The Red Bull Music Academy Festival is always one of the cultural highlights of spring (it is spring, right?)– past installments have brought once-in-a-lifetime performances and appearances by heavyweights like Glenn Branca, La Monte Young, and, well, the guy who wrote “Once in a Lifetime”. The folks over at Red Bull just dropped this year’s lineup, and there are some real treats in store when the fest returns April 29 through May 21.
For starters, Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane is teaming up with Zaytoven for some piano-and-vocals performances. In case you haven’t had the pleasure of his acquaintence, Gucci Mane of Spring Breakers fame is the guy who helped retool Prince’s “Purple Rain” to be about “pure cocaine.” Rest assured there will be a more respectful (presumably) tribute to the Purple One at RBMA Fest, courtesy of Detroit DJ Moodymann.
Other highlights this year include a 10th anniversary celebration of Brooklyn record label Sacred Bones. The performance at the suitably spooky Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse will feature the likes of Zola Jesus and Moon Duo, who will be playing with Jim Jarmusch. Jarmusch isn’t the only cult filmmaker making an appearance: Werner Herzog is set to hold forth about the music that informs his films, during a multimedia presentation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And another distinguished museum will be in play, as Solange will take over the Rotunda of the Guggenheim for an “interdisciplinary performance piece and meditation” based on her album A Seat at the Table. (Maybe she’ll pull a Sia and get Kristen Wiig involved.) Rounding out the offerings is a 10-hour ambient music marathon in Bushwick and a tribute to transcendental jazz great Alice Coltrane at the Knockdown Center, led in part by Ravi Coltrane (her son with John).
April 29: Fluxo: Funk Proibidão with MC Bin Laden, MC Carol, DJ Assault, Sicko Mobb, Venus X & Asmara (Putaria Maxima), Leo Justi, Tom DJ
In the favelas of Brazil, a unique street culture has emerged from the neon-lit car stereos lining the local block parties known as fluxos. The sound booming out of these improvised soundsystems is known most commonly as funk or proibidão, which translates to “strongly prohibited.” Proibidão shares certain sonic and lyrical characteristics with Miami bass, early electro and cumbia, and every weekend, thousands of youths gather at fluxos in Brazil’s major cities to socialize, dance and party. We’re excited to bring the music of this movement to NYC as part of Red Bull Music Academy New York – featuring Brazilian MCs and producers like MC Bin Laden, MC Carol, Leo Justi and Tom DJ as well as Detroit booty bass legend DJ Assault, whose brash aesthetics have been a major influence on the fluxos’ explicit funk sound. Joining them on the bill will be Chicago rap duo Sicko Mobb, Venus X and Asmara, whose music is informed by the chaotic and ebullient energy of fluxos in their own genres.
April 30: Beyond The Clouds: Ambient Excursions with Laraaji, Malcolm Cecil, Julianna Barwick, Chino Amobi & Johnny Utterback, Mary Lattimore, Huerco S., Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Dorit Chrysler & Rob Schwimmer, Visible Cloaks (DJ Set) @ Bogart House
There’s more than one way to achieve transcendence through deep listening experiences, and a ten-hour event of impressive ambient music at Bogart House in Bushwick will prove it. Synth pioneer and Stevie Wonder producer Malcolm Cecil, Brian Eno collaborator Laraaji and Julianna Barwick will be among the headliners performing on the third floor of the multi-level arts space. (The main roof will have food, while the upper roof annex – with incredible views of NYC – will also be open.) Playing on a custom soundsystem tuned for total immersion, in a room filled with furniture built specifically to enhance the listening experience, live sets will also come from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Mary Lattimore, Huerco S., Dorit Chrysler & Rob Schwimmer and a specially prepared performance by Chino Amobi & Johnny Utterback. Expect harp, zither, theremin, Buchlas and much, much more. RVNG act Visible Cloaks will provide DJ support.
May 1: A Conversation with Alvin Lucier @ Red Bull Arts New York
Alvin Lucier will be the latest composer featured in Red Bull Music Academy’s series of talks with pioneering experimental music icons of the 20th century. Following on from conversations with Steve Reich, Philip Glass, La Monte Young, Glenn Branca and Pauline Oliveros, Lucier will sit down with RBMA’s Todd L. Burns to talk about the tenets of his vital and exploratory work. Lucier, the man behind the seminal 1969 composition “I Am Sitting in a Room,” has spent more than 40 years as a professor, and his generous approach will make for an educational and entertaining sit-down at Red Bull Arts New York.
