Red Bull Music Academy brought its Road To Paris lecture aimed at budding producers to Liverpool and Getintothis’ Martin Hewitt went along to see what he could learn.
It’s usually the sign of a good club night when some guy in the toilets utters a phrase like: “What’s happening here? Am I pissing acid?“
But, despite that question, and the fact two headline-worthy guests are present, what’s happening at 24 Kitchen Street, in the heart of Liverpool’s romantically gritty Baltic Triangle, is far removed from those 4AM moments when nothing and everything seem to make some strange sense, all at once. Instead, it’s the rave equivalent to a pair of keynote speeches.
We’re here for the Red Bull Music Academy‘s Road To Paris Lecture Session, designed to both inspire and prepare the next generation of hungry producers to apply for a spot at 2015’s Red Bull Music Academy, which takes place in the French capital later this year. It’s cold enough inside to see your breath, or indeed the steam rising from a urinal (hence the aforementioned man’s confusion), yet by all accounts the philanthropic energy drinks giant has done a very good job. Again.
It’s the interval, and a halfway house between old and new school. After arriving and being given a complimentary serving of the caffeinated bovine that gives you wings, along with a decent shot of vodka, we took our seats on various sofas for an informal conversation with one of the shining lights of UK electronic music.
Mumdance, AKA Jack Adams, a Brighton-raised, Sussex-born, London-residing studio head who has been honoured with the next FABRICLIVE mix CD – a stunning compilation that veers from experimental noises to grime, classic breakbeat rave to neo-field recordings- has just held court with an insightful talk, discussing his own background and how he ever came to sit on a couch in a former-industrial space on a Liverpool backstreet.
A graduate of RBMA himself, the rhetoric touches Happy Vibes, a record shop in his hometown where he spent his GCSE work experience surrounded by hardcore, jungle and drum ‘n’ bass; Jammer’s basement- the legendary subterranean London spot where the Lords of the Mic grime videos were shot; and the core ingredients involved in good production – namely innovation, determination and, in his case, the ability to work fast and not deliberate.
Even from the perspective of someone paid to comment on, rather than create, beats, the message of simply giving things a go and seeing what happens, which is fundamental to much of the genre-melding happening today, is enough to make you want to go out and buy a modular synth.
Following the break, which includes free pizza and a drink (this time of our choosing i.e. beer), we’ve now been thrust into another unique situation. New York gets much colder than Merseyside during the winter months, not least when America suffers the kind of mass blizzards we’ve been seeing on the news recently.
As such we’re hoping Francois K, AKA Francois Kevorkian, AKA one of the most influential and decade-spanning faces on the house, techno, disco and everything-else-that-goes-4×4-in-the-night scene, isn’t feeling the chill too badly.
It certainly doesn’t look like it. Sans visible shivers, there’s an air of reservation, calm, and humbleness about this man who has worked with everyone from Larry Levan to Depeche Mode.
As the mastermind behind legendary New York club nights such as Body&SOUL and Deep Space, not to mention one of the most successful DJs of all time, it’s not so much impressive but reassuring to see him give up time to encourage a room full of people still in their formative years. And encourage them he does.
Honesty apparently being the theme of the night, his answers to questions come with no agenda. The secret to a good party, he reveals, is “not allowing the owner of the club to fuck with you”. The dub siren is toy of the moment in his opinion, inspired by Caribbean soundsystems, it’s a tool with the power to ease record to record transitions or create air-punching moments – taking studio spontaneity and putting it in the live context.
Talking about his work with Arthur Russell, we’re told that Dinosaur L remix was crafted in a time when New York was out of control with ideas, and everything seemed possible. Before hip hop was a label, before anyone knew what electronic dance music really was or could be, and after disco had been rejected by fad followers.
If one point pervades both ‘lectures’ then it’s surely the need for experimentation, endeavour and innovation – even if that risks messing everything up altogether.
As Kevorkian explains, we live in a magical time when it comes to musical possibilities; three decades ago samples were recorded onto tape and manually synced with hardware to create dance music. Now it’s possible to do the piecing together of audible elements in an instant, automatically.
Far from a criticism, though, what this means is the need to be creative has never been greater – in a genuinely rule-breaking, boundary-pushing, crowd-messing way. And nor has the potential to achieve genuine creativity. There may be no Korgs, Casios, or Rolands waiting for us at home, but it’s hard to imagine walking away from the evening and not feeling compelled to hit the bedroom studio if there were such a thing. Job done on the part of both speakers, let’s leave it at that.
Anyone looking to apply to be part of Red Bull Music Academy 2015, which takes place in Paris between October and November – comprising of production masterclasses, collaboration opportunities, and a host of unique events aimed at honing studio skills via workshops run by professionals- should go to apply.redbullmusicacademy.com.