Head here for all photos from our first week in Montréal with Iggy Pop, Kaytranada, Mike WiLL Made-It, Tanya Tagaq, The Black Madonna and many more.
Jump straight to specific highights from the second week:
Robert Ouimet and Pierre Gagnon
Haute Résolution : Une Soirée 1080p
Insomnie Collective with Black Coffee
Cascades : CFCF & Jean-Michel Blais
Ondulations with Suzanne Ciani
Piknic Électronik with Theo Parrish
Final Listening Session
Suzanne Ciani Demonstrates Her Buchla
Bedroom Studio Sessions
Alex Tumay Discloses His Studio Secrets
Participant Field Trip
We closed the curtain on the first term of Red Bull Music Academy Montréal with a celebration of one of Canada’s most exciting record labels. 1080p is based in Vancouver, but many of its artists are making skewed house, techno and godknowswhat in Montréal, including Project Pablo, RAMZI, Riohv and Adam Feingold. Representing the NYC wing of the imprint was Max McFerren. RBMA Montréal participant Keita Sano from Japan, whose Holding New Cards cassette is a 1080p highlight, also performed.
It’s hard to capture in words the magic of the term’s final listening session, where participants present the music they’ve worked on over the past two weeks at the Academy. So we’re just going to leave you with the pictures below, hoping that you’ll get the gist of this truly special moment.
The penultimate event of the first term was a rare night-time opportunity for Montréaler’s to explore Stereo, a club space usually reserved for early morning after-hours parties. The five performers made the most of the occasion, with lecturer Black Coffee and studio team member Passarani showcasing their energetic takes on house music, Baltimore hero Karizma flexing his incredible dexterity on CDJs and Montréal 2016 participants Lunate and Denis Sulta having plenty of fun playing back-to-back.
South Africa’s Black Coffee was a participant at the 2003 Red Bull Music Academy in Cape Town. Since then the producer and DJ has risen to global stardom in the house music world, and so we invited him back into our halls for a lecture, to tell us all about his exciting journey over the past 13 years.
The 92-year-old Marshall Allen is the third man to helm the Sun Ra Arkestra. The alto saxophonist joined the group in 1958 and led its reed section for over 40 years. An avant-garde multi-instrumentalist known for being a pioneer in the world music fusion of jazz with traditional African sounds, Allen has worked with Babatunde Olatunji and helped introduce the kora to Western ears. With El Ra, the label he founded, Allen has brought Sun Ra to a new generation of listeners. He was joined on the couch and for an impromptu jam session in the lecture hall by Danny Ray Thompson, another long-standing member of the Sun Ra Arkestra.
For the world premiere of their collaborative performance, Montréalers Jean-Michel Blais and CFCF took the stage at the prestigious Place des Arts. Blais’s classically-trained piano playing and CFCF’s graceful electronic touch proved an excellent match, as the two played some of their own compositions as well as interpretations of Steve Reich, Max Richter and John Cage – carving out their own lane in the rich tradition of minimalism.
Matana Roberts has lent her expressive saxophone playing to some of Canada’s most important bands, including Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. As a solo artist, she’s behind one of the most ambitious and radical projects in the realms of experimental jazz today, the multichapter Coin Coin series that she began putting out on Constellation Records in 2011. Roberts sat down with Anupa Mistry for a lecture in Montréal, discussing her approach to what she has called “panoramic sound quilting,” her conflicted relationships with social media and American history, the new subtleties of racism and the shared language between the Black Power and Black Lives Matter movements.
Robert Ouimet is considered one of the most influential DJs of Montréal’s heyday, ruling the dancefloor of the legendary Lime Light club. Pierre Gagnon is one-third of PAJ Disco Mix, the edit team that created exclusive cuts for Ouimet’s DJ sets. Montréal was the second biggest disco metropolis in North America after NYC, with many homegrown disco stars, and was an important springboard for imports from Europe. As the city’s leading DJ, Ouimet played an important role breaking hits like Donna Summer’s “I Fell Love” in North America. PAJ Disco Mix, meanwhile, revolutionized the disco edit format using reel-to-reel tapes, selling over half a million records at their pinnacle in the late ’70s. We were honored to welcome the duo on our lecture couch.
