Durham County

How a Moog fan became a Moogfest performer

Comedian McQueen Adams, a performer at Moogfest who is also a fan of Moog synthesizers.
Comedian McQueen Adams, a performer at Moogfest who is also a fan of Moog synthesizers.

Comedian McQueen Adams is really excited about Moogfest, the festival of music, art and technology that pays tribute to the legacy of engineer and electronic instrument creator Bob Moog. This will be Adams’ first Moogfest, both as a fan and performer. He’s performing and leading workshops during the festival that starts Thursday in downtown Durham and is four days of concerts, exhibits, discussions, demonstrations and experiences with sound.

“When I was a little kid my grandfather had a mini Moog [synthesizer] in the house and I took to it,” he said. Moog Music is a pretty amazing company and creativity is what they’re all about, Adams said.

Growing up, his fascination with Moog synthesizers combined with his interest in science and music.

“I’d never seen one before,” Adams said. “Playing it, it felt like I was soundtracking my thoughts. Creating a world a piano doesn’t, a guitar doesn’t — it spoke to me. I think it’s literally an idea machine that allows you to create in ways other things don’t.”

Adams lives in Brooklyn. He used to do voices for animated television shows, and is fascinated by “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter.” He wondered what would be the evolution of that, and that’s how his current live show came to be. It’s a combination of comedy, voices, music and technology, and he uses a screen and a Moog. Just this month he filmed a show with Comedy Central and Snapchat called “Heads Will Roll,” hosted by him and his mother’s cat Max.

When Adams performs at colleges, his shows end up becoming workshops, too, because people will come up and ask questions, he said. His workshops during Moogfest are called “Hokey Pokey” and “Deconstructing Star Wars.” He’ll join in a performance at American Tobacco called “The Joyful Noise of Electronic Music for Children and Experimental Adults,” also featuring Michael Winslow, DJ Lance Rock and Nanny Cantaloupe.

“I’m so excited. I imagine this is what I felt like when I went to DisneyWorld as a kid,” Adams said. “I can’t wait to go to other workshops, pop-up shops and see what Moog does — all these things I like to nerd out on when I’m online at night.”

Using a Moog synthesizer, for Adams, is the closest thing to flying.

“I think there’s a certain freedom of using a Moog, because it’s really hard to duplicate the same thing twice unless it has pre-sets on it. You’re constantly creating,” he said. “It’s the ability to create something in that moment you don’t need to take 1,500 piano lessons for. It’s like being in Carl Sagan’s mind; there’s a certain perfection to its chaos.”

“I think someone brand new who never used it or had seen one, would sit down in front of it for two hours or three hours or half a day. It draws you in. It’s an idea maker,” Adams said.

To be able to perform at Moogfest is amazing, he said, as well as immersing himself in like-minded people.

“I’m so excited,” he said again.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan

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