May 5: New Jack Swing: A Conversation with Teddy Riley @ Red Bull Arts New York
As a hugely prolific songwriter, producer and instrumentalist, Teddy Riley significantly shaped the sound of R&B as we know it. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, he virtually masterminded the new jack swing genre as the man behind hits by Keith Sweat, Guy, Blackstreet and Bobby Brown, while also co-producing Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album and giving The Neptunes their first break. Since then, Riley’s collaborators have come to include the likes of Snoop Dogg and Lady Gaga, as well as Korean pop stars Jay Park and Girls’ Generation. Throughout his vast catalog, Teddy Riley’s smooth and sexy signature sound has remained instantly recognizable and undeniably iconic. As part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York’s celebration of new jack swing, Riley will sit down with the Academy’s own Jeff “Chairman” Mao to talk about his influential career, his approach to production and songwriting, and his biggest hits – some of which you’ll get to dance to at our official after-party with Just Blaze, Kid Capri and Brucie B of Harlem’s Roof Top roller-skating rink (once located in the same building where Riley had his first studio).
May 5: New Jack Swing: The Hype Dance with Just Blaze, Kid Capri, Brucie B @ Louie and Chan
The term “new jack swing” was initially coined by Barry Michael Cooper to describe the trailblazing productions of Teddy Riley for the likes of Guy, Al B. Sure! and Johnny Kemp. Writing for the Village Voice, Cooper pinpointed the crucial cultural moment in late ’80s Harlem where hip-hop and R&B first converged, bringing with it eye-catching fashion and distinct dance moves while soon blossoming into a globalized lifestyle. New jack swing took the world by storm, and the ripples of its particle collision can still be felt in the hip-hop and R&B sounds of today. Tapping into the Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York tradition of bringing some of the city’s most storied music scenes back to life, and following an in-depth conversation with Teddy Riley, we celebrate new jack swing with iconic DJs from the era. The lineup includes Brucie B of Harlem’s Roof Top roller-skating rink (which once was located in the same building where Riley had his first studio), Bronx legend Kid Capri and Just Blaze, whose productions have shaped the music of New York in their own way – as well as dancers trained in the high art of the Running Man. Better make sure your fade is tight.
May 6: Moodymann Plays Prince @ 637 W 50th St
When it comes to sheer charisma and musical iconoclasm, few match the dearly departed Prince. In the realm of house music, though, Moodymann AKA Kenny Dixon Jr. comes close. The Detroit native has spent his career refining an irresistibly funky, joyfully unpredictable, slinky and sexualized brand of house, and he would be the first to tell you he owes much of his creative approach and attitude to Prince, an artist who looms so large in Moodymann’s imagination he’s created a shrine to the man that fills an entire house in Detroit. As part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York 2017, Moodymann will share that obsession with the world in the form of an all-night DJ set featuring 100% Prince’s music, rolling out unreleased jams, party-starters, slow-burners, B-sides, D-sides and all manner of hits and curios from the Purple One’s eternally alluring output.
May 7: A Bed-Stuy Function with Juliana Huxtable, Tygapaw, Bearcat, Papi Juice, FXWRK and stud1nt (KUNQ) @ Sugarhill
Over the past few years, Bed-Stuy has become a hotbed of innovative dance music and party culture. On May 7, we bring some of the Brooklyn neighborhood’s most groundbreaking party collectives and DJs together at Sugarhill. Juliana Huxtable’s bold creative vision has brought her art and performance pieces to New York’s MoMA, New Museum and the Guggenheim, after co-founding the women-led Shock Value party in 2014. She’s joined on the bill by Tygapaw, the DJ and producer behind Fake Accent, a party/collective that highlights the work of queer and trans people of color – a founding principle shared by the Papi Juice crew, who will take to the decks as well. KUNQ – represented on this occasion by FXWRK and stud1nt – initially started throwing parties in Massachusetts, but have since found their footing among the ever-growing group of dance music activists carving out safe spaces for marginalized communities in NYC nightlife. The lineup is rounded out by Bearcat, the London-born, Brooklyn-based Discwoman affiliate who has been making noise internationally with her excellent and wide-ranging DJ mixes. Join us as we celebrate NYC club culture at its most inclusive.
