When it comes to Red Bull Music Academy, the institution is not only reputable but an organic experience that has always been deeply involved in celebrating music from around the world.
For its 18th edition and first Canadian edition since Toronto in 2007, Montreal served as the host city for this year’s Academy. Known as the epicenter of Canadian artistic experimentation, RBMA offered coolly curated courses over a five-week span, from Sept. 24 to Oct. 28, providing attendees educational workshops and lectures featuring esteemed musicians, opportunities for up-and-coming musicians to collaborate in a nurturing creative space, and exclusive concerts featuring artists from a diverse musical landscape.
VIBE had the opportunity to experience Red Bull Music Academy Montreal, taking in many gems from the one-of-a-kind experience. Here, we break down five moments that were truly magical moments music lovers could appreciate.
Sampha Set Montreal Ablaze With An Emotional Live Performance
London-bred singer and producer Sampha brought all the feels to Montreal to kick off the RBMA’s musical week in a major way. Although often perceived as a recluse, the 27 year-old took center stage at the Fairmount Theatre, filling the dimly lit venue’s four walls with his signature cinematic sound, somberly tip-toeing from soul to electronic and pop. Between preparing to release his debut album Process, finally embarking on his first-ever solo tour, and bringing his new live show to life with additional help from an outstanding live band (which includes cello virtuosa and Dev Hynes collaborator Kelsey Lu), the night felt like a home run for the vocal talent that’s been lending himself to the likes of Kanye West, SBTRKT, Drake and many more all these years, finally and rightfully stepping into the spotlight he deserves. Reminiscing with old tunes from his past EPs Sundanza and Dual, he also treated eager fans in the audience to sound byte appetizers from Process, “Timmy’s Prayer” and “Blood on Me” that sent everyone soaring into musical bliss.
How RP Boo Climbed The Ranks Of Chicago’s Footwork Scene
For those residing outside of the area codes of 312, 773 and 872, footwork is probably a foreign culture in itself. Nevertheless, the high-energy dance style that calls the city of Chicago home has been around since the 80s, fusing music and street dance. To shed light on the ever-growing phenom that’s been making its way around the globe, RMBA welcomed Chicago producer RP Boo to chat with participants in a lecture that schooled everyone on the origin and expansion of footwork, along with his journey through the battle-like scene. Interestingly, RP Boo shared that he didn’t see producing nor DJing in his future. Instead, it was the twists and turns of peoples feet at parties that interested him. “I saw the kids dancing and was hooked,” he said. “I fell in love.”
Along with a touching story about finding himself through footwork, RP Boo proudly showed off his own moves during the lecture to a participant who was curious to see if he still had it in him. The answer? Press play on the video above and prepare to be amazed.
Catching Vibes With Musical Talents From Across The World
They say love is the universal language, but you can’t really leave music out of the debate either. Aside from RBMA presenting outstanding lectures and concerts, the Academy served as an once in a lifetime opportunity for 70 young music makers hailing from 38 different countries to swap ideas and collaborate, creating one-of-a-kind music with the help of ten bedroom-sized studios, a main recording studio, and all the analog and electronic instruments one could dream of. And with the participants music styles ranging from Latin-futurism to post-disco, jazz, club/bass, folk and many more, there were tons of sounds and perspectives to take in.
Thundercat And His Bass Guitar Turned Kaleidoscope 1754 Upside Down
To put it simply: We don’t deserve the greatness that is Thundercat. The bass guitarist, producer and singer hailing from Los Angeles, Calif. took the stage Kaleidoscope 1754 around midnight and sent all into a frenzy with the freaky chops emanating from his trusty bass.
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Thundercat, who appeared on Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly and won a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for his work on the track, “These Walls,” reminded all in the crowd that night what true musicianship looks, feels and sounds like.
Greg Phillinganes Schools All On His Star-Studded Catalog
There’s something so unequivocally cool about being schooled on throwback hits that you can’t do anything but stop what you’re doing, listen and soak up all the knowledge. The aforementioned certainly occurred when keyboardist Greg Phillinganes one of the many lectures of the week, chronicling his journey from a young Detroit boy with his eyes set on breaking into the industry to actually putting his fresh talent to work during some most prolific session musicians. Most notably, his stories from Michael Jackson (contributing to nearly every one of his solo albums), including behind-the-scenes details on the culmination of Jackson’s 1982 “Thriller,” which was actually recorded as a demo under the name “Starlight” to Stevie Wonder (playing in Wonder’s Wonderlove band). “In high school, I remember telling friends of mine that I would play with Stevie Wonder one day. I had posters of him on my walls. I was really absorbed in his music. I felt like I had this connection with him,” he shared.