Counting down to this year’s application deadline on March 7th for the 2016 Academy in Montreal, we’ll be releasing a fresh batch of tracks each day over the first week of March — all recorded during the first term of RBMA Paris in 2015. From sunny funk jams to ethereal dream pop, classy juke workouts to blissful bossa nova, rumbling bass excursions, cinematic ambient pieces and no-frills deep house, the selection runs the gamut of musical styles represented by the Academy participants and reflects their shared global outlook.
With contributions from lecturers and studio team members like Stereolab vocalist Lætitia Sadier, Gernot of Modeselektor, legendary drummer Sheila E and Underground Resistance co-founder ‘Mad’ Mike Banks, this year’s compilation once again serves testament to the infectious creative currents flowing through the Academy space at all times of day and night. Emanating from a diverse cast of artists from all corners of the globe, they intermingle and combine in always new and exciting ways — which often lead to something beautiful.
Find the first set of tunes below and keep checking this page for updates until March 7th, or follow us on Soundcloud.
Guided by a hypnotic guitar arpeggio, “Circalunar” is a delicate echo of long nights spent in the Academy studios – nights in which, as Malard puts it, “the moon became the main character.” The Barcelona-residing ambient Padawan found a kindred spirit in Argentinian dream pop songstress Sobrenadar, whose reverb-drenched lullabies round off the track’s magical invocation.
Modeselektor’s Gernot Bronsert, who was part of the studio team in Paris, makes an unlikely contribution here, straying far from his usual techno stomping grounds and lacing drum patterns coated in wool. Add in some Juno-106 pads and a bit of Korg MS-20 oddity and you’ve got a match made in dream pop heaven. As Malard puts it, “it’s so much easier to make a song with someone when you find so much in common.”
New Zealand’s k2k and Germany’s Silkersoft team up on “Hard Plastic”: an ultra-light beam of modern deep house that shines through musical styles past and present. In stitching together every element, k2k and Silkersoft have balanced the sweet with the tough. The sugary vocal slices have 2000’s UK garage written all over them, and the off-kilter collage of sounds sparkle above the low-end: a steady rumble of bass that feels like waking up from an acid house dream. Between k2k’s love for alternative realities and Silkersoft’s love for video game soundtracks, it’s apt that “Hard Plastic” feels like dreamy house music with a futuristic club sound in mind.
We were excited to coax LiL JaBBA out of his Brooklyn hut for the Red Bull Music Academy in Paris in 2015. The producer makes what he proudly calls “grotto music,” and you can hear exactly what he means in “CoPPeR.” This late night jam, made as dark was turning to dawn, is brutal and enveloping – club music that makes you want to don a miner’s helmet with the flashlight up top for safety. For most of its length, “CoPPeR” is essentially a(n overloaded and menacing) drum track. The loop switches up near the end, though, burrowing into territory that is even more disorienting. JaBBA says, “I'm going to elaborate on the ending at some point, I coulda kept going on and on to be honest.” We can’t wait to hear the next iteration.
When Mulherin wrote the melodies and lyrics for his laidback, Frank Ocean-esque singing and rapping, they realized that they needed a female perspective on the story, and Miso stepped up. It’s all about “a guy being too eager in a relationship he had with this girl,” says Miso. “The girl is overwhelmed by his emotions, so she wants him to calm down.” The calm comes with the help of DXHeaven’s original beat, and Gareth’s tactile string arrangements.
“If this was the only project I had gotten involved with, I would have still be content with the studio experience,” says RBMA Paris participant Cosmo of his work on “Done With UUU.” A collaboration between four participants, each coming from a different country – Silkersoft from Germany, DESAMPA from Brazil, Cosmo from Bahrain and Sapphire Slows from Japan – their disparate styles and skills coalesce and result in an entrancing whole.
It’s a ghostly, haunting song, with DESAMPA’s falsetto floating around stray bursts of metallic percussion and lilting melody lines. It’s split between twinkling detail and harsh rhythms, but “Done With UUU” emphasizes the intriguing qualities of both dueling characteristics, with a strong sense of character coming through in a short time. “The contrasting styles bring out an accidental beauty in the track,” confirms Cosmo, “and represent the true meaning of collaboration I was looking for.”
What started out as a jam session on several instruments between Russia’s Maria Teryaeva, AKA Dub I Prosto Derevo, and Japan’s Kinuko Hiramatsu, AKA Sapphire Slows, eventually evolved into a joyous bit of synth pop.
The spark for “Come So Far” came early on in the two-week term, when Maria and Kinuko linked up in the studios after hearing each other’s music on the first day. “I was inspired by literally everything,” Maria remembers. “From the atmosphere and the incredible equipment in the studios to coming to grips with this crazy Russian-Japanese alliance.” Their collaboration reflects the special energy of that second day at the Academy, when the first reservations are shed and make way for an open creative dialog. As Kinuko recalls, “we had difficulties communicating in English and express detailed musical nuances and feelings to each other, so when we were editing the song we used Google Translate on our iPhones. That was funny but actually quite useful.”
Dublin-based composer Gareth Anton Averill brings his background in film music clearly into view with this evocative, lush and cinematic ambient piece. Crashing cymbals and clanking percussion slowly build up to a grand crescendo before the track drops back into a soothing swirl of discreet noises, led by an improvised single take on an old baritone sax by studio team member Thibaut Javoy.