May 9: A Conversation about Music in Film with Werner Herzog Presented By Red Bull Music Academy and MetLiveArts @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Werner Herzog’s groundbreaking approach to film has always included a similar outlook when it comes to music. In this conversation presented as part of RBMA’s Director Series, Herzog will talk specifically about the music that has informed and inspired his films, interspersed with illustrative clips. Whether it’s his collaborations with Krautrock icons Popul Vuh, stunning operatic cues or traditional folk songs of faraway tribes, Herzog’s ear is finely tuned. At the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we’ll have an opportunity to understand just what he’s hearing and, perhaps more importantly, how.
May 11: The Music of Patrick Adams with Todd Simon (musical director), Patrick Adams, Leroy Burgess, Donna McGhee, Christine Wiltshire, Fonda Rae, James Calloway and more @ Alhambra Ballroom
Songwriter, arranger, producer and engineer Patrick Adams has applied a magic touch to more than four decades of music, earning thousands of credits for contributions to disco, boogie, soul and hip-hop releases both genre-defining and criminally underrated. In addition to mentoring Leroy Burgess and his seminal soul group Black Ivory, Adams, a Harlem native, was a key contributor to innumerable disco LPs and hits like Musique’s “In The Bush,” Cloud One’s “Atmosphere Strut,” Phreek’s “Weekend” and Inner Life’s “I’m Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair).” His agnostic approach to arrangement enabled Adams to jump between genres and generations, pivoting away from the well-earned “Prince of Soft Soul” nickname to work with Eric B. & Rakim on their classic albums Paid in Full and Follow The Leader. This concert at Harlem’s Alhambra Ballroom will celebrate the hometown hero’s illustrious career, with an all-star band of original vocalists and members of the P.A. System (including Donna McGhee, Leroy Burgess, Christine Wiltshire and Patrick Adams himself) – as well as full string and bass quartets – performing highlights from Adams’ catalog like you’ve never heard them before.
May 12: GQOM: Durban → NYC with DJ Lag, Rudeboyz, DJ Twitty @ Tender Trap
The sound of South Africa’s latest dance music craze is rough, rugged and raw: a mutation of low-slung, lo-fi house music known as gqom. What originated in the townships of Durban and in the bedroom studios of a group of young local producers soon took over the city’s dance hall’s and taxi stereos, before the rest of the world caught on. European label owners such as Moleskin of Goon Club Allstars and Nan Kolè of Gqom Oh! have been instrumental in bringing the gqom sound to a wider audience, but the creative heart of the scene remains firmly rooted in Durban. After documenting the rise of gqom culture in our H∆SHTAG$ video series, we’re thrilled to bring a number of pioneering gqom artists to the U.S. for the first time, as part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York – including DJ Lag, Rudeboyz and DJ Twitty.
May 13: Trade Show USA with Honey Soundsystem (SF), Wrecked (NYC), Honcho (PGH), Spotlight (LA), NeedlExchange (DC), Men’s Room (CHI), The Carry Nation (NYC), DJ Holographic @ 99 Scott
American dance music’s gay underground is a scene without center, led by parties and promoters whose participation in a national network is often secondary to their status as pillars of a local scene. However, these crews remain like-minded in their pursuit of transcendent experiences to be found in quality electronic music, placing traditional and future-facing house, techno and disco at the emotional center of the gay clubbing experience. In doing so, these parties are busy writing their own chapter in gay America’s long history of nightclubbing and dance music. These are parties run by gay men but welcoming people of all orientations to express their own definition of freedom and fun on a sweaty dancefloor, and for the first time ever we’ll be bringing together DJs from Honey Soundsystem (San Francisco), NeedlExchange (Washington D.C.), Honcho (Pittsburgh), Men’s Room (Chicago), Spotlight (Los Angeles), The Carry Nation and Wrecked (New York City) all in one place for one massive celebration as part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York 2017.
May 16: Piano Nights: Gucci Mane and Zaytoven
Gucci Mane and Zaytoven are the godfathers of rap music currently coming out of Atlanta. Their unorthodox approaches – Zay’s to beatmaking and Gucci’s to rhyming – ushered in a new era of anything-goes in the city. From Young Thug to Metro Boomin, 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert and Migos, Atlanta rap’s current who’s who bears unmistakable marks of their influence, either indirectly or through near-filial kinship. Together, they’ve brought you hits like “Icy” and “Bricks,” and their collaboration on “First Day Out Da Feds” marked Gucci Mane’s triumphant, rejuvenated return from prison in 2016. Following Zaytoven’s appearance at last year’s Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York as part of our “Trapped” double-header, we now present the next step in the evolution of both of these influential artists’ career. For one evening only, the rapper-producer duo will deliver throwback piano bar renditions of some of their most famous tunes – voice (Gucci) and piano (Zay) only.
