Mu-Tron Bi-Phase… real dope.

Tuesday 11/15

I had to resist the late night studio session tonight, however tempting. A big group went back to get wild in the studio after we all just tore the club up AGAIN. Tonight the performances were all by participants, and of course they were all great. My bud from Barcelona Jano aka Monki Valley, and everybody’s favorite SF transplant from Australia Phoebe Kiddo both put on dope experimental electronic sets. Andrea Balency, a young woman living in Mexico City originally from France, did a tri-lingual set of gorgeous vocals, piano synths, and drums all looping live – kind of reminded me of some Feist live videos I’ve seen. Jivraj Singh from Kolkata, India did a Shigeto-esque drum + Ableton live set… he MURDERED the drums – lots of crazy polyrhythms.

The gig was at some kind of crazy massive food complex with wine bars and several floors of marketplace, it was like a bad ass Whole Foods on acid. There were a ton of people there. One of the most special things about the events at night is just how everybody comes out and supports – it seems no matter how big or small the venue they select for the event or what day of the week it is, it’s packed with people. Maybe it’s because Madrid is the shit, or maybe it’s just the RBMA magic. I seriously love every participant in this session already, what a unique and brilliant bunch of people. I love talking and hanging out with all of them, we’re all having the best time and enjoy sharing it together. A slew of industry heads from the States showed up to share a week with us – some high profile show promoters, journalists and some Red Bull staff and affiliates from NYC, LA and Europe… all really cool folks.

Gora Sou and Ronika straight maxin in studio #5

This morning after breakfast I spent some time nerding out with Oliver (Dorian Concept) and we got a proper introduction to the Mellotron that’s on site in the main recording studio. For those that don’t know, a Mellotron is a tape-driven keyboard, pre-dating most synthesizers. They are really rare, expensive and hard to maintain, so it’s a real treat to even get to see one in real life. Then I spent some time in a private listening session with participant Ronika from Nottingham, UK and Germany-based Gora Sou from the band Sizarr. Ronika is an amazing singer and producer and is totally obsessed with the ’80s – freestyle, post-disco, early house, etc., so naturally we clicked and are planning on doing a track together. Gora Sou is a percussionist and producer and his band is pretty rad, I bet they’ll blow up. Two more great folks that I got to connect with that have similar enough but still different tastes than I do, so it was really inspiring to go through their work. I also went and checked out a few choice pieces of gear that I wish I had in my studio! Finding new bits every day that I didn’t even know were on site.

Dorian Concept geeks on the Mellotron, every patch is an instant horror film score

Today’s lecturer was one of the African continent’s most celebrated Highlife musicians named Gyedu-Blay Ambolley. He talked a lot about the importance of music in life, interpersonal relationships and even politics. Mr. Ambolley talked about how the president of Ghana during the his early years was instrumental in promoting African music and culture around the world, often taking bands on political campaigns to play at rallies. Mr. Ambolley, after playing his breakout track from 1972 “Simigwado”, makes a validated claim that he was the first in the world to record rap on tape, before The Sugarhill Gang recorded “Rapper’s Delight.” Highlife music is something I’ve heard of but wasn’t really familiar with. I guess an easy way to describe it is Africa’s version of Calypso music. The lecture was really educational, and eventhough it was not as particularly relative to my style and influences, I feel it succeeded in broadening my musical scope and knowledge, which I’m starting to see is the proper educational side of RBMA.

Mr. Ambolley on the baby grand

Mr. Ambolley stayed in the studio the rest of the afternoon and evening and jammed with all the participants, he played bass, sang, played piano and vibraphone, and was really accommodating to all the musicians who were not nearly on his level (ie., me). He is a really genuine and amazing person and I’m really fortunate to have gotten to meet him. Tomorrow’s lectures will be from another modern legend, producer Trevor Horn, as well as Spanish experimental sound artist Francisco Lopez. Day three was amazing, and while I’m barely clinging to life on no sleep (alternating drinking coffee and Red Bull all day and night) each day somehow seems to keep getting better…

Where we spend quite a bit of time each day

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