Irish pupils hit Canada’s school for music makers
It’s back to school time for a group of DJs and music producers from all over the globe, who are attending the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) in Toronto.
This year’s Irish participants are Connor Dougan and Niamh McCartney. Northern Irish DJ and producer Dougan uses the Defcon name for his hip-hop-infused electronica, while McCartney – born in Cork and based in London – produces soulful folk sounds under the Land of Lir monicker.
A host of Irish DJs and producers have tasted the RBMA experience in the past including Timmy Stewart, Mark Bell and Deep Burial’s George Brennan. Daniel Jacobson was the most recent participant from these shores and his Zoid vs The Jazz Musicians Of Ireland, Vol 1 album is currently on release.
During the academy’s two-week term, the 30 participants will hear words of wisdom from producers and DJs who talk about their careers and back-catalogues.
For some, the most important aspect is the chance to get their hands on state-of-the-art studio equipment (the academy’s HQ, a customised building on Queen Street, Toronto, has half-a-dozen fully-equipped studios).
Others prefer the activities after dark, when they get to show off what they’ve produced in the DJ boxes of the city’s clubs.
After they’ve gone home to pick up the pieces and get some sleep, a second intake of 30 fresh faces will arrive to take their places for the academy’s second term.
Since its debut in Berlin in 1998, the RBMA has put about 500 participants through their paces in Dublin, New York, London, Sao Paulo, Rome, Cape Town, Seattle and Melbourne. Some 2,600 music-makers from 82 different countries applied for a place at this year’s RBMA.
While the academy may have been known initially as a laidback school for DJs, it has upped its game considerably of late. Rising hip-hop producer Flying Lotus, whose new mini-album Reset is released next month on Warp Records, and well-respected Stones Throw MC Aloe Blacc were among the RBMA students when it visited Melbourne last year.
For those who’ve made the trip to Canada, it’s an eye-opening opportunity to work alongside their peers and receive tuition from influential producers and players in a hothouse environment which is all about making music.