Feature – Red Bull Music Academy comes to Leeds

At the end of next week, the Red Bull Music Academy UK Tour will arrive for the first time in Leeds.

We all know our city is a hub and nurturer of diverse musical talent, so it’s gratifying that a global institution like RBMA is recognising this. But most importantly, as the party-loving students that we are, it means we have some top quality events to look forward to.

It’s first worth explaining what the international RBMA institution is all about, because anyone who cares about electronic music ought to take note. Founded in 1998, the main event is an annual workshop which invites a select few musical minds from around the world to come together in a major city. Applications flood in from vocalists to producers, engineers to DJs, along with an accompanying audio CD that embodies what they stand for as an artist.

The lucky 60 selected get to attend the workshop which includes daily lectures from iconic industry figures, access to custom-built studios for collaborating with other artists on new music, participation in night time live performances and club events – essentially all fuel for their creative fire. RBMA names Nina Kraviz, Aloe Blacc and Flying Lotus among their former participants. The Academy don’t make a profit from the music made over the month-long event and the minds behind it come from all sorts of musical backgrounds themselves, so it’s just a genuine passion for creativity that keeps the event going year on year.

This time around it’s the turn of Montréal, Canada to play host. There’s a long list of influential figures lecturing, including Kaytranada, Hudson Mohawke and synthesizer pioneer Suzanne Ciani. Us common folk can get involved by logging onto the RBMA website, where the published talks join an archive of hundreds from years gone by – a real treasure trove of thought-provoking content worth browsing through. The ‘Features’ section also contains some fascinating pieces surrounding Montréal’s influence on electronic music.

So that’s all to be enjoyed from afar, but Leeds’ mini-festival edition is right on your doorstep, with the Academy’s hand picked selection of artists making waves in 2016.

As probably the most talked about scene of the moment, Grime is first under the spotlight. Breakthrough rapper Giggs will sit down with i-D’s Music Editor and author of ‘This is Grime’, Hattie Collins, to discuss his unconventional career and rise to fame. Prime Studios will also house ‘An Eye on Grime’, a free exhibition curated by Collins and photographer Olivia Rose showcasing photography documenting the scene since it began. And there’ll be a live performance, ‘Knock Knock‘ headlined by Giggs, supported by a hip-hop and grime line-up including Slimzee, Grandmixxer and local Leeds artist Dialect. The icing on the cake here is that much celebrated club The Garage, former winner of DJ Mag’s UK Small Club of the Year award which closed in 2013, will open its doors again for one night only to host the event.

For those partial to a bit of ethereal Berlin techno, Wire hosts the sold out Form & Function. Berghain resident Marcel Dettmann is joined by Laurel Halo, Objekt and Call Super for what’s bound to transport clubbers to another dimension. The legend DJ Harvey will also make his first appearance in Leeds for almost 20 years at Canal Mills’ Discopolis event, along with Job Jobse, Leon Vynehall and Palms Trax, among dance music’s most forward-thinking producers of recent times.

Then on the 30th another rising star of our generation, Shura, will lead a one-off workshop at Lambert’s Yard, where she’ll talk about her experimental production style and offer tips and tricks to musicians looking to take inspiration. Last but not least, you can watch what’s considered to be one of the best indie horror films of all time, It Follows, in spectacular fashion. Composer Disasterpiece’s original soundtrack has been arranged by award-winning composer, producer and arranger Emma-Jean Thackray, and will be played live by nine musicians along with the film.

Remaining tickets can be bought here for this genuinely unique celebration of modern day music. Get them before they’re gone.

Julia Connor

(Images: bookofswag.co.za, Dan Wilton for redbullmusicacademy.com, others supplied by Tandem PR)

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