chaz Prymek loves to do what he can to “keep Columbia weird.”

He’s just one of the local performers who played at this year’s experimental music festival, which took place earlier this month in Columbia.

The program is run by Dismal Niche, which is dedicated to promoting and archiving the independent, esoteric and experimental aspects of the local arts community.

You can learn more about the festival from Vox Magazine’s previous reporting: “Dismal Niche introduces new, avant-garde sounds to Columbia.”

This is an audio-visual collaboration between KBIA and The Columbia Missourian.

Lake Mary and Rae Fitzgerald perform Sunday at the Experimental Music Festival in Columbia. The festival started on Thursday and ended Sunday night. The festival was put on by Dismal Niche, a local non-profit that supports local, experimental musicians.


Matthew Crook, Executive Director of Dismal Niche: The mission here is not to create something easily reproducible, you know? We want people to come have a subjective, aesthetic experience. The idea is not to just peruse and take it all in, but it is to be taken in by the music by the art.

I think it's important for people to have opportunities to experience unconventional music in unconventional spaces. I think that if we can expand our minds a little bit about where music can happen, and how it can sound – if we can get a little bit unconventional with that, I think that can permeate a lot of other aspects of our life.

You know, it calls into question how space is used? Who's allowed to use it? How the built environment of the city impacts people's behaviors and relationships with one another? I think that by exposing people to experimental music, we kind of start the conversation about those things in general.

Ray Fitzgerald: I'm really happy that Columbia experimental music festival has had so much support, and I'm so glad that Matt Crook has organized it because Columbia really needs experimental music.

It's a critical response to the increasingly homogenous body of music that is produced, currently, in experimental music, and, my opinion, really puts a lot of realness and individuality and even difficulty back into the listening experience.

Chaz Premack, Dismal Niche Board Member & Performer: We'll see all the same buildings going up everywhere and like the homogenization of our like sprawling culture – like suburban cultures and stuff, and it's important to keep life vibrant. Like if you look outside and like get into the biodiversity of everything – like nothing's the same.

And, you know, like only lawns are manicured the same, but you go into the woods – it's wild. It's beautiful because of that, and humans are the same way, I think.

Like we're all human, everybody's unique and, like – let yourself blossom, and if our community does that as well and supports each other in that, then we'll have like a lot of living, fun culture.

Noah Zahn is a student producer for KBIA and a junior at the University of Missouri-Columbia studying journalism and music.
The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.