Following her lecture and live performance, Suzanne Ciani brought her trusty Buchla back to the lecture hall at the Phi Centre for an in-depth session on the machine’s inner workings and wide-ranging capabilities. It was an impressive display of expert knowledge and improvisatory capabilities that ended with participants trying out the famously finicky machine.
With the end of the first term just a few days away, participants spent significant chunks of time on Tuesday and Wednesday getting the most of the bedroom studios and the cache of gear within, collaborating with each other as well as with studio team members and surprise visitors like Theo Parrish as they prepared to put the finishing touches on some projects and, in some cases, start new ones entirely.
As part of our ongoing Studio Science series, Young Thug’s go-to recording engineer Alex Tumay showcased the tips and tricks he uses in the studio with Atlanta hip-hop royalty. He broke down “Best Friend” and offered sage advice for budding producers looking to make their performances into something special.
Nobody knows prolific and mercurial Atlanta rapper Young Thug quite like audio engineer Alex Tumay. The Queens, NY, native has been the only professional able to keep up with the talented rapper, harnessing his abilities on the Slime Season trilogy of mixtapes, I’m Up and JEFFERY. An unheralded yet essential presence on a number of pivotal Atlanta hip-hop albums, Tumay has also worked with Travis Scott on Rodeo and lent his ear to the track “Highlights” from Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. In his lecture at the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy, Tumay discusses how he stumbled into engineering, working with one of the brightest and weirdest talents in rap, and how Atlanta’s new generation achieved a unique sound. Watch Tumay’s lecture here.
At Montréal’s Eastern Bloc, we hosted a night of electronic explorations with synth pioneer Suzanne Ciani, Buchla expert Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Minimal Wave boss Veronica Vasicka and Academy participants. Step into their world of wires by way of our photos below and scroll down for more pictures from our lectures with Ciani and Vasicka earlier that day at the Academy.
Suzanne Ciani changed the way the world hears - and accepts - electronic sound in our everyday lives. Her sonic experimentations in art and advertising were cornerstones of a lecture that encompassed numerous personal and professional aspects of her trailblazing life. It began on an emotional note with memories of her friend and mentor Don Buchla and the career possibilities afforded to her by his groundbreaking machine, with Ciani going on to discuss her entry into the world of Madison Ave., the benefits of hiring female engineers, collaborating with Finders Keepers and fellow Buchla acolyte Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and the fine line between ambient and New Age music.
Throughout the Academy, photographers Dan Wilton, Karel Chladek and Maria Jose Govea take time with each of the participants to create a new portrait, one more visual memory of their time in Montréal.
As the founder of Minimal Wave and Cititrax, Veronica Vasicka specializes in digging up lost gems from the darker side of 1980s synth and new wave music, as well as providing a platform for rising artists drawing on that legacy. As part of the Red Bull Music Academy Montréal, we had the pleasure to welcome Vasicka on the lecture couch. Aside from talking us through the Minimal Wave discography and artwork, she shared stories from her early points of contact with industrial music at the Limelight and Pyramid Club – and even handed Academy participant Marie Davidson the very first pressing of Davidson’s forthcoming Cititrax record.
Rainy weather couldn’t dampen the crowd’s spirits at the season closing for Piknic Électronik, taking place in the stunning Parc Jean-Drapeau. Participants AAAA and Race Lontalius AKA Race Banyon represented distinct corners of exciting techno and house sounds, setting the stage for Underground Resistance pres. Depth Charge, the latest collaboration between Mike Banks and Mark Flash that had the crowd in the palm of their hand with live keys and classics galore. Theo Parrish took the crowd home for a celebratory set once the fog cleared, with funky tracks and a singular mixing style reminding the Montréal crowd of his status as an unparalleled selector.
The participants took a rare (and brief) break from the studios over the weekend to explore Montréal’s Mile End neighborhood. There was plenty of Schwartz’s famous smoked meat and dusty fingers, too, as they hit up several of the city’s renowned record shops after lunch.