May 18: Solange: An Ode To Presented by Red Bull Music Academy and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum @ Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
With the 2016 release of A Seat at the Table, Solange Knowles earned commercial and critical acclaim that felt like a long-awaited coronation for one of R&B’s most inspiring talents. At once musically and politically galvanizing, the album is a document of personal and universal struggle as undeniably intense as it is sonically beautiful, with Solange’s vocals and lyrical perspective matched by the peerless funk, soul, and R&B backing. This May, Solange expands on this triumph with An Ode To, an interdisciplinary performance piece and meditation examining themes from A Seat at the Table through movement, installation work, and experimentation through re-constructing musical arrangements. Presented as part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York 2017, An Ode To continues the Guggenheim’s rich program of groundbreaking performances, as Solange activates the museum’s iconic Rotunda space with familiar and reimagined versions of songs from A Seat at the Table.
May 19: Elza Soares Presented by Red Bull Music Academy, in Partnership with Brasil Summerfest and SummerStage @ The Town Hall
In a career racked by tragedy, legendary Brazilian samba singer Elza Soares has persevered as a singular voice for the voiceless. Rising from the favelas of Rio, where was forced into marriage at the age of 12 and gave birth to her first child at 13, Soares’ big break came when she appeared on a Brazilian talent show, supposedly to buy medicine for her children. Her otherworldly voice and searing lyrical perspective earned her admirers and detractors in equal measure, eventually leading to her appearing on the Brazilian dictatorship’s blacklist and fleeing the country, only to return years later hailed as a national hero. Now in her 70s, Soares has maintained a cohesive style that is thoroughly informed and yet somehow unbounded by her personal struggles. Her latest album, The Woman at the End of the World, was a continuation of her lifelong work on behalf of the oppressed, meant “to talk about women, to talk about blackness, and to talk about sex.” As part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York 2017 and in partnership with Brasil Summerfest & City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage, Soares will bring her undeniable charisma and unforgettable voice to a performance at The Town Hall. Elza Soares will also return to NYC this summer to headline SummerStage as part of Brasil Summerfest.
May 20: Sacred Bones 10 Year Anniversary with Jenny Hval, Zola Jesus, Rose McDowall, Blanck Mass, The Men, Moon Duo with Jim Jarmusch, Marissa Nadler, Psychic Ills, Uniform @ Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse
Throughout its decade of existence, Brooklyn-based record label Sacred Bones has released music that affirms the dual implications of their name – music that is both luminous and haunting, divine and macabre. Founded by Caleb Braaten and now co-run by Taylor Brode, their vast catalog swerves between those two poles while maintaining a remarkable emotional consistency, creating a new sort of gothic Americana assuming disparate forms via power electronics, experimental folk, psychedelic rock and narcotic pop. This balance between imposing darkness and cleansing light will be on display at Sacred Bones 10 Year Anniversary, taking place as part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York 2017, with performances by various factions of the label’s familial community of music-makers including Jenny Hval, Zola Jesus, Marissa Nadler, Moon Duo (performing with film director Jim Jarmusch for the first time), Psychic Ills, Uniform and Rose McDowall.
May 21: The Ecstatic World of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda with Ravi Coltrane, Brandee Younger, Surya Botofasina, Reggie Workman, Joe Blaxx, Radha Botofasina, Shyam Reyes, Isabel Belloso, Sathya Womack, Lakshmi Myers, Mike Thompson, Arianna Gouveia and more @ Knockdown Center
Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda was an American jazz pianist, organist, harpist, singer, composer and the wife of John Coltrane, the most venerated and influential saxophonist in the history of jazz. Alice’s recording catalog dates back to 1957, and during the last decade of her career – starting in the mid-’80s – she self-released four brilliant cassette albums. They contained a music she invented, inspired by the gospel music of the Detroit churches she grew up in, mixed together with the Indian devotional music of her religious practice.
Ten years after Alice’s passing, in what would have been her 80th year, we will celebrate her music and spirit at the stunning arts and performance space Knockdown Center in Queens. The first part—presented with New York label Luaka Bop, who is releasing a compilation of music from her years at the ashram—is inspired by the Sunday ceremonies Alice held at her Sai Anantam Ashram in California. Timed to coincide with sundown, the powerful, spiritual music will be performed by an ensemble led by music director Surya Botofasina, who grew up at the Ashram. The latter half will be a concert led by her son, Ravi Coltrane, featuring an all-star band playing music from throughout Alice’s career.