This year, the world-traveling Red Bull Music Academy celebrates its 20th-anniversary edition, bringing its unique program of workshops, public talks, studio sessions and exhibitions back to the city where it all started: Berlin. Over five weeks, up-and-coming music makers from around the globe will come together at Funkhaus Berlin, a cultural center and historic recording studio complex in East Berlin, where they will exchange ideas and collaborate with pioneering artists from varied styles, methodologies, and cultures.
From São Paulo to New York City, Johannesburg, Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles and beyond, the Red Bull Music Festival series has circumvented the globe, shining a light on the unique sounds and scenes of its host cities. For the inaugural installment in Berlin, celebration converges with education for the anniversary edition. Sixty-one music-makers selected from 37 countries will come together at the Funkhaus, where they’ll collaborate in custom-built studios and attend lectures with artists that have shaped the contemporary electronic music scene.
Concurrently, Red Bull Music will present a five-week festival of concerts, club nights and public talks at different music and cultural venues, exploring the city’s sonic histories and shining a light on the modern musical landscape. Among the numerous hotly anticipated performances, perhaps the one locals are talking about the most is the fusion of the talents of one Jeff Mills and Tony Allen.
Jeff Mills and Tony Allen / Red Bull Music Academy Official
When Jeff Mills became the first artist to sit down on a Red Bull Music Academy lecture couch, in a Berlin warehouse in 1998, according to the organizers of this multi-purposed event, his selection was no coincidence. The Detroit techno legend’s symbiotic relationship with Berlin embodies the city’s open attitude towards cultural exchange and creative innovation – the ways in which Berlin refuses to recognize walls of any kind, and enables artists to grow like few other places can. This year Mills will provide inspiration in a different form, performing alongside drummer and Fela Kuti collaborator Tony Allen at Funkhaus. Elsewhere, G.O.O.D. Music boss and rap legend Pusha T and Grammy-nominated singer and actress Janelle Monáe will take their place on the lecture couch to share wisdom in two public talks during the festival.
In a nod to techno as part of the German capital’s DNA, S3kt0r Ufo: 30 Jahre Techno will host a roster of the genre’s biggest names, including Red Bull Music Academy alumna Nina Kraviz, who will come together for a time-bending journey through three decades of Berlin techno.
Pusha T / Red Bull Music Academy Official
Continuing in tradition of fostering creativity, electronic music iconoclasts Oneohtrix Point Never and Jlin will create works for the world premiere of the Symphonic Sound System, a new 4D spatial sound system. Also premiering during the festival is Sevdaliza’s The Great Hope Design from the Dutch avant-pop producer and Red Bull Music Academy alumna who will collaborate with LA-based German choreographer Rauf Yasit AKA RubberLegz on an alternative, heart-led reality, using Berlin’s storied Volksbühne theater as a laboratory.
Berliners are known for transforming abandoned spaces into clubs and cultural centers, and in this same spirit, festival events will take place at a range of unique venues, including SEZ, a former sports and recreation center in East Berlin, and the Zeiss-Großplanetarium, where award-winning German composer and Academy alumnus Robot Koch joins forces with visual artist Mickael Le Goff for an audiovisual journey through the spheres.
The festival also brings two Red Bull Music signature events to Berlin for the first time: Culture Clash, an earth-shaking take on Jamaican soundsystem clashes featuring diverse local crews from different genres and backgrounds, and Diggin’ in the Carts, presenting live performances including Kode9 and Kōji Morimoto inspired by cult Japanese video game soundtracks.
To learn more about the 61 artists taking part in the Academy, visit http://win.gs/classof18.
For details on all events, visit redbullmusicacademy.com/berlin.
About the Funkhaus
Funkhaus (‘Broadcast house’) is possibly the largest studio complex in the world, and surely also one of the grandest. Located on the Spree river, it was built by the GDR to house its state radio operations, with construction completed in 1956. The Funkhaus was able to accommodate a range of recording needs, ranging from large orchestras in Studio 1, which at 800 square meters is almost twice the size of Abbey Road’s Studio One, to, in the ’60s, early experiments in electronic sound synthesis. By the ’70s it operated rather like a small town, with 3,500 people working there. Designed by Bauhaus-trained architect Franz Ehrlich, its austere façade conceals a grand entrance hall with classical pillars, and stunning wood-paneled studios that provide varied and often customizable acoustic environments, designed in collaboration with the acoustician Lothar Keibs and engineer Gisela Herzog.
Janelle Monae / Red Bull Music Academy Official
Funkhaus’s three blocks are gradually being restored and coaxed back into life, with large-scale performance spaces and studios for visual artists, and varied tenants, including the musician, composer and producer Nils Frahm. This rather momentous location should be uniquely suited for the Academy’s participants to explore new musical forms as well as innovations of the recent past, hearing lectures from those who pioneered the exciting sounds of our times.
About Red Bull Music Academy
Red Bull Music Academy is the educational pillar of the Red Bull Music program. It is a global institution that for 20 years has been committed to fostering creativity in music by collaborating with those who are shaping our musical landscape and creating spaces for music makers to learn and immerse themselves.