The festival kicked off in Brooklyn with a party celebrating Rio de Janeiro’s explicit and socially conscious sound, funk proibidão. MC Carol headlined the night with raunchy rhymes as dancers climbed atop cars in the venue, spurred on by the breakneck tunes. Leo Justi, Sicko Mobb, DJ Assault and Venus X & Asmara provided additional support throughout the raucous night.
Following the madness of the funk proibidão night, we stayed in Brooklyn on Sunday for a ten hour ambient music showcase that stretched all the way through the afternoon until midnight. The dreamy atmosphere imagined by production designer Kris Moran perfectly fit music from Malcolm Cecil, Julianna Barwick, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and many more.
We’ve made a habit of celebrating pioneering experimental music icons of the 20th century at RBMA events over the years. Following on from conversations with Steve Reich, Philip Glass, La Monte Young, Glenn Branca and Pauline Oliveros, we took the opportunity to ask Alvin Lucier to sit down and talk about the tenets of his vital and exploratory work. Lucier spent 50 years as a professor, and his generous approach made for an entertaining and educational talk.
I’m not interested in opinions, I’m interested in perceptions. Don’t ask me what something means, ask me what I made of it.
As always, Red Bull Radio has been in full effect throughout the festival. We’ve already welcomed a bevy of artists to our new daily show Peak Time with Vivian Host, which broadcasts live from our Chelsea HQ. Check out just a few of the guests below and be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 12 PM EST.
As a hugely prolific songwriter, producer and instrumentalist, Teddy Riley significantly shaped the sound of R&B as we know it. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, he virtually masterminded the new jack swing genre as the man behind hits by Keith Sweat, Guy, Blackstreet and Bobby Brown, while also co-producing Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album and giving The Neptunes their first break. In this lecture with RBMA’s Jeff “Chairman” Mao, the producer discussed the recording techniques and personal experiences that shaped his smooth and sexy signature sound.
Following an in-depth conversation with Teddy Riley, we celebrated new jack swing with iconic DJs from the era. The lineup included Brucie B of Harlem’s Roof Top roller-skating rink (which once was located in the same building where Riley had his first studio), Bronx legend Kid Capri and Just Blaze, who brought out none other than Teddy Riley himself for a surprise appearance.
Detroit native Moodymann has spent his career refining an irresistibly funky, joyfully unpredictable, slinky and sexualized brand of house, and he would be the first to tell you he owes much of his creative approach and attitude to Prince, an artist who looms so large in Moodymann’s imagination he’s created a shrine to the man that fills an entire house in Detroit. Moodymann broke out a fathoms-deep Prince collection of rarities, B-sides, D-sides and more in his all-night-long, Prince-only DJ set, a suitably purple tribute to the dearly departed artist.
Over the past few years, Bed-Stuy has become a hotbed of innovative dance music and party culture, and this party highlighted some of the Brooklyn neighborhood’s groundbreaking collectives and DJs, including Juliana Huxtable, Tygapaw – the DJ and producer behind Fake Accent, a party/collective that highlights the work of queer and trans people of color – FXWRK and stud1nt of KUNQ and the London-born, Brooklyn-based Discwoman affiliate Bearcat.
Werner Herzog’s groundbreaking approach to film has always included a similar outlook when it comes to music. In this conversation, presented as part of RBMA’s Director Series at the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Herzog spoke about his unexpected love for Disney’s Lion King, his relationship with Florian Fricke and dispensed plentiful anecdotes on the music that has informed and inspired his films, interspersed with illustrative clips.
"The Lion King has phenomenal music. It's Hollywood at its finest."
It was a celebratory atmosphere at this once-in-a-lifetime event, with a 28-piece band performing hits and deep cuts from the sterling back-catalog of Patrick Adams, the unsung musical genius who, as an arranger, producer and engineer, left indelible imprints on ’70s and ’80s soul, disco, boogie, post-disco and hip-hop. Adams, a Harlem native, was a key contributor to innumerable disco LPs and hits like Musique’s “In The Bush,” Cloud One’s “Atmosphere Strut,” Phreek’s “Weekend” and Inner Life’s “I’m Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair),” and his agnostic approach to arrangement enabled Adams to jump between genres and generations, pivoting away from the well-earned “Prince of Soft Soul” nickname to work with Eric B. & Rakim on their classic albums Paid in Full and Follow The Leader. This concert at Harlem’s Alhambra Ballroom was a thrilling celebration of the hometown hero’s illustrious career.