Gareth says that he initially tried to work “as impulsively and instinctively as possible” on what would end up becoming “The Little Palace Horns.” The song started out as a “krautrock drum track,” with ‘Mad’ Mike Banks “playing hardcore guitar riffs over it,” but those tracks were quickly covered after what was presumably a short night of sleep. “What was a great idea at 3:00 AM didn’t fit quite right the next day on revisiting.”
“Ultimately,” Gareth says, “the alluring and dominant atmosphere of late-night Paris informed the track, and became a sort of ode to the Little Palace Hotel,” where all the Academy participants stayed. “The sounds of car horns, sirens, shouting and silence, creeping through the hotel window at night.”
From its opening, snake-charming notes, “Faraway Suede” tumbles into a muted barrage of tinny, jungle-inflected drum sounds. A collaboration between Calgary’s HomeSick, Germany’s Silkersoft and Paris’ own Keight, the track soon shows its true face, with thunderous low-end and a lashing snare situating it in left-of-center trap territories. “The whole thing was made in a one-time session,” Keight says, and the track’s unadorned efficiency shines through. “The things that each of us added just fit together perfectly.”
“Ouro Enfim” is an unexpectedly blissful collaboration between Brazilian participant Luisa Puterman and Belgian participant Roman Hiele. On his previous albums and via releases on his Ekster label, Hiele’s productions tend towards alternately fierce and pastoral electronic abstraction, but “Ouro Enfim” reflects his love for bossa nova grooves. His contributions support Puterman’s beautifully understated melodies, which chime easily throughout the sunny arrangement. The result is utterly relaxing and transportive, with luscious Rhodes seeping into corners carved out by a blunt bassline. The lead and background vocals are provided by an unexpected guest: RBMA Paris lecturer and former lead singer of Stereolab, Lætitia Sadier, who turns in a sumptuous performance.
“Glide Standard” is the first track that the Vancouver-based producer Jade Statues started to make at the Academy. The heavenly pads and stringing bells lull you in gently at first, but then the brassy bass makes it pop, and harks to the influence that the dizzying maximalism of fellow RBMA alumnus, Hudson Mohawke, has on Jade Statues.
“I kind of went into it with a sort of triumphant attitude,” he says, “like if I were climbing a very large cliff, and this is what would drop right as I reached the peak – and an eagle would soar overhead, right in front of a sunbeam.”
A vigorous kick drum and hi-hat combo jumpstarts this deep house collaboration between Bahrain’s Cosmo and Pakistani-American participant Noahs Heark. “The track was inspired by a keyboard sequence Noahs Heark had shared with me on the last night in the studios,” Cosmo says. “By then, each studio computer contained enough rough edits and stems worthy of a compilation each.”
“Alpha Splits” reflects the kind of urgency required for a strong finish. Although densely layered, the track sheds unnecessary frills and gets straight to the point, firmly aiming at the dancefloor. Cosmo completed it that same night “on a corner chair in one of the studios.” It was the only studio left that wasn’t occupied by other participants trying to frantically finish tracks of their own. The last night of studio time is clearly not one to be wasted.
Featuring participants Corey K, HomeSick, and Mulherin alongside contributions from RBMA Paris lecturers, studio team members, and all-around all-stars ‘Mad’ Mike Banks, Sheila E and Just Blaze, “Just Fine” is funk that sounds simultaneously contemporary and classic, balancing ultra-smooth vocals, crystalline guitar and grooving bass.
The song began in the hands of Canadian producer HomeSick and Corey K of the UK’s Verschieden collective, and was fleshed out over the course of a long late-night studio session. The results alternate between being infectiously danceable and outspokenly vulnerable, as Mulherin turns in a strong vocal performance that strides confidently past the heartbreak intimated in the lyrics. Famed percussionist Sheila E is on the drums, with a laid-back vocal intro by none other than superproducer Just Blaze and guitar from Underground Resistance hero ‘Mad’ Mike. “We knew we had something decent when it caught the attention of Just Blaze,” remembers HomeSick. “He quickly helped turn this one into an all-star clad monster!”
Two weeks may seem like a long time, but each participant says that the Academy experience is over in a flash. It was the same for Canadian juke/footwork producer HomeSick, whose “2weeks” perfectly encapsulates the frenetic pace of RBMA. After a short intro that includes a bit of Rhodes recorded in the lecture hall on one of his last days in Paris, the track quickly heads to the stratosphere.
“I usually catch myself defaulting to some gloomy soundscapes in my productions, but it seems the exciting mood of the RBMA Paris environment shined through on this one,” he says. While this is a solo joint, HomeSick met a number of musicians at the Academy that he’s keen to collaborate with in the future. As we prepared this track for its premiere, he told us that he’s working with the UK’s Corey K on some material that should hopefully see the light of day soon.
“Nowhere Staccato” is a beautiful contortion, combining rumbling bass tones and sputtering melodic detail in a way that brings to mind both the club and the cathedral. Tommaso Pandolfi, AKA Furtherset, has previously released pointillist electronic landscapes, but here the result is more of a smear, individual elements contracting and exploding in an energetic and immersive battle.
Composed on a Prophet 08 and Moog Voyager, as well as featuring Furtherset’s own unintelligible vocals superimposed over the individual synth parts to achieve a disorienting quality, “Nowhere Staccato” was made in the final days of the Paris Academy. It was the only track Furtherset finalized during his time in Paris amidst numerous ongoing collaborations. According to Pandolfi, the main inspirations came from Tim Hecker (“I was listening to him a lot at the time”) and Hiele’s live performance from earlier in the Academy. “That really blew my mind,” he says.