In The Middle Introduces: Red Bull Music Academy

Few in the music game will be able to name many prospects more enticing than the opportunities offered by Red Bull’s yearly music academy. Since its inception in Berlin 17 years ago, RBMA has proved an oasis for creative talent, with big-names and emerging talents from across the globe joining together in a series of lectures, workshops and recording sessions to explore new avenues in the electronic music universe. Ahead of the forthcoming 2015 session in Paris, RBMA brought their lectures to the UK.

Decked out with a cosy sofa set-up on stage, Hi-Fi played host to the Leeds leg of the tour, with French techno mainstay DJ Deep and London’s grime instrumental specialist Mumdance talking openly about their musical experiences. 

It’s all about space for Jack Adams (aka Mumdance), who took his place on the sofa to kickstart the night’s conversation. Talking about his new “weightless” project, which takes the uncomfortably jagged composition of grime and applies it to beatless instrumental “palette cleansers”, Adams discusses the peaks and troughs of musical creativity with enlightening and poignant insight. Asked if he shares the frustrations of other musicians who have bemoaned the constant need for genres to classify tunes, he holds the formation of dubstep up as an example of how the initial character of musical movements is both fluid and inherently experimental, and it is not until trademark characteristics develop that this spell of anarchy subsides. With this departure comes a tendency for artists to fall into more formulaic processes at the expense of true creativity, and this is something that Mumdance has tried to avoid in his new project. “Weightless”, which he admits is almost a genre in itself, refers to the sound which both he and Logos have been exploring, used to make DJ tools which act as ambient breaks for heavier sets.

The rhythmic way in which he talks mirrors the thought that goes into his productions, highlighting the musical immersion that RBMA promotes and inspires in attendees, and Adams’ recollections of the week spent in Tokyo painted an idyllic picture. Granted 24 hour access to the academy’s recording studios and musical library, the 30 selected producers, DJs and vocals are given the chance to collaborate and share ideas in the perfect musical environment, as well as playing out in the host city’s best clubs and gig venues. Mumdance smiles with childlike glee as he talks about finding long searched for synths and samplers in the depths of the library, using them to create tracks and using them out at night to the Tokyo crowds. Among the countless special moments that he notes from his time, rolling out of a club in the early morning light took on special significance, with the usual despair of stepping out of a club to brightening skies instead replaced by the entrancement of Ryoki Ikeda’s ‘Test Pattern [No6]’ installations. The Japanese visionary uses real world data to create spectacular audio-visual experiences, and set up the self-enclosed capsule for a five day stay at as part of the 2014 Red Bull Music Academy. The art aims to transcend boundaries through immersive symmetry, and is as distinctive as the city that played host to it, with light sculptures and textured, exploratory sound to inspire a heightened consciousness.

Aside from the conversation, the lecture was a unique opportunity to listen to music played through a huge sound system without the usual distractions of a busy club, and the select audience were treated to tracks chosen by both guests, as well as intermission mixes from Butter Side Up’s Hamish Cole. Among the pick of the bunch, Mumdance and Novelist collab ‘1 Sec’ sounded vast, and an as of yet unfinished track that DJ Deep and French prodigy Roman Poncet will be putting out on Tresor. The latter included long journeying progressions and hinted at the new direction that the pair have crafted from their completely contrasting methods.

Now reaping the rewards of a career crafted under the wing of Laurent Garnier, DJ Deep is synonymous with the Paris dance scene, and provided a modest and wholly enjoyable talk about his experiences over the last decade. Of particular poignancy were his thoughts on the importance of context in defining records, suggesting that the connotations of music can be lost in reissues or replicas; it is progression that drives the scene. RBMA have recognised this.

To apply for the 2015 academy in Paris, go to

Andrew Kemp

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