The sound of South Africa’s latest dance music craze is rough, rugged and raw: a mutation of low-slung, lo-fi house music known as gqom. What originated in the townships of Durban and in the bedroom studios of a group of young local producers soon took over the city’s dance halls and taxi stereos, before the rest of the world caught on, and we were thrilled to bring a number of pioneering gqom artists to the US for the first time at the Tender Trap in Brooklyn, including DJ Lag and DJ Twitty.
The leading promoters in American dance music’s gay underground remain like-minded in their pursuit of transcendent experiences to be found in quality electronic music, placing traditional and future-facing house, techno and disco at the emotional center of the gay clubbing experience. We brought together DJs from Honey Soundsystem (San Francisco), The NeedlExchange (Washington D.C.), Honcho (Pittsburgh), Men’s Room (Chicago), Spotlight (Los Angeles), The Carry Nation and Wrecked (New York City), plus Detroit’s DJ Holographic, all in one place for one massive (and very sweaty) celebration.
Gucci Mane and Zaytoven are the godfathers of rap music currently coming out of Atlanta, with their unorthodox approaches – Zay’s to beatmaking and Gucci’s to rhyming – ushering in a new era of anything-goes in the city. From Young Thug to Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert and Migos, Atlanta rap’s current who’s who bears unmistakable marks of their influence, either indirectly or through near-filial kinship. The duo appeared at The Box on the Lower East Side for an intimate, once-in-a-lifetime piano bar performance of some of their most famous tunes – voice (Gucci) and piano (Zay) only. Didn’t make it inside? Stream the full performance on Youtube here.
Undeniably intense, politically galvanizing and sonically beautiful, A Seat at The Table is a document of personal and universal struggle, with Solange’s vocals and lyrical perspective matched by peerless funk, soul and R&B. Solange added to this triumph with An Ode To, an interdisciplinary performance piece and meditation on themes from A Seat at The Table that incorporated movement, installation and experimentally reconstructed musical arrangements. We were on hand to capture some highlights through the day’s two performances.
In a career racked by tragedy, legendary Brazilian samba singer Elza Soares has persevered as a singular voice for the voiceless. Her latest album, The Woman at the End of the World, was a continuation of her lifelong work on behalf of the oppressed, meant “to talk about women, to talk about blackness, and to talk about sex.” Soares brought her undeniable charisma and unforgettable voice to a performance at Town Hall that highlighted her artistic tenacity and formidable, experimental music.
Rehearsals with Ravi Coltrane
Ahead of their performance at the Knockdown Center as part of The Ecstatic World of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, Ravi Coltrane led an all-star band through rehearsals of music encompassing Alice’s 60-year recording career, with performers including David Virelles, Dezron Douglas, the harpist Brandee Younger and Reggie Workman, who collaborated with John Coltrane himself.
Throughout its decade of existence, Brooklyn-based record label Sacred Bones has released music that affirms the dual implications of their name – music that is both luminous and haunting, divine and macabre. This event at the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse brought together the label’s defining artists for a comprehensive showcase of the label’s past, present and future, including Jenny Hval, Zola Jesus, Marissa Nadler, The Men, Moon Duo (performing with film director Jim Jarmusch for the first time), Psychic Ills, Uniform, Rose McDowall, and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Edley ODowd featuring Blanck Mass.
Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda was an American jazz pianist, organist, harpist, singer, composer and the wife of John Coltrane, the most venerated and influential saxophonist in the history of jazz. Alice’s recording catalog dates back to 1957, and during the last decade of her career – starting in the mid-’80s – she self-released four brilliant cassette albums. They contained a music she invented, inspired by the gospel music of the Detroit churches she grew up in, mixed together with the Indian devotional music of her religious practice. Ten years after Alice’s passing, in what would have been her 80th year, we celebrated her music and spirit at the stunning arts and performance space Knockdown Center in Queens. The first part of the night was presented with New York label Luaka Bop, and inspired by the Sunday ceremonies Alice held at her Sai Anantam Ashram in California. The latter half was a concert led by Alice’s son, Ravi Coltrane, with a quartet performing a selection of music from throughout Alice’s 60-year recording career.