The Man Behind Seattle's Electronic-Music Mecca: Sean Horton on Decibel Festival's Devastating First Decade
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Sep 27, 2013 at 10:29 AM
SEAN HORTON Short on sleep, long on commitment.
Long before he became head of the Seattle-based Decibel Festival, Sean Horton endured two winters working 20 hours a day on fishing boats in Alaska. That seems relatively easy compared to the monstrous quantity of tasks he tackles these days. Besides running Decibel—one of the world's best electronic-music/digital-arts events—with a staff of more than 200 volunteers, including audio and video/lighting techs, Horton serves as director of music strategy and senior music supervisor for PlayNetwork. Oh, and he DJs and produces his own electronic music. And he receives more than 500 e-mails a day, most of which demand a reply. And he's married. Sleep is overrated, anyway.
Horton's workaholism has helped make Decibel—celebrating its 10th anniversary this year—an essential stop on the global music-fest circuit, and in the last decade, annual attendance has grown from 2,500 to 25,000. This year's lineup bursts with diversity and excellence on international, national, and local levels—there's a lot of something for almost everybody. For every Moby, Lorde, and Zedd, there's an Actress, Raime, and Ben Klock. You want legends? Check out Juan Atkins, Green Velvet, the Orb, and Peter Hook. Young Eastside newbies and aging, staunch avant-gardists can unite for five days and enjoy a surfeit of acts (more than 150, in fact) in 12 downtown, Capitol Hill, and Queen Anne venues. After-hours parties (often generators of dB's greatest thrills), educational conferences, and even yoga sessions round